10 Travel Destinations That Will Change Your Life
You know those family passports you filed away and locked up in the home office? Grab them, because this summer is about filling their pages with stamps. We’ve compiled 10 travel itineraries, not just for this year, but also for the years to come. We’re wary of calling this a “bucket list,” because while the phrase emphasizes that each trip is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, it also makes the goal crossing each item off. We hope you won’t simply draw lines through each number like a to-do list. We hope you try new foods, appreciate foreign architecture and discover other cultures. And most importantly, we hope you are moved. Not just by planes, buses and trains, but by the places you discover and the people you meet along the way.
Hike Machu Picchu in Peru
Discover the ruins of an Incan city—and get some cardio in during a hike up Machu Picchu in Peru. The trip begins with a flight to Cuzco, followed by a four-hour train ride from Poroy Station to Aguas Calientes. Call the Incan-inspired Sumaq Machu Picchu Hotel home base, as it sits at the foot of the world-renowned site, giving guests access to trails for hiking Machu Picchu Mountain, Wayna Picchu Mountain, Intipunku Mountain and more. The “Mystical Machu Picchu” experience put on by the hotel includes an eight-hour tour of Machu Picchu with an accompanying Peruvian shaman. To give your legs a rest, take an outdoor cooking class using a stone oven to prepare dishes covered with leaves; or enjoy an Incan-inspired treatment at the Aquila Spa.
Sumaq Machu Picchu Hotel; sumaqhotelperu.com
Eat Breakfast with Giraffes in Africa
Reach over a plate of toast, eggs and bacon to grab a coffee, and a large tongue might claim a pastry on a side dish. At home, the tongue could belong to a defiant dog. But at The Safari Collection’s Giraffe Manor there’s a different—much larger—culprit. The African boutique hotel is set on 12 acres of indigenous forest on the outskirts of Nairobi, and it hosts eight resident Rothschild giraffes who like to join guests for breakfast. The hotel offers 10 luxurious guest rooms, and while there won’t be any peeping Toms, it is likely to see a peeping “Kelly,” “Helen” or “Arlene” the giraffe perusing by window panes. Giraffes aren’t the only wildlife to see. The Safari Collection also offers expeditions for spotting wild gorillas and experiencing Kenya during a helicopter safari.
The Safari Collection; thesafaricollection.com
Soul Search In India
OK, so this isn’t the Ashram you read about in Eat Pray Love, but a similar self-discovery experience in a luxurious setting is accomplished during a Shreyas Retreat in Bangalore, India. Pros to first-time yogis are invited to stay in one of 12 poolside or garden suite cottages at the Relais & Chateaux property. Guests adopt vegetarian diets and are prohibited from consuming alcohol during their stays that can last up to three weeks. Recently, Shreyas added a spa that offers Western and Thai massages, mud therapy, hydrotherapy, acupressure and acupuncture to complement yoga and meditation practices.
Shreyas Retreat; shreyasretreat.com
Take a Dip in Iceland’s Blue Lagoon
Fly to Keflavík International Airport in Iceland, and you’ll find a saying in bold type on the wall perpendicular to customs: “Better weight than wisdom a traveller cannot carry.” Where better to find wisdom than in the waters of the Blue Lagoon? The world wonder appears blue due to the natural mixture of silica, algae and minerals, but if you were to scoop the water into a transparent cup, it would appear milky white. Silica Hotel, a property built in harmony with the surrounding lava landscape, offers guests complimentary access to the attraction. And while it’s just a 10-minute walk from Blue Lagoon, the property also offers guests their own private bathing lagoon during certain hours of the day.
Silica Hotel; bluelagoon.com
Bike Across Northern Europe
What better destination to travel to on two wheels than the bike capital of the world? Trek Travel takes participants from Basel, Switzerland to Amsterdam, Netherlands on an eight-day journey past impressive medieval sights and fairytale landscapes in Cologne, Koblenz and Strasbourg. Along the way, pass through four different countries; visit the famous Lorelei rock in Germany; and stop for Riesling wines, cheeses and picturesque views of the Dutch countryside. At the final destination, turn riding legs to sea legs by renting a boat to take through the iconic canals of Amsterdam.
Trek Travel; trektravel.com
Witness The Northern Lights From A Glass Igloo
Seeing the Northern Lights should already be on your list, but how about experiencing them from a personal glass igloo? Kakslauttanen Arctic Resort in Finnish Lapland offers two-person and three-person igloo accommodations during the Northern Lights season from Aug. 24 through April. For up to six guests, the Kelo-Glass Igloo is part log cabin, part glass igloo and includes a private sauna, fireplace, kitchenette and bedroom with a glass roof. As for the more adventurous, spend the night tucked into a down sleeping bag in a snow igloo where the temperature stays around 25 F.
Kakslauttanen Arctic Resort; kakslauttanen.fi
Dogsled in Alaska
Partake in Alaska’s official sport—dog sledding. The Alyeska Resort is tucked into the Chugach Mountains on Alaska’s south-central coast and offers views of mountain peaks, hanging glaciers and the ocean. A full-day dog sledding excursion includes a questionnaire with a dog musher, a meet and greet with Iditarod canine athletes and the opportunity to ride a dog sled through the Dallas Seavey meadows. Other activities include ice fishing, glacier viewing, snowmobiling and skiing at one of the longest continuous double black diamond ski runs in North America.
Alyeska Resort; alyeskaresort.com
Truffle Hunt In Italy
What better way to experience Italy than to taste it? Scavenge for truffles with a certified hunter and his shaggy dog on the grounds of Il Salviatino hotel. The 15th century villa is carved into the hillside of Fiesole, offering views of Florence and Tuscany. The experience starts with a briefing on the origin of truffles and how the Lagotto Romagnolo (‘lake dog’) is trained to sniff them out. Following the hunt, participants enjoy a truffle tasting meal incorporating the day’s finds at the La Cucina del Salviatino restaurant.
Il Salviatino; salviatino.com
Snorkel With Whale Sharks In Mexico
Swim with the largest known extant fish in the world during a trip to Mexico’s sister properties CasaMagna Marriott Cancun Resort and JW Marriott Cancun Resort & Spa. Weighing in at 15-plus tons and stretching 40 feet long, the whale shark feeds on plankton and is harmless to humans. Embark by boat to snorkel alongside them where the Caribbean Sea meets the Gulf of Mexico. Hotel guests can even check out a GoPro to capture moments in the water.
CasaMagna Marriott Cancun Resort and JW Marriott Cancun Resort & Spa; marriott.com
Ride A Camel Through The Desert In Dubai
Imagine trudging through sloping sand dunes gazing at a natural desert landscape from a wonky saddle situated on a camel’s humps. Sounds like a good time, right? Stay at the Bab Al Shams Desert Resort & Spa for a luxury retreat—and camel rides. The hotel—which translates to “gateway to the sun”—is in the heart of the desert just 45 minutes from the Dubai International Airport (which Fort Lauderdale now offers direct flights to via Emirates airline). Enjoy dining at eight on-site restaurants and booking spa treatments at the resort’s world-renowned facility before ending the day with a complimentary sunset ride atop the lanky mammals. Other desert activities include safaris, falconry, horse riding, archery and more.
Bab Al Shams Desert Resort & Spa; meydanhotels.com/babalshams