Ade and I have been lucky enough to do quite a bit of travel. We like to explore cultures and get to know people while we travel, so sometimes our experiences are a little less conventional and off the usual tourist lists.
We’re often asked to help others plan their holidays or recommend ideas for tours and travel. And always people ask what are our most amazing travel experiences.
As I was helping out a friend recently on her upcoming trip to Europe, it got me thinking about some of our amazing travel experiences – ok, travel is never too far from my mind, but we can sometimes forget the awesome things we’ve seen as we search for the next great adventure.
So here it is, my list of the most amazing travel experiences we’ve had:
Surrounded by lions in the Masai Mara
We’d been on safari for almost two weeks and thought we’d seen it all. By now the animals had to do something pretty amazing to impress us and hold our attention.
But then we came across a pride of lions. Two big males – the king and his brother – the mum and their cubs, all of different ages.
There was no one else around but us. Two travellers and a driver/guide. We sat quietly in our van, watching, witnessing. The lions had recently killed a zebra and were taking it in turns to eat, the babies were full of energy. It was mating season. There was so much activity. We were in the middle of our own David Attenborough series.
One of the babies stole a large bit of meat, an older brother chased after it, the younger tripping over as it ran, but determined to hang on to its prize. Eventually it got away and lay down to enjoy its prize.
The large male, the brother of the king, decided it was his turn, roared loudly, scaring the other lions off. It also scared me!
The mum and dad wandered off to copulate. Eventually coming to rest beside our van, close enough that we could have leaned out the window and ruffled their fur.
Eventually our driver let other vans know where the lions were, but for one magical hour we had them all to ourselves.
Read more about our experience on safari.
Swinging across the top of the Alps in Europe
This has to be one of our all time favourite experiences – swinging across the tops of the alps, suspended in a tiny cablecar. It was just big enough for the two of us. The views from here are amazing – you can see the French, Swiss and Italian Alps spread out beneath you.
Chamonix is pretty stunning in its own right and there are so many beautiful walks to do. But then you can take the whole experience up to the next level by following a series of cablecars across country borders. The trip takes you from Chamonix in France to La Palud in Italy – yes you get to cross into Italy by cablecar, how very James Bond is that?
Read more about Chamonix.
Volunteering in Uganda
I can’t do a ‘best travel experiences’ list without including this one. Study after study has shown that if you really want to be happy practice altruism, and two weeks volunteering at a school in Buliisa, Uganda, gave my sister and I a fabulous dose of happiness..
Buliisa, is one of the poorest towns in Uganda. It is close to Murchison Falls and the border with the Democratic Republic of the Congo. My sister and I stayed at the school, visited the children’s parents to learn more about how they live, and hung out like locals in the town. The combination of learning more about a culture so different from our own and knowing that we were doing just a tiny bit to help children in need made this extra special. Oh, and the animal safari at the start and gorilla trekking at the end were pretty amazing too!
The children, staff and even the local town got under my skin and I can’t wait to get back there. Hopefully next time Ade will come with me too!
Read more a about our time at Amari.
White water rafting on the Zambezi
In a moment of madness I decided to join Ade white water rafting while in Zambia. It’s probably worth pointing out that I suffer a bad case of FOMO (fear of missing out). I’m not much of a water person and white water rafting, in level five rapids? Seriously! But it was such an awesome thing to do. The rapids were tough, the guide even tougher, but the views were beautiful and the sense of achievement is something I will never forget.
Our guide forced us to get out and swim through the smaller (level two rapids) but then when we hit the calm waters and someone jumped out of the raft, lazily floating in the water, he started yelling, “get back in the raft, get back in the raft, there are crocodiles here!”. No one dared jump out again without our guides encouragement.
Bedding down in a gypsy hut in the Himalayas in India
Our trip to Kashmir wasn’t without its challenges, but it also had this – a few days living with a gypsy family in the Indian Himalayas. The area was beautiful, the fresh mountain air welcome after the craziness of Delhi, Agra and Varanasi and the walks something special.
But the thing about this stay that was really amazing, was sitting in the family’s living room with the family, in front of the open fire place and drinking tea. They didn’t speak English, we didn’t speak their language, but they made us feel so welcome. And we felt so fortunate to be able to see into the world of another culture, a culture so foreign to our own, even if only for a few days.
Want to read more about Kashmir?
What are your favourite travel experiences? We’d love to hear about them in the comments below.