Life is too short. And the world is far too a big place to explore in one lifetime. Every traveler has his own bucket list of “must see places before I die”. We have put together one such list of 10 once-in-a-lifetime trips. What distinguishes this list is the variety of experiences and destinations to suit every taste, from taking a cruise to Antarctica or the Trans-Siberian rail journey from Moscow to Beijing, from scuba diving in the Great Barrier Reef to trekking the Inca Trail at Machu Picchu, to experiencing the Northern Lights from Norway and even swimming in the Dead Sea!
Cruise To Antarctica from Ushuaia, Argentina
Ushuaia is the ultimate Heaven’s gate to the less traversed white continent – the Antarctica. Famously dubbed as the end-of-the-world, Ushuaia is the southernmost city in the world, situated at the southernmost tip of Argentina. It’s at a hopping distance from the white continent.
Antarctica is a frozen desert of glistening white as far as the vision can penetrate. What is even more magnanimous here are the ice formations, resembling like sculpted monoliths – call it nature’s own art. See whales, seals, and sea birds worthy of seafaring poems. Rare animal encounters and opportunities found nowhere else, but here. This is ultimate exploration. Nature untouched, untapped.
Your Antarctica cruise tour can last anywhere from eight – fifteen days, circumnavigating through the glacier rises and islands like Cape Horn, Georgia’s and Falklands.
Inca Trail Trek at Machu Picchu, Peru
Our next once-in-a-lifetime experience is the Inca Trail Trek at Machu Picchu which is an archeological wonder and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Because of its existing archeological ruins along the trek route, there is a sheer sense of mystery and awe for anyone who treks this route.
At the fascinating city of Cuzco, one must halt for acclimatization as the oxygen levels here repress drastically. Cuzco has itself been recognized as a world heritage site by the UNESCO. The Inca Trail is an uphill trek that leads above 3000 meters, the highest point being at 4200m above sea level. The trail is inundated with many ancient colonial structures and frescos en route. The best time to take this trek is from April to October, with peak months being from June to August. And it is mandatory to book your trek with a tour operator, to make your effort seamless.
The route is serenely rapt enough to take you on a little soul-searching journey. Relish in this utmost bliss of composure. Take a trail through the time travel back to the past.
Sail the Greek Islands
One of the most pocket-friendly touring places in Europe, the Greek Islands make for an enviable holiday spot. If sapphire blue waters woo you and beaches entice you, served with drop-dead gorgeous sunset views in the background then directly head over to the Greek Islands.
The aquatic charm here is more than one can ask for, so much so that you may be baffled by the enormous range of prospects to choose from. Since most islands are sparsely situated from each other, as if sprinkled over the Aegean Sea, the best way to discover the Greek Islands is by chartering a yacht or even just a cabin in a yacht. Typically, a yacht used for cabin charters offer private cabins, washrooms, indoor and outdoor common areas and access to shore via means of gangplank or tender/dinghy. Your yacht is your luxurious accommodation and mode of transport while on your discovery of the Greek Islands.
Few popular islands are Santorini (a Honeymoon favorite), Crete (a trekker’s paradise), Mykonos (most vibrant and lively place for nightlife and beaches), Corfu (medieval architecture, a UNESCO world heritage site) and Rhodes (buzzing with cultural alibi along with scenic beauty). Step in any time of the year, the place will still be brimming with tourists, threshold limit surpassing mostly in the summers.
Northern Lights and Norwegian Fjords
Unarguably the most fascinating natural wonder Mother Nature has to offer, Aurora Borealis (the Northern Lights) are a magnificent spectacle to behold. When you personally experience this truly once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, you’ll know it is a moment of sheer mysticism and awe regarded for nature.
Presumably, the display of the Northern Lights can be spotted all over Norway, but the surest place to catch them is up in the north, near the Arctic Circle. Best time of year being the autumn and the spring equinox i.e. from 21st September to 21st March. Whilst remembering to drape warmer, a lot warmer than normal, it will be wise if you stay clear of inhabited places as the artificial lights setting makes it hard to gauge the Northern Lights.
The other factor that makes Norway a part of this list is the unrivalled array of Fjords here. What makes a fjord a breathtaking sight is that it goes slicing between two vertical mountain terrains, deep-going bays uniquely swamped by celestial waterfalls, very common to this location only. Additionally, you could also go skiing, hiking and camping here, in the high rises of the Norwegian Fjords.
Serengeti National Park, Tanzania and Masai Mara, Kenya
These two places are one big National Wildlife Reserve, except for the fact that in Tanzania it is called Serengeti while in neighboring Kenya the reserve is known as Masai Mara. This mammoth reservoir of extraordinary animal and bird species is flocked by thousand people every year for scientific, ecological and adventurous reasons. But the site is a major crowd-puller during the migration hours of the wildebeest and zebras from October to November (period of short rains) and from April to June (period of long, heavy rains).
For its habitats of diverse wildlife, this place is a perfect setting for wild safari adventures and getting up close and personal with some of the deadliest predators in the world like cheetahs and lions. The Mara River in Kenya is a hotbed for ruthless killers like crocodiles. The landscape exhibits varied topographies from lush grasslands and woodlands to sparse bushes and barren sands. You also have the pleasure of viewing the entire landscape from up above in a Hot Air Balloon safari.
Jeep Safari from Manali to Leh, India
Manali is a popular hill station in Himachal, especially in summers, for its cool weather and snow-clad peaks. With the Himalayas at the backdrop, Manali is a trekker’s paradise and adrenalin junkies for dare devil sports like river-rafting, paragliding and rock-climbing.
Leh, capital of Ladakh, lies in the land dubbed as heaven itself – Jammu and Kashmir. Leh has been featured in many Bollywood movies and has certain places recognized by the movies names themselves. Though the normal temperatures here are subdued, the absolute warmth of the locals here will keep you warm.
The linking factor between these places is the Leh-Manali Highway where you can enjoy the serene natural beauty en-route. The route roughly extends to a length of 490 km and has an elevation of 4000 meters. The route goes piercing through hilly regions on both sides. You will have ample opportunities to take photographic breaks with the breathtaking rock formations onroute. Glaciered peaks with flowing streams gets immediately swapped for abandoned and arid lands once you cross the Rohtang Pass. Yet even those barren landscapes seem soothing to the eyes. A brief route outline entails: Manali – Rohtang Pass – Keylong – Jispa – Sarchu – Gata Loops – Tanglang La – Leh. There are mainly tented accommodations available onroute and a typical journey takes 3 days with two overnight break journeys in Keylong and Sarchu. These breaks are recommended to prepare yourself for altitude sickness.
Golden Eagle Trans-Siberian Railway, from Moscow to Beijing
The Golden Eagle Trans-Siberian Express is undisputedly one of the longest train rides with a stretch of 6,850 miles (11,024 Km). From Moscow (Russia) up till Vladivostok, the route covers the Russian terrain, there upon, off-shooting to Siberia, Mongolia and China.
Typically, the train ride takes around fifteen days and the train has special suites crafted, so while you are on-board you will experience true luxury. With a flamboyant diner room, the train also sports a lounge/bar compartment. At the departure, the passengers are greeted off by a glass of Champagne and a Military Brass Band. While in Russia, you get stoppages at monumental sites like the Red Square, St. Basils Cathedral, Kremlin Fortress, Lenin Square. Irkutsk, hailed as the ‘Paris of Siberia’ and the Lake Baikal, known as ‘The Pearl of Siberia’ are also on the stoppage list of the train. The train halts at major spots briefly for the tourists to enjoy the places.
It’s not so much the destination but rather the journey that is more accountable for once-in-a-lifetime event. This experience screams of pure luxury, pure class, and pure lavishness!
Swim in the Dead Sea, discover Petra in Jordan
The Dead Sea has the lowest point in the world – 394.6 m below the sea-level. It is called Dead Sea because of the excess salination levels in the sea. This salt lake has Jordan bordering its eastern line and Israel and Palestine on the western Dead Sea is a tourist hotspot attracting thousands every year.
If you do visit this Sea, you will be thoroughly rewarded therapeutically and cosmetically. The mud along the sea is said to contain many minerals that act as skin-enriching tools. Tourists covered in dark mud are a common sight here. As souvenirs you could take home beautiful salt crystals and formations found lying on the shore, just like sea-shells. Because of its hyper-salination, you cannot drown in the water floating on your back. It’s a personal time of relaxing, of giving some physical and mental repose to your body.
Petra is a stunning city in Jordan, literally carved out of rock. The rock-cut architectures and colossal ruins make it eye-beholding for more than one reason. The city has been pen-named as Rose City, because of the rosy-pink color that the rock exhibits here. It’s an ancient site as old as the time itself. The city is full brilliant monasteries and alter-like structures, and is most definitely an archeological park. If you’ve particularly read the Old Testament from the Bible, you’ll be most fascinated to encounter the exact, same sites mentioned there. Surprisingly, you are allowed to get around the city in only two modes of commutation – either your own feet or those of horses, donkeys and camels.
San Diego to San Francisco, self-drive the Pacific Coast Highway No. 1
The Pacific Coast Highway is the second most famous highway in America. It is a thorough biker’s pleasure to sway to the zigzag curves offered by this route. Drive that convertible, race on your bike or paddle away your cycling enthusiasm, this route is a marvel with the shoreline bordering at one side and the beaming peaks of the other.
En route from San Diego to San Francisco, there are a million attractions and getaways on the way. Starting from the San Diego County you drive to the Orange County, then to the Los Angeles County, leading up till the San Francisco County.
Midway through the route after crossing the Carmel Highlands you are greeted by Big Sur. Sudden elevations at the coastline make you wonder in amazement at the red grooves kissing the sky and ragged rocks slashed by fierce waters. It’s a place of sheer nature’s dominance. You are simply awestruck.
In due recognition of US armed forces, the route is pen named as Blue Star Memorial Highway.
Scuba Diving in the Great Barrier Reef, Australia
Located past the Pacific Coast of Queensland (Australia), a dive in the Great Barrier Reef is a pure bliss. For those wanting to romance with the aquatic world must drown in this trench of absolute celestial aqua. It is home to some of the most exotic marine flora and fauna, found in the world. Cairns, a cosmopolitan city, is the base to plan your scuba diving trip to the reefs.
The Great Barrier Reef is one of the most accessible dive regions and an easy-to-accomplish one. It won’t be incorrect to call it – Snorkelers Shangri-la. Underwater expeditions aren’t that common but you when you do take a deep dive, the under waters have more than simply blue to showcase. It’s true; the ocean does have many secrets locked up within its belly! And you don’t need to be an expert at diving – local dive operators provide an overall training and guides every step of the diving expedition for you.
The reef site also offer manifold day trips through the reef along the Queensland coast. Many petit islands are scattered in the nearby bay. You can halt overnight at any of the islands.