SOME BUCKET LIST ADVENTURES NEED TO BE BOOKED IN ADVANCE

 

The coronavirus pandemic and stay-at-home orders are leaving many of us with a lot of extra time on our hands. And those of us with wanderlust, maybe we’re filling our time letting books or movies transport us to places we physically can’t adventure to.

 

For more inspiration on how to satisfy your wanderlust while the pandemic is grounding us read this: HOW TO SATISFY YOUR WANDERLUST WHEN YOU CAN'T TRAVEL


Maybe, like me, you’re daydreaming about the trips you want to take. The only thing better than heading off on a vacation is planning one. Seriously though, research has demonstrated that the anticipation of a trip can bring greater happiness then the actual trip itself.

 

It's the perfect time to start figuring out where your next vacation will be and some trips just need to be planned further in advance. I’m talking about those multi-destinations, travel to exotic destinations, specialty experiences, festivals or holiday events, and treks/expeditions/sailings with limited capacity.

 

Regardless if it’s one of the types of trips I’ve just mentioned or not, if you have somewhere your heart is set on, planning in advance means you can get exactly what you want, when you want, and I’m guessing once travel is given the go ahead again there are going to be some killer deals.


Machu Pichu


HIKING MACHU PICCHU’S INCA TRAIL

 

This place is on everyone’s bucket list. And I can tell you from personal experience it is deservedly so. But seeing the wonder of Machu Picchu does take some planning. You can go by train, by bus, or hike a choice of several routes.

 

There is no question though, that the most popular way to get to these spectacular ruins is to spend four or five days trekking along the world famous Inca Trail. The trail runs through the Sacred Valley, past numerous ruins, through to Agua Calientes.

 

There are a limited number of Inca Trail permits available per day. And they can be sold out up to a year in advance. So particularly if you don’t have a lot of flexibility in regards to dates and you have your heart set on this portion of the Inca Trail you need to plan in advance. Plus the country of Peru has much else to offer so to plan and book the kind of itinerary to do it justice an off the cuff trip just won’t do the trick.


FOR MORE INFORMATION ON HIKING IN PERU READ THIS: 10 ESSENTIAL THINGS TO KNOW BEFORE YOUR PERU TRIP



black gorilla surrounded by green plants


GORILLA TREKKING IN RWANDA AND UGANDA

 

In my opinion, this right now is one of the world’s most remarkable travel experiences. And one of the more exclusive ones. Visits to each of the habituated groups of mountain gorillas in Rwanda and Uganda are limited to just one-hour long sessions per day, with a maximum of eight people. There are just seven or eight groups per country, so if you want one of these prized permits, you need to plan well in advance. Particularly when demand peak holiday months when demands ALWAYS exceeds supply.


temple near snow mountain


AN EXPEDITION CRUISE TO ANTARTICA

 

Now I am a person who abhors the cold, but even I am willing to brave it for Antarctica. For this adventure, it’s all important to reserve a cabin on a prime ship. The inventory on Antarctica cruises is very limited – most ships have just 50 – 100 cabins with only a few departures a year. Plus the season for Antarctica cruises is quite short; typically about four months starting in November.

 

Perhaps you can find last-minute availability on an Antarctica voyage, but the most desirable cabins (you REALLY want something towards the middle which is the most stable in those rough seas) sell out well in advance. And for the most in-demand of ships, you probably want to book even more than a year in advance.


solar eclipse phenomenon



SEE AN ECLIPSE IN ANTARCTICA, ARGENTINA OR AUSTRALIA


Total eclipses - when the moon blocks out the sun, covering the earth in an eerie glow - happen about every 18 months. You need to be in the right place, ideally somewhere in the path of the solar max, to appreciate the full effects. it's an average of 375 years to see two total eclipses from the same spot. So this is nothing but a once-in-a-lifetime experience! Thus it is serious competition to secure a spot on the best, expert-led eclipse watching trips.


The next total solar eclipse is due on December 14, 2020 and will be visible in Chile and parts of Argentina. Australia will host the next lunar eclipse on May 26, 2021. And there will be a total eclipse in Antarctica in December 2021. I have my eye on that one!


Train Chartering offers Golden Eagle for charter - Carriag… | Flickr


RIDE THE TRANS-SIBERIAN, RUSSIA TO CHINA

 

The old adage, it’s not the destination, it’s the journey might have been written for the Trans-Siberian train journey.

 

This six-night, 7,621km train is slow travel at its most atmospheric. Look out your window and see endless birch trees, the shimmer of Lake Baikal, THE Gobi Desert with it’s yurt camps, camel herds and station-traders selling sweets and sausages. All in a cozy atmosphere where the vodka flows freely…”to your health” as they’d cheers in Russian.

What makes this more complicated is that this is not one of your everyday hop-on hop-off trips – stopovers require separate tickets for each leg.


white sakura tree

CHERRY BLOSSOMS IN JAPAN 

 

Sakura season in Japan takes some considerable maneuvering. For my personal trip I did some serious scientific calculations based on past cherry blossom data and weather predictions to plan my itinerary. And not to brag, but I hit prime blooms in Kyoto and Kanazawa exactly as I had hoped.

 

This is the busiest and most expensive time in Japan, and worth every penny in my opinion. And if you want to include incredible experiences like hiking the Kumano Kodo, you really need to get your logistics in order. If you book early you can often get some great cancellation policies allowing you a little wiggle room as weather is never absolutely predictable.

 

I will say you have to take this trip with reasonable expectations…hope for the best and know that Japan is an outstanding place to visit with or without the blooms.


FOR MORE INFORMATION ON JAPAN TRAVEL CLICK HERE


herd of buffalos

WITNESSING THE WILDEBEEST MIGRATION, TANZANIA & KENYA 

 

The Great Migration is an annual pilgrimage of over two million wildebeest, zebra and gazelle from Tanzania’s Serengeti plains to Kenya’s Masai Mara, all following the rain to find freshly nourished grass. Yes you can follow the herd around the vast Serengeti plains throughout the year, but the key crossing point at the Mara River takes place from June to mid-October. The biggest crowd of tourists hits in July and August, swamping the compact Masai Mara to witness the spectacle of the river crossing.

 

To watch thousands of wildebeest cross the crocodile-infested waterway is one the world’s most sought-after wildlife view experiences, thus you need to book early.

For this or any safari destination, you need to allow time to secure yellow fever vaccinations, antimalarial meds and apply for any entry visas or special permits required.


brown sea lion lying on sand during daytime


THE GALAPAGOS ISLANDS 

 

It’s simple…if you want to book a Galapagos cruise, the farther in advance you can decide the better. The Galapagos Islands have long been a bucket-list destination for wildlife lovers. Think iguanas, tortoises, penguins, sea lions…

 

The Galapagos National Park strictly regulates the number of visitors that are allowed to enter each day. Only 1,660 people are granted entry to the park each day.

 

A year at least is a good starting point depending on what time of year you want to visit. April, May, September and October are generally regarded as the low season and are a better choice if you don’t want to be locked in so far in advance.




A RIVER CRUISE 

 

A river cruise is simply the best way to see many places. Away from the chaos of cities, passengers aboard a river cruise float serenely along the waters and often get to explore areas that are inaccessible by land.

 

And yes European river cruises are a perennial favourite. And seasonal favourites such  as Christmas market tours and tulip time cruises book up well in advance, so you are wise to as well. In particular if you have your heart set on a certain cabin type.


Europe is now only part of the river cruise offerings now though. You can cruise the Mekong River through China, Myanmar, Laos, Vietnam, Cambodia and Thailand. Think floating markets, tiny villages and steamy jungles.

 

Myanmar, Southeast Asia’s least explored country, also offers the Irrawaddy River. As you drift along you’ll feast your eyes on temples and pagodas and smell fragrances of spices and curries amidst the lush vegetation. Since Myanmar only allowed foreigners in 2012, the tourism infrastructure is still in it’s earlier stages and spots on Irrawaddy cruise ships are limited.

 

Then we have an Amazon River cruise which can take you right into the very heart of the jungle where adventure abounds under leafy canopies. These river cruises offer unparalleled access and an opportunity to completely disconnect. And the boats sell out quickly due to their smaller size which allows them to cruise through the river’s tributaries.

 

At the top end of my personal bucket list right now is a Nile River Cruise. There are some newer more upscale offerings in this market right now and they are very enticing! For this option, you want to look at a timeline between October and April when it’s not as intensely hot since you’ll be hopping on and off to temple hop.


Gray Whale Fluke, San Ignacio Lagoon Gray Whale Watching 1… | Flickr


WHALE WATCHING IN BAJA CALIFORNIA, MEXICO

 

Having recently returned from Baja myself, I can vouch for it being bucket list worthy for many reasons. But close encounters with whales are what makes time of the essence.

You can see whales in many places, but from December to April grey whales gather in the San Ignacio Lagoon to mate, calve and nurture their young. And you can get up close and personal in an ethical way here.

 

You have only a short window of opportunity to see them every year and all the good trips sell out far in advance (even years). Activity varies by month so you want to time your visit perfectly – February will give you the breaching adults, while the calves grow more confident March through April.


green leaf tree near mountain covered by snow at daytime


TREKKING KILIMANJARO 

 

Arguably the greatest trekking summit, Tanzania’s Mount Kilimanjaro deserves to be on every adventure travel bucket list.

 

This mountain holds a lot of WOW-factors! Rising out of African plains it’s simply stunning. And a phenomenon being virtually on the equator yet being snow-capped. The trek itself is a tough one, but achievably so. Climate change is having an effect with speculation being that the snow may be going in a few decades, which makes for a good case to bump this up priority-wise on your bucket list.

 

Kilimanjaro cannot be climbed independently. Ideally you want to choose a longer trip to allow more time for acclimatisation, not only increasing your chance of success, but also making it a little more pleasant of an ascent. For any tour, the right company is important, but for treks you want to ensure your outfitter has an outstanding safety record among other factors, so researching in advance is a must.

 

For this or any big trek, you need to train in advance. Particularly if you live anywhere flat like me! Giving yourself a year in advance allows ample time.


body of water near field of trees


ISLAND HOPPING IN THE NORTH & SOUTH ISLANDS OF NEW ZEALAND

 

I’ll end off with one of the most outstanding places I’ve visited. This just may be the best place on planet earth for us adventure travellers to explore. The landscapes of New Zealand are almost supernatural in their splendour. Add in wine tasting tours and the gracious Kiwis and we have a near perfect trifecta!

 

There are a great deal of logistics involved in navigating from place to place in New Zealand. And you will need to travel by plane and overland. Many people choose a self-drive option of which there a wide variety of itineraries, others like to leave it all in the hands of a capable driver and guides. Factor in the time it takes just to get to there from here and this is definitely a trip that requires advance planning and prep, and the necessary time to do it justice.


FOR MORE INFORMATION ON TRAVELLING TO NEW ZEALAND CLICK HERE

 

The value of a trusted travel planner has never been more apparent. Third parties and DIY trips have literally screwed many people over recently with hidden clauses and conditions. Many travel operators are now offering markedly flexible travel options. These benefits can be used to your advantage to minimize risk and deposit loss. Travel Advisors are best placed to do the legwork on your behalf, should you decide to change your dates or are forced to because of evolving circumstances. We are well-versed in planning trips with multiple, moving parts, as well as the behind-the-scenes legwork to transition them, seamlessly, to new dates.


You are not going to travel internationally for awhile. Likely quite awhile. Think of all the money you’re saving by staying home and that you would have spent on travels plus other frivalties. Take that money, use this time wisely and plan the most ultimate of trips. READY TO GET STARTED?! Contact me at shariblock@findyourhappytravels.com to set up your complimentary 30 minute planning consultation and let's explore your dreams together..


THE FIRST PART OF DECIDING WHERE TO GO IS KNOWING HOW YOU TRAVEL...CLICK HERE TO TAKE MY FUN QUIZ NOW!

brown rock formation in front of body of water