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February 2, 2014: Walking from Siberia to Australia, Prepping Putin’s $51 Billion Bash and More

  Every week, embark with host Boyd Matson on an exploration of the latest discoveries and interviews with some of the most fascinating people on the planet, on National Geographic Weekend. Please check listings near you to find the best way to listen to National Geographic Weekend on radio, or listen below! Hour 1 – Recapping her three-year expedition that made her...


Sochi, Russia underwent a $51 billion metamorphosis to create infrastructure and security to host the Winter Olympics. (photo by Thomas Dworzak/National Geographic)

Every week, embark with host Boyd Matson on an exploration of the latest discoveries and interviews with some of the most fascinating people on the planet, on National Geographic Weekend.

Please check listings near you to find the best way to listen to National Geographic Weekend on radio, or listen below!

Hour 1

– Recapping her three-year expedition that made her one of National Geographic’s 2014 Adventurers of the YearSarah Marquis shares the spirit of her journey that had her walk from Siberia to the far side of Australia: “The cost doesn’t matter. (Adventure) always worth it.” In the first segment of her interview, Marquis explains how she disguised herself as a man while walking through Central Asia, and how she was robbed at gunpoint deep in Laos’ jungle. Listen here.

– In the second segment of our interview, Sarah Marquis describes her elation at being alone in Australia’s inhospitable Outback, the mental stillness that she pursues while she’s walking, how many chocolates and massages it takes to recover from a three year, 8,000 mile expedition, and what her next plans include. Listen here.


– Eighteenth and nineteenth century naturalists, who were the first to curate curiosities of the natural world, collected dead and stuffed animals from the world over for the admiration of visitors to the forebears of the modern day museum. Photographer Rosamond Purcell collects stories and images of others’ collections in her various books, including Finders Keepers: Treasures and Oddities of Natural History and Egg and Nest. Purcell’s photos in the January, 2014 issue of National Geographic magazine portray the early collections of butterflies, moles, and other animals now preserved in the back rooms of museums. She also explains the impulse to collect, with some anecdotes from her time spent collecting. Listen here.

– The estimated $51 billion price tag attached to hosting the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics will dwarf the previous Winter Olympic record tabs set in Vancouver ($7 billion), and Turin ($4 billion). But Brett Forrest, author of “Putin’s Party in the January, 2014 issue of National Geographic magazine, tells Boyd that the cost of building winter facilities in a Black Sea resort town usually reserved for summer revelry isn’t the last expense of the 17-day festival: the unprecedented danger of a terrorist plot targeting the games will force Russia to maintain a security perimeter for many miles around Sochi. Listen here.

– National Geographic research librarian Maggie Turqman returns to share some historical happenings that fell on the first days of February throughout the ages, including the Oxford English Dictionary’s first completed chunk in 1884, and the German genesis of Groundhog Day. Listen here.

Hour 2

– Persevering through malaria proved to be easier and less nerve-wracking than cycling down Russia’s truck-filled roads for Reza Pakravan and Steven Pawley on their 11,000 mile expedition from Norway’s North Cape to South Africa’s Cape Town. The continuous close calls with speeding trucks left Pakravan wondering if they would survive to see Azerbaijan, while his 4-day malaria break in Kenya was demoralizing, but didn’t daunt him for too long. Pawley explained that they met many people concerned for their well-being along the way, and even received an unofficial police escort through Egypt, during the country’s civil unrest. Listen here.


– Mountain climbers don’t need to have an understanding of SCUBA gear; underwater divers don’t need to understand how to climb over glaciers with ropes and ice axes. But Nicholaus Vieira, also known as his “Crazy Caver” persona explains that cavers need to be adept at all types of exploration. Vieira tells Boyd that subterranean geography doesn’t always reflect what’s happening above ground. Conditions can vary wildly, and the only way to find out what’s happening deep below the Earth’s surface is to find a cave and climb down. Vieira isn’t just searching for thrills underground. He’s hoping to find new types of microbial life that have been isolated from humans for long enough, that they could potentially treat bacterial infections that are resistant to our current antibiotics. Listen here.

– Alizé Carrère is a National Geographic Young Explorer studying Madagascar’s “lavaka,” a hole caused by erosion that could actually help create farming opportunities for locals. But part of doing research in a country, particularly one as impoverished as Madagascar, is surviving life in the country. She shares what daily life is like for an American doing research in the island nation, which includes dodging the bubonic plague, fleas, and the world’s highest density of sharks. Listen here.

– Nate Dappen grew up in Nairobi, Kenya, when his mountaineer father took a trip in the late 1980’s to Uganda’s glacier-capped Rwenzori Mountains. His father’s photos helped create a fascination with the mountains. Dappen and his friend Neil Losin recently went to the Rwenzori Mountains to recreate a series of photos taken in 1906, to gauge the glaciers’ health. But Losin and Dappen found that they couldn’t even find the locations of many of the photos: the lack of snow and ice changed the perspective so much that they would have been nearly unrecognizable. They made a film, titled “Snows of the Nile,” showing their expedition and tell the story of the ice, and water, that sustains life in the area. Listen here.

– In this week’s Wild Chronicles segment, Boyd temporarily escapes from the winter cold to relive some moments from a recent trip to Panama: snorkeling and flying through the jungle canopy at 50 miles per hour. Listen here.

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Meet the Author

Justin O'Neill
Justin O'Neill produces the weekly radio program National Geographic Weekend with host Boyd Matson. Check it out on on SiriusXM satellite radio (XM channel 133 Sundays at noon), subscribe to the iTunes podcast, or stream it directly to your smartphone with Stitcher Radio.