We haven’t been everywhere… yet. But we have been to over 50 countries over the course of 7 years and we’ve been able to check quite a few adventures off our our massive combined bucket list (plus a few extras). So we’ve compiled a list of our 10 most epic and awe-inspiring around-the-world bucket list adventures that you should most definitely add to yours if you haven’t already!
- Bike through the Temples of Bagan – Myanmar
- Float in a Hot Air Balloon in Cappadocia – Turkey
- Swim beneath Havasu Falls – USA
- Hike the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu – Peru
- Walk on the Perito Moreno Glacier – Argentina
- Drive across the Salar de Uyuni – Bolivia
- Fall in love with the Taj Mahal – India
- Summit Mount Rinjani – Indonesia
- Swim with sea turtles in the Galápagos – Ecuador
- Explore ‘The Lost City’ of Petra – Jordan
Bike through the Temples of Bagan – Myanmar
Bagan is an ancient city located in the Mandalay region of Myanmar (the country formally known as Burma). Bagan is home to the remains of over 2,000 surviving temples and pagodas although during the height of the kingdom between the 11th and 13th centuries, it was estimated that there were over 10,000 in the region.
You can view the amazing landscape of the region from the sky in an air balloon (we didn’t go this route because it is pricey but judging from the photos we’ve seen it looks amazing!) or by renting a bicycle from one of the many shops in town or directly from your hotel. Cruise around on your bike through the lush greenery of the unspoiled region and then hop off at the pagodas that peak your interest to explore inside. Head for higher ground to get spectacular views. It will be an adventurous and exhausting day that you’ll never forget!
Float in a Hot Air Balloon in Cappadocia – Turkey
Sure, you can take a hot air balloon ride pretty much anywhere in the world. But generally you’re just a solo balloon floating above the clouds in awe of the beautiful scenery below. In the Cappadocia region of Turkey there are hundreds of colorful balloons that take to the sky just before sunrise.
You’ll sail high above the otherworldly landscape, get close enough to the “fairy chimneys” to touch, and then dip low into the valleys to get an up-close view of the cave houses. All while being surrounded by hundreds of other balloons which makes the already epic scenery appear to be something out of a fairy tale. You’ve never seen anything like it before and you won’t find an experience like it anywhere else!
Swim beneath Havasu Falls – USA
Havasu Falls in an area of northern Arizona near the Grand Canyon that is managed by the Havasupai Native American tribe. You’ll need to get a reservation well in advance and plan accordingly as you’ll be doing quite a bit of hiking, camping, and cooking. Once you’ve walked the 10 (mostly flat) miles through the canyon from the parking lot and set up camp along the river, you’ll be ready for a dip in the crystal clear blue water that flows down the 5 awe-inspiring waterfalls.
Every day will offer a new adventure – whether it’s swimming underneath the famous Havasu Falls, or lounging in the tide pools above, or hiking down the slightly treacherous path to Mooney and Beaver Falls – you’ll never get bored in this pristine wonderland!
Hike the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu – Peru
Most of the hundreds of tourists that visit Machu Picchu each day opt to sleep in, take the train to the ruins, walk around for a few hours, and then head back to town for an early dinner. But that’s not the way the Incas did it so why should you? Take the 26-mile road less traveled and choose a 3, 4, or 5 day trek on the Inca Trail to really experience the wonder, magic, and history of the area.
You’ll marvel at beautiful mountain scenery that rises above and lush forests below. And you’ll walk across original paving stones of the Incas while seeing other less-preserved ruins along the way. By the time you finally reach the Sun Gate on your last morning with spectacular views of Machu Picchu far below, you’ll know that you’ve really earned it!
Walk on the Perito Moreno Glacier – Argentina
The Perito Moreno Glacier is located in Los Glaciares National Park in the Argentinian Patagonia region. The glacier is 97 square miles (19 miles in length, 3.1 miles in width, with an average height of 240 feet above the surface of the water) and is the 3rd largest reserve of fresh water in the world.
You can view this massive act of mother nature a few ways; you can see it from the large viewing area across the lake, you can hop on a boat to get a close-up view of the massive chunks calving off, or you can strap on a pair of crampons and trek across a portion of the mammoth piece of ice.
There are two trekking options; a “mini-trek” which takes about an hour and a half, or a “big ice trek” that takes about 5 hours. Both are rewarded with spectacular views of the ice formations of the glacier and with an ice cold glass of whiskey at the end (literally, your whiskey is chilled by a tiny chunk of glacier). Your photos from this adventure won’t even look real!
Drive across the Salar de Uyuni – Bolivia
Salar de Uyuni (aka the Salt Flats of Uyuni) is over 4,000 square miles making it the world’s largest salt flat. It is estimated to contain approximately 10 billion tons of salt of which less than 25,000 tons is extracted annually. The region has an extraordinary flatness with elevation variations within only 1 meter over the entire area which makes depth perception in photos nearly impossible to gauge.
There are a few ways to tour the area; join a group of people and bus around to all of the standard sights including the train cemetery and a cactus island in the middle of the flats where they serve you lunch. Or, better yet, hire a private driver for several days and stay in a salt hotel where everything from the dining tables to the walls to the bed you sleep in are made out of salt (we licked them all, just to be sure). The private driver offers you the freedom to cruise around the giant flats and make as many stops as you want along the way!
You’ll never forget your salty adventure and you’ll have hilarious photos to document the fun!
Fall in love with the Taj Mahal – India
The Taj Mahal is a marble mausoleum in the city of Agra in Northern India. The Mughal emperor Shah Jahan commissioned the 42 acre complex to house the tomb of one of his wives (albeit his favorite), Mumtaz Mahal whose name means “Jewel of the Palace”. She died during complications while giving birth to their 14th child, and while on her deathbed, Shah Jahan promised her that he would never remarry and would build the richest mausoleum over her grave.
The Taj Mahal took 22 years and 22,000 workers to construct. Now one of the Seven Wonders of the World and described by English poet, Sir Edwin Arnold as “not a piece of architecture, as other buildings are, but the proud passion of an emperor’s love wrought in living stones”, the beauty that you see in photos can’t even begin to compare with seeing this wonder in-person.
Summit Mount Rinjani – Indonesia
Mount Rinjani is an active volcano rising 12,254 feet above the island of Lombok in Indonesia. There is a a caldera on the volcano that is filled by the crater lake known as Segara Anak but also fed by a hot springs. The water mixing between the two creates the perfect temperature for an afternoon dip along this 3-day 21-mile trek.
The scenery changes dramatically each day and you’ll continuously be in awe of the amazing landscape of this massive volcano.
While it’s possible to do this on your own, most hikers choose to go with a tour group since they’ll provide you with the trekking gear you’ll need to make it to the top. Plus they’ll cook for you and get your tired butt up at 3:00am to push for the summit. Once at the top you’ll be rewarded with breathtaking sunrise views of the entire island below. It’s a difficult but incredibly rewarding journey!
Swim with sea turtles in the Galápagos – Ecuador
The Galápagos Islands are an archipelago of volcanic islands in the Pacific Ocean, west of Ecuador. Having been described as a unique “living museum and showcase of evolution”, the islands were studied extensively by Charles Darwin due to their vast number of endemic species. There are around 25,000 people that live on the islands but they are far outnumbered by the animals that call it home. These 19 islands and the surrounding marive reserve are home to some of the highest levels of endemism (species found nowhere else on earth) anywhere on the planet. About 80% of the land birds, 97% of the reptiles and land mammals, 30% of the plants, and more than 20% of the marine species in Galapagos are endemic.
Now a UNESCO World Heritage site with a focus on conservation, the Galápagos Islands are a popular tourist destination due to it’s spectacular wildlife viewing opportunities. And since the area is protected, the animals do not see humans as being a threat so you’ll often share your personal space with lazy sea lions or snorkel alongside curious sea turtles. You’re unlikely to have the ability to see so many different species up-close-and-personal anywhere else in the world!
Explore ‘The Lost City’ of Petra – Jordan
Petra (known as “The Rose City” due to the rose colored stone that it is carved from and “The Lost City” because it was, well, lost for hundreds of years) is one of the “New” Seven Wonders of the World and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Dating back to the third century BC, Petra was nothing but arid desert and mounds of sandstone before the Nabataean people descended on the area. Creating a virtual oasis with their inventive water collection techniques and carving impressive facades at the entrance of cave dwellings, Petra became home to some 20,000 Nabataeans at it’s peak.
The ruins of Petra are a majestic archaeological wonder to behold – not just because of their massive size and intricate designs – but also to consider exactly how they were carved. You can see small etch markings lining the sheer rock face of the Treasury and imagine men precariously perched 120 feet up, painstakingly scratching away at the sandstone. Site excavations have been ongoing since the early 1900s and over 800 monuments have been identified and listed, but surprisingly archaeologists have explored less than half of the site to date! Today Petra is one of the most visited tourist destinations in the world! It was also chosen by the Smithsonian Magazine as one of the “28 Places to See Before You Die”.
So what are you waiting for? Get out there and start checking those adventures off your list!