With a year of no travel, we are all hankering to get back out there and see the world. To get you inspired, we’ve put together a collection from our most traveled readers of their top 25 travel experiences. If you are looking for a one of a kind experience that will absolutely wow you, look no further!
1. Tracking gorillas in the Congo
Take a National Geographic expedition to the Democratic Republic Congo (DRC) and go deep into the forest to track lowland gorillas. Don’t expect any luxury accommodations as the rooms are on stilts, presumably to protect you from creepy, crawly things.
2. Hiking the Camino de Santiago
Hiking the Camino de Santiago is far more than a hike, it’s a pilgrimage. Though it can take 30 days or more, our reader hiked the last 110K in a week. She listed this trip as the most memorable and meaningful vacation of her life.
3. Arctic Cruising
Take long zodiac rides through beautiful ice formations, sip cocktails on the deck as you float by icebergs and polar bears. Blue whale encounters are a daily occurrence. This reader went all luxury with Silver Seas expeditions, but there are many cruise line options for an arctic cruise.
4. Lunch at the Harder Kulm Panorama Restaurant in Interlaken, Switzerland
The Harder Kulm Panorama Restaurant sits high above Interlaken. Only a ten-minute ride on the Harder Railway up Interlaken’s own mountain brings you to a breathtaking view. While there are better restaurants in Interlaken, none can compete with the panoramic sight.
5. The Road to Hana by Helicopter
Why drive the famous winding road to Hana in Maui when you can fly by helicopter? You can still enjoy the lush tropical vegetation, sea cliffs, and an amazing view of the ocean, while not missing a single one of the spectacular waterfalls.
6. The Chateau on the Dordogne River
Visiting Saint-Emilion in Bordeaux is a treat for wine lovers and foodies alike. Staying at a luxurious 17th-century chateau with incredible views makes for an over-the-top experience. The Chateau sits majestically on the Dordogne River surrounded by the vineyards of Bordeaux.
7. Climbing Machu Picchu, Peru
Taking the classic Inca Trail, the hike will take you 4 days to arrive at Machu Picchu. Along the way, you will have stunning scenery and be treated to a variety of impressive Inca sites. Experienced hikers will have no problem completing this trek.
8. Persepolis, Iran
Persepolis is the ceremonial capital city of the Achaemenid Empire (also called the First Persian Empire), dating back to 515 BC. Persepolis is the most spectacular archeological site in Iran with incredible architecture.
9. Angkor Wat Temple, Cambodia
Angkor Wat is on a lot of bucket lists and for good reasons. The Buddhist temple complex in Cambodia and the largest religious monument in the world by land area. The view at sunrise is spectacular.
10. Hot Air Balloon Ride in Cappadocia Turkey
Cappadocia is a landscape unlike anywhere in the world. One of the most popular ways to see
this amazing place is by hot air balloon. Since they fly 250 days a year it has become the most
popular place in the world for a hot air balloon ride.
This rainforest expedition takes you 8 hours up the Tambopata river in a canoe to a Macaw research center located near the largest clay lick in the world. Accommodations are for the adventurous traveler, to say the least, but an unforgettable experience.
12. Tigers in India
India is the home of more than 70% of the world’s wild tigers. Take a trip to one of India’s wildlife reservations where you are sure to sight one of these beautiful wild creatures.
13. Petra, Jordan
Explore this ancient and beautiful archeological site in the southwestern desert of Jordan. Dating back to 3000 B.C., it carries memories of a long-forgotten civilization.
14. Salt Cathedral, Columbia
A place of pilgrimage for many, this beautiful underground Roman Catholic church is cut into a
mountain of halite. Being 200 meters below ground in the tunnels of a salt mine makes this a
particularly exhilarating and spiritual experience.
Attending an international retreat in Dharamsala, a town filled with Tibetan monks in orange
robes, monasteries, coffee shops, cows, and craft shops, the Dalai Lama spoke about various
Buddhist precepts. A few of the attendees were lucky enough to meet privately with His
Holiness in a small group.
Holding, snuggling, and feeding a furry, 30-pound, 10-month-old panda cub is a delightful
experience and the best reason to visit the Chengdu (China) Research Base of Giant Panda
This is a sight to behold – one of the world’s biggest and longest animal migrations takes place
each year between June and December in East Africa. Over two million animals make their way
across the continent in pursuit of greener pastures.
Silvies Valley Ranch is a 140,000 acres luxury working eco ranch in Eastern Oregon with multiple award-winning golf courses including a reversible course! Stay in one of their divine log homes, visit their spa, learn to shoot guns, and enjoy fine dining for every meal. For wine lovers, the bar boasts over 220 varieties and all of them are available by the glass. Even the cabins are also outfitted with 12-14 bottles of wine. If you happen to visit during kidding season you can interact with baby goats.
19. Visit an Elephant Sanctuary in Sri Lanka
Sprinkled throughout Sri Lanka is an assortment of elephant sanctuaries that you can visit from the safety of an open-top Jeep type vehicle. We visited the Hurulu Eco Park and it was fantastic. We saw hundreds of elephants during our afternoon tour. At one point there were elephants in every direction. If you visit Sri Lanka’s Minneriya National Park you will likely see the second-largest gathering of Asian elephants in the world.
20. Stay in a Cave in Santorini
Staying inside of a cave built into the side of a cliff is quite the experience. The two most ideal places in Santorini to do this in Imerovigli, the area overlooking the caldera, and further north in Oia, also home to one of the world’s best sunsets. Make sure to book one that has a hot tub on its patio. It’s the perfect way to unwind after a day of sightseeing.
21. Dine at the top of Marina Bay Sands
Singapore is a fascinating city. The architecture is over the top including the Marina Bay Sands hotel. If possible book a stay here, but since they are almost always sold out, do the next best thing, dine at the top! There are a lot of restaurants within the building but you want to make sure you book one that is on floor 57 aka the Sky Park level, like Spago. Make your reservation well in advance for before sunset so you can enjoy the views during the day and night when there is an epic light show.
22. Take a cooking class in Marrakesh.
Expand your tasting palette and culinary repertoire with a private Moroccan cooking class, the best way to experience authentic recipes and support the local community.
23. South Pacific Cruise on Regent Seven Seas
Experience the rich cultures of the South Pacific on this luxurious cruise. You will take a journey through brilliant waters hundreds thousands of islands in this gorgeous region.
24. Katmai National Park, Alaska
Taking a small charter flight with a bush pilot from Anchorage, you land on Brooks Lake where you disembark to walk to Brooks Falls surrounded by brown bears the size of tanks. At the Falls, you can watch bears catching salmon, sometimes straight into their mouths!
25. Mt. Everest (Partial Base) Camp Trek
Witness the beauty of Nepal, a country of hospitable people, gorgeous sights, and rich cultural traditions. This outdoor expedition is the perfect blend of adventure and cultural exploration into the Himalayan Mountains.