Ever since the movie “The Bucket List”, starring Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman came out, more and more people are creating their own list of life experiences to check off. These lists can involve such items as dining on the Eiffel Tower, having a private audience with the pope, or singing onstage with Bono. But many bucket lists revolve around travel. For, to experience the world in a whole new way may be the ultimate luxury.
Often, these lists easily merge with the next, citing such experiences as diving in the Great Barrier Reef, hiking to Machu Picchu, or walking on the Great Wall of China. Fascinating stuff, no doubt. However, every bucket list item does not have to be as expensive or far reaching. And each person’s bucket list will prove to be as unique as the individual. To create your very own bucket list, follow your interests but then, just maybe, seek out a more authentic experience to make it your own.
There is no shortage of options for the history lover. A constant top choice is Angkor Wat in Cambodia. The largest religious compounds in the world, these vast ruins encompass over 400 acres, featuring hundreds of sites. The best sightseeing option is to make a base camp in nearby Siam Reap and purchase the multi-day pass. Early mornings are best for avoiding the heat, if not the crowds, but an insider tip is to head back to the site in the late afternoon. Most visitors rush to get in a morning of touring before spending afternoons at the many cafes, or around the pool, and you may just find yourself waltzing through ruins all alone.
For another idea, perhaps a trip to Egypt is in your sights. And no, we don’t mean the Pyramids of Giza or the Valley of the Kings, no matter how remarkable those might be. Visit the biggies, but for a truly memorable experience, head to Luxor, but book a day with a local guide visiting places the hoards ignore. Instead of standing in line to visit King Tut’s tomb, head to the workmen’s village of Deir el-Medina, and the modest homes of the artisans who created the Kings tombs. Descend alone into tiny, yet stunning personal tombs, a sample of the exact same work, all without the crowds. Take in some more magic at the practically unknown Tombs of the Nobles, and finish your day on the West bank of the Nile, sharing tea with the taxi drivers, confident that your day in Luxor was unlike nearly anyone else’s.
Africa is the obvious and instant answer. Nowhere else on earth can you experience such incredible diversity and numbers of animals. Krueger Park is justifiably famous, but for a different experience, head to the Okavango Delta of Botswana. The waterways of the Delta lesson as they drain to the parched Kalahari Desert, but at their source is the lifeblood for dozens and dozens of species, including the largest elephant population in Africa. Sunrise safari drives, sunset river cruises, and overnights into the Delta bring the magic of Africa alive. Book a mokoro, a locally made cutout canoe, and move silently through the reeds, fully aware of all of your senses as you get up close and personal with the great wildlife of the world.
On the other side of the planet, be amazed by the big cats of India. Gravely endangered, and with numbers continuing to dwindle, the Bengal Tigers of northern India rate as their very own bucket list. Certainly, the entire experience is one for the list. Although jeep safari options exist, the most amazing way to search for the big cats is atop the back of an elephant. Imagine quietly working your way through the forest, the great beasts making surprisingly little noise. The scene makes you feel breathtakingly alive, as you slowly move through the tiger’s natural habitat. Of course, there is no guarantee of a sighting, but this fact, when combined with the drama and the excitement of the day barely dims the overwhelming emotions.
Humans have forever been drawn to the idea of flight. For an once-in-a-lifetime experience, head to the exotic center of Turkey. The Cappadocia Valley is a miracle, all on its own. For centuries, the people have lived in houses literally carved into the jagged cliffs. This surreal landscape of limestone cliffs, reaching towards the sky, is the perfect place for to take to the air in a hot air balloon. Watch the sunrise at elevation, the ever-lightening sky revealing more than you will ever be able to experience from the ground.
Victoria Falls. One of the great natural wonders of the world. It is impossible to truly comprehend the enormity of the raging water from the ground. Sure, you could book a fixed wing or helicopter flight, but for a bucket list experience, taking in the scene in a microlight is the only way to go! Microlights are fully open air, thus ensuring that you not only get the view of the falls, but can appreciate the thundering crash and water spray as well. Many trips even include animal sightings in the river above the falls. Microlights are capable of flying much lower than helicopters, and with no sides, the experience of truly flying can simply not be underestimated.
Perhaps you’re not looking to connect with nature. Perhaps streaking through the skies in the utmost comfort is what you truly desire. Although many air carriers’ offer stunning first class and suite class options, this is a bucket list we’re talking about. It may be time to go all out. In that case, consider booking a private charter jet. Embrace your inner celebrity fantasies and book a seat on a private jet charter. With some companies offering up individual seats on private jets, the “lifestyles of the rich and famous” are easier than ever to achieve. After all, you only live once!
A bucket list can be ever-evolving, but now is the time to start checking those items off the list to make room for something new.