Blog WH Travellers

The quest to 1100 visited WHS in 2030

Yesterday, January 1st 2022, I have started the next iteration of my life-long World Heritage Journey. I have quit my IT job and handed in my company lease car. I will do nothing else for a while other than travelling to WHS, writing about WHS, learning about WHS, engaging in the discourse on WHS, maybe even building a career out of it. It’s a dream that I always have hoped to fulfill, and all signs are positive now to take the jump. My "Missing Map" shows the To-do List:

Why 1100 WHS in 2030?

My original goal was “to see all WHS before I die”. But you never know when you are going to die, it may come earlier than statistics predict. And we also do not know whether the WH List will ever be finite. At this moment in time, I think I will be quite satisfied at reaching 1100. I do not long for those remote diving locations (eg. Cocos Island, Revillagigedo) and there’s the issue that a longer list will not make the content better. With an average of 20 new additions per year, I expect that the List will be 1314 sites long in 2030. If I reach my goal, my coverage will improve from 66% (2021) to 84%.

What’s the plan?

I plan to be on the road for 6 months a year and do 5 to 6 trips to countries or regions with significant clusters of WHS. I have identified some 40 of them. The trips will be mostly between 4 and 6 weeks long, as for me this is an ideal period. I travel more slowly than the average WH spotter and I like to use public transport. And I enjoy coming home for a few weeks to reflect on the trip and finish all the reports! My experience with a half-year-long trip in 2011 was that in the end, I had forgotten what I did in the first months; so I keep my future trips shorter than that. Focus on one coherent cultural region (a large country or a few neighbouring ones) also helps.

How feasible is it?

The mathematics behind it are:

  • I am on 764 visited WHS now, so I have 336 to go to reach my goal.
  • Divided over 8 years (2022-2029), this means an average of 42 a year.
  • Of these 42, I count on the yearly WHC meeting to contribute 10 (sites I have previously visited, are easy add-ons to other trips, or close to my home in Europe).
  • The remaining 32 will be picked from my Trip List, which includes trips where at least 3 WHS can be seen and the average all-inclusive cost of a WHS visit is 768 EUR.

Of course, life (such as personal health issues) can get in the way. But having a clear plan and focus always helps.

What does the Trip List look like?

The Trip List (here is the full version) contains 40 itineraries with rough cost and time estimates. The cost estimates aren’t rock bottom, there’s some 10% risk margin included. Most trips now are 3-4 weeks long, I could combine a few (such as #29 and #33: Zimbabwe + NW South Africa) in order to save money on long flights. I did this already with the first one I am embarking on (#10).

This list is quite personal, as other people need to cover different WHS than I do. The A-List is where I focus on now, but there’s enough flexibility to add Libya, Yemen, or Venezuela from the B-List if they open up properly during this period. Or add a tantalizing trip to Gabon or others from the C-List if I have enough money to spare.

The itineraries are designed around the WHS. TWHS will only be added if they appeal much to me or are up for nomination in the coming 2 years. Non-WHS side trips will be limited to a few easy picks on subjects that I like (capitals, national museums, mammals).

I'd like to offer up my Approach and Trip List for review by you, knowledgable WH Travellers! Are there ways I could improve on the efficiency, without breaking the bank?

Els - 2 January 2021

Leave a comment


Els Slots 4 January 2022

Thanks to you all for the hints and tips, I will incorporate them in a future version of the Triplist! It seems that both time & costs can be lower than what I had calculated. Let's see how it works out this first year.

Nan 4 January 2022

Agreeing re coming home every once in a while. Its good to have a base, but it will cost you in rent and flights.

One month was always a good number. Only recent exception was when I was doing work and travel last summer. Having meetings etc. really tied me back home.

Astraftis 3 January 2022

An exciting undertaking! I wish you all the best. Moreover, your estimated times seem more or less in line with mine, so to me they are all just right :-) And costs look reasonable too: I'd like to be optimistic and say that somewhere you will spare something, e.g. in Ethiopia.

By the way, I share similar thoughts about very long journeys. I have met many long-time (6+ months) travellers, and have always wondered how it would be, but have not been too envious in the end. Often I found them too hectical, or sometimes oblivious... dunno, maybe it's just plain envy. But I think I'd also need ample "decompression times" between an itinerary and the next, to elaborate all the experiences. Indeed, I deem it's a moment nearly as important as the travel itself.

Veel geluk!!!!

Philipp Peterer 3 January 2022

Congratulations Els, that sounds fantastic! Here’s a few inputs from my “a bit below Rucek” travel perspective:
Tunisia could also be done in 1 week. In 2 you can include some beach time.
Agree with Zoe, that Malaysia is def. too generous. Air Asia will fly you around the country for little money. 2 weeks would still be chilled.
Didn’t visit Saudi Arabia yet, but my calculations came to max 10 days.
Thailand/Cambodia is of course worth 4 weeks, but probably not necessary. I did Ban Chiang on a day trip from BKK (flying in and out Udon Thani the same day) and Preah Vihear as a day trip from Siem Reap. So in max 2 days you could cover them, hiring a driver. The parks can be reached from BKK. Haven’t done it so fare but looked into it.

Watkinstravel 3 January 2022

I'm so excited for you Els! This looks amazing and I'm more than a little jealous. It's even more inspiring in these still uncertain times. I'm looking forward to reading all about it.
I'm sure your itineraries will be up on individual threads later for further tweaking also.
I agree Saudi is a bit much (and car rental is definitely the way to go) unless you combine something else. I flew from Jeddah to Eritrea via Ethiopia so that might be a natural add on. Or even Ethiopia itself.
Kenya and Tanzania make a natural pair.
I'd be more inclined to include Mauritania with Senegal/Gambia. Depending on your mode of transport it will be easier overland from the south. Since you have to fly to Cape Verde anyway you could add it somewhere else if you worry about time.

Els Slots 2 January 2022

You're right about Saudi, that should take much less time. Especially as it is getting easier and easier to get in and around. For Malaysia and some other destinations marked with an *, I have included extra days & money for some serious mammal watching (Sabah indeed).

Zoƫ Sheng 2 January 2022

There is nothing to do in Saudi Arabia for 4 weeks. I think you want to self-drive there anyway, but you could take a bus to the oasis and get a local guide, then return. For the rest of the country I don't see that's possible if you are trying to tick of sites.

I'd recommend you combine Ethiopia with Kenya and Tanzania, where the latter are commonly combined as you drive across the border to visit both in one go. Saves a lot of driving. Also places like Eritrea only have flights from nearby countries and I remember asking for a visa before and they said you need to buy the ticket first :/ Consider adding that into a group or you find yourself going all out just for 1 WHS later.

Does Australia include the domestic flight costs to Lord Howe? It's $$$ because Qantas has a monopoly on it. Most people spend lots of time there because it cost so much to get there in the first place, so maybe consider 5 days. You can also spend a week alone in the rain forests, and with the Reef nearby that might make your 4 weeks too little. The trip up the west coast alone takes a while, maybe a week at your fast speed and that's with private transportation (I don't know if there are even buses).

Malaysia also seems excessive unless you like to spend time in Sabah for turtles and diving. Borneo maybe 2 weeks at the most - depending if you do the pinnacle hike at Mulu and Kinabalu only has the summit hike and that's pretty much it. The western part maybe over a week. I do recommend both Malacca and Georgetown, the valley will take you 1 day max and I would skip Taman Negara because it's a commercialized park and after Mulu you already saw the same but much better. The only thing I enjoyed was the glow-in-the-dark scorpions.

Wojciech Fedoruk 2 January 2022

Good luck Els and congratulations! The plan looks totally realistic and the budget is not tight at all. I think travelling more slowly you will spend a lot less than you estimated.

Els Slots 2 January 2022

Where time was the biggest restraint before, now that will be money. The total cost is estimated at 165,750 EUR. I have set aside a yearly travel budget of 25,000 EUR. (I noticed I made a mistake in calculating the average cost per WHS, it should be 647,46 EUR)

Nan 2 January 2022

Pay my trips from Cashflow and prefer not to do total cost accounting... Speaking of: You have big savings to fund this?

Re itineraries:
Covid travel restrictions move plenty places to C. China is closed for the time being.

Chile and Argentina are a natural combination. I wouldnt go down to patagonia twice. Or I would, just saying its easy to get from Puerto montt to Puerto natales.

New Zealand can be combined with a target along the way. Found the flight miserably long. J think I would break the 4w limit for this one.

Kamchatka deserves more love. I would assume this can be tacked onto a russia trip.

Jay T 2 January 2022

Wow — that is an exciting way to start the year! Your trips ideas look fascinating; I think trip planning is one of the most fun aspects of traveling. If you need any recommendations on the Western US or Alaska, let me know (and I’m sure winterkjm would have some good recommendations, too). I was just in Glacier Bay last summer, and it was excellent for wildlife watching. Happy travels in 2022!