Don’t let life pass you by while you continue to dream of traveling…someday. That someday could never come and these must-do travel experiences are something everyone should enjoy at least once in a lifetime.
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Watch the First Sunrise in North America at Cape Spear, Newfoundland
Just a 25-minute drive south of St John’s, is the Cape Spear Lighthouse National Historic Site, the province’s oldest lighthouse and the easternmost spot in the western hemisphere. Here you’ll have the opportunity to watch the first sunrise over North America, as well as the chance to spot whales and icebergs. Looking out over the Atlantic, you can almost see Ireland, the nearest land to the east. The lighthouse itself is perched atop a rugged cliff and has been flashing since the mid-1800s as an iconic symbol of Newfoundland and Labrador’s mariner history. After the sun comes up, take a walk along the dramatic coastline to continue enjoying those amazing views. If you’re not fortunate to see a whale, provided you’re here in the summer months, you can check that must-experience off your list by joining one of the many whale-watching excursion offered throughout the province – Sea of Whales Adventures in Trinity offers one of the best.
Hike the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu
Hiking the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu, an Incan citadel set high in the Andes built in the 15th century and later abandoned, is considered to be one of the world’s great pilgrimages. An endurance challenge for hikers, while it isn’t easy, the reward is worth the arduous, life-affirming journey. Experts believe the Incas constructed the trail as a holy pilgrimage to prepare visitors to enter the lost city that explorer Hiram Bingham discovered over a century ago. You’ll pass through the Sun Gate (Intipunku) at sunrise, after following in the footsteps of the Incas.
Go Stargazing in the California Desert
If you’re interested in constellations, there are few better places to stargaze than Joshua Tree National Park. Located in the California desert, dark skies with clear nights can be enjoyed nearly every day of the year due to the low desert humidity and absence of light pollution. Visitors are often astounded when getting a glimpse of the night sky in such an unpolluted state. The National Park Service also hosts frequent stargazing get-togethers throughout the year. Check the park’s event schedule for upcoming “My Night Sky” events that help visitors understand what they observe. If you really want to get into stargazing, this is a great place to do it. Just bring a star chart, or a planisphere, which can help you identify the stars and constellations above your horizon on any day and at any given time of the year.
Marvel at the Northern Lights
Visiting Iceland itself should be on every travelers’ bucket list – the country offers a number of unforgettable experiences that should be enjoyed before it’s too late. First up, the Jokulsarlon Glacier Lagoon, where icebergs are continuously breaking off the massive glacier, drifting through a river and down to the sea. The thundering sound they make while crashing to the water is something that needs to be experienced firsthand to be believed. The Blue Lagoon is Iceland’s most famous hot springs pool, with its milky, warm aquamarine waters surrounded by black lava rocks. Visitors can even swim out to a bar that sits in the middle of the lagoon to enjoy a beer, sip strawberry champagne or even a green smoothie.
Seeing the Northern Lights is something you’ll never forget and by visiting between late September and about mid-March, you’ll have the chance to see the colorful lights dance across the sky.
Take a Stroll in Kyoto's Bamboo Forest
The Kyoto, Japan Sagano Bamboo Forest is a magical wonderland of towering, verdant bamboo stalks that gently sway in the wind, eerily creaking as they collide. Often found on lists of places that must be seen before you die, walking through is truly a surreal experience, as the sun filters through, projecting tiny slices of light across the trail, as if calling to visitors to come in for a closer look. By visiting in the spring, you can view some of the country’s magnificent cherry blossoms in full bloom.
Observe the Galapagos Wildlife
A volcanic archipelago situated about 600 miles off the coast of Ecuador in the Pacific, the Galapagos Islands were famously studied by evolutionary theorist Charles Darwin. The islands are legendary for their great number of endemic species that include giant tortoise, marine iguanas, flightless cormorants, penguins, blue-footed boobies, frigatebirds and more. As the islands were never linked to the mainland, to get there, species had to have floated, swam or flown in – and as larger mammals at the top of the food chain couldn’t make the journey, the lack of predators allow wildlife to thrive. Many of the animals have never learned to fear humans, and appear practically tame, which means you’ll be able to snorkel right alongside the marine iguana and walk quietly among the resident sea lions and tortoise.
Visit Gray Whales in Baja, Mexico
San Ignacio Lagoon near the town of San Ignacio on the Baja Peninsula of Mexico is home to grey whales known as “friendlies,” between about mid-January and mid-April when they head to Alaska on their annual migration. Many of them even seek out human contact in the lagoons, with mothers bringing their calves to “introduce them” to curious visitors. One of the best ways to experience this once-in-a-lifetime adventure is to book with Campo Cortez, a remote eco-lodge that will take you out to see them. This is one of the most extraordinary wildlife encounters on the planet, with the opportunity to see the 40-ton whales and their newborn calves up close.
Experience the Wildebeest Migration on an African Safari
Taking an African safari is another once-in-a-lifetime experience and a must for any travel enthusiast. If you want to go, Tanzania is an ideal destination, often voted the best country on the continent to do so. It’s home to safari favorites like the Ngorongoro Conservation Area and Serengeti National Park, where millions of wildebeests form one of the most incredible sights that can be seen on the planet as they migrate through the area year-round.
Step Foot on Antarctica
While traveling to Antarctica isn’t exactly a hop, skip and a jump, it is one that you’ll never forget. Once you get through the waters of Orne Harbor, you’ll be greeted by hundreds of squawking penguins tending their young in this desolate landscape where iceberg peaks rise up to over 300 feet from of the sea. Humpback, orca, sperm and minke whales, leopard and fur seals, cormorants and albatross are just a few of the other creatures you might encounter. This is one of the most untouched and most unusual places on Earth, as the only permanent landing area for the Emperor penguin. The grandeur of the mountain ranges, with peaks reflected in icy blue waters and the massive sheets of ice, is a sight that few humans get to experience. If you do, consider yourself extremely lucky.
Take a Cross-Country Road Trip
Everyone should take a cross-country road trip at least once. We all see those pictures online, in magazines, movies and books, but to actually witness it yourself is absolutely surreal. You’re likely to meet many people from around the world during the journey, coming to see attractions that more than a few Americans take for granted. You’ll get to sample local and regional foods you probably don’t have the chance to back home and enjoy countless spectacular sights along the way.