In the wellness iteration of the Bucket List Series, we focused on the top wellness resorts around the world. Now, we’re bringing you the next installment, focused on Adventure Travel. Here, we’re sharing some of the incredible experiences at the top of our adrenaline list. Real talk, this list got a little long, so we’re breaking it up into three parts and without further ado, here is part I (in no particular order):
1 – Climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro – I have always been fascinated by mountain climbing though I have very little desire to actually start a summit collection. But, Mt. Kilimanjaro in Tanzania is a relatively doable beginner’s mountain. While several routes are offered to get to the top, I’d recommend one of the less trafficked paths that take a bit longer but also allow for a more enjoyable trekking experience (and easier acclimatization).
3 – Yurt hopping in Mongolia – This is probably one that you won’t find on many lists, but if you have a true desire to go everywhere (as I do) then that surely includes the wild expanse of Mongolia. Picture yourself riding wild horses and camping in yurts across the Steppe that was once home to the famous Khans.
4 – Trekking to Tiger’s Nest in Bhutan – If you watched the 1,000 Places to See Before You Die television series which aired back in 2007, you may remember when the couple on the show visited Bhutan and trekked up to the spectacular Tiger’s Nest Monastery. Ever since then, it has been my dream to visit this magical and mystical place perched above the clouds.
5 – Scuba Diving at the Great Barrier Reef – One of my biggest accomplishments in 2018 was receiving my scuba diving certification. I’ll admit, it was one of the harder and scarier things I’ve done so far, but despite the fear, I truly appreciate the ability to explore the ocean from a new perspective. Naturally, I’m eager to experience this at one of the world’s most famous reefs.
6 – Glamping at Uluru – Adventurers are all about rugged exploration but that doesn’t necessarily mean giving up on luxury. An amazing glamp site is the perfect way to combine the two. A new glamping property (Longitude 131) debuted recently at Uluru – a famous rock formation in the middle of Australia – and I’m pretty sure it’s the best way to visit this world wonder.
7 – Seeing Pandas in Chengdu – Most animal lovers will agree that nothing quite compares to seeing species in their natural habitat. Chengdu is basically HQ for pandas and the Chengdu Research Base makes it possible for tourists to see these creatures in a safe and sustainable way, while also supporting critical research that will help pandas survive.
8 – Cruising around Antarctica – If one of your life goals is to visit all 7 continents then you’ll need to eventually tick off Antarctica. But you don’t need to worry about the infamous Drake Passage crossing or setting aside 3 weeks for the trip. Many luxury cruise lines will be launching flights to Antarctica in 2022 – offering travelers the ability to skip the Drake Passage and reducing the number of nights required for an Antarctic expedition. This continent is about to get a whole lot more accessible!
9 – Spotting Polar Bears in Svalbard – Visiting the polar bears on Norway’s northern island of Svalbard was on the agenda last year but sadly 2020 had other plans. I’m not quite sure when this could get back on the itinerary, but it’s 100% still on my bucket list. Any other Lyra Belacqua fans out there?
Source: Silversea Cruises
10 – Witnessing the Great Migration – A safari is really always a good idea and a pinnacle trip for many adventurers and animal lovers. But of course, one of the most magical experiences is witnessing the Great Migration of wildebeests across the Masai Mara and Serengeti, which happens every year in August and September.
11 – Road Tripping along the California Coast – 2020 saw the great return of the road trip vacation! There are a few incredible routes across the US that are top of my list, but one of the most spectacular is Highway 1 along the California Coast.
12 – Swimming with Whale Sharks in Baja California – Just south of San Diego, is Baja California – a peninsula on the western coast of Mexico with amazing snorkeling and diving. During the months of June – December, whale sharks area easy to spot here and travelers can get up close and personal with these gentle creatures, both on kayak and even in the water.
13 – Visiting every single US National Park – How many have you been to so far? I’ve personally been to 24, but they added 3 new parks in the last year or so, so my “to visit” list keeps growing. National Park vacations also saw a boom among US travelers in 2020 and I hope the trend will continue. Beyond the most famous parks, there are so many smaller, less trafficked parks that are equally worth a visit.
14 – Hiking in Torres Del Paine National Park – About 7 years ago, I traveled to the Argentinian side of Patagonia and was stunned by the beauty of the sharp peaks and aqua waters. Next time I head that far south, I’m aiming for a luxury trek through the Chilean side of Patagonia and a visit to the famed Torres Del Paine National Park.
15 – Photographing Mayan Ruins in Belize & Guatemala – If the thought of visiting ancient temples in the jungles of Central America doesn’t bring to mind daydreams of starring in your very own Indiana Jones film, then you may simply enjoy learning about the history of the Mayan people and the amazing engineering feats they accomplished centuries ago.
16 – Dude Ranching in the American West – Another popular vacation in 2020 was the dude ranch; US travelers flocked to these wide open expanses with plentiful outdoor activities. Ranch experiences range everywhere from rustic to ultra-luxe but regardless, it remains a timeless American vacation evocative of a time long past.
Photo courtesy of Brush Creek Ranch
17 – Stomping Grapes in Harvest Season – Germaphobes may not have this on their list (and I’ll obviously need to wait until the pandemic is well over) but as a wine lover, I’ve always been eager to partake in harvest season. Visiting some of the top vineyards in Europe where the tradition was born is high on my list.
18 – White Water Rafting through the Grand Canyon – Raise your hand if you love white water rafting! Of course, rafting the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon (with a very long waitlist) is a bucket list item for many adventurers, and for good reason. It combines an active and adrenaline-inducing sport with glamping and stunning National Park scenery – a trifecta of adventure.
Photo courtesy of OARS
19 – Staying at a Remote Wilderness Lodge in the Pacific Northwest – There are several lodges in the wilderness of Alaska and British Columbia that do an excellent job of combining luxury and adventure, but some of my favorites are: Clayoquot Wilderness Lodge, Nimmo Bay, Tutka Bay Lodge or Stillpoint Lodge.
Source: Within the Wild
20 – Searching for Spirit Bears in the Great Bear Rainforest – Ever heard of Spirit Bears? I read about these elusive animals years ago in a National Geographic magazine and ever since, I’ve been eager to visit the Great Bear Rainforest in British Columbia with the hopes of glimpsing them in the wild.
21 – Kayaking with Belugas in Nova Scotia – We discussed swimming with whale sharks in Mexico, so how about kayaking with belugas in Nova Scotia? The water’s cold here, so better to be on a boat, but these white whales will swim right alongside.
22 – Touring the Galapagos Islands – One of the most pristine ecosystems in the world, the Galapagos is a must for any nature lover. The diversity of wildlife in the Galapagos is second-to-none and many of the Galapagos species are found nowhere else in the world.
23 – Stargazing in the Atacama Desert – In South America, the great white sand dunes, salt flats and rugged terrain of the Atacama Desert in Chile are otherworldly. Adventurous travelers enjoy exploring the unique geological features here during the day and incredible stargazing at night.
24 – Skiing in the Summer in Bariloche – In the southern hemisphere, the winter takes place in our summer months, so avid skiers can ski year-round when they jet down to Bariloche in Argentina from May – September.
Photo Courtesy of Alpine Adventures
25 – Chasing Scottish Roots in the Isle of Skye – My parents went to Scotland on their honeymoon and when my brother and I were younger, we used to listen to a Scottish CD in the car all the time: Sons of Somerled. My favorite track on that CD is titled Come to the Isle of Skye, and is about this rugged, wild part of Scotland.
Stay tuned for Part 2!