Top 10 Once-in-a-Lifetime Trips
On MFT we are normally all about seeing as much as possible and scraping by on a small budget. However sometimes in life you need to follow your dreams and do that one thing you’ve always wanted to do. Here the guys from Odyssey Tours and Travels suggest their Top 10 Once in a lifetime trips.
A guest post by Odyssey Tours and Travels
Life is too short and the world is far too a big place to explore in one lifetime. Every traveler has his own bucket list of “must see places before I die”. We have put together one such list of 10 once-in-a-lifetime trips. What distinguishes this list is the variety of experiences and destinations to suit every taste, from taking a cruise to Antarctica or the Trans-Siberian rail journey from Moscow to Beijing, from scuba diving in the Great Barrier Reef to trekking the Inca Trail at Machu Picchu, to experiencing the Northern Lights from Norway and even swimming in the Dead Sea!
1. Cruise To Antarctica from Ushuaia, Argentina
Ushuaia is the ultimate Heaven’s gate to the least traversed white continent of Antarctica. Famously dubbed as the end-of-the-world, Ushuaia is the southernmost city on the planet, situated at the southernmost tip of Argentina. It’s at a hopping distance from the white continent.
Antarctica is a frozen desert of glistening white as far as the vision can penetrate. What is even more magnanimous here are the ice formations, resembling like sculpted monoliths – call it nature’s own art. See whales, seals and sea birds worthy of seafaring poems. Rare animal encounters and opportunities found nowhere else, but here. This is ultimate exploration. Nature untouched, untapped.
Your Antarctica cruise tour can last anywhere from eight to fifteen days, circumnavigating through the glacier rises and islands like Cape Horn, Georgia’s and The Falklands.
2. Inca Trail Trek at Machu Picchu, Peru
Our next once-in-a-lifetime experience is the Inca Trail Trek at Machu Picchu which is an archeological wonder and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Because of its existing archeological ruins along the trek route, there is a sheer sense of mystery and awe for anyone who treks this route.
At the fascinating city of Cuzco, one must halt for acclimatization as the oxygen levels here repress drastically. The Inca Trail is an uphill trek that leads above 3000 meters, the highest point being at 4200m above sea level. The trail is inundated with many ancient colonial structures and frescos en route. The best time to take this trek is from April to October, with peak months being from June to August.
3. Sail the Greek Islands
One of the most pocket-friendly touring places in Europe, the Greek Islands make for an enviable holiday spot. If sapphire blue waters woo you and beaches entice you, served with drop-dead gorgeous sunset views in the background then directly head over to the Greek Islands.
The aquatic charm here is more than one can ask for, so much so that you may be baffled by the enormous range of prospects to choose from. A few popular islands are Santorini (a Honeymoon favorite), Crete (a trekker’s paradise), Mykonos (most vibrant and lively place for nightlife and beaches), Corfu (medieval architecture, a UNESCO world heritage site) and Rhodes (buzzing with cultural alibi along with scenic beauty).
4. Northern Lights and Norwegian Fjords
Possibly the most fascinating natural wonder Mother Nature has to offer, Aurora Borealis (the Northern Lights) are a magnificent spectacle to behold. When you personally experience this truly once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, you‘ll know it is a moment of sheer mysticism and will be at awe at the beauty of sheer nature.
The display of the Northern Lights can be spotted all over Norway, but the surest place to catch them is up in the north, near the Arctic Circle. Best time of year being the autumn and the spring equinox i.e. from 21st September to 21st March.
The other factor that makes Norway a part of this list is the unrivalled beauty of the Fjords here. You can also go skiing, hiking and camping here, in the high rises of the Norwegian Fjords.
5. Serengeti National Park, Tanzania and Masai Mara, Kenya
These two places are one big National Wildlife Reserve, except for the fact that in Tanzania it is called Serengeti while in neighboring Kenya the reserve is known as Masai Mara. This mammoth reservoir of extraordinary animal and bird species is flocked by thousands of people every year for scientific, ecological and adventurous reasons. But the site is a major crowd-puller during the migration hours of the wildebeest and zebras from October to November (period of short rains) and from April to June (period of long, heavy rains).
For its habitats of diverse wildlife, this place is a perfect setting for wild safari adventures and getting up close and personal with some of the deadliest predators in the world like cheetahs and lions. The Mara River in Kenya is a hotbed for ruthless killers like crocodiles. The landscape exhibits varied topographies from lush grasslands and woodlands to sparse bushes and barren sands. You also have the pleasure of viewing the entire landscape from up above in a Hot Air Balloon safari.
6. Jeep Safari from Manali to Leh, India
Manali is a popular hill station in Himachal, especially in summers, for its cool weather and snow-clad peaks. With the Himalayas as the backdrop, Manali is a paradise for adrenalin junkies who enjoy dare devil sports like river-rafting, paragliding and rock-climbing.
Leh, capital of Ladakh, lies in the land dubbed as heaven itself – Jammu and Kashmir. Leh has been featured in many Bollywood movies and though temperatures here are low, the absolute warmth of the locals will keep you warm.
The linking factor between these places is the Leh-Manali Highway where you can enjoy the serene natural beauty en-route. The route is roughly 490 km and elevates to 4000 meters. The route goes piercing through hilly regions on both sides. You will have ample opportunities to take photographic breaks with the breathtaking rock formations on-route. Glaciered peaks with flowing streams gets immediately swapped for abandoned and arid lands once you cross the Rohtang Pass. Yet even those barren landscapes seem soothing to the eyes. A brief route outline entails: Manali – Rohtang Pass – Keylong – Jispa – Sarchu – Gata Loops – Tanglang La – Leh. There are mainly tented accommodations available onroute and a typical journey takes 3 days with two overnight stops in Keylong and Sarchu. These breaks are recommended to prepare yourself for altitude sickness.
7. Golden Eagle Trans-Siberian Railway, from Moscow to Beijing
The Trans-Siberian Express stretches 6,850 miles (11,024 Km). From Moscow (Russia) up till Vladivostok, the route covers the Russian terrain, there upon, off-shooting to Siberia, Mongolia and China.
in Russia, you can take in sites like the Red Square, St. Basils Cathedral, the Kremlin and Lenin Square. Irkutsk, hailed as the ‘Paris of Siberia’ and the Lake Baikal, known as ‘The Pearl of Siberia’ are also on the on route. The train takes roughly 15 days to cover the enormous distance but you can of course get off various points along the route. It’s not so much the destination but rather the journey that makes this a once-in-a-lifetime event.
8. Swim in the Dead Sea, discover Petra in Jordan
The Dead Sea is the lowest point in the world – 394.6 m below sea-level. It is called the Dead Sea because of the excess salt levels in the sea. This salt lake has Jordan bordering its eastern line and Israel and Palestine on the western front.
If you do visit this Sea, you will be thoroughly rewarded therapeutically and cosmetically. The mud along the sea is said to contain many minerals that act as skin-enriching tools. Tourists covered in dark mud are a common sight here. As souvenirs you can take home beautiful salt crystals and formations found lying on the shore, just like sea-shells. Because of its hyper-salination, you cannot drown in the water floating on your back. It’s a personal time of relaxing, of giving some physical and mental repose to your body.
Petra is a stunning city in Jordan, literally carved out of rock. The architectures and colossal ruins make it eye-beholding for more than one reason. The city is known as Rose City, because of the rosy-pink color that the rock exhibits here. The city is full of monasteries and alter-like structures, and is most definitely an archeological park. If you’ve read the Old Testament from the Bible, you’ll be fascinated to encounter the exact same sites mentioned there. Surprisingly, you are allowed to get around the city in only two ways. Either your own feet or those of horses, donkeys and camels.
9. San Diego to San Francisco: Drive Pacific Coast Highway No. 1
The Pacific Coast Highway is the second most famous highway in America. En route from San Diego to San Francisco, there are plenty of attractions and interesting stops en-route. Starting from the San Diego County you go through beautiful Orange County before hitting the giant metropolis of Los Angeles and then venturing further north towards San Francisco.
Midway through the route after crossing the Carmel Highlands you are greeted by the famous Big Sur. The coastline is suddenly more elevated and you are welcomed by red grooves kissing the sky and ragged rocks slashed by fierce waters.
10. Scuba Diving in the Great Barrier Reef, Australia
Located past the Pacific Coast of Queensland (Australia), a dive in the Great Barrier Reef is a pure bliss. This place is home to some of the most exotic marine flora and fauna in the world. Cairns, a cosmopolitan city, is the base to plan your scuba diving trip to the reefs.
The Great Barrier Reef is one of the most accessible dive regions and an easy-to-accomplish one. This is pretty much a Snorkelers Shangri-la. You don’t need to be an expert at diving to experience it– local dive operators provide overall training and guides help you along every step of the way. Many petit islands are scattered in the nearby bay. You can stay overnight on any of the islands.
About Odyssey Tours and Travels
Odyssey Tours and Travels is a leading IATA accredited Travel Company, established in 1992. We specialise in planning customized holidays in India and abroad for our clients which includes air ticketing, worldwide hotel reservations, inclusive tours, sightseeing activities, visa assistance & travel insurance services. For further information or to make a booking contact 020-66442929.
This article was published in September 2013.