5 of my amazing experiences around the world

I love going through other people´s bucket list – it inspires me and brings me to new ideas I have never thought of before. But, today, I´m not going to talk about my list (maybe a subject for another post?). I´m going to tell you about 5 of the most amazing experiences I have lived in different countries that are definitely bucket list worth…even if they weren´t on mine, be it for lack of knowledge or lack of guts.

Anyways, I hope these experiences can maybe help you grow your bucket list longer, or at least open your mind to amazing opportunities out there waiting to be lived…and told about later 😉

1.Balloon Ride in Arizona, USA

Another balloon in the horizon that lifted up with ours

I think everyone should go on at least one balloon ride in their lives, and Arizona is a great candidate for you to do so. If hiking around the gigantic rock formations of the state is already breathtaking, can you imagine hovering 1000 meters above it, greeting the sunrise as it starts to peak from behind the mountains? As you lift higher and higher, the more you can start making sense of the immensity of the Red Rock Country and its canyons; additionally, little by little the morning light reveals the irregularity of the rock layers with its uneven terracotta colors. I promise you, it´s one of those experiences you will be pinching yourself to be sure you are not dreaming.

The colorful balloons add up to the scenery, don´t they?
The incredible rock formations

Still, I have to say that, if you are afraid of heights, be sure you can cope with the situation. As I have revealed here many times, I am terrified of being anywhere from 3 meters up the floor. The balloon ride in Arizona was the most incredible and the most frightening thing I have ever done in my life. 50% of the time I was sitting in the basket shaking like a leaf, and the other 50% I was clinging on to my friend not believing my eyes with the view. I can say this one was a one and done for me, but I´m 100% glad I did it.

The balloon ride was booked with Red Rock Balloons by the company we were traveling with, Contiki. We boarded in Sedona.

2.Swim with manta rays in Bali, Indonesia

They might look scary, but they are actually very gentle

I was never a sea adventurer like my husband is. I have never been on a cruise or on a multiple-day sailing trip like he has. I am also not the greatest swimmer. But one thing that I definitely am is curious, and this characteristic is what has brought me the coolest experiences of my life. That´s how one day vacationing in Bali, we decided we wanted to do something different on the next day and ended up signing up for a last minute boat trip that included swimming with manta rays. It didn´t even pop in my mind that manta rays could be dangerous, that there could be sharks in the area, or that it involved jumping in the disturbed sea away- miles away – from any shore. By the way, manta rays are not dangerous, and I have no idea if there were sharks in the area. I´m glad I didn´t google it actually, because it could have potentially made me rethink the trip…

Even though they might swim near you, no touching is allowed

…and miss the most beautiful underwater ballet! Manta rays are huge, gentle, graceful and fast – all at once. That jump of faith amid the grey waves – result of a very rainy day – was worth every drop of courage it took. Once you are in the water surrounded by these beautiful animals dancing around you, you completely forget you are in the middle of the ocean, unprotected, at the mercy of the unknown. I felt hypnotized by their movement, their size (I really did not expect them to be so big) and their generosity for letting me just be there and watch. It´s an experience that made me wanting to do more exploring under the sea.

I am honestly not 100% sure about the company with whom we booked the day tour to Nusa Penida including the snorkel with the manta rays, but I believe it was Surya Nusa Penida Tour. Nevertheless, a good direction is always to look for a good rated company on Trip Advisor.

3.Picnic at Cajón del Maipo, Chile

Incredible views at the Reservoir

Cajón del Maipo is one of those places you can´t believe exists, even when it´s right before your eyes. When we looked back at the pictures to see if they did any justice to the natural beauty of the place, I was shocked to see that they captured reality really well – though you cannot compare to the experience of seeing everything live, of course. To be honest, the pictures even look photoshopped (I bet it has crossed your mind!) – but I swear, they are not. Yes, this place is this beautiful.

Cajón del Maipo is a large natural area near the capital, Santiago. Though you will find many breathtaking sceneries along the ride and perfect spots for pictures, El Yeso Reservoir is definitely the most beautiful of them. The crystal-clear waters reflecting the huge snow-capped hills that grow above it rivals any Lord of the Rings´ landscape. Really. The place is so jaw-dropping that most companies who will take you there will organize a picnic for you with the view, so you can take your time soaking in the beauty of the sight while sipping on really good Chilean wine.

We booked our day trip to Cajón del Maipo from Santiago with Viator, and we had a great experience.

4.Watch the waters take the surroundings of Mont Saint Michel, France

It´s not a vision, it´s Mount Saint Michel!

This one I had to see it with my own eyes to understand how this was even possible. I mean, a mount, in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by sand…but, sometimes, by water. What was it then, sand or water? Well, it depends on the time of the day you will visit it. Yes, exactly what you read: if you visit the mount by evening, it will look very different from when you visited it in the morning. Which one is more beautiful? Hmm…tough question. When it´s isolated by water it looks almost whimsical, like a floating wonder impossible to reach. When it´s surrounded by sand, it gives me “fata morgana” vibes, like a mirage that appears before a pilgrim´s eyes after a long walk.

I know, I´m dramatic.

The Mont Saint Michel is a tidal island with both a holy and a sinful past. Besides being crowned with one of the most beautiful abbeys in the world, there´s a legend that says it is the place of archangel Michel´s apparition in the 8th century. On the other hand, it also served as a prison during the French Revolution (what wasn´t a prison during the French Revolution, right?!). Though for the history alone it is worth a visit, what is really amazing is to watch how the desert around it becomes filled up with water in just a few minutes when the high tide floods the sand. It´s like somebody pressed a button somewhere and there comes the water! Amazing.

Picture taken from the top of the mount during the low tide
The new 2014 bridge

When I visited it in 2010, the mount could be reached by a raised causeway. Now there´s an elevated bridge that allows the waters to flow freely around the mount. Causeway or bridge, the mount still kept its “stranded” characteristic. Definitely an experience to put on the list. I say so, and so does UNESCO.

You can visit the mount by yourself, but something I wish I had done and didn´t was to take a walking tour around it on the sand with a guide. Also, don´t forget to keep an eye on the tide times, so you don´t miss the spectacle.

5.Hike the Tongariro Alpine Crossing, New Zealand

Walking above the clouds

Now that´s what I call an adventure. This should be in the bucket list of every person that enjoys nature, hiking or is in the need of a life-changing experience (who isn´t?). The Tongariro Alpine Crossing is the compilation of everything New Zealand´s scenery offers in just one hike – dense forests, incredible sunrises, crystal clear waters, snowy peaks and volcanic activity. Phew, what a ride in a 6-hour walk. I felt like a hobbit exploring unknown lands.

Mount Ngauruhoe appearing with the sunrise lights
A little heat coming from the earth

This crossing is located inside the Tongariro National Park, the oldest and one of the most famous in New Zealand. It comprises a 19.4 km (12 miles) up and down walk that will require some preparation – after all, the terrain can be rough at times and you will experience different weathers. If you start early – and by early, I mean REALLY early (we started to climb at 5 am) – you will experience some of the most amazing sceneries by yourself. We were actually alone for a big part of our hike and this definitely adds up to the whole adventure. My most magical moment? Passing by the Mount Ngauruhoe, a volcano, at the break of dawn, when we could only see a dark shadow of the huge mountain on our right.

If you want to read my detailed account of this incredible experience, click here. There´s also the complete itinerary of our NZ trip here.

How about you? What was the most amazing experience you have gone through in a trip?

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