There are “travel” lists. There are “cities to go to before you turn 30” lists. There are “best beaches in the world” lists. And then there is the ultimate bucket list for the wanderluster–those who fall into that secret crevice of Robert Frost’s words:
“Two roads diverged in a wood, and I–
I took the one less travelled by,
And that has made all the difference.”
Here are my 10 recommendations for the ultimate wanderluster:
1. Sunrise in the Sahara Desert
A memory of one the most spectacular suns, was the one that sneaked up on me, like a playful child, from behind the orange sand dunes of the Sahara. It is the largest hot desert in the world, and the third largest desert on earth (after the Arctic and Antarctica, which are cold deserts).
Dawn breaks over a world that time seemingly forgot. There are no people, buildings or anything except Mother Nature’s greatest work of art in sand. Just you, the parched morning air and the shifting shadows along the landscape. For any wanderluster, it will be one of the ultimate bucket list experiences.
2. Meteor showers in the Atlas Mountains
Imlil is a tiny, rural village nestled amidst snow-capped mountain peaks, free from modernization and pollution. It is a quiet, traditional Berber community where days can float by as the lazy clouds in their blue skies. Sitting at 5,710 ft., it is the furthest up on the mountain you can stay. From there, you can trek to Toubkal, the highest point of the Atlas mountains.
Stay in January to see the Quadrantid meteor shower. It is the strongest meteor shower of the year. In the pitch black of the night and alone in the mountains, it was the most dazzling and enchanting sky performances I have ever seen, as hundreds of lights rained down on the earth.
3. Winter Solstice at Karnak Temple in Egypt
The solstice was a time of great celebration for many ancient civilizations. It was a period that heralded the changing of the seasons, where the sun was regarded as the source of life. The Sun God, Ra, ruled the ancient Egyptians and they were meticulous in their preparation for the solstice.
On the shortest day of the year, in Karnak Temple, the sun gives an outstanding display–boldly and powerfully, between the pillars of the temple’s walls. It floods the entire place with an intricate display of light. The precision of the ancient craftsmanship for this yearly event will leave any wanderluster breathless.
4. The Golden Circle in Iceland
Out of everywhere I have travelled, there is still no place in the world like Iceland with its sweeping landscapes. It is an ultimate bucket list find.
The Golden Circle is a route (accessible only by driving). The first stop is Þingvellir National Park to see the Tectonic Rift. Here you will find the North American and Eurasian plates being pulled apart at such a rate, there is an enormous “tear” in the earth. It is the only place in the world where you can see this.
You will also encounter Silfra, a lake of melted glacier water filtered through volcanic rock. It is also a spectacular scuba diving spot–just remember your dry suit. Locals say it is the first time the flowing water catches a glimpse of daylight after travelling underground for at least 50 years. Not far from here, you will also discover Iceland’s original parliament, dating back to 930 AD.
The journey follows on to Geysir, which is where the word “geyser” originates, although it no longer erupts. Strokker, however, which sits nearby will not disappoint with a fine geyser performance every 5 to 10 minutes. Hot springs, fumaroles and bubbling mud pots, littered nearby are also spellbinding attractions.
Next on the map is the enchanting Gullfloss waterfall with powerful rushes of water, free falling into a thick white mist.
The final stop is Kerið Crater Lake – a 3000-year-old volcano that collapsed, forming a crater filled with sapphire blue water. It commands an appearance that would rival something out of an epic, fantasy novel.
5. Polar Nights and Northern Lights in Svalbard
Svalbard – where there are more polar bears than people. Its rugged frozen backdrop is unparalleled to anything you would have seen.
Between November to February, these islands in the Artic Circle experience 24-hour night time darkness, called the Polar Nights. This makes it the only place in the world where you can see the Northern Lights during the daytime. You get to experience two natural phenomenon at once.
Svalbard is more challenging to get to, but very much worth it for the ultimate bucket list. Be sure to take extra warm clothes–the winter clothes that may feel warm in other countries feels like a flimsy t-shirt here.
6. Stay in two countries at the same time in Switzerland/France
Hotel Arbez is just a few miles from Geneva. It is not fancy or luxurious and features a simple alpine design. Some may say it is in need of modernization, while others may categorize its old décor as part of its charm.
On the outside, it looks like any other hotel. Yet, it is anything but that. This is the only hotel in the world that sits in two countries at the same time.
Depending on where you go inside, you could be crossing international borders. Its quaint restaurant with its cosy atmosphere is also half French and half Swiss (literally).
Brush your teeth in your bathroom in France before you go to bed in Switzerland. My wanderluster tip would be a get the honeymoon suite as the border runs through the middle of the bed.
7. Swim in every ocean of the world
Pacific Ocean, Atlantic Ocean, Indian Ocean, Southern Ocean, and Arctic Ocean. No ultimate bucket list for the roving wanderluster will be complete without it.
8. Stay on a deserted / uninhabited island overnight
There are numerous tiny deserted/uninhabited islands all over the world that are under the rule of its bigger mainland country. You may unearth one on your next trip. It is, however, advisable to ensure you are not breaking any laws by staying there overnight.
For any wanderluster, nothing is like falling asleep under a thousand stars with the roar of the waves at your feet. Be sure to pack a torch as it will be pitch black once night falls. My favorite time for this is during a full moon.
9. Go on safari in the air
Many go on a safari to be up close with wildlife in its most unspoiled beauty. But how about getting a bird’s eye view?
There are a few places in Africa that will let you take a mini safari via hot air balloon. No journey is ever identical as the wind takes you where it wishes, and the journey lasts about an hour. Trips usually start about half an hour before sunrise. Get an unprecedented view of the wild as the sun rises to meet you at eye level.
10. Dine in the middle of the sea in a bar/restaurant
There are a few bars and restaurants that are located in sea itself.
I once dined in a restaurant in the middle of the tropical ocean. When we arrived, a special bell was rang, after which a ferryman came and took us (via row boat) to the restaurant. The seating was structured so that our legs and bare feet dangled through open spaces, right above the ocean. Any peculiar slips would mean plummeting into the sea below. We dropped little pieces of food below as the colorful array of sea life clambered in groups to eat.
There are a few places like this dotted across the globe. Without a doubt, it is a dining experience that deserves its place in the ultimate bucket list.
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* Article originally featured in Best Lived