-- If your last vacation included only a plane trip or a car ride, it may be time to broaden your horizons. The new History Channel show, Around the World in 80 Ways (Sundays, check local listings), demonstrates that there are plenty of methods to get from Point A to Point B. Robert "Boston Rob" Mariano, known for stints on Survivor and The Amazing Race, says during the 10-plus weeks of filming, he and co-host Dennis Anderson sought local forms of transport whenever possible. "A lot of it was new territory. It was an adventure for me." He shares some favorite ways to get around with Larry Bleiberg for USA TODAY.
Mariano and co-host Dennis Anderson took to the Indian Ocean in one of the oldest type of sailing vessels working today. Built with huge masts and cloth sails, the boat took all day and night to cross from the African mainland to the island of Zanzibar. "It's like a Revolutionary War ship, although a tenth of the size," Mariano says.
The two hosts rode as passengers in the world's cheapest and smallest production car, which is tinier than a Smart Car. "It was a challenge just to fit," Mariano says. "Remember the old skit when you try to cram as many people as possible in a car? You'll have to watch the episode to see how we got in."
Even after returning home, Mariano was still taken by his trip above the legendary Serengeti. "We got to see the Great Migration pass underneath: elephants, lions, giraffes, impala, kudu. We saw them all," he recalls. "It was definitely peaceful."
A horseback ride on the Inca Trail was particularly memorable for Mariano, who lost a bet and had to carry his co-host's gear. "I was heavily weighed down," he says. "But it was really cool. We were riding horseback and sleeping under the stars."
Democratic Republic of the Congo
This steamer began sailing Lake Tanganyika nearly a century ago and is still the major form of transportation there. The German gunboat in the film The African Queen was based on this vessel. Mariano says the trip along Africa's longest and deepest lake taught him patience. "In Africa, things don't always run according to the schedule. It was supposed to be a two-day journey, and it ended up taking four days."
Water buffalo hybrid vehicle
The hosts saw a farmer riding in a truck cab pulled by two water buffalo and decided to have a go at it. Although the modified vehicle was unique, the concept is widespread in poor areas. "This is how they create their own vehicles in these places. They don't waste what they have," Mariano says. Unfortunately, the hosts never did learn how to steer.
Cusco Valley, Peru
One of the highest zip lines in the world took Mariano across a gorge, saving hours of travel time and providing an unforgettable thrill. Then he had to climb down a long ladder. "It's definitely not for the faint of heart — exciting but scary at the same time," he says. "I was a little bit worried about whether it would hold me or not, so I let my co-host go first."
Although the vehicle is not yet commercially available, a drive along the Pacific Coast in a solar-powered hybrid car gave Mariano a glimpse of the future. Like a traditional Prius, it offers a quiet ride and relies on electric power. The only difference is that it has solar panels on the roof. "This was the cutting edge of technology. The future for us will have to be something beyond fossil-fuel power," Mariano says.
United Arab Emirates and Dubai
The hosts took a memorable high-speed boat trip between the two Persian Gulf nations. "It was raw power, uncannily fast," Mariano says. Still, the seas were extremely choppy that day, and the trip took about five hours. "The most memorable experiences happen when you're right on the edge of your comfort zone," Mariano says.
One of the most dangerous things the hosts did during the show was to drive across India's most populous city in a Tuk Tuk, a small, open-air, three-wheeled vehicle. "People have no regard for one another on the road, and it's literally like playing high-speed Frogger," Mariano says. "We were lucky we didn't get killed."