This is the ultimate 2018 travel bucket list
A new year means a new chance to get out there and see the world. From witnessing a buffalo roundup in South Dakota to snorkeling with orcas in Norway to basking in the incredible volcanic landscapes of the Azores, we’ve rounded up the most awe-inspiring travel experiences for the year ahead. This is the ultimate 2018 travel bucket list. Go forth, and explore!
Go for an epic trek in Kyrgyzstan
Trail markers can be hard to find on many of the intrepid hiking routes through the towering mountains of Kyrgyzstan, but the reward is solitude and serenity in one of the world’s prettiest mountainous countries. Count on seeing more sheep than people most everywhere you go, and when you spot a pristine mountain lake, by all means shed your hiking boots and plunge in for a bucket list swim.
Go for a hike in Haida Gwaii
Explore Canada’s indigenous Haida culture during a spectacular hike in Gwaii Haanas National Park Reserve, off Canada’s rugged west coast in Haida Gwaii, formerly known as the Queen Charlotte Islands. Century-old totem poles can be seen at ancient village sites and the forest smells as fresh as it looks.
Track mountain gorillas on safari in Uganda and Rwanda
During six-day tours of Rwanda and Uganda with Volcanoes Safaris, you’ll have the chance to track mountain gorillas in Volcanoes National Park Rwanda, visit Kigali (the capital of Rwanda), and spend the night in stunning safari lodges with volcano views.
Bathe in a glacial mill in Switzerland
For a bucket list bathing experience like no other, head to Switzerland and the canton of Graubunden to dip in the glacial mills of Alp Mora. Crystal clear glacier water fills 20 of these natural basins that have been carved into the rock over the course of centuries. And the water? Cold, to be sure, but also as invigorating as the mountain views.
Spot polar bears in Svalbard
The archipelago of Svalbard, located in the Norwegian Arctic, is home to more polar bears than people. The best way to spot the majestic marine mammals is during summer cruises into the pack ice with such as operators as Hurtigruten and Poseidon Expeditions.
Snorkel with orcas in Norway
Norway is the only country in the world where you can reliably (not to mention legally) enter the ocean to snorkel with orcas. Every winter, orcas (also called killer whales) migrate along the coast of northern Norway, close to Tromso and Andenes, to feast on migratory herring. And operators such as Lofoten Opplevelser will get you suited up in dry suits and put you within mere feet of the action for what promises to be a bucket list experience.
Camp hanging off the side of a cliff in Estes Park, Colorado
Chances are you’ve never spent the night camping on a sheer rock formation before. And that’s just what you’ll do in Estes Park during cliff camping expeditions with Kent Mountain Adventure Center. You’ll learn the basics of rock climbing before ascending 50 to 500 feet off the ground to sleep atop a portaledge attached to the side of a majestic Colorado cliff.
Drive through Napa Valley during mustard season
Any time is a good time to visit the wine country of Napa Valley. And after the recent fires that devastated parts of the region, Napa needs tourism more than ever. Locals know that February is the best time to visit since that’s when beautiful yellow mustard blooms carpet the vineyards and views along Route 29, the main road through the valley. And of course tasting tours at wineries like Trinchero Napa Valley and Cakebread Cellars make a road trip here all the sweeter.
Embark on a family cruise in the Galapagos
When it comes to multi-generational cruises in the Galapagos, no cruise line rolls out the red carpet like Ecoventura. And the Ecuadorian-owned company’s MV Origin feels more like a private yacht, with two onboard naturalists for just 20 passengers, gourmet food, and shore expeditions minus the crowds to snorkel with sea lions and sharks.
Take a scenic train ride to Machu Picchu from a private train station
Seeing the ancient Inca ruins of Machu Picchu is a coveted bucket list experience. And all the more so when you can step out of your hotel right into the private train station of Tambo del Inka Resort and Spa in the Sacred Valley of Peru. Hop aboard the Cusco to Aguascalientes line and enjoy amazing mountain and river views before arriving within a few miles of the ancient ruins.
Whale-watch from your hotel room in Baja California
Any day you do some whale watching is a bucket list day. And from December to March, you might not even have to leave your oceanfront hotel room or the infinity pool at the Hilton Los Cabos Beach and Golf Resort in Baja California to spot humpback whales migrating along the coast. The hotel can arrange whale watching boat tours, too, should you want a more close-up view.
Land by seaplane in a hidden Florida lake
See a different side of Florida you may not have known exists during scenic seaplane flights from Vero Beach with Treasure Coast Seaplanes. After banking over the Atlantic Ocean, perhaps spotting sea turtles and dolphins below, you’ll head inland to touch down on a hidden Florida lake lined with cypress trees and inhabited by alligators.
Snorkel with sea lions in the Sea of Cortez
Jacques Cousteau once called the turquoise waters of the Sea of Cortez in Baja California Sur “the world’s aquarium.” And the snorkeling is bucket-list material, to be sure, with sea lions, whale sharks, and many other marvels to be seen throughout the year. Base in La Paz to visit spots like Espiritu Santo Island and Balandra Beach, considered among the most beautiful beaches in Mexico.
See the spectacular Azores
New flights to the Azores from New York with Delta Airlines make reaching this remote and exotic string of islands in the Atlantic Ocean that much easier. One of Portugal’s autonomous regions, the Azores is an outdoors-lover’s paradise with incredible bucket list activities such as canyoning through volcanoes and swimming with wild dolphins. For tours that cover it all, book an adventure with Azores Getaways.
Snorkel with blacktip reef sharks in the Tuamotu atolls
Few tropical paradises can compete with French Polynesia. Once you get to Papeete, hop another short flight to reach the incredible Tuamotu atolls. Snorkeling with blacktip reef sharks in the crystal-clear waters of Tiputa Pass on Rangiroa is as bucket-list as ocean time gets.
Ski with sublime views in the Dolomites
A UNESCO World Heritage site, the Dolomites mountains in northern Italy offer one of the most bucket-list backdrops in the world for a ski vacation. Spend your days schussing down the slopes, and your evenings exploring beautiful villages like San Candido, where you can see the slopes right from town.
Cruise the BVI on a private, crewed yacht
After a devastating 2017 hurricane season, the BVI (British Virgin Islands) are staging a comeback. And when you hire a crewed yacht with The Moorings (or plan a bareboat sailing vacation) to explore these stunning islands, you’re guaranteed a bucket-list trip while doing a good deed to help out local restaurants, bars, and tour operators, too.
Slurp oysters in Japan’s Setouchi region
For a bucket-list experience and a fun day trip from Tokyo, take the four-hour train ride to the Setouchi Region, where 350 islands along the Inland Sea await. Oyster lovers will be in heaven, as this is the number one region in Japan for oyster farming and you can dig in at all-you-can-eat oyster huts.
See Southeast Alaska by small cruise ship
Leave the massive cruise ships for the masses and explore Southeast Alaska in a more intimate way during week-long cruises with Alaska Dream Cruises, whose fleet accommodates between 10 and 74 passengers on various ships. And being among the only souls kayaking alongside a glacier or scouting a brown bear on the shore is a priceless bucket-list experience, indeed.
See the buffalo roundup in South Dakota
Every fall in South Dakota, the largest buffalo roundup in the U.S. takes place at Custer State Park. A herd of over 1,300 wild bison thunder through wild-west landscapes, urged on by cowboys, cowgirls, and park crews on saddle. There’s no admission fee for bystanders and the public are welcome to watch the heart-pounding, dust-flying action.
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