Many world travelers have compiled a bucket list of destinations they wish to visit, even when they do not directly write them down. I have been fortunate to have traveled all over the world, from taking a dip in the famous Budapest thermal baths, to partying at the Full Moon Party in Thailand, to eating snails in Paris.. But there are still many places on my bucket list I wish to explore. Here are my top 10:
1. Machu Picchu
Spanning over 50 miles and taking most hikers between four and five days to complete, the classic Inca Trail leads individuals through the Peruvian Andes to the ruins of Machu Picchu. This site dates back to the 15th century, however it was not rediscovered until the early 20th century. The Lost City of the Incas, as it is known, features tombs, the ruins of Inca temples, and palaces all in a jungle setting and surrounded by a steep mountainous backdrop. This spot is one of a few world wonders on my list.
Being mostly uninhabitable, Antarctica is one of those places that you pretty much get to only see on the Discovery Channel. Except for some scientists and temporarily stationed researchers, the last real wilderness on earth is home to just wildlife such as birds, penguins, and whales. Glaciers, icebergs, snow covered mountains, and research huts are among the attractions. Individuals that travel there are some of the few. Yearly, only about forty vessels, usually small, expedition ships, make their way to the Great White desert. Usually, these ships leave from Argentina or the Falkland Islands and carry from six to five hundred passengers, though a great majority take less than one hundred.
3. The Amazon
In a journey to the Amazon, it would be impossible to see everything it has to offer considering the river itself is the most voluminous in the world and the Amazon Basin encompasses giant fragments of Brazil, Peru, and Ecuador. Historically, many travelers have been dissuaded by the thoughts of pesky mosquitos, piranhas, and other animals found here. That however, is rapidly changing and river cruises have become increasingly popular. This tropical rainforest is in fact the most biodiverse in the world so there is an abundance of wildlife for one’s viewing pleasure.
4. The Serengeti
The name Serengeti, translated directly from the Masai language, means Endless Plain in reference to the land seemingly going on forever. The red and orange horizons seem distant and out of one’s grasp. The area is home to the highest concentration of large mammals in the world as millions of wildebeests and other animals travel across the Grumeti and Mara rivers. You can experience this up close and personal when you join and one of the many professionally operated safaris. It’s nature’s zoo, and a wildlife lovers and adventure seekers paradise.
5. Angkor Wat
Angkor Wat is the largest religious complex in the world, encompassing over 1.6 million square meters or some 400 square miles and one of Southeast Asia’s premier travel destinations, drawing millions of visitors every year. This abandoned site, whose name translates to “City of Temples,” is said to at one point have housed over 750,000 people. Although built as a Hindu temple in honor of Vishnu, it became a Buddhist shrine and place of pilgrimage. The sheer beauty and craftsmanship of the stone structures, along with artworks and the luscious forest in which it lies makes this destination a must visit.
6. Great Wall of China
The Great Wall of China remains the most recognized destination when it comes to travel in Asia. It is an essential part of any trip to China and while a great deal of it is in ruins, in many sections you can both view and walk out on the monument. The Great Wall was first started over two thousand years ago and now stretches more than 5500 miles from the east coast to the Gobi Desert. Beijing houses the most accessible regions of the wall which primarily date from 400 to 700 years ago. There is a theory that those who died building the wall were buried within the wall.
7. The Galapagos
Ever since learning of Charles Darwin and his Theory of Evolution stemming from the turtles on these islands in junior high school, I have known that this destination is a must visit. The islands are located nearly 700 miles out in the Pacific Ocean off the coast of Ecuador where they are isolated from the outside world. The location is a laboratory of wildlife, where much of the animals are found nowhere else on earth. Another brilliant aspect about the wildlife here is that many of the native animals do not show any signs of fear towards humans. You can stand up close to birds, iguanas, and turtles and they won’t be frightened or fly away.
Stonehenge, from what I’ve heard is one of those landmarks that is much more breathtaking in person than in photos or documentaries. Once there, you are able to experience the thousand year old towering standing stone blocks and the mysteries and legends that surround the construction of the monument. Today, the origins of this famous ring of stone remain a mystery. The structure is composed of bluestone believed to be from Wales and sarsen from the Avon river weighing up to fifty tons. These blocks were purposefully put together around five thousand years ago and must have required the labor of thousands of individuals.
9. Great Barrier Reef
Although I have never gone scuba diving before, it is something that I am eager to learn, and there is no greater place to start then the Great Barrier Reef, off the coast of Australia. It is the world’s largest coral reef system and consists of over 2,900 individual reefs and nine hundred islands and encompasses an area of over 133,000 square miles. Just beneath the surface of the water, an amazing world presents itself. Here you are able to swim with vivid tropical fish and marine life that call this area home. Nowhere else in the world can you experience such diverse and vivid oceanic wildlife, through such beautiful clear, blue water.
10. Pyramids of Giza
Located in the lively city of Cairo, Egypt and near the Nile River which flows through the city and onto the Mediterranean Sea, the Pyramids serve as tombs for Egyptian pharaohs. Another wonder of the world, these pyramids were constructed thousands of years ago. They have long been a source of mystique and fascination to the world. The fact that ancient people were able to create such grandiose structures has mystified humanity though recent findings suggest Egyptians had excellent architectural and engineering skills. Until recently, I had no idea you were able to climb partway up the Pyramids or enter their narrow inside passageways which makes this adventure that much more desirable.
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