Did you know there are 195 counties in the world? How cool would it be to travel to all seven continents and visit them all? Imagine if you could take a leave of absence from life and explore one country a month for the next 16 years… Everybody has a list of travel adventures they want to go on. I keep a list of my idea holiday destinations on my phone and love ticking them off, one by one as I go. They range from idyllic beach holidays in the likes of Maldives, Mauritius and Bora Bora to a safari in the Serengeti. Whilst my travel bucket list is expansive, these are the places that most get me excited.
Zhangye National Geopark, China
Also known as China’s Rainbow Mountains, I quite honestly can say that I have never seen anything like them and am blown away by their beauty. Located in the northern foothills of the Qilian Mountains, the National Park is made up of 322 sq. km of rolling mountains of otherworldly coloured rocks that are both smooth and sharp in appearance, some standing up to several hundred metres tall.
According to Forbes, “The Rainbow Mountains are Cretaceous sandstones and siltstones that were deposited in China before the Himalayan Mountains were formed. The sand and silt were deposited with iron and trace minerals that provided it with the key ingredient to form the colours we see today.” Through the disruption of the Indian Plate colliding into the Eurasian Plate approximately 55 million years ago, the mountains have been uplifted to expose the rock formations that were hidden beneath the Earth. Through the process of erosion, the outer layers have been weathered away and reveal the different mineralogy and chemistry of the rock beneath. This creates the dramatic kaleidoscope of colours seen across the Rainbow Mountains.
Visit between June and September, during summer, when the temperature is warmer. During winter it becomes too cold and windy. The best time to go is when the Park opens at 6 am, to catch the sun rising over from the fourth and the fifth viewing platforms. If you fancy a 20-minute hike, you can climb up to the second viewing platform for a breathtaking view of all of the Coloured Mountains. Pack yourself a jumper, as it gets quite chilly in the mornings.
Wouldn’t it be a magical experience to see the Mountains with your own eyes?
Torres del Paine National Park, Patagonia
The National Park is best known for the soaring mountain peaks of the Paine mountain range, bright blue icebergs, glaciers and golden grasslands. It attracts 50% of Patagonia’s foreign visitors, with approximately 252,000 people paying homage annually. The park covers 1,814 sq. km and is located between Bernardo O’Higgins National Park to the west, and the Los Glaciares National Park to the north of the Argentine border of Patagonia.
They are quite hard to reach and you should plan for driving, hiking, horseback riding, and boating in unpredictable conditions. However, the panoramic views, watching the sunset over the lagoon and hiking to the edge of glaciers will be your incredible reward for your efforts.
The best time to go is between October and April when it is warmest, though the temperature rarely exceeds 20°C.
The Galápagos Islands, Republic of Ecuador
Imagine retracing Charles Darwin’s footsteps on an unforgettable adventure around the Galapagos Islands. Listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the archipelago is made up of 19 islands that each boasts its own exclusive ecosystem. Uniquely, they are located where three ocean currents merge. Combined with the ongoing seismic and volcanic activity that initially created the islands, unusual animal life – such as the land iguana, the giant tortoise and the many types of finch (that inspired Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution by natural selection following his visit in 1835)- have been born.
This isolated group of volcanic islands and their fragile ecosystem showcase an almost mythological selection of biodiversity. You don’t have to be a biologist or an ornithologist to appreciate that this is one of the few places left on the planet where the human footprint is kept to a minimum.
Miniloc Island, Philippines
Miniloc is a secluded oasis tucked away in the Philippines located in the province of Palawan, 400 km south of Manila. It is small in size and only covers about 2.5 sq. km. With only one sustainable eco-resort on the Island, El Nido Resort guests are shown the best of Filipino hospitality in a traditional coastal village with a rustic atmosphere. Despite being pretty isolated from the tourist trade, Miniloc is relatively straightforward to get to. There are regular flights between Manila and El Nido where a frequent ferry is in operation (taking up to 45 minutes to reach your destination).
There is a selection of comfortable accommodation available to meet your deserted island needs, choose from a jungle facing cottage or a sea view room out over the water.
Surrounded by an abundance of lush flora and wildlife, relax at your leisure as the warm water washes over your toes and your head sinks into the soft white sand, or check out the selection of included water sports, go diving or do some island hopping in Tatay and El Nido.
From sustainable menus to nature-based activities low in carbon footprint, El Nido Resort guests can enjoy guilt-free luxury with unbeatable tropical biodiversity.
The USA’s least populated state is a land of windswept plains and sagebrush hills that blister beneath brooding blue skies. It is home to some of the most dramatic scenery and from the jagged peaks of the Grand Teton Mountains to the many national parks and diverse wildlife.
Stay in Jackson Hole, located between the Teton Mountain Range and the Gros Ventre Range for unique views of the surrounding highlands and Snake River that flows freely through the valley. Elk and deer often graze in the valley, and a plethora of bird species can often be seen.
The crown jewel of Wyoming is without a doubt the infamous Yellowstone National Park. The vast nature sanctuary sprawls across 8,991 sq. km, stretching across Wyoming, Montana and Idaho. The National Park plays an important role in preserving the impressive geysers and other geothermal wonders found in the area. It is also a safe oasis for threatened and endangered species, such as the grey wolf, Canada lynx and black-footed ferret. Go for wild encounters to see grizzly bears in their natural environment; witness the geysers as they erupt, or take in the scenery from the rapids as you raft down Snake River.
Make sure you take the time to explore the few townships that exist along the Oregon Trail that is steeped in history and infused with pioneer grit. Discover outlaw country in the Wild Wild West for yourself.
Andaman Islands, India
The Andaman Islands form an archipelago in the Bay of Bengal. They offer an extraordinary opportunity to visit some of the world’s most secluded islands that have seen little influence from global tourism. The Andaman Islands are home to the Sentinelese, who resist contact with the outside world and have had little contact with modern civilization.
Head to Barefoot at Havelock Island for an idyllic rustic hideaway in paradise. For a beach escape with a dash of adventure, Havelock Island is located just 1.5 hours from Port Blair by speedboat transfer. Set amongst 7 acres of virgin rainforest on the water’s edge, they offer Robinson Crusoe style eco-focused cottages, made of hardwood walls and conical thatch roofs that inconspicuously blend into the surrounding jungle.
Given the accolade of “best beach in Asia” by TIME Magazine in 2004, this island retreat also offers some of the world’s best diving. You can also relax with some yoga, venture off down the mangrove creeks on a kayak, explore deserted islands, or even have a relaxing Ayurvedic spa treatment. Barefoot at Havelock is perfect if you’re looking for an unpretentious hideaway on one of the world’s last undeveloped tropical islands.
So, what’s on your travel bucket list?
Until next time, safe travels.
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