I am often asked what my favorite adventure trips have been. Looking back over 30 or so years and 7 continents of travel, I’ve never had a bad trip. There are, however, 5 trips that stand out in my mind. Here they are, in no particular order:
Antarctica: One of the most difficult places on earth to get to, Antarctica is truly unique and special. We traveled on a Russian Ice Breaker across some of the roughest seas in the world to spend 2 weeks exploring the Antarctic Peninsula. The scenery was absolutely stunning! Some of the Antarctic wildlife can be found nowhere else on earth. The penguins are just so much fun to watch – we never grew tired of their antics. We also had the opportunity to climb peaks that no one else on earth has summitted. We traveled with a naturalist and a professional photographer and two of the most friendly and laid back guides on earth, all enhancing our wonderful experience in this barren, but beautiful, landscape. If it weren’t so expensive, I’d return to Antarctica in a heartbeat.
Nepal: Nepal was my first international adventure trip and will forever hold a special place in my heart. I have always been drawn to the mountains and you can’t get any better than Nepal. I can’t even begin to explain how awe-inspiring it is to gaze upon the highest mountain in the world! But beyond the scenery, it is the people of Nepal that made this such a special place. The people of Nepal, though some of the poorest in the world, are also some of the happiest people on earth. They are extremely friendly, naturally inquisitive, and beautiful. The many varied cultures of this region really must be experienced.
Malaysian Borneo: I don’t know of any other place else where you can summit an almost 14,000 foot mountain one day and scuba dive off beautiful white-sand beaches the next day. Not only that, the wildlife of this island is not easily surpassed. We visited islands where giant sea turtles return from years at sea to lay their eggs. We visited Orangutan sanctuaries where orphaned and injured Orangutans are rehabilitated, and were lucky enough to see several of the severely endangered species in the wild. We took river tours where we saw the awfully strange-looking Proboscis Monkey, crocodiles, and the rare Borneo Pygmy Elephant.
Italy: Italy is just one of those places that I cannot get enough of. The food is spectacular, the opportunities for exploring art, architecture and history are endless, and Italians have perfected the art of enjoying the outdoors. We hiked the Cinque Terre, taking in the fresh sea air and all of its spectacular and colorful views. And we went trekking in the northern Dolomites. Nothing beats hiking along the spectacular mountain trails all while being able to stop at almost any time for a cappuccino break or a flavorful Italian lunch.
Mongolia: Mongolia still hasn’t been discovered by many adventure travelers. Outside the capital city, Ulaanbaatar, many of the citizens live as their ancestors have for thousands of years (well, except for the single solar panel and black and white television set that you’ll find at many of the ger sites). We spent nearly 3 weeks trekking through the Altai Mountain region of this sparsely populated country and fell in love with it. The people welcomed us into their brightly colored gers, or yurts, to share in home-made cheeses and yogurt and their favorite beverage: fermented mare’s milk.
My advice for adventure travelers: pick a country, or even a small part of a country, and explore it in-depth, over an extended period of time. You will gain an appreciation for the people, their culture and history, and all of the other things that make that country unique. I think this is a much better way to travel than signing up for a tour that takes you to 15 countries in 12 days. You may take home a lot of photos from such a trip but you won’t have the personal memories of the places and people that linger in you memory long after your trip is over.