The more travel research I do, the longer my bucket list gets. In fact, I’m convinced it’s never going to get any smaller and yet, I don’t want it to. I love the thrill of visiting new countries and getting a new stamp in my passport. I love it so much that I can’t imagine feeling that there’s nowhere else I want to go. Every time I tick something off, I add another place, or two or three.
I couldn’t possibly write up my entire bucket list – we really would be here forever – so, for now, here is my top ten. I’ll revisit this list this time next year to see how it’s changed.
- See the wildlife and other natural wonders of Costa Rica
There’s no denying that Costa Rica is a stunning place, blessed with a dazzling array of amphibians and mammals, waterfalls and volcanoes and a year round tropical climate. It also has beautiful beaches when you need a change of scenery and a break from the jungle. But beyond that, it’s a fascinating country. Having abolished its army in the 1950s, moved to run on 100% clean energy and the phrase ‘pura vida’ (pure life) meaning hello, goodbye and how are you, it’s a place after my own heart. Costa Rica has a very deserving spot right at the top of my bucket list, and I hope you’ll agree, it’s easy to see why.
- Sip caipirinhas on Copacabana beach in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Brazil has featured on my bucket list for as long as I can remember. I have been drawn by its delicious food and rum cocktails (I hope they’re as good as the Las Iguanas versions…), mountainous scenery and non-stop carnival atmosphere. Plus the view you get from standing next to Christ the Redeemer must be pretty awesome too, don’t you think? While I’m there I’d also like to check out the Iguazu falls – just as impressive as Niagra, but a whole lot warmer. Rio will have the world’s attention in summer 2016 as the Olympic flame arrives to mark the start of the Games. I’ll be watching Rio on my TV in cold, rainy England, wishing I was there too.
- Go on safari in Sri Lanka (yes, Sri Lanka)
Sri Lanka isn’t a place everyone thinks of when they hear ‘safari’, but it should be. The country is home to some beautiful animals including leopards and deer as well as the highest concentration of Asian elephants in the world. Not only that, you can also spot whales and dolphins off the coast of Mirissa in winter. Sri Lanka is full of Buddhist temples and relics (including a tooth from Buddha himself), beautiful scenery and lots and lots of tea. I’m delighted to say I will finally have the opportunity to visit in April 2016 as we set off on a Wild About Sri Lanka, where we can see all this and more…
- Visit Cape Town and see lions in Kruger National Park, South Africa
South Africa is a place that seems to have it all; at least, everything I want to see – animals, beaches, cities, good wine, nature… I want to go wine tasting in the vineyards of Stellenbosch, look down on Cape Town from Table Mountain, and come face to face with the lions in Kruger National Park. Although Kruger is often accused of offering overly commercial experiences, I think it’s a great introduction to African game drives. Having never been on a safari outside of Kent (I’ll blog about that later), Kruger seems to me a safe place to observe wild animals in a country that offers much more besides.
- Trek the Inca Trail in Machu Picchu, Peru
Peru, and Machu Picchu in particular, is fast becoming my next destination of choice for 2016. I mean, just look at it. As its popularity increases, there are rumours it may close to preserve the ancient sites, so I have to get there before that happens. Plus, it’s a strenuous hike up to 4,000m above sea level, so I should try to go while I’m still young and reasonably fit. Granted, you can now reach Machu Picchu by train, but where’s the fun in that? I love the idea of sleeping under the stars with your fellow hikers after a hard day’s trek, with a pretty spectacular view as your reward. I just hope I get there soon.
- Tour Eastern Europe with stops in Prague and Budapest
Pictures of Prague and Budapest look like something out of a fairytale. I’m told the gothic spires of both cities look even more beautiful in person. And it’s always nice to have somewhere close to home on your bucket list – means you’re even more likely to be able to tick it off your list, right?
- Visit the ancient temples of Indochina with a tour of Vietnam & Cambodia
Vietnam and Cambodia appear frequently on travellers’ wish lists, and they certainly deserve a place on mine. Both are full of natural beauty, from the coastline of Ha Long Bay in Vietnam to the jungles of Cambodia. A tour of Cambodia wouldn’t be complete without a visit to Angkor Wat – a huge temple complex and the largest religious monument in the world. Can I just go now?
- Float down the River Nile and see the Valley of the Kings in Egypt
When I was eight years old, I did a school project on Ancient Egypt. We learnt about the people, their customs and beliefs, and were shown pictures of the pyramids and Sphinx in Giza, and the temples of Luxor. Since then, I’ve wanted to see them for myself, and I hope it’s not too long before I do.
- Learn to tango in Buenos Aires, Argentina
Buenos Aires is one of those cities I’ve never heard anything bad about. In fact, many of my friends consider it to be their favourite city in the world. With a perfect combination of European architecture and Latin American lifestyle, it’s like Spain, only better.
- Eat gumbo and listen to live jazz in New Orleans, USA
New Orleans has had more than its fair share of natural disasters, but it’s fighting back with a booming tourist trade that I can’t ignore. Imagine the scene. Your belly is full of hearty gumbo – a southern Louisiana stew – as you head towards a live jazz club to sip bourbon while tapping your feet to some of the most talented musicians in America. Perfect.
My mind is now buzzing with all these places I want to visit. Maybe 2016 will be the year I finally get to tick some of these off? I’ve also asked Tim to post his current top ten on the blog, so watch out for that soon. I wonder how different they will be!
What’s on your current bucket list? Have you been to any places on mine?