Are you daydreaming about places to go on your next vacation? I am… I’ve been looking at tons of websites to check out destinations I’m hoping to visit one day like Bali, India, Galapagos Islands, Kenya, China, Croatia, and Latvia. And, there are some favorites I’d love to re-visit like Greece. I’m also reminiscing and feeling grateful for the incredible places I have been able to visit so far. So, if you are like me and seek some travel inspiration, here are five incredible travel experiences to add to your 2018 bucket list.
South Africa has something for just about everyone. Wildlife, of course, is one of the biggest reasons many people visit South Africa… Start at a national park or private reserve to see the big five and more. Then head over to Cape Town to check out the sightseeing and history – don’t miss Robbin Island. While you are there, take a scenic drive down the coast to Boulders Beach and visit the adorable penguins. Get some beach time at one of the gorgeous beaches like Camps Bay. If you like wine, hop back in the car for another short drive to the winelands and spend a few days wine tasting. Need an adrenaline rush – try a shark dive. See what I mean…
Siem Reap, Cambodia
There is a lot more to see and do in Siem Reap than just Angkor Wat – although it is the main attraction, and rightly so. Angkor Archaeological Park contains over 25 archaeological sites and there several museums in and around the city. You will miss out on a lot of you only stay for a few days, so allow ample time to fully explore Siem Reap. Some of my favorite monuments were Angkor Thom, Bayon Temple, and Ta Prohm. Spend the mornings wandering through these incredible structures and take your time – look up and look down to see intricate statues and wall carvings. Then, head back to your hotel to cool off in the pool and contemplate all of the history that surrounds you.
Machu Pichu, Peru
Machu Pichu is on many people’s travel bucket list – and there’s a good reason. Journey to the city in the clouds by train – there are options for every travel style and budget – or hike the Inca Trail. As you walk through Machu Pichu with your guide (all visitors must enter with a guide) you’ll learn about some of the 200+ structures in this Inca city. But wait – plan to spend at least one week in the area because there is so much more to see. Visit other archaeological sites like Saqsaywaman and Ollantaytambo. In Cusco, go to Santo Domingo Cathedral and the Pre Columbian Art Museum. And, don’t forget to try fruit-infused pisco and coca tea.
Gorilla Trek in Bwindi National Park Uganda
There are only three places in the world where mountain gorillas live in the wild, and having a chance to observe them is a truly an honor. Getting to Bwindi National Park by land is not easy – but the journey was part of the fun – it was like being on a big road trip safari. I was filled with anticipation as we set out in the early morning to search for our assigned gorilla family. You don’t know where they are or how long it will take to find them. But when you do, it may just take your breath away (or you may be slightly out of breath after the brisk hike through the Uganda countryside). Our group silently observed and followed our Gorilla family for the one hour allowed. We smiled at the cute baby playing on the banana tree branches and gasped with respect (and a maybe a little fear) at the powerful silverback who kept an eye on us.
Easter Island / Rapa Nui
If you like history and archaeology, you will find the long journey to Rapa Nui well worth it. When you see the towering Moai up close, so many thoughts go through your head like – why did the people build them, how did they build them, and how did they move them? Some of those answers are still disputed by experts… You will see Moai throughout most of the island and can visit them on your own or with a group – we did a combination of the two. Relax and grab some sun on the island’s only beach, which also happens to have a cool Moai platform. In the evenings, grab a bite at one of the ocean front restaurants – enjoy the sea breeze and maybe catch a glimpse of a sea turtle.