Ellie Sykes reveals her top five travel destinations
With Barack Obama having recently knocked Stonehenge off his bucket list, I decided to share my own travelling to-do list. Some suggestions are close to home and others unashamedly farther flung – after all, a bucket list needs a sense of challenge. Deciding on a mere five top choices was a struggle – these are a few of the extraordinary experiences and places I hope to check off my ever-expanding travel bucket list. In no particular order:
- Explore the rivers of the rainforest: Amazon River, South America
The largest tropical rainforest and river on Earth is home to a staggering array of tree, fish, mammal and bird species, making it one of the most biodiverse places in the world. Riverboats offer a great way to experience the Amazon, allowing you to stop off and explore the jungle, while travelling along the river. Only by boat can you marvel at the natural wonder of the ‘Meeting of Waters’, where the dark waters of the Rio Negro meet the sandy coloured Rio Solimões of the Amazon River.
- Take a trip on the Trans-Mongolian Railway
This unique train journey connects the European and Chinese rail networks and could be taken purely for the joy of travelling itself. Travelling from Moscow to Beijing involves passing through the Ural Mountains, commonly known as the border between Europe and Asia. Lake Baikal in Ulan Ude can be seen on the route, the deepest fresh water lake in the world, where on a good day you can see 40 meters into the clear waters. As the journey continues, the train stops in Mongolia’s capital, Ulaanbaatar, and continues through the vast steppes of the Gobi desert. The epic length of the Trans-Mongolian Railway allows an intimate insight to the beautiful landscapes of Russia, Mongolia and China.
- Relax in the ‘Galician Caribbean’: Cíes Islands, Spain
A visit to the beautiful Cíes Islands is a suggestion slightly closer to home. The Romans aptly referred to this archipelago of islands as the ‘islands of the Gods’. The three islands, Monteagudo, do Faro, and San Martiño, offer stunningly clear waters and white sandy beaches. In fact, Rodas beach, which connects the islands of Monteagudo and do Faro, was voted the best beach in the world by The Guardian in 2007. Take a hike around the beautiful lakes and cliffs, sail or scuba dive in the crystalline waters, or simply relax on the beach.
- Follow the Inca trail to Machu Picchu: Peru
Combining the challenge of a 43km trek with the iconic Machu Picchu, the abandoned 15th century Inca Citadel, puts this suggestion firmly at the top of many bucket lists. The Inca Trail is one of the world’s most famous hiking trails with its incredible mountain scenery, culminating at 7970 feet above sea level in the enchanting and mysterious Inca ruins, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. See a photo of the Inca Trail at the top of this article.
- See the Northern Lights
An incredible natural phenomenon, the Aurora Borealis results from collisions between gaseous particles, from the Earth’s atmosphere, with charged particles, from the sun’s atmosphere. Described as nature’s own theatre, the Northern Lights are an awe-inspiring spectacle not to be missed. They can be seen from various places near the magnetic north pole, including Canada, Scandinavia, Finland and Norway.