My 2014 Top Travel Experiences and How You Can Do Them

December 23, 2014 7 Comments »

Everyone seems to be after the ultimate travel experiences – things with local flare, educational value, or something that gives back. If it seems too hard to find them yourself – then I’ve done some of the work for you. I collected my top travel experiences from my 2014 travels and provided some info on how you can do them or learn more about them. From wildlife, to cooking, to luxury stays, to hiking, to photography, to volunteering, to dirty markets, to eating chocolate – I’ve chosen my favorite experience from each place I traveled to this year and paired it up with one of my favorite photos of the country. Hopefully some of these will end up on your 2015 travel list!

Jasper, Canada

The Canadian Rockies in the winter are spectacular and they are even better when you can get out and get close to nature. I took a winter wildlife safari while in Jasper this winter that was a great way to experience the landscapes of the area as well as the wildlife of the area. More Info – Jasper National Park Wildlife Safari

Jasper National Park Trees

Jasper National Park – a golden morning glow for our safari.

Honolulu

Most people want beach experiences in Honolulu, but I found a fabulous gastronomic experience with Chef Mavro. A 6 course tasting menu that changes every season is a decadent way to treat your taste buds in Hawaii. My favorite part of the experience was learning more about how he sourced all of his ingredients locally such as the watercress from Sumida farms in Oahu. More info – Chef Mavro and Farm to Table Creations

Sumida watercress farm oahu

Sumida Watercress Farm – where Chef Mavro does his ‘shopping’

Kauai

Go out with a local professional photographer to the hard-to-get-to places in Kauai to capture some amazing shots. My experience with Kauai Photography Workshops was one of my favorite things I did all year. We went out to the far corners of the island, into caves, deep into the jungle for waterfalls, and even found hidden lighthouses. More Info: Kauai Photography Workshops

Kauai Photography tours

Working on my night photography with Kauai Adventure Photography Workshops

India

Looking for some respite from India’s assault to the senses – then Soma Kerala Palace may be the place for you. I thought I would dislike being on a small island for a week, but it ended up being my favorite thing I did in India. Not only was it a chance to experience the peaceful, calm side of India through yoga and solitude, it was also a chance to see more of the local culture on outings to local fish markets, and boat rides through the backwaters. More Info – Soma Kerala Palace Retreat

headstand yoga

After a week I learned how to do this on my own. Miracles do happen!

Queensland Australia

Strap up the hiking boots and hike Spicer’s Scenic Rim Trail in southern Queensland to experience the history of Australia’s homesteaders and pioneers. However this hiking experience is like no other, when we finished our hiking day, we were treated to a luxurious glamping night – including decadent food and wine and we retired to cozy luxury tents. More Info –Spicer’s Scenic Rim Trail

Spicers Scenic Rim Trail

Nearing the glamping tents in the valley after a day of hiking.

Australia Northern Territory

The Kata Tjuta Valley of the Winds Hike (aprox. 4 miles) was by far my favorite hiking experience in the Northern Territory. It was a chance to hike through the magnificent Olgas comprising of 36 dome-like rock formations. There were valleys and gorges and amazing flower and fauna to explore. More Info – Valley of the Winds Walk

Kata Tjuta Hiking

Kata Tjuta Hike

Peru

Most people would tell you that Machu Picchu is the best experience in Peru, and it is beautiful, however my niece and I got a different perspective on Peru. By far the most rewarding experience I had this year was volunteering with Project Peru in Lima. My niece, Megan, raised money to build two homes in the impoverished Los Laderas area through. In a few short days we had walls, a roof, and doors up for a single mother and her adorable kids. But the best part was simply getting a chance to be closer to the community through a hands-on experience. More Info – Volunteering in Lima Peru

Las Laderas volunteering

Las Laderas in Peru

New Brunswick, Canada

Sometimes it’s the simple impromptu experiences that are the best. We picked up fresh lobsters from Collins Lobster Shop in Alma and walked down the street to Parkland Village Inn, ordered a beer, put on our lobster bibs and enjoyed Bay of Fundy lobster while sitting at their picnic tables watching the tide roll out. Simple and delicious. More Info – www.parklandvillageinn.com

Collin's Lobster Shop

Collin’s Lobster Shop in Alma New Brunswick. Pick your own and head to the Bay of Fundy to have a picnic!

Prince Edward Island Canada

A little island in Atlantic Canada known for it’s farming is the perfect setting for a culinary experience. Set in an old church which Annie bought, gutted, and redesigned herself, you can learn to create culinary works of art that your stomach will thank you for. Roll up your sleeves as Annie and Chef Norm teach you about farm to table cooking in a beautiful setting for an afternoon. More info – Annie’s Table Cooking Classes

Annie's Cookiing Class PEI

Getting ‘schooled’ in Annie’s big kitchen.

Great Bear Rain Forest BC Canada

It takes planes and boats to get you there, but it’s totally worth it for a unique, remote experience. Get up close to nature at the Nimmo Bay resort. My favorite part of the trip strangely was our failed outing to go see bears in the wild – because the journey can be the most important part sometimes. More Info – Bear Watching with Nimmo Bay Resort

Bear Watching Great Bear RAin Forest

Going deep to see the bears in the Great Bear Rain Forest.

Ireland

Most people just go to the visitor center and view the Cliffs of Moher – but I suggest you do the Cliffs of Moher hike and get a new perspective on the famous landmark. You can easily follow the trail from the Cliffs of Moher visitor center to Doolin –the most stunning 8 km that you’ll see in Ireland. – More Info – Cliffs of Moher coastal hike

Cliffs of Moher hiking trail

Sea Spray covers the Cliffs of Moher hiking trail to Doolin

Paris

Who doesn’t love a chocolate tasting experience? Really – do I need to say more? More Info – Chocolate and Pastry Tour Paris

Chocolate tour paris

Chocolate origins in Paris

Sri Lanka

Love elephants? What about 500 elephants? Experience one of the largest elephant migrations in Minneriya National Park Sri Lanka you can get an amazing view of the elephant migration called the Gathering. Head out on safari jeeps and see the majestic creatures up close. More Info – The Great Elephant Migration in Sri Lanka

the Gathering elephant migration

Capturing the Gathering

Cartagena, Colombia

It’s not a secret that I LOVE markets – the dirtier and grittier the better. At the end of this year I came across what has turned out to be my favorite market that I’ve ever experienced – the Bazurto Market in Cartagena Colombia. Walk the dirty alleys and interact with the eternally happy Colombians, watch them clean fish, butcher meat, sing, dance, and cook – this market has everything! More info – Bazurto Market Catagena

Bazurto Market Fish monger

Fish monger at Bazurto Market

 

Disclosure:  Some of these trips throughout the year were sponsored.  However, all of the opinions here are my own.


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