The Nile is an obvious destination of choice, as were the the Himalayas, and Central America, but the Caucases might have thrown a few travel documentary fans. However, in all fairness to Levison Wood, he’s managed to do it again and while the area isn’t necessarily on too many holiday hit-lists, From Russia To Iran is another fascinating and entertaining journey through a beautiful and complex landscape.
This time around, he isn’t doing the entire journey on foot, as he has done before in Walking The Nile, Walking The Himalayas and Walking The Americas, but the show loses nothing as a result. There’s plenty of rambling anyway and if anything the addition of hitchhiking with locals means that Lev and his various guides get to meet a whole lot more interesting people.
The short four-part series sees the explorer travelling through the Southern Russian states of Chechnya and Dagestan before dropping into Azerbaijan. He then goes on to neighbouring Georgia, through Armenia and he’ll finally be travelling into Iran and heading for the Caspian sea for the final episode next week (10th September 2017). That may not sound all that picturesque, but the first three episodes of the series have painted an incredibly stunning picture of the region.
That’s not to say that it’s all picture postcard scenery and strolls in the mountains though as there is also a honest treatment of the local political and social issues, which makes the show much more rounded and investigative. Lev has got good balance when it comes to these elements of his travels and you really get a sense of the intricacies of life for the people in the Caucasus.
In fact, the people play a very important part in the success of Levison Wood From Russia To Iran, much in the same way that they have in all of his previous shows. Along the way he meets local shepherds, police, an old drinking buddy, a mother who has lost her two sons to ISIS, a reclusive monk living at the top of a huge natural limestone monument and Sufi Muslims at a funeral, resulting in a rich and diverse tapestry of the social makeup of the Caucasus.
For the most part he is welcomed with open arms by everyone he meets, which is both heartwarming and very entertaining to watch. He’s also got an incredibly relaxed approach, which helps to get close to people, providing much more insight, despite his relatively short stays in any one place.
From Russia to Iran also acts as a smart reminder of the insular nature of life back here in the UK as it shows a lot of socio-political situations, spread over a large landmass, which are relatively unknown here. It highlights the media myopia and broadens our horizons to a little known and fascinating part of the world.
There’s so much to take in throughout the four 1-hour episodes and it’s a lot of fun to watch, as much as it is interesting to learn about the people and places Levison Wood comes into contact with. There are plenty of laughs along the way, and a few hairy moments to keep things moving along at a good pace, making this another must-watch show from the Staffordshire wanderer.
If you’ve missed the first three episode of From Russia To Iran, you can catch up pretty easily on All 4, which also has all of the previous series. You can also follow Levison Wood on his Twitter page to keep up-to-date with his latest exploits.
Levison Wood From Russia To Iran review: 5/5