crossing5oceans.com | Published January 10th, 2021 | Last Updated April 17th, 2021
All Images © 2021 - Kelly Girouard - Please Contact for Permission to Use
Many unique experiences await eager travellers from around the world, from cage diving with sharks and bungee jumping to braving white water rapids and skydiving. While none of the activities below are an adrenaline junkie's dream, they are fascinating and memorable adventures all the same. Read on to uncover travel bucket list experiences that shouldn't be missed.
Caving in Iceland
1 - EXPLORE VOLCANIC LAVA TUBES - Driving into the lava fields located in the Leidarendi Cave system is the same as everything else in Iceland, impressive! The landscape changes from bleak and treeless to jet black rock speckled with overstuffed green pillows of moss. It was fascinating to be able to walk through a tunnel that was created by molten lava pushing its way through the earth. Within the cave, you see colourful iron-rich red rock, ancient stalagmites and striations on the wall where the magma left its indentations as it bored through the earth.
Note: The Leidarendi Cave is a more authentic caving experience as there are no wooden plank walkways or modern lighting. If you are claustrophobic, please be aware there are areas you need to crawl through on your belly as the roof has collapsed from earthquakes over the years.
The Entrance to the Leidarendi Cave System is Located in this Stunning Field of Green Moss
Climbing in Greece
2 - CLIMB THE MONASTERIES IN METEORA - These monasteries were built by monks starting around the 14th century; today, six of the original twenty sites can be visited. The monasteries sit on pillars of rock formed over 60 million years ago and have been shaped over time by weathering and earthquakes. It wasn’t until arriving in Meteora and seeing the landscape that I realized that rocks could be that beautiful. Who knew? A fascinating part of Meteora lies in the construction of the monasteries. The monks who first built them would climb up the side of the pillars and then create a pulley and rope or ladder system to hoist the materials to the top. The monastery of Varlaam, for example, took 22 years to build by taking every brick and item used for the construction up the side of the rock pillar it sits on. You can find a guide with all the information you need to plan a trip to Meteora here.
Rock Pathways Have Been Carved in the Mountains to Take Visitors to the Monastery Entrances
Desert Safari in the Middle East
3 - EXPERIENCE A TRADITIONAL BEDOUIN DINNER AND DESERT SAFARI - If you’re looking for a unique experience from an eco-friendly tourism company, look no farther than Platinum Heritage in Dubai. This 7-hour tour combines a desert safari in an open-top 1950s Land Rover with a traditional Bedouin dinner under the stars.
During the daylight hours of the tour, you will embark on a guided drive through the desert, discovering local flora and fauna; participants can then climb the dunes and have the opportunity to take photos of the surrounding desert followed by a sunset falconry show.
As it turns to dusk, you'll arrive at a campsite for dinner. This is no ordinary campsite; it's a beautifully tented Bedouin retreat lit with traditional fire lanterns. The site is centred around long couches complete with individual hookah pipes, tents with dine-in seating, and locals teaching how to make coffee and bread. The multi-course meal is incredibly tasty, and the day ends with a display of Emirati cultural entertainment that you can participate in. Check the extras available when you're reserving a spot. When I booked this tour, I received the drone footage of our experience, and it was worth booking directly through their website to receive it; the offer was still available as of November 2020. For more detailed information you may like to read Unforgettable Treks Through the Arabian Desert.
Platinum Heritage Bedouin Dinner and Safari in a 1950s Land Rover
Hiking in Iceland
4 - EXPERIENCE THE STUNNING LANDMANNALAUGAR - There aren't too many places on the planet where a hike will lead you to rainbow-coloured mountains, but Iceland’s Landmannalaugar does just that. The hiking trail is complete with hot springs for lounging, which is how some choose to spend their time; for others, a hike up one of the pathways leads to views of the impressive multicoloured rhyolite mountains. The Landmannalaugar valley was created when a 1480 volcanic eruption produced a rhyolitic lava flow; because of the chlorite and sulphuric emissions, it has left the valley dotted with what looks like mountains of marbled sand in all colours of the rainbow.
The Base of Landmannalaugar's Hiking Trails in the Rhyolite Mountains
The Rainbow Colours of Mount Brennisteinsalda tops the Landmannalaugar Hiking Path
Walk City Walls
5 - EXPLORE THE FORTIFIED WALLS IN DUBRONIK THAT ENCLOSE THE CITY - If there ever was a jaw-dropping picturesque hike to have while exploring a city, this is it! Start the walk at either one of the city gates, Pile or Ploce, and after some slight stair climbing, you reach a walkway that will begin your 2km hike. This walk will give you stunning views over the shimmering waters of the Adriatic Sea, a close up look at some impressive medieval architecture, a birds-eye view of the Marina as well as a unique view of Lovrijenac Fortress. The walk will take approximately 2 hours or longer when you count in time for snapping what is sure to be incredible photos or pausing to take it all in.
View of the Adriatic Sea from the Dubrovnik Wall Walk
Drive the Mountains in Slovenia
6 - TAKE IN THE INCREDIBLE LANDSCAPES - While on a road trip through Slovenia, you won’t just come across one remarkable landscape after another; you will meet genuine, lovely people, enjoy delicious cuisine, and see a country that can be classified as wonderfully diverse. After touring the country, I’m unsure why it hasn't become more of a tourist destination. However, I must admit that it’s enjoyable to have a quiet experience rather than be in cramped cities that top almost everyone’s must-see European destinations. To get a better idea of all that Slovenia has to offer, read 'Five reasons Slovenia is Europes Most Underrated Travel destination.'
Spectacular Scenery Awaits When Driving Through the Mountains in Slovenia
Visit a Mountain Palace
7 - VISIT THE QUIRKY PENA PALACE IN THE SINTRA MOUNTAINS - A palace perched atop the side of a mountain with rolling greenery, and the sight of the Atlantic Ocean seems like the perfect setting for the most esteemed royal castles of the world. However, walking up to Pena Palace, I must admit I was in love with the unique whimsy of it all. It's as if a mass of cotton candy or bubble gum was flattened out and stuck to the side of ornate concrete. It's such a departure from any other castle or palace I had ever visited that just the sight of it left me giddy. The palace was completed in 1854 and was inspired by Manueline, Neo-gothic and Moorish architecture. Sintra's whole area is well worth the short train ride from Lisbon, but Pena Palace seems to be the icing on the cake, or rather the colour in the bubble gum!
The "Bubble Gum" Pena Palace Overlooking the Atlantic Ocean
Experience the Streets of Bosnia
8 - TAKE A WALKING TOUR THROUGH MOSTAR - It only takes one afternoon or one short tour through Mostar's streets to remind visitors of the human side of war. Having a tour guide that lived through the conflict in 1992 - 1995 now walking us through the streets was compelling and unforgettable. I booked my tour through Viator, and while I loved the experience, it was a bit too rushed. If you have the opportunity to visit Mostar on your own, seek out a guide from the city and after the tour is over you can enjoy more time in this lovely town.
Take a Walking Tour Through the Streets of Mostar, Bosnia
Explore the Rocky Mountains
9 - DRIVE THE ICEFIELDS PARKWAY BETWEEN BANFF AND JASPER - Being Canadian, it seemed wrong not to include any adventures in Canada, especially when there are so many beautiful sights to visit in this incredibly diverse country. One of my favourite adventures has been to drive the Icefields Parkway from Banff to Jasper. Some of the extraordinary scenery along the way include the spectacular turquoise waters of Moraine Lake, Peyto Lake and Lake Louise, along with the beautiful Sunwapta and Athabasca waterfalls. You can also test your nerves while walking on a glass platform 918 feet above the ground on the Glacier Skywalk. This is just a small sample of the incredible experiences that await you on this beautiful stretch of Highway. You can read the full article - 'Photos That Will Inspire you to Visit the Icefields Parkway, Banff and Jasper'
Athabasca Falls is About 30km South of Jasper and Easily Accessible from the Icefields Parkway
Cross the Arctic Circle
10 - CROSS THE ARCTIC CIRCLE IN GRIMSEY, ICELAND - There are various spots you can make this journey; the one referred to here is located in Grimsey, Iceland. There are tours available from Circle Air that depart from Akureyri and make a half hour flight over the Tröllaskagi Peninsula. Upon arriving, you'll explore the island on foot, learn of the wildlife, hopefully, spot a puffin or two depending on the time of year, and sample some Icelandic cuisine. The tour around the island lasts about two hours, and upon returning to Akureyri, you are presented with a certificate that indicates the date of the trip, along with the latitude and longitude of your Arctic Circle crossing. I made this trip with IcelandAir, which provided a similar experience but does not seem to offer it at the moment. Circle Air has fabulous reviews of this same tour, so I can suggest looking into this excursion instead and booking through their website.
Cross the Arctic Circle with Circle Air to Grimsey
There are so many other wonderful experiences that I can't wait to write about in upcoming blogs. While adventure travel is often associated with adrenaline filled activities, I think an adventure is whatever you make of it. I hope these ideas have inspired you to plan your next trip today!