Anyone who loves to travel knows why we do it. We do it because we know that the only thing that matters in this life is making memories. We do it because you can’t ever truly own material possessions, and you can’t take them with you when you die; but a wonderful experience will stay with you forever, and nobody can steal it from you.
The world is full of incredible things to see and do, and new adventures have never been as accessible as they are today. Here at Travelettes, we could easily fill a list with 1000 amazing experiences – but to make things simpler for you, we’ve instead collected 10 of our team’s favorites. How many of these can you cross off your bucket list?
1. Take a walk in Australia
There is no better way to discover a new place than by walking, and few places are better suited to this than beautiful Australia. Exploring Down Under on foot is a definite must-do experience for every Dora the Explorer. Great Walks of Australia offers a growing collection of multi-day guided hikes around Australia; all of their 12 walks are seasonal, and different walks are available throughout the year depending on your fitness level and interests.
2. Seeing Macchu Picchu with Inca Rail
3. One night in a bubble hotel in France
Words cannot describe how insanely cool this is. Bubble hotels are the last word in glamping; essentially you sleep beneath the stars, but instead of getting bitten to death by mosquitoes or rained on, you’re safe within your own protective, comfortably furnished little bubble – which is secluded within greenery and kept inflated by a continuous air pump. Tinggly, the ultimate purveyor of memorable experiences, has teamed up with a bubble hotel close to Marseille in France to offer a night for two in one of these magical star-lit domes. Enjoy a dip in the separate jacuzzi bubble before you explore the cosmos from your bed using the telescope and star chart that come as part of the package, and then wake up to a delicious breakfast (this is France, after all) provided by the hotel.
Not only is this possibly the most romantic scenario one could conceive of, it’s also an amazing way to get up-close and personal with nature without any of the uncomfortable drawbacks that this can often entail – such as curious cows, leaking tents, or bug invasions. There are only six bubbles at this hotel, so you can be sure you’ll have the undivided attention of the staff, and each bubble is fitted with modern and luxurious furnishings to give you an experience of comfort directly amongst nature that’s totally unique.
4. Kayaking through Laos
Often overlooked as a tourism destination, Laos‘ unspoiled nature is precisely what makes it so special. Around 80% of the country remains undeveloped – meaning it’s full of lush vegetation, natural beauty, and wildlife (I’ve never seen so many butterflies as I did in Laos!).
Through this beautiful wilderness, the mighty Mekong river winds peacefully and inexorably, spanning the whole country from border to border. Taking a kayak tour through Laos will ensure you truly experience this country in all its glory; the Mekong runs through not only miles of countryside, but all three of the country’s most popular tourist destinations: the mountainous, dramatic landscapes of Vang Vieng, the gorgeous bohemian monastery town of Luang Prabang (designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1995), and the capital, Vientiane, with its French-colonial architecture and easygoing vibe. Laotian people are friendly and welcoming and seem genuinely pleased to see visitors, and the occupants of small villages dotted along the banks of the Mekong will greet you with genial curiosity if you decide to stop and take a wander through their streets.
Kayaking is a great way to soak up Laos’ easy charm and laid-back attitude. The river is huge, but slow and placid, with a current that’s easily manageable for beginners. If you’re very very lucky, you might even spot some of the Irrawaddy river dolphins that are native to the Mekong, but don’t hold your breath – sadly they’ve been hunted almost to the point of extinction, and it’s estimated that there are only a couple of pods left in the river.
5. Dog sledding in Finland
Nothing can prepare one for the wintry magic of a husky-led sleigh ride through a glittering wonderland of snow and ice – it’s like something out of a fairytale. Mush your way across fields of knee-deep snow beneath a glassy blue sky, over hills and past frozen lakes, through silent forests blanketed in shrouds of pure white, the stresses and strains of everyday life a million miles away. No internet, no phone, no television – just you, six beautiful dogs, and the vast frozen wilderness of Finnish Lapland stretching out before you.
For anyone who loves dogs (so, most people then), the animals themselves are as much a part of the appeal as the landscape; it’s wonderful to see them in action, full of enthusiasm and vitality – a very different existence from the domestic urban life our pets are accustomed to.
If you want to really experience the wild, you can go for a week-long sled where you’ll spend the nights in cozy log cabins dotted along the route. These have no gas, electricity or running water; you have to collect your own firewood and water from the forests and lakes nearby; but they’re still equipped with excellent saunas and hearty food, so creature comforts are not entirely out of reach. It’s an experience so profoundly different to anything our technology-laden modern lives have to offer that you’ll be forgiven for thinking you’ve stepped out of this world entirely.
6. A jungle adventure in the Amazon, Brazil
Who hasn’t dreamed of spending a night in the Amazonian jungle? Set on the shores of Lake Acajatuba about 70 km from Manaus, Tariri Amazon Lodge enables you to do so in privacy and comfort, staying in a double or triple room in one of the lodge’s 10 huts. It’s a fully immersive experience; as part of the standard program, you’ll take a tour of the lakes by motorized canoe, travel to villages to meet local tribespeople and learn about their culture and customs, go piranha fishing and alligator spotting, hike through the jungle and try a range of locally grown fruits, vegetables and juices. If you choose to go for longer, other activities like canoeing and paddling are also added in to the mix. Exotic wildlife such as monkeys, sloths, bats, parrots and lizards abound – and if you’re lucky, you might even see Amazonian river dolphins, famed for their pink hue and friendly, curious nature.
After a long day of jungle exploration, wildlife spotting and meeting locals, you’ll be able to head back to your clean, comfortable room, relax on the verandah in a hammock, enjoy a meal made from produce grown at the lodge, and prepare yourself for another day of adventure. A combination of learning, connecting, discovering and relaxing: the perfect way to experience the Amazon.
7. A rafting expedition with Western River
There are few places as spectacular as the mighty Grand Canyon, one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World. A visit to the canyon is a once in a lifetime experience and a definite bucket list item. What could be better than a regular visit? How about seeing it all from a very different angle – from the water?!
Western River Expeditions offers rafting tours through the Grand Canyon, giving a whole new perspective to the already stunning scenery. During your trip, you can discover sparkling pools, hidden waterfalls, and parts of the canyon that are only accessible by river. The Colorado River offers rafting for everybody, from tame water where you can absorb the beautiful surroundings to adrenalin-inducing whitewater. With that, any rafting tour offers a unique mix of serenity, excitement and of course, natural beauty all around. Western River Expeditions tours range from 3 to 7 days and are available for different levels of experience and physical fitness. Each tour is conducted in their unique J-Rig rafts for maximum excitement and comfort, but some trips require a little more effort than others to navigate through the (in)famous rapids.
However, all the effort will be worth it once you soak up the stunning views all around you. And the excitement doesn’t end when the sun goes down, as you’ll spend your nights sleeping on the river banks in the one million stars hotel.
8. See the Northern Lights in Iceland
Yes, we’ve all heard of this one, but the reason it’s such a staple bucket list item is that it’s so darn breathtaking. You can’t quite grasp the ethereal loveliness of the aurora borealis until you’ve seen it for yourself, and there’s no better place to do that than Iceland. A magical country full of glaciers, snow, geysers, hot springs and landscapes that are almost alien in their strange and singular beauty, the shimmering, shifting curtains of colored light which comprise the auroras seem in an odd way to belong perfectly here. The phenomenon happens when solar winds push charged electronic particles into the atmosphere, which collide with gases to produce bright lights. Different gases such as oxygen and nitrogen produce different colors, which is why the lights can be green, white, pink, purple and yellow.
Given that two of the preconditions for seeing the northern lights are darkness and clear weather, the best time to visit is probably between September and April, when hours of darkness are longer and colder temperatures produce clearer skies. You can head to any part of Iceland to view the phenomenon; even the capital city Reykjavik has some sufficiently secluded spots nearby that are guaranteed to be dark enough, and are reachable on foot or via a short car journey. Alternatively, there are a variety of different tours and excursions available for the specific purpose of viewing the aurora; you can find a comprehensive overview of what’s on offer here.
9. Stay on a houseboat in Kerala
Spending a few nights on a kettuvallom, a traditional houseboat in Kerala, is an experience like no other. Ferried about by an experienced crew which usually comprises a cook, a captain and a helmsman, you get to soak up the scenery and take a tour through the complex network of waterways, lakes, rivers, canals and inlets that criss-cross the region, totaling a length of 900 km. You can book a houseboat for any length of time, from a day to a week, depending on what you’re after, and different types of boat are available, from the most basic and traditional to boutique-style luxury – it’s all up to you. However, you might find the former to be a somewhat more authentic experience than the latter.
Settle down into a pile of cushions, grab a cold drink and watch the scenery drift lazily by. You’ll see people fishing, bathing and washing clothes in the river, children playing, lush coconut groves and colorful water fowl, and a diverse array of other boats on the water, including the famous chundan vallam (“snake boats”) which are long, slender vessels used in a traditional race called the Vallamkali. Food and drinks are prepared by the crew and served to you throughout the trip, so your only job is to sit back and take it all in.
10. Take a tour of Lençóis Maranhenses National Park
Home to a remarkable natural geographical phenomenon, Lençóis Maranhenses in Brazil at first looks like a desert, full of sweeping, brilliant white sand dunes. However, during the rainy season, rainwater collects in the recesses between these dunes, and, unable to percolate down due to a layer of impermeable rock below the sand, form a series of temporary lakes and ponds. The result is crystal clear freshwater lagoons in hues of green and blue that must be seen to be believed. Despite the fact that these lagoons are landlocked for much of the time and disappear during the dry season, they are still populated with fish – some of which stay dormant in the mud between rainy seasons, and some of which have developed a symbiotic relationship with local birds, who bring the eggs to the lagoons each season, repopulating them with fish.
It’s an incredible place to explore and a completely breathtaking, unique landscape. And in case you’re wondering, you can certainly swim in these beautiful pools, as long as they’re deep enough – the water is usually very warm and has been recorded at temperatures as high as 87 degrees F (30 degrees C).
What have been your most memorable and precious experiences? Share them with us in the comments!
Disclaimer: this post was created in collaboration with some of the featured destinations and tours.