Some of my most memorable trips have been nature and adventure trips: Seeing wildlife in its natural habitat up close & personal is an awe-inspiring experience – from diving with young sea lions to finding lions on your own or seeing Orang Utans! And what’s even better that a dream trip like this doesn’t have to cost a fortune: some of my best trips involved staying in a tent or simple hut and it didn’t take away at all from the experience, on the contrary, it made it even more real and pure! So, after much wrestling with myself, here are my top 5 nature & adventure destinations:
1. Galapagos Islands, Ecuador
Ok, so the top spot was easy – if there is only one wildlife watching experience you have to do before you die, it is without any doubt the Galapagos Islands. It is one of the most amazing experiences with unique wildlife you won’t see anywhere else, in a well protected environment! Add to that the relative privacy of visiting on a small-group boat cruise and the excellent nature guides, and you’ll have a trip of a life-time. I was able to see both land animals and sea life on a combined wildlife and diving tour, which was the best of both worlds. I will never forget the diving with young sea lions who where so eager to play!
2. Krueger National Park, South Africa
I have seen some amazing wildlife in Africa, but the most memorable experience was to explore Krueger National Park on a self-drive safari or on a bushwalk! Reading the wildlife sightings from the previous day to plan the best route, getting up at the crack of dawn to leave the fenced camp site as soon as the gates open and driving around on my own in the still dim light certainly had my adrenalin pumping – and being rewarded with a group of lions crossing the bridge right in front of my car was unforgettable! Etosha National Park with it’s amazing wildlife around water holes was a close competitor for the African adventure!
3. Sarawak, Borneo
The stories of Orang Utans and headhunters had been in the back of my head for a long time before making the trip to Borneo. And watching the Orang Utans close up made it very clear that we share more than 96% of our DNA – they seemed to be watching me as much as I was watching them. With so much other wildlife in easy reach in the Kuching Wetland Park and Bako National Park, you can have an amazing experience from the comforts of a city hotel – that’s a rare combination of exotic wildlife and luxury! The Northern province of Sabah, also on Borneo, was a close call – Sarawak is a little easier to explore and got the nod of these two dream destinations!
4. Sossousvlei, Namibia
One of the most otherworldly experiences you can have without leaving Earth must be Sossousvlei in the Namib Desert. Climbing up the massive, red sand dunes and running down barefooted is unbelievable. And so is to see the moonscapes all around the park. Sleeping at the camp site with jackals slinking around our tents at night, seeing just the two yellow spots of their eyes on the way to the toilet, certainly made it an even more unique experience than any luxury hotel could have done! If you want to go to the end of the world, you should plan a trip to Sossousvlei!
5. AwesomeFoursome – Queenstown, New Zealand
If you are looking for an adventure that doesn’t involve overcoming nature or wildlife, but yourself, you should add Queenstown, New Zealand to your travel list. It is the world capital of adrenalin junkies and if there are few things that can get you excited, I’m sure the AwesomeFoursome will – the combination of wild water rafting, helicopter ride, jet boating and a bungie jump, all done one after the other without time to breathe certainly got my heart pumping!
I know, I know… there are so many more adventures to be had – so feel free to comment with your personal favorites below! I might have to make a Top 10 list the next time…