The Alternative Travel Bucket List
Let’s face it – when it comes to see-before-you-die lists, places like the Taj Mahal and the Great Wall of China always seem to show their faces. And it’s getting old. But we’ve thought outside the ordinary and compiled a travel bucket list of the road less travelled…
This UNESCO-protected valley is the stuff of storybooks. Created by ancient volcanic eruptions, the land ripples with 100-foot-tall ‘fairy chimneys’ that prod the sky as far as the eye can see. The sheer scale of the gorge dictates that it’s best viewed from a hot air balloon – trust us, it’ll be worth the 4am wake-up call. Or if heights make you giddy, explore the region on foot and delve into the honeycomb of cave dwellings and churches carved by early Christians.
This dramatic mountain range is the definition of ‘other-worldly’. If you fancy starring in your very own sci-fi movie, take a giant leap over to Lanzarote’s answer to lunar landscape – it’s so realistic it moonlighted as the test site for the Apollo moon buggies. For a bucket list double whammy, take a camel ride round the semi-dormant volcanos, before lunch at the El Diablo restaurant, where chefs barbecue your beef over a hole in the ground using geothermal energy. Sheldon Cooper would approve.
When it comes to the natural phenomenon in the tiny village of Chamarel, it’s all about hue. To give it its bucket list credentials, it’s the only place in the world that has 7 shades of earth, ranging from earthy red and burnt orange to a purple-grey. Just imagine the fun you could have with Instagram filters. If you’re more interested in science than art, the rainbow dunes are a result of lava from Mauritius’ last volcanic eruption mixing with mineral-loaded sand and soil. While you’re on the island, you should also head to the Grand Bassin – home to Hindu temples, a sacred lake and Macaque monkeys.
Colca Canyon – Peru
The USA’s Grand Canyon tops many a bucket list, however it’s Peru’s offering that makes it an even more impressive entry. The reason? Well, it’s twice as deep at a staggering 4,160 metres. In some places, the sides are so steep you’ll struggle to see the bottom. So, what will you see? Craggy mountains, herds of alpacas and soaring Andean condors. Most treks take place over 2 or 3 days and, if you get to the bottom and just can’t face the climb back up, you can pay 20 quid or so to hitch a ride on a mule. Now that’s what we call money well spent.
Monteverde Cloud Forest – Costa Rica
This mountain forest is completely shrouded in shifting mists which hang low over the green canopies. Without a doubt, the highlight is a set of 8 hanging bridges, strung from treetop to treetop, which resemble the Ewok village from Star Wars. There’s also a monster zip-line that’s over 1km long. Of course, you can just do things the good old-fashioned way by lacing up your hiking books and trekking through the jungle – you may be rewarded with sightings of toucans, humming birds, coiled snakes and rare orchids. Eat your heart out David Attenborough.
If you prefer your travel experiences to have more of a laid-back approach, being paddled along the winding river through the Khao Sok National Park in a canoe will be right up your creek. The backdrop is like a scene from Jurassic Park without the pesky Velociraptors – although, your ‘chauffeur’ will be quick to point out the resident wildlife, including wolf snakes on the river banks, and bright green and yellow butterflies. Make sure you also sign up for an elephant trek through the jungle – feeding these gentle giants with whole bananas as a thank you will stay with you for a long time.