Incredible travel experiences make us catch our breath, they make us forget about anything other than being in that moment and afterwards, they make us want to be a better person. From close encounters with elusive wildlife to venturing to places no cruise ship has been before, you’ll want to add these unique travel experiences to your bucket list.
Lock eyes with gorillas in Uganda and Rwanda
There are only 1,000 gorillas left in the wild, and by seeing them you are helping to ensure their protection and survival. Find them in central Africa in the forests of the ‘Virunga Massif’, a vast swathe of national park spread across three countries – Virunga (DRC), Volcanoes (Rwanda) and Mgahinga (Uganda). The experienced can head to Uganda where terrain is steep, while Rwanda is more forgiving. Explore from the Uganda side with The Classic Safari Company.
Northern Lights Snowmobile Safari
Head to Sweden’s landmark Icehotel in Jukkasjärvi for a thrilling four-hour Northern Lights Snowmobile Safari in the wilderness where the enchanting Northern Lights paint the sky. Combine the thrill of snowmobiling with the chance of catching sight of the celestial spectacle. Along the way, stop at a cosy wilderness cabin where your guide will serve a warming two-course dinner before your return through the snowy landscape.
Explore remote parts of Honduras
You can now go where no cruise ship has gone before with Ponant. An eight-day itinerary aboard Le Dumontd’Urville will take you to Cayos Cochinos, La Ceiba and Cuero y Salado in Honduras. You’ll visit one of the most beautiful coral reefs in the Caribbean, and see rainforests and mangroves rich in wildlife. Meet the Caracoles people in Bonacca (The Cay), and the Garifuna people from Chachahuate island in the Cayos Cochinos archipelago. With five departures from November 2023, it will be an enriching experience.
Three Capes Track hiking tour in Tasmania
Hike a wild coastline to the Dolerite Cliffs, then dine on a gourmet three-course meal of fresh Tasmanian produce and a glass of local wine before you bed down in an eco-camp. Sound like the perfect long weekend? We think so. The Tasman Long Weekend hike with Tasmanian Walking Company takes you along the Tasman Peninsula to mighty Cape Raoul and Cape Hauy, along the Three Capes Track. You’ll cover 28 kilometres across three days with close wildlife encounters. Wake to views of Tasman Island and finish your weekend with a wine tasting and lunch at a vineyard because, after this rugged travel experience, you deserve a little indulgence.
Swan Hellenic has been pioneering expedition cruising for the last 70 years. While luxurious, expeditions remain at the cruise line’s core, 12-person hardhulled Zodiacs ensure you get close to nature and wildlife, safely. Visit smaller ports in bucket-list destinations travelling with scientists who involve you in the onboard Expedition Laboratory; while the expedition team – made up of experts in geology, glaciology, ornithology, marine biology, and history – give presentations. Swan Hellenic is passionate about preserving the pristine waters, magnificent wildlife and habitats that it is privileged to explore.
Connect with Indigenous guides at Wilpena Pound Resort
Visit South Australia’s Ikara-Flinders Ranges National Park and expect to be changed forever. Wilpena Pound Resort is the only accommodation within the park. Guests can stay in glamping tents or resort-style rooms and explore Ikara-Flinders Ranges on hiking and biking trails or by a scenic flight to fully appreciate the grandeur of the 95,000-hectare national park.
Hike Bhutan’s ancient trails
The Trans Bhutan Trail is a 403-kilometre pilgrimage running the length of Bhutan. The tiny Buddhist country on the edge of the Himalayas is known for its breathtaking views and the kindness of its people. Used by pilgrims, messengers and traders for hundreds of years, it’s often tackled by adventurers. You can hike sections from 1 to 14 nights, or do the whole trail on a 35-night adventure. Choose cultural experiences along the way from cooking classes, Buddhist ceremonies and visits to temples and monasteries to homestays. All profits from G Adventure’s Trans Bhutan Trail bookings support local communities.
Art escape in Shoalhaven, NSW
Bundanon is a haven and cultural precinct for art and nature lovers. Situated on the banks of the Shoalhaven River it was the home of celebrated artists Arthur and Yvonne Boyd. They gifted Bundanon to the Australian public as a living arts centre. Visitors can explore ground-breaking contemporary exhibitions at the award-winning Art Museum. The precinct showcases Boyd’s artwork and studio at the historic Homestead. It also has a 1,000-hectare wildlife sanctuary that visitors can discover with scenic walking tracks. You can book a cultural experience weekend and spend the night on The Bridge, an eco-friendly, sustainable accommodation, soaking up the tranquillity that Arthur Boyd loved so much.
Whale sharks in West Papua
Swimming with the whale sharks of Cenderawasih Marine Park in West Papua is one of the world’s most incredible travel experiences. The extensive coral reefs of this remote marine and coastal habitat rank amongst the finest in the world, but it is the unique opportunity to interact with whale sharks in their natural habitat that offers most visitors their biggest thrill. The whale sharks linger close to the surface, having developed a symbiotic relationship with generations of local fishermen. Enjoy a seven-day West Papua cruise with True North for an up-close experience, snorkelling or diving alongside the ethereal giants in Cenderawasih Bay, while allowing them the space and respect they deserve.
Sleep with lions, tigers or bears at Jamala Wildlife Lodge
Soak in a hot tub while you gaze into the eyes of a bear or hand-feed a giraffe from your balcony at Jamala Wildlife Lodge. There are 18 African-lodge-inspired rooms across three accommodation ‘precincts’ – uShaka Lodge (formerly the owner’s home), Giraffe Treehouses and Jungle Bungalows. Set inside the National Zoo and Aquarium, a stay here includes wildlife encounters in addition to those you’ll have from your room, including meeting a white rhino, a sun bear, a lion or a cheetah. All money raised from the animal encounters and cash donations goes directly into breeding, educational, animal conservation and welfare programs.
Slow travel in the South Island
Escape the ordinary on a four-day TranzAlpine escape. Visiting three West Coast destinations with the icing on the cake being the return journey on the relaxing TranzAlpine train. Highlights of the West Coast Explorer package include the limestone formations and blow holes at Punakaiki Pancake Rocks that have been created over millennia, soaking in a wood-fired hot tub in beautiful surrounds in Moana and learning about the golden age of West Coast mining at Shantytown Heritage Park.
Yellowstone National Park
From bubbling geysers, glassy lakes, and soaring peaks to fairytale-green meadows, Yellowstone National Park is magical. Yellowstone Safari Company specialises in tours of Yellowstone’s spectacular landscapes and abundant wildlife. Led by naturalist guides, choose a day tour of the Lamar Valley to search for bears, bison, wolves, elk and more, and marvel at Old Faithful and other geological wonders.
Play among two-thousand-year-old Mayan temples
Nestled deep within the Guatemalan jungle is the UNESCO World Heritage-listed Tikal National Park. Hidden in the jungle, tendrils of vegetation envelop its many buildings. One of the most important archaeological complexes left by the Mayans, Tikal was occupied from the 6th century BC to the 10th century AD. You’ll find 3,000 buildings within the ceremonial centre, including temples, pyramids, palaces, and public squares. Wildlife in the park includes jaguars and pumas, monkeys and anteaters and more than 300 species of birds including tucans. Tikal was the location for the Rebel base, Yavin 4 in Star Wars: Episode IV, A New Hope.
Safari on the Serengeti plains in Tanzania
Picture thousands of zebra grazing on the verdant plains of the Serengeti. Then watch as a sea of wildebeest stampedes to the Mara River while hoping to avoid the gaping jaws of awaiting crocodiles. Maasai Wanderings can organise bespoke travel experiences of the Serengeti, with accommodation in glorious glamping tents.
Connect to country in Kakadu
Kakadu’s landscapes include sandstone escarpments, awe-inspiring waterfalls, floodplains of unique wildlife and sacred rock art sites from the oldest living culture in the world. Connect to Country with bucket-list experiences all year round. Tour the waterways with Yellow Water Cruises, visit Warradjan Cultural Centre, Nourlangie rock art site, Maguk waterfall and natural swimming pool and Jim Jim Falls. They are all within easy driving distance or take the guided approach on a tour with Spirit of Kakadu 4WD Adventures.
Bike around Hoi An, Vietnam
Hoi An is a postcard-pretty city that has preserved its original wooden houses and charming storefronts. One of Vietnam’s best travel experiences is to hire a bike and meander along cobbled streets alongside women in elegant Áo dài, under brightly coloured lanterns. Immerse in the local culture through authentic Vietnamese cooking classes and art workshops in traditional handicrafts such as lantern making and ceramics.
Indigenous traditions in New Caledonia
Immerse yourself in the ancient traditions of the indigenous Kanak people of New Caledonia as you glide across the calm, gin-clear waters of picturesque Upi Bay, on the Isle of Pines, by outrigger canoe. The traditional Melanesian dugout canoes dance delicately as they pass enormous rocks that appear to float on the water, and glide over blocks of corals teeming with marine life. Discover peaceful bays, playful dolphins, mantas and curious turtles.
See polar bears in Canada
For years the remote town of Churchill, on the shores of Canada’s Hudson Bay, has lured wildlife enthusiasts. They come seeking the once-in-a-lifetime travel experience to observe polar bears in their natural habitat. In October and November, polar bears gather on the icy tundra, eagerly awaiting the freeze-up and the start of their hunting season. Venture out on a guided expedition aboard sturdy tundra buggies. They provide a safe way to view and photograph the polar bears. It’s an unforgettable adventure and showcases the urgent need for conservation efforts.
Soak in a hot tub on a Swiss lake
Glide across the glistening Lake Brienz in a one-of-a-kind floating hot tub. Soak in the warm, bubbling water as the crisp winter air invigorates your lungs and snowflakes dance delicately above. Winter bathing like you’ve never experienced before, the Hot Tug is no ordinary tub; it’s a half-boat, halfbathtub with enough room for six that will send you on a leisurely 90-minute journey that merges the tranquillity of a spa and a leisurely lake cruise with a backdrop of snow-capped forests and the towering slopes of the Bernese Alps.
Wintjiri Wiru drone show
Wintjiri Wiṟu is an unmissable show combining ancient Anangu storytelling with drone, laser and light projection technology. As custodians of the land, the local Anangu community hold the Mala story, a history woven into the landscape from Kaltukatjara (Docker River) to Uluru. The show is created by projections from state-of-the-art lasers, lights and more than 1,200 glowing drones. It is narrated in Pitjantjatjara and Yankunytjatjara languages with a soundtrack of traditional inma recorded with members of the Anangu community. Choose from two shows a night – a three-hour Sunset Dinner and 1.5-hour After Dark experience – with complimentary transfers from Ayers Rock Resort.
Cherry blossoms in South Korea
There is something magical about walking under trees covered in cherry blossoms. Crooked Compass runs a six-day hiking tour in South Korea that will take you through wondrous cherry blossoms and beautiful forest scenery. Highlights include the Jinhae Cherry Blossom Tunnel in Gyeonghwa and the magnificent blooms along Yeojwacheon Stream and the Dream Road.
Romanic train tour from Paris
This European travel experience takes you from Paris to Istanbul on the Venice Simplon-Orient-Express. The elegant train meanders through picturesque landscapes, stopping at historic cities such as Vienna and Budapest, before uncovering the allure of Istanbul. With luxurious accommodations on board, this once-a-year journey will be the trip of a lifetime.
Bolivia’s salt flats
Salar de Uyuni is a vast natural salt flat in Bolivia that astounds explorers with its otherworldly beauty. During the dry season, salt crystallisation on its surface creates hexagonal formations. Then during rainy season, Salar de Uyuni transforms into the world’s largest natural mirror. Within this surreal landscape, visitors can explore cacti-covered islands, witness flocks of flamingos in vibrant lagoons, and marvel at the captivating sunsets that paint the horizon with an array of colours.
Hot air ballooning in Turkey
Every morning in Turkey’s central region of Cappadocia you can join more than 150 hot air balloons rising above a landscape sculpted by erosion over thousands of years. Balloons drift over fairy chimneys, pigeon houses, orchards and vineyards. When you’re back on the ground, visit Derinkuyu, an ancient multi-level underground city where 20,000 people once lived.
See the Horizontal Falls in The Kimberley
The Horizontal Falls are pure theatre. Extreme tides of up to 12 metres force huge volumes of water through two narrow gorges in the McLarty Range, creating the illusion of waterfalls turned on their side. Middle Gap is more than 20 metres wide, the Narrow Gap about six metres wide but currently not traversed for cultural and safety reasons. The awe-inspiring spectacle is an unforgettable travel experience. From the air, they are like boiling water. From a power boat, you can see and feel the tug-o-war beneath the surface. See the falls on a multi-day cruise with Ponant, True North and Silversea or a day tour with Horizontal Falls Adventures.
Spain’s famous 200-kilometre coastal hike
Spanning 200 kilometres from Malpica to Finisterre, Camino dos Faros is an exceptional coastal hiking trail along Spain’s Costa da Morte. The route traverses majestic cliffs littered with lighthouses, secluded beaches, hidden coves, forests and dunes. Divided into eight stages, the trail follows old fishermen’s paths along the dramatic Galician Atlantic coast. It’s an immersive experience that combines adventure with natural beauty. It takes approximately 12 days to walk Camino dos Faros.
Blue Mountains Canyoning
Blue Mountains Adventure Company offers thrilling expeditions at 15 different canyons in NSW’s Blue Mountains. Empress Falls Canyon, suitable for beginners, takes you between canyon walls blooming with ferns and moss, scrambling over boulders, ‘spiderman’ walking across rocks to jump into deep rock pools and swimming through the canyon. The grand finale is an adrenaline-pumping 30-metre abseil down Empress Falls.
Milford Sound overnight cruise
Deep in New Zealand’s South Island, this area is a tranquil haven with swirling mist, soaring mountains and mirror-smooth water. Fiordland Discovery has overnight accommodation in Milford Sound/Piopiotahi on board Fiordland Jewel. The beautiful, boutique vessel has nine cabins, a rooftop hot tub and a helipad. You can also fly to the ship by helicopter from Glenorchy, adding an incredible flightseeing adventure and glacier landing to the experience.
Visit the Philippines’ most underrated destination
Submerge yourself in Sipalay, a coastal city in the Philippines that is blessed with incandescent waters and pristine beaches. With excellent visibility and warm temperatures year-round, Sipalay’s marine reserve offers unforgettable diving experiences that provide some of the most diverse diving in the Philippines. Divers can explore shipwrecks, dive through fields of soft coral trees and encounter extraordinary marine life.
Ski safari in Italy’s Dolomites
The Dolomiti Superski Area has 12 ski areas covering 1,200 kilometres of pistes. Travelplan Ski’s unforgettable travel experience takes you on a seven-night ski safari with a private professional guide. You’ll spend three nights sleeping in rifugios (traditional alpine inns located high in the mountains) and two nights in Cortina D’Ampezzo. Bellissimo!
Canal boating on the Rideau
Hire one of Le Boat’s modern houseboats and cruise on the UNESCO World Heritage-listed Rideau Canal. Opened in 1832, the 202-kilometre canal links Lake Ontario with the Ottawa River, going through 45 locks at 23 lock stations. With bases in Ottawa and Smiths Falls, cruise between the two, stopping at places like Merrickville and Manotick, or opt for more days and mosey down to Kingston – no licence required.
Explore Singapore in a beautifully restored vintage Vespa
In a world-first, Singapore Sidecars lets you pop into a sidecar on any number of tours. Try the Civic District Art Tour, Kampong Glam and the Civic District, and the Joo Chiat and Katong Tour. There are also heritage rides, and for film buffs, a tour of the Crazy Rich Asians locations, including one that finishes with a cocktail-making workshop.
Explore the Nile in style
After a mind-blowing tour through Cairo’s captivating history, slow down the pace a little on board a luxury cruise on the Nile from Luxor to Aswan on Sanctuary Sun Boat IV. Abercrombie & Kent’s unforgettable ‘Nile in Style’ cruise has spacious sundecks and soak up the sights of temples and ancient tombs, then bed down in your opulent room or suite
Outdoor travel experiences in The Faroe Islands
Embark on a dual adventure that combines a captivating wildlife experience with an exhilarating hike on Mykines Island. Located in The Faroe Islands, halfway between Iceland and Norway, the distinctive orange beaks of puffins are waiting to welcome you to a world of avian enchantment. Trek rugged cliffs to nesting sites, serenaded by the sound of crashing waves and seabird calls, to see puffins dance and play in their lush green habitat, before embarking on the challenging hike to Kallur Lighthouse, with breathtaking views of the archipelago your reward.
A melting pot of art, self-expression, and communal living in otherworldly landscape of Nevada’s Black Rock Desert. Burning Man is a wild, week-long event. As you explore the vibrant playa during the annual festival, you’ll encounter art installations, eclectic performances, and fire displays. Disconnect from the outside world to embrace the radical self-reliance and creative freedom amidst the dust and flames of this truly inclusive and utterly unique festival.
Hidden gems in Morocco
Morocco is intoxicating. It is a land where medinas whisper tales of the past and sandy dunes embrace the Saharan horizon. Intrepid’s Morocco Uncovered tour is a two-week travel experience where guests can traverse the majestic red dunes of the Sahara on a camel, surrender to the blue allure of Chefchaouen, uncover the ruins of Volubilis, and delve into the labyrinthine streets of Fes and lively Marrakech.
Australia by train
This Australian train journey takes you 2,880 kilometres across three states; NSW, Victoria and South Australia. The Great Southern is a four-day train journey that utilises The Ghan’s carriages, which used to sit idle in the summer months as the Red Centre is too hot.
14-day horse riding trek in NZ
Clamber aboard a Clydesdale for an epic 14-day travel experience with Alpine Horse Safaris. You’ll be exploring the mountains, lakes and landscapes of New Zealand’s South Island. It’s not for the inexperienced as you will be sitting in the saddle for up to 10 hours a day and dismounting and leading your horse downhill when the terrain is extra steep. Accommodation is in woolsheds and muster huts. Pack horses will carry all equipment and food, which you’ll devour around campfires as the sun goes down. The Tekapo Main Divide Expedition is New Zealand’s longest ride but other rides of just a few days are also available.
Holi Festival in India
Immerse in a kaleidoscopic celebration of new beginnings and cultural revelry during the Hindu spring festival of Holi. The country-wide celebration is held on the final full moon of the Hindu lunar month of Phalguna. Typically occurring in late February or early March. This vibrant event is an unforgettable spectacle. Festivities commence with a symbolic bonfire representing the triumph of good over evil, followed by a jubilant burst of powdered pigment and coloured water to celebrate the coming of spring. Pack a change of clothes for this psychedelic free-for-all, where inhibitions are set aside as joyous revellers sing and dance in a cloud of blue, green, pink and red.
Watch baseball on the oldest field in the Major League
No trip to the USA is complete without a baseball game – hot dog and all – and what better place to see the action than the oldest baseball field in the Major League? Built in 1912, Boston’s Fenway Park is home to the famous Red Sox. There are also one-hour tours daily. Look out for the one red seat at the ground, signifying the longest home run ever hit at Fenway.
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