Top Bucket List Adventures for the New Year

Angela Wood

Senior Contributor

Visualise your dream holiday. Is it an expedition with friends to Antarctica? Do you wish to swim the Great Barrier Reef, experience the vibrancy of a Holi Festival in India or take a riverboat cruise along the Amazon? Whatever you decide, our Top Bucket List Adventures for the New Year are sure to tempt your adventurous spirit!

Enjoy a Thrilling Expedition to Antarctica

Antarctica – a white desolate landscape at the end of the world. Not a usual holiday destination, but one on many a traveller's bucket list adventures for the New Year. This captivating continent gives you the chance to explore nature, photograph rare wildlife and learn about science, geology and glaciology. A great way to do all of this is on a Hurtigruten Cruise. The cruise company have been undertaking polar expeditions for years, operating a fleet of high-tech, sustainable ships that strive to protect the fragile environments in which they sail. If you have unlimited time, treat yourself to their Ultimate Expedition. In a 23-day mammoth tour of the continent, you take in Buenos Aires, Ushuaia, the Falkland Islands, South Georgia and Antarctica. This unique once-in-a-lifetime tour allows you to explore regions where nature is still very much in charge. Activities include photographing a variety of penguin species, birdwatching, hiking, kayaking, historic tours and even camping overnight on Antarctica in a tent!

Emperor penguin chick

Credit: Polarman

Experience India’s Colourful Holi Festival

India’s Holi Festival is the perfect place to visit with friends who share your bucket list dreams. The annual festival takes place across India to signify the arrival of spring and celebrate a victory of good over evil. It brings everyone together as a whole - a global community of travellers and locals merging in a colourful spectacle regardless of religion or colour. The evening before the main festival is called Holika Dahan. People gather in towns and cities and a bonfire is lit to ward away winter and evil. The Festival of Colours begins the following day. Young and old congregate to listen to music whilst hurling powder in the air. It lands haphazardly creating a spectrum of colours across the crowd. Food is served, the atmosphere is celebratory and as the powder continues to rain down, locals dress up to visit family, forgiving their foes, thus casting out darkness and stepping into the light. It’s worth noting that Holi falls on a different date each year, usually in February or March around the Full Moon day during the month of Phalunga. Once a one-day festival, it now extends over a week, and although Mathura is one of the best places to experience it, there are also lively Holi festivities held in Jaipur, Udaipur and throughout Northern India.

Rajahstan, India

Credit: Nelle Hembry

Uncover the Treasures of Egypt

Whether you wish to float along the Nile River on a cruise, want to view Valley of the Kings or delve deep into the mysteries of the ancient Pyramids of Giza, this bucket list trip ticks all the boxes. A good place to begin your exploration is in the Egyptian capital, Cairo, at the Great Pyramid itself. If you’ve ever questioned their purpose, take a guided tour which allows you to venture inside the Pyramids. You’ll then visit the mysterious Sphinx before heading into central Cairo to Khan El Khalili Bazaar and the Egyptian Museum. The museum displays over 120,000 genuine pieces of art and artefacts which can’t be seen elsewhere in the world including the solid gold mask of Tutankhamun and the Palette of Narmer. Further south along the Nile, Karnak Temple is captivating at night as giant stone statues and city walls illuminate beneath a silvery moon and at Abydos Temple, some of the greatest examples of hieroglyphics have you searching for traces as to the real meanings behind them.

Pyramids of Giza

Credit: Alex Anton

Cruise the Pacific Highway in a Mustang

There’s no better way to cruise California’s Pacific Highway than in a convertible mustang. The scent of the sea breeze as the wind whips through your hair is intoxicating as you wind along scenic coastal roads. The route stretches for around 650 miles beginning in San Francisco and ending in San Diego near the Mexican border. You can stop to admire colonies of seals, take a surf lesson, sample California wines and even explore Alcatraz and the glitz and glamour of Hollywood. A week will give you enough time to travel with plenty of stops and from April to late June and throughout September and October, you can avoid crowds but still enjoy great weather! Highlights of the Pacific Highway include Big Sur – where azure waters meet rugged mountainous terrain. Monterey and Carmel-By-The-Sea are wonderful places to stay overnight and dine with views over the Pacific. If it’s California wine you wish to sample, San Luis Obispo offers a perfect stopover point with 30 wineries nearby, and if you want to experience Denmark during your California travels, the pretty pioneer town of Solvang is packed with traditional bakeries, reproductions of the Little Mermaid and impressive traditional Danish architecture.

Big Sur, California

Credit: Michael Overstreet

Learn to Dive in Australia’s Great Barrier Reef

The Great Barrier Reef is one of the best dive sites in the world. It boasts great visibility year-round and hosts a myriad of tropical fish species and coral. There are a vast number of sites from where experienced divers can see Tiger, Bull and Silvertip Sharks, sea turtles and Blue-spotted rays, and between May and September, there’s also an opportunity to glimpse around 30 species of whale and dolphin as they pass through the reef. However, if you’re just learning to dive, the Australian city of Cairns is a good place to start as there are several certified dive schools offering a combination of one-day courses and liveaboard dives.

Coral Reef

Credit: Tunatura

Take a Riverboat Jungle Cruise along the Amazon

The Amazon is like nowhere else on earth. The widest river, the largest tropical rainforest and life force to no less than nine countries of the Latin American continent. It is one of the most biodiverse ecosystems on our planet. It stabilises rainfall cycles in the region and is home to over a third of all animals and a fifth of all birds in the world, not to mention countless indigenous tribes who call the Amazon rainforest home. The best way to view the jungle landscape is via a riverboat and you can begin your cruise in either Peru, Brazil, Ecuador or Bolivia. One of the most luxurious departs from Ecuador. Named in 2016 as South America’s Leading Boutique Cruise, Anakonda Amazon Cruise winds its way through pretty scenery of Limoncocha Wildlife Reserve and Yasuni National Park. With 4,5 and 8-day cruises and expert naturalist guides on board, you’ll gain much from your experience. Species you’ll see along the route can include the rare jaguar, three-toed sloth, freshwater dolphin and caiman. There’s also a myriad of birdlife to spot as you relax in the outdoor jacuzzi after dinner and drinks on board.

Brazil Manaus Amazon

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