It’s no secret that travel can change your life—from experiencing new cultures and trying new foods to seeing iconic landmarks and creating memories that will last a lifetime. Sometimes you’re even lucky enough to have a trip that sticks out more than others. You know the one, the vacation that sends you home a different person than when you left. Whether you’re hoping to recapture that feeling, or you are still searching for it, here are seven experiences around the world chosen by Conscious Adventurist that should be on every traveler’s bucket list.
1. Hike the Haute Route in Switzerland
For a real challenge, tackle the Haute Route through the Alps in the summer. The difficult trek starts in Chamonix, France, and winds 125 miles through the mountains to Zermatt in Switzerland. In the warmer months, the route is entirely non-technical, but it’s recommended that you are in decent shape for this rigorous trek. Expect to take in breathtaking views of jagged peaks, walk through wildflower-filled meadows, and explore quaint alpine villages. Hikers sleep in cozy huts and mountain inns along the way, and there’s even a cable car ride toward the end of the 10-day trip.
2. Get an Adrenaline Boost in New Zealand
If skydiving has always been in the back of your mind, there’s no better place to do it than New Zealand. You’ll soar over gorgeous blue water and lush green land as you float from 12,000 feet down to the ground. If that feels a bit too extreme, bungee jump off the Kawarau Gorge Suspension Bridge for a smaller drop (just over 140 feet). The bridge spans the Kawarau River in the South Island of New Zealand, with nothing but spectacular views all around you and turquoise water below.
3. See the Northern Lights in Finland
The northern lights can be elusive, but there are a few places around the world where they can be reliably found: Fairbanks, Alaska; Svalbard, Norway; and Churchill, Canada. But to make a unique experience even more amazing, book a glass-domed igloo at Finland’s Kakslauttanen Resort. Situated north of the Arctic Circle, the aurora borealis can be seen here for nearly eight months from late August until the end of April. Make the most of your trip by taking a reindeer sleigh ride through the wilderness and then fall asleep as the magical green, blue, pink, and yellow colors dance across the sky.
4. Receive a Blessing from a Monk in Thailand
Regardless of your religious affiliation (or lack thereof), there is something special about receiving a heartfelt blessing from a real monk. Every April, visitors to Thailand have that opportunity during the famous Songkran Festival (it’s also the country’s new year celebration). Locals give alms to the monks in Buddhist temples, and tourists are allowed to participate. The custom is to pour or sprinkle water over monks hands in return for a blessing. This is considered a time of cleansing, so many will spend time cleaning their homes and pouring water over statues of Buddha in addition to spending time at the temples.
5. Celebrate the Winter Solstice in Machu Picchu
Many cultures throughout time have believed that solar and lunar events are meaningful, and for the Inca, the winter solstice (June 21 in the Southern Hemisphere) was known as Inti Raymi or the Festival of the Sun. The ancient citadel of Machu Picchu in Peru was built so that as the sun rises on the winter solstice, the light shines through a window in the Temple of the Sun onto a ceremonial stone. (During the summer solstice, the light shines through another window in the temple.) After this sacred experience at Machu Picchu, head into Cusco for the Inti Raymi Festival—a time for dancing and celebrating the sun god.
6. Watch the Great Migration of the Serengeti
Tanzania is one of the oldest continuously inhabited places in the world. Fossils that date back millions of years have been found in the Great Rift Valley. Serengeti National Park is also located in the Great Rift Valley, which is where one of the most amazing sights on earth can also be found: the great wildebeest migration. Every year, more than one million wildebeest, zebra, and antelope migrate around the Serengeti-Masai Mara ecosystem. April through July are the best times to see the migration, though it may vary depending on environmental factors.
7. Walk Through Ancient Temples in Cambodia
The impressive temple complex of Angkor Wat in Cambodia dates back to the 12th century and is believed to be one of the largest religious structures in the world. Built as a Hindu temple, it was eventually transformed into a Buddhist temple in the 12th century. Take a step back in time as you walk over the worn stones and look at the relief sculptures of devatas (Hindu gods/spirits) that can be found adorning the walls. For the best shot of the temple reflecting on the pond, go out early or stay until right before sunset (just be prepared for a crowd—it’s a popular picture).
Written by Abbie Mood for Matcha in partnership with Conscious Adventurist.