When I was a kid, I spent an inordinate amount of time spinning my desk globe, selecting with the touch of one finger where I hoped to travel to someday as an adult. The world had so many far flung exotic destinations that peeked my childhood curiosity. Flash forward a decade or two … that same precocious kid was now working as a professional travel writer, adventure travel expert, top travel influencer and on-camera travel TV host,dedicating much of her life to exploring the globe. Funny how things work out. I’ve had the opportunity to explore the world and experience some life changing adventures:
80 countries, 7 continents and a myriad of weird and wild travel experiences. I worked on a show called Word Travels, a 40-episode TV series about the real lives of travel writers, broadcast worldwide on National Geographic Adventure, Travel Channel UK in over 100 countries and 21 languages. I wrote a book called “Travel Junkie: A Badass Guide to Solo Female Travel” and was featured as a travel expert by such outlets as CNN, ABC Nightline, New York Times, Conde Nast Traveller, Travel & Leisure, Forbes Traveler, MSNBC, E! News, Outside Magazine, Travel Channel, etc. My mission soon became to empower others with travel tips and tricks so they could turn their own travel dreams into a reality.
While there are an endless amount of awesome things to do and see, I recently wrote an article for Travelocity about some of my favorites. In no particular order, here are my Top 20 Amazing, Life Changing Adventures to Add to Your Bucket List.
Kayak in Antarctica
Paddle through glaciers, spotting penguins and sea elephants in one of the world’s most remote places. Glide effortlessly across pristine waters in your kayak, dodging floating sheets of ice, navigating around islands, and listening to the simple sounds of nature.
Volcano Boarding in Nicaragua
Fear is speeding down a 1,600-foot active volcano on nothing but a sled-like slab of plywood. Bigfoot Hostel, an adventure company and backpacker haunt located in the colonial city of Leon, Nicaragua, offers trips to volcano Cerro Negro for a day of ashy fun. Hurling down this volcano at speeds of up to 50 miles an hour is a wild experience that will leave you with a mouthful of sand and one helluva story to tell.
Go Cage Diving with Great White Sharks Off the Coast of South Africa
This is your chance to meet a shark face to face from the protection of a cage immersed in “Shark Alley,” located in the fishing village of Gansbaai, South Africa.
Swing Over the Zambezi River
The quaint town of Livingstone, Zambia, offers up an extreme activity similar to bungee jumping. Adventurers are outfitted in gear, secured to a wire and led to a platform from which they free fall 160 feet and then finish with a pendulum swing at 75 mph across the Batoka Gorge.
Jump Off the Macau Tower
Those who are brave enough to take on one of the the World’s Highest Bungee should head to Macau, a casino-clad city just a short trip from Hong Kong. From the 61st floor of the Macau Tower platform, jumpers will plummet 760 feet towards the earth at 120 mph in a wicked, gut-wrenching free fall. This operation is owned by A.J. Hackett, dubbed the “father of bungee jumping,” who manages adrenaline-based activities all over the world.
Find Your Spirit at Burning Man
How does one describe this week-long arts party event held every year in Nevada’s Black Rock Desert? For one week, some 60,000 costume-clad visitors travel from all over the world to celebrate humanity, creativity, music, charity and happiness celebrated to the beat of techno music. Burning Man is a playground for adults with everything from fire jugglers and mutant art cars to six-floor tall installations and life-sized games of Jenga. Mind blowing.
Brave the Cage of Death!
Called the “ultimate urban wildlife experience,” you get to swim with giant saltwater crocs from the safety of a plastic cage! Crocosaurus in Darwin, Australia, looks crazy! This one is still on my bucket list.
Watch the Sun Rise Over Angkor Wat, Cambodia
Angkor Wat is not only the main temple, it’s also the name of the complex, a vast spread of land with some unbelievable examples of Khmer architecture in all shapes and sizes. Jungle vines strangle crumbling ruins. Thick banyan tree roots threaten their foundations and compromise their form. Picture monks in saffron robes, set against a backdrop of ancient architectural wonder.
Eat Some Crispy Creepy-Crawlies at the Dong Hua Men Night Market in Beijing
It’s a great place to browse the food stalls and take in the colorful sights and wafting smells of the food being prepared on the spot. If you’re brave enough, you can snack on such delicacies as fried scorpions, starfish, sparrow and snake.
Trek the Inca Trail in Machu Picchu
Experience one of the most famous trails in the world by hiking through lush forests and mountains on a 46-kilometer physical and spiritual journey. Despite its mainstream popularity, this adventure is not for the weak as it requires physical strength and overcoming altitude sickness.
Bike the World’s Most Dangerous Road in Bolivia
Try this gravity-assisted mountain biking experience that will put all of your speed and technical skills to the test for a thrilling ride of a lifetime.
Zip line and Rappel in Puerto Rico
Puerto Rico is a destination that is often overlooked but it’s a great choice for the adventure traveler. Aventuras Tierra Adentro, a Puerto Rican-owned company, offers a caving adventure where you zip line, climb up ferratas (vertical pathways equipped with cables, metal rebars and ladders), and spelunk through the famous Rio Camuy. One of the most popular natural attractions in Puerto Rico, Rio Camuy is a network of natural limestone caves and underground waterways. Zip line above the rainforest canopy, over a lush abyss of giant ferns, mosses and neon-orange orchids. Then, rappel hundreds of feet into a canyon and hike into a dark, bat-infested cave.
Ride Through China on a Vintage Motorcycle
Beijing Sideways offers tours to the Great Wall from the sidecar of a 1930s vintage motorcycle! Cruise through the Chinese countryside for an off-the-beaten-path look at this iconic monument (section of the Great Wall near Huang Hua Shang and Shengtengyu), then follow it up with a French picnic. This is a part of the wall that is far from the tourist trail.
Enter the Bat Cave in Ubud, Bali
Fantasi Rafting is one of the only outfitters that begins beneath an impressive 100-foot waterfall. This section of the Ayung River then cuts through dense tropical rainforests, across deep volcano-sculpted terrain and through an active bat cave. Look up in awe as millions of flying webbed rodents soar around blindly and chirp frantically. Drifting downriver in the rubber raft, it’s a view that makes you feel like you’re in a living episode of Planet Earth.
Learn How to Fight Like a Gladiator
This is an average day at Scuola Gladiatori, a school just outside downtown Rome, which trains students to fight like gladiators. Using authentic weapons dating back to ancient Rome, instructors take tourist beyond the crowds and kitsch of the Coliseum. It’s a two-hour, hands-on history lesson that encourages learning through active participation.
Ride a Camel in Wadi Rum
Sitting atop a camel, you wear a gossamer scarf on your head and embrace your inner Lawrence of Arabia in the deserts of Jordan. Be part of Bedouin culture, eat cooked lamb buried beneath the sand, and sleep under the stars. Stillness of night. Calming. Away from Blackberrys.
Rescue an Elephant in Thailand
Located on the waters of the Mae Taeng River, Elephant Nature Park in northern Thailand, is a refuge for domestic-working Asian elephants, most of whom have been rescued from abuse. Volunteers who want to get up close and personal with the elephants can actually stay on the premises. Day-to-day work duties include helping rehabilitate the rescued baby elephants, building new fences and preparing fruit for their daily feeding.
Go For a Hot-Air Balloon Ride Over Cappadocia
Turkey has some of the most unusual terrain, with phallic-shaped rocks and underground caves. It’s like something out of a Star Wars movie. Soaring over the moon-like landscape of Cappadocia is surreal. With its predictable wind currents and static landscape, Cappadocia, located southeast of Istanbul in Turkey’s central Anatolia, is one of the world’s best spots. Glide, vertigo-free, over ancient cave dwellings, carved rock faces and chimney-like outcrops, and giant mushroom-capped rocks formed millions of years ago through volcanic eruptions and erosion.
Get Radioactive in Chernobyl
Extreme tourists with an interest in the bizarre will enjoy a trip to Chernobyl, Ukraine. In 1986, reactor number four exploded releasing nearly nine tons of radioactive material into the environment. That’s 90 times as much as the Hiroshima bomb. Wind spread the radiation to neighboring countries of Belarus, Poland and Russia, and the impact was disastrous, contaminating the air, soil and water. Today, tourists can join a guided tour to see a reactor, the “dead town” of Pripyat, and the “red forest” where pine trees turned reddish orange because of radiation. It’s a completely surreal experience that leaves you feeling like you’ve stepped into the future, in a post-apocalyptic world.
Camp in the Serengti
The Serengeti National Park, a large conservation area located in the north of Tanzania, has all the biggies: lions, leopards, elephant, buffalo and hippos. There is nothing more spectacular than watching these majestic creatures in their natural habitats. The name Serengeti comes from the Maasai language, meaning “endless plains”. If you can plan to go during the wildebeest migration that is ideal. Nowhere on earth is there a sight rivalling the spectacle of 1.5 million hoofed animals on the march. Life changing.
What’s on your bucket list? What are the most amazing adventures from around the world you’d like to share?
Julia Dimon is an official Travelocity Gnational Gnomad. Gnational Gnomads is an exclusive group of high-profile travel and lifestyle experts who offer tips and inspiration on behalf of Travelocity. For more information on the Travelocity Gnomads visit travelocitygnomads.com.