LIFE ENHANCING TRAVEL EXPERIENCES

We often read a lot about “bucket lists” but of course this phenomenon known as a “bucket list” means different things to different people. For some it is a list of wonderful destinations and places that they simply must visit, while for others (maybe adrenalin junkies!) it can be a list of places that are tough and challenging to travel to.
On a personal note, I like to think of places on my bucket list as places that afford a “life enhancing” experience – places that provide that “wow” moment. Here is my bucket list of life enhancing experiences: 

1)    SLEEPING UNDER THE AFRICAN STARS

What can be more romantic and magical than to leave the cities behind and escape to somewhere with very little light pollution and experience the galaxies in an unforgettable way?  One destination instantly comes to mind – Namibia – in the NamibRand Nature Reserve. This is actually one of the internationally recognised “gold certified Dark Sky Reserves”. Namibia is one of the planet’s least populated countries and it has a very dry climate that leads to normally cloudless skies. Star beds at Wolwedans allow you to sleep out under a velvet blanket of African stars in the middle of the Namib Desert, to awake to one of the most spectacular sunrises you will ever see. This is Namibia at her quirky best.    

 
2)    GET UP CLOSE AND PERSONAL WITH A POLAR BEAR

Known as the King of the Arctic, observing these incredible Bears has to rank as an incredibly special experience. Each Autumn ( Mid October to early November), the world’s greatest concentration of polar bears convenes at the edge of Hudson Bay, waiting for the ice to form and their northern hunting season to begin.  There are only two polar bear tour operators in Churchill, Canada, with exclusive permits to access the full range of the Churchill Wildlife Management Area (WMA) where the best – and often only – polar bear observation occurs. Naturally, in our commitment to excellence, our partner company possesses one of these permits producing an incredible polar bear tour. 

3)    IN SEARCH OF TIGERS

Tigers are amongst the most elusive of the Big Cats and perhaps the most thrilling (and difficult) to see in the wild. In fact, Animal Planet recently voted tigers to be one of the world’s most favourite animal. It is to INDIA that we must go for the most amazing viewing. 

Bandhavgarh National Park is a wildlife sanctuary in Madhya Pradesh. It has the highest density of tigers in the region. The core area of the park is spread over 100 square kilometers and is home to more than 50 tigers. The park is open from October to June, but the best time to see tigers is from April to June.

Ranthambore National Park: This is a favourite of wildlife photographers. The park introduced protection for tigers from hunters in 1973 and is now one of the best tiger reserves in India. One of the most interesting features of the park is that it's dotted with ancient ruins, including a fort where tigers and leopards are often spotted.


4)    CLOSE ENCOUNTER WITH WHALES

Little can prepare you for the size of these mammals.

There are a lot of places to spot whales – depending on the species of whale. South Africa is home to the huge SOUTHERN RIGHT WHALE. Famous for their majestic nature and gargantuan size, the Southern Right Whale has always been a fascination for many. Their playful nature and rarity have made them a famous addition to the Cape Whale Coast between June and October every year. Thousands of whale-lovers arrive along the coast to witness these massive mammals birth and care for their new-born calves.  

From December to April grey whales gather in Baja California to mate and nurture their young.
Despite having been hunted to near extinction, these whales love interaction with the boats – nudging them and coming in very close. February – April are the best viewing times.

5)    SEE AN ECLIPSE

Dr Andy McCrea, Irish Astronomical Association.

Dr Andy McCrea, Irish Astronomical Association.

A Total Solar Eclipse occurs when the Moon moves between the Sun and the Earth, completely covering the disc of the Sun. When this occurs, the shadow of the Moon is cast onto the Earth along what is called the path of totality, and the region is cast into darkness. It is an awesome experience. For a really special experience plan to be in the USA on August 21st 2017, as we are viewing this event in the Grand Teton National Park. 

You can also view an ANNULAR ECLIPSE in Tanzania. This annular solar eclipse occurs on 1 September, 2016, where the Moon will obscure most – about 97% - of the Sun.  We will be viewing this annular eclipse in Katavi National Park for an experience set deep within the African bush. 

So these are my 5 life enhancing travel and wildlife experiences. What are yours?

Rosemary Sloggett.


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