Fancy conquering the peaks of Everest, or staying in an Ice Hotel in Lapland? Some suggestions for that trip of a lifetime!

The Best in the World: Trips of a Lifetime

The Best in the World is a series of posts of what I consider some of the most wonderful places in the world. Some of them will be places I’ve visited myself, others will be high on my ‘wishlist’, and some will be recommendations I’ve gathered from fellow travellers. Not a comprehensive list of course, but certainly a good place to start.

Getting ‘off the beaten track’ is getting more and more difficult these days with tour companies providing access to even the most remote areas of the globe. This also means that if you have the dollars, you can pretty much go anywhere you like!

The following activities vary in their affordability and most of them will take some good budgeting and saving on your behalf, but they are by no means out of reach.

If your sense of adventure is being sucked dry by beaten-track tourist destinations, try some of these trips-of-a-lifetime suggestions for size.

1. Hang out with Polar Bears in the Arctic Circle:Canada
This has to be number one on this list because it is my number one and I am lucky enough to be heading there in October this year on a photography expedition. Tundra buggie tours will take you into the heart of the Polar Bear’s Arctic kingdom near Churchill, Manitoba and you can get up close and personal with these beautiful creatures.

Polar bear walking through snow
Polar Bear at Churchill, Manitoba. Photo by Mark

2. Trans Siberian Railway: Russia
Get a taste of the ‘real’ Russia on this almost 10,000 kilometer rail journey from Moscow, through the great expanse of Siberia, to the port town of Vladivostok.

3. Ballooning over the Serengeti: Tanzania
Experience the wilderness of the Serengeti National Park and get the ultimate view of the wildlife from a hot air balloon. Do your research though and choose a company with an impeccable safety record.

striped hot air balloon floating over the Serengeti
Sunrise balloon trip over Serengeti. Photo by Laurence Bin Ren

4. Dive the Great Barrier Reef: Queensland, Australia
Get on board any number of Queensland holiday packages to experience one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World! Dive amongst colourful marine life and over 3000 individual reef systems on the worlds largest coral reef.

5. Cruise Antarctica
Rug up well and visit the coldest place on earth (the coldest temperature recorded is -89.2 degrees celcius). Glaciers, Emperor Penguins, whales, seals, icebergs and lots and lots of ice! Up the ante a little and try sea kayaking through the icy waters of the Antarctic Peninsula.

View from a kayak heading through icy waters in Antarctica
Sea Kayaking at the Antarctic Peninsula. Photo by Colin Mitchell

6. Visit the Galapagos Islands: Ecuador
Remote, untouched, and a mecca for nature-lovers: this archipelago is the Discovery Channel in all it’s glory.The diversity of wildlife on these islands is such that it inspired Darwin’s Theory of Evolution.

7. Storm Chasing: USA
Storm Chasing, or Tornado Chasing, in America’s Midwest will definitely test your nerves of steel. The most severe storms are tracked by meteorologists and then organised tours set out to ‘chase’ them. How close you get depends on the tour. Is it safe? I think I’ll let you be the one to decide that!

tornado brewing over a green field
Storm Chasing. Photo by Sarge Devil

8. Stay in an Ice hotel: Lapland, Sweden
Definitely a winters break with a difference. With ice sculptures, ice-carved chandeliers and reindeer skins galore, this world famous hotel in the heart of Lapland is rebuilt every winter and made completely from ice and snow. Sleep in an ice-room on an ice-bed and you can even have your night-cap in the Absolut Ice Bar, complete with ice block seats. Don’t worry, it never gets below -8 degrees inside the hotel….

9. Walk the Camino de Santiago: Spain
The Camino is one of the most ancient pilgrimage trails in Europe. Follow the Way of Saint James from the French Pyrenees in the east 800 kilometers across Spain, to the city of Santiago in the west.  See my Winter Pilgrimage blog for my account of doing this walk in winter.

Wind farm on the top of the Alto de Perdon in Spain
Camino de Santiago, Spain. Photo by Cherina Hadley

10. Machu Picchu and the Inca Trail: Peru
Visit the ruins of the Inca city Machu Picchu, 7000 feet above sea level and nestled in the Peruvian Andes. The absolute best way to get there is by foot via The Inca Trail. It is only 45km but because of the altitude it takes 3-5 days to reach Machu Picchu. Don’t forget to fully acclimatise before attempting the trail!

11. Northern lights: Arctic Circle
The mesmerising light show created by the Aurora Borealis is best seen in areas that fall inside the Arctic Circle in the darker months of the year. Charge your camera batteries an head to the northern reaches of Norway, Sweden, Finland, Iceland, Canada or Alaska to see this fascinating phenomenon.

swirls of the northern lights over a lake
Northern Lights in Iceland. Photo by Oddur Jons

12. Visit Mt Everest: Nepal
And finally…the world’s highest mountain! You don’t necessarily have to climb to the top – although you can take heart in the fact that it has been achieved by both a blind climber and one with a prosthetic leg. And you don’t even have to be a superhero to climb to some of the lower vantage points of Everest to see incredible views of the Himalayas. You do need still need to be pretty damn fit though, so some boot-camp training would be my suggestion if you want to conquer this trip!

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    Sophie May 19 2011 - 8:21 am Reply

    Excellent choices! Another one on my list is taking the Royal Mail ship from England to St Helena. Now, if only I could persuade my kids to do the 31-day journey…

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