If you are a travel enthusiast, you most likely have many vacation ideas. But with soo many cool ideas, there’s no wonder you’re still undecided and need some help. If, on the other hand, you are not much of a traveler and, more so, barely know what is where, it will be reasonable to feel lost. In both cases, I can give you a start on your vacation plan. There are countless places that can be included on the list of the best vacation ideas. The list I have made is based on 1) What I know is popular among backpackers, 2) What is relatively accessible, and 3) My subjectivity. Get ready to see zebras, elephants, giant trees, temples, icebergs, sand dunes, and some of the world’s most challenging trekks. Here are my seven vacation ideas.
See the Maasai Mara Migration, Also Known as The Great Migration
If: You are into wildlife spectacles and want to see one of the best of its kind. In this event, almost 2 million wildebeest, zebra, and other species migrate through the Maasai Mara Game Reserve.
When: One of the best times to see the Maasai Mara Migration is in late July to August, when millions of animals cross the Mara River, as well as in October to early November, when they return.
Maasai Mara is regarded as one of the most important wildlife conservations in Africa and also one under pressure from human activities. The ecosystem is famous for its African bush elephant, lion, African leopard, and cheetah, among others. The Greater Mara ecosystem includes the Maasai Mara National Reserve, the Mara Triangle, and several conservancies.
Don’t be surprised if you haven’t heard of this large migration event, many haven’t. Yet, according to many sources, the Maasai Mara Migration, also known as the Great Wildebeest Migration, is one of the most spectacular wildlife migrations in the world. The event is, in fact, one of the Seven Natural Wonders of Africa.
The migration takes place within an area referred to as the Serengeti ecosystem, a region in Northern Tanzania that encompasses an area of 40,000 sq mi (103599.52 sq km). During the migration, more than 1.5 million wildebeests and many, many zebras, gazelles, and elands cross the Serengeti into Kenya’s Maasai Mara.
This large population movement is explained by changes in resource levels. When supplies get low in one area, the animals move to another area with more resources. When supplies get low again, they change their location to a new place where food resources are at an acceptable level.
It is still unclear how the internal GPS of the species participating in the migration work; that is, it is not known how they find food and water. In general, animals migrate based on an internal compass, mental maps, and different other cues.
While in the Maasai Mara, there is more to do than just watching the large population of migrating mammals. Guided activities in the region include safari drives, hot air balloon tours, cultural visits, and a day at Mfangano Island on Lake Victoria, to name a few. A balloon tour is arguably particularly appealing – you could watch some of this migration event from above!
Make an Elephant Safari by Jeep in Botswana’s Okawango Delta
If: You want to see elephants, giraffes, zebras, and hippos living within a complex ecosystem.
When: July and August, when the water levels in the lagoons and channels where elephants go are high.
How: You can book a flight to Johannesburg, Cape Town, or Kasane. From there, you have a connection to Maun, the tourist capital of Botswana. Once in Maun, you can take a charter plane from Maun Airport, or you can visit the eastern part of the delta directly from Maun with a 4×4.
Another of the Seven Natural Wonders of Africa and a UNESCO World Heritage is the Okawango Delta. This swampy inland delta is located in the central part of the endorheic basin of the Kalahari Desert, where the Okavango River reaches a tectonic trough in the central. The Moremi Game Reserve National Park is located on the eastern side of the delta.
An elephant safari in the Okavango Delta will allow you to feed the elephants, walk with them (no riding), and watch them take a mud bath. It is common knowledge that elephants look adorable; nevertheless, do not join the elephants in the mud!
Besides elephants, you can also see lions, leopards, cheetahs, black and white rhinoceros, zebras, giraffes, antelope, and African wild dogs, among others. There is arguably no need to say that you will not be able to pet any of the beautiful animals that might find you delicious or a threat.
There are so many things to do at the Okawango Delta that I will only make a few suggestions: a trip through narrow waterways via a canoe, a motorboat safari on the Okavango River, a walking safari with a guide and a ranger, a horseback tour, and a scenic plane ride over the delta. You may want to check some guided tour options and get ready for action.
Take a Road Trip on California Coastal Trail
If: You want to see California’s 850 mi (1368 km) of public coastline, which consists of an extensive network of hiking, biking, and walking trails known as the California Coastal Trail.
How: I recommend you use as much non-motorized transportation as possible.
The California Coastal Trail covers the entire West Coast. There are arguably few coastlines that are as diverse as the Californian one. A ride on the West Coast will give you views of sandy beaches, forested mountains, scenic coastal cliffs, and large bays.
Perhaps the most significant challenge to hiking California’s coastal trail is choosing from the many hikes available. The recommendations I’m about to make are based on my own preferences in terms of what the hikes can offer, and I encourage you to search for additional information before selecting a hike.
Arguably one of the best hikes in California is Redwood National and State Parks, which is 70 mi long (112 km) and includes the world’s largest trees – General Sherman. You may even be able to see whales, seals, sharks, and otters from the Klamath River overlook.
Another cool hike on the California Coastal Trail is Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve, a 2,000-acre (8 km2) reserve in San Diego that has beaches, canyons, sandstone bluffs, and lagoons. If you decide to go during winter, you might see gray whales during their migration along the coast.
One 0.5-mile (0.8 km) trail that I recommend for the views it offers is the McWay Falls Trail, which is located in Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park and gives access to the McWay Falls – an 80-ft (24 m) waterfall. During high tide, McWay is a tidefall, emptying directly into the ocean. The falls flood onto a beach and over a cliff, emptying into the ocean.McWay Falls
Visit Chiang Mai, Thailand
If: You want to explore a less touristic place in the country’s cooler, mountainous region.
When: Between October and April
How: You can book a flight to Chiang Mai. You can also choose from hundreds of guided activities both within the city and in the surrounding areas.
Chiang Mai is a large city surrounded by rainforests, waterfalls, and elephant sanctuaries. It is also the capital of the Chiang Mai Province and the largest city in northern Thailand (127,240 inhabitants). One should arguably not spend time in Chiang Mai without exploring the city’s old center – popular for its historical shophouses, many temples, a moat, and the ancient walls surrounding the location.
One interesting place to visit in the area is Wat Phra That Doi Suthep, a Theravada Buddhist temple located on the Doi Suthep mountain. Another place I recommend is the underground ancient city of Wiang Kum Kam. This hot spot is located only a few miles from the city and is linked to the 8th century Haripunchai Kingdom. While there, you can see stone tables, pottery, and Buddhist structures.
If you are into elephant sanctuaries, then the Elephant Jungle Sanctuary Chiang Mai will likely be your thing! It is worth mentioning that this elephant attraction in Thailand does take into consideration the welfare of animals and is also used as a care home for elephants that were used in the tourism industry. While it is not allowed to ride the elephants (for obvious reasons), you can interact with them, including bathing them!
A trip to Chiang Mai can also include a visit to Doi Inthanon National Park, located at 8415 ft (2,565 m) above the sea level, the Doi Pui Tribal Village and National Park (famous for its waterfalls and the Hmong Tribal Village), and the Chiang Dao cave complex, among others.
Finally, you might also want to visit Wat Rong Khun, also known as The White Temple. This very interesting building is a private art exhibit in the style of a Buddhist temple and is located in the Chiang Rai Province, about two and a half hours from Chiang Mai.
Go to the North Pole
If: You want to chill
When: It depends on what you are looking for
How: Choose a North Pole destination, which can mean parts of Alaska, Canada, Russia, Greenland, Sweden, Norway, Finland, the Arctic Ocean, and adjacent seas. Most flights to the North Pole depart from Norway and Canada. There are many guided tours, including helicopter tours, cruises, and even hot air balloon tours.
It is perhaps not common knowledge (because we forget a lot of what we learn in school) that one can speak of a geographic North Pole (the points at which all paths go south) and the magnetic North Pole (the point any compass points too). In the winter, the North Pole is dark and cold. In the summer, ice is not solid enough. For this reason, many would argue that spring is the best time to visit the Arctic region.
The exact activities you will be able to engage in while visiting the Arctic will vary depending on where you go and with who. That being said, one should arguably consider a trip plan that offers an acceptable chance of seeing polar bears and/or the northern lights. A tour that offers an arctic cruise and allows you to set foot on glaciers is likely also very cool.
Explore Marrakech, arguably the coolest city in Morocco
If: You like ancient medinas, souks, palaces, and museums
When: May through September
How: Marrakech has an airport with many connections, especially to Europe. In case you want to start in a different Moroccan location, there are also train connections to the city you may want to consider.
Marrakesh is the fourth largest city in Morocco as well as one of the four imperial cities of the country (that is, one of the cities that has been its capital). One of the coolest things about Marrakesh is that it is located near the Atlas Mountains and has views of the same from many parts of the city.
Marrakech is also known as the Red City due to the many buildings built in red sandstones, including the city’s walls. Jemaa el-Fnaa, the main square in Marrakech’s medina, is the busiest square in Africa. The medina is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Marrakech’s top locations include Jemaa el-Fnaa, the 19th century Bahia Palace, the 16th century Badi Palace, the Kutubiyya Mosque, and the Majorelle Garden – a botanical garden and artist’s landscape garden created by the French orientalist artist Jacques Majorelle.
After spending a few days exploring Marrakech, you should strongly consider one of the many desert tours that start in Marrakech. Many of these tours will take you to the Erg Chebbi dunes, and they will include a cross through the High Atlas Mountains and some camel trekking experiences.
Trek the Himalayas in Nepal
If: You want to see Nepal Mountains
When: October to December
How: You can take a flight to Nepal’s only international airport (Tribhuvan) from several Asian countries, including India, Thailand, China, and Singapore. On land, the country can be accessed from India and Tibet.
Nepal is a very popular destination for those seeking to trek the Himalayas. The country is on the southern side of the Himalayas and has high mountains in the north and lowland plains, and subtropical jungles in the south. The world’s largest peak – Mount Everest – is located between Nepal and Tibet and has an altitude of 29,032 ft (8,849 m).
While in Nepal, you can visit the Kathmandu Valley, a location full of UNESCO Heritage Sites, including Bouddhanath Stupa (the largest Buddhist shrine in South Asia), Kathmandu Durbar Square (which includes many buildings from the Malla dynasty), the Pashupatinath Temple, the Bhaktapur Durbar Square (known for festivals and other traditions), Swayambhunath Stupa (also known as the Monkey Temple, one of the world’s oldest Buddhist Chaityas), Changunarayan Temple, and the Patan Durbar Square (known as Lalitpur “the city of arts,” includes the residence of the former Patan royal family).
Nepal, along with Bhutan, is arguably the best place to go for hiking the Himalayas. Unlike Bhutan, you can go to Nepal by yourself. However, unless you have the proper experience, it is best to consider a guided tour.
Are You Ready for Trekking Days?
You now have seven vacation ideas or, if I was a source of inspiration, more than that. Perhaps you are now one step closer to starting implementing your vacation plan. If that is the case, there are a few more clicks to make, and you will probably know everything you need to know about your destination of choice. Ready, set, double-check, go!