The 5th century philosopher St. Augustine once said, “The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page.” For those looking to read all the “chapters” this world has to offer, consider booking a holiday with an inspirational element. There are plenty of places to inspire, from the tops of Machu Picchu, to the rose-red rock of Petra’s canyon-like Siq, from gorilla trekking in the Ugandan mountainside, to living with holy men in the divinely-inspired churches of Northern Ethiopia.
On the hunt for purpose, here are my top five spiritual experiences that may align the chakras, soothe the mind, bring us closer to nature or, if we’re really lucky, give us insight into to the meaning of life.
1) Reach Nirvana in Korea:
Live like a monk at the Lotus Lantern International Meditation Centre. Located two-hours from Seoul, this twelve-year-old Buddhist temple was designed for foreigners looking to study the religious philosophy of Zen Buddhism. They sleep on traditional Korean cots, wake up at the crack of dawn (3:45am to be exact), slip into itchy grey training suits, eat simple food, wash their own dishes and meditate multiple times a day. The accommodations are basic, the food bland but the ideology behind this temple stay may inspire visitors to turn their few nights in this monastery, into a life-long practice.
2) Watch the Sun Rise in Namibia:
Neighboring South Africa and Botswana, Namibia is where the Atlantic Ocean meets the desert, where rich wildlife and traditional African culture meet some of the word’s most stunning sunrises. A popular tourist activity is climbing up Dune 45, one of Namibia’s many natural sand castles. The hike along the ridge isn’t easy but the ascent is worth it when you see the sun’s warm, orange light illuminate the 80 million year-old Namib Desert.
3) Get Enlightened in India:
Rishikesh, a holy city in Northern India, is a place many travelers go to “find themselves.” It’s a wildly popular spot on the banks of the Ganges River, which draws a spectrum of followers, from Hindu pilgrims, to new-age hippies, young Israeli backpackers to wise Babas who spend their days in the lotus position. Located some two hundred km from Delhi, this self-proclaimed “yoga capital of the world” is packed with meditation centers, ashrams, Ayurvedic massage parlours, vegetarian restaurants and spiritual communities. With its nightly ceremonies along the river and vibe of collective spirituality, there’s certainly something magical about Rishikesh.
4) Drink From the ‘Fountain of Youth’ in Bolivia:
For a look at the cradle of Incan civilization and a taste of her sacred waters, head to Isla del Sol (Island of the Sun) on the shores of Bolivia’s sacred Lake Titicaca. On the south end of the island, walk up some 200 steps to a sacred spring that’s said to be the fountain of youth. A sip of the rejuvenating juice is not only refreshing, it’s an important part of Incan ceremony. With a name that’s sure to get grade-school kids giggling, Lake Titicaca is also the highest navigable body of water in world (12,500 feet above sea level). At this elevation, you may have difficulty differentiating between your own spiritual enlightenment and good old fashion altitude sickness.
5) Connect with Mother Nature in Mozambique:
Off the coast of Tofu beach, come face-to-face with some of the world’s most gentle underwater giants. In an ocean safari offered by Bamboozi Backpackers lodge, tourists can swim alongside majestic manta rays, dolphins and even whale sharks, the world’s largest living fish. Fear not, despite their threatening size, whale sharks only eat plankton, not humans. Snorkeling with these pre-historic-looking beasts is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that will leave you awestruck! Just keep a bottle of white vinegar handy in case of pesky jellyfish stings. For more information on swimming with whale sharks, visit www.bamboozibeachlodge.com
What do you think are the world’s most inspiring places?