With the dawn of a new decade, there’s no better time to start planning your 2020 adventures. So, if you’re looking to swap the usually crowded hotspots for less familiar destinations brimming with meaningful and educational interactions, then we’ve got ten life-changing experiences to add to your travel bucket list and help feed your adventurous soul.
1. Snorkel with Whale Sharks in Komodo National Park
No matter where you might be in the world, swimming or snorkeling alongside the largest fish in the sea is one of the most surreal experiences – but doing so in the crystal-clear waters of Komodo National Park is simply unbeatable! Whale sharks are filter feeders so no worries, they only indulge on krill, plankton, small squid and fish…
2. Meet the native tribes of the Amazon
If you’re looking for an authentic travel experience that goes beyond just visiting a new destination, then why not visit one of the 200 resilient communities that reside in the Amazon Rainforest and learn all about their unique culture and history while seeing their nomadic way of life up close and personal.
3. Receive a ceremonial blessing by a monk in the floating village of Moat Khla
Theravada Buddhism has been the dominant religion of Cambodia since the 13th century, therefore no visit to the Mekong would be complete without speaking to the humble, saffron-robed monks who reside here – you’ll learn about the roots of their faith and come away with renewed perspective on life after attending one of their intimate blessing ceremonies.
4. Take a dip before the secret waterfalls of Pulau Moyo Island
While the small remote island of Pulau Moyo may look unassuming at first glance, this thin strip of land is actually home to the legendary Mata Jitu Waterfall – once visited by the late Princess Diana back in 1993. With cascading turquoise waters surrounded by an oasis of lush green jungle bursting with exotic wildlife, we can’t think of a better place to while away an afternoon and meditate on the next decade…
5. Witness more than one-third of all recorded animal species in the world, including 20% of all bird species
If it’s a true off-grid escape you’re looking for, then it doesn’t get more remote than the Amazon Rainforest. Covering over 1.4 billion acres of land across South America, the Peruvian Amazon is the perfect place to reconnect with nature and get up close with its 5,000+ inhabitants, including the very friendly pink river dolphin!
6. Sail ancient Spice trade routes
Set sail on Aqua Blu to discover the fabled Moluccas island cluster in the Banda Sea. Once worth more than its weight in gold, nutmeg along with mace and cloves, put the Spice Islands on the world map in the 16th and 17th centuries. First discovered by the Portuguese Francisco Serrão, major European powers fought to gain control of the spice trade, bypassing the Ternate and Tidore rulers, as well as Arab merchants who sold to Venetian traders for exorbitant prices.
Many island populations were massacred during the Dutch-Portuguese War (the Spice War). Eventually, the Dutch East Indies Company traded the little-known island of Manhattan (New York City) for Pulau Run with the British in the 1667 Treaty of Breda. Almost forgotten, it is now a cultural and historical gem dotted with ruined Dutch forts, European churches, long-lost relics, and the world’s oldest nutmeg plantations as the only remnants of its remarkable significance.
7. Experience the floating markets of the Mekong
Selling everything from handmade silk scarves to freshly made coffee and exotic fruits picked straight from the farm – the allure of visiting one of the Mekong Delta’s vibrant and bustling floating markets is just too tempting to resist!
8. Fish for piranhas on the embankments of the Amazon
Piranhas have received such a bad rap thanks to the sensationalized depiction in the media but are actually classified as omnivores, and not carnivores as often thought. That being said, you probably won’t want to jump in to attract the attention of the sharp-teeth fish. While not the scariest predator living in the Amazon River, there’s something rather exhilarating about fishing for the elusive piranha – which has been reported to grow up to 50cm long!
9. Ride a traditional ox-cart along the Tonle Sap’s picturesque river banks
Civilizations have flourished in the Mekong basin for over two centuries, which makes the opportunity to discover its rich culture, heritage, and traditions just too tempting to resist! Embrace the local way of life and enjoy a scenic ride along the riverbanks of the Tonle Sap in a traditional ox-cart – taking in the magnificent scenery and vivid greenery of the surrounding rice fields.
10. Swim with stingless jellyfish
Did you know that not all jellyfish sting? While very rare, stingless jellyfish do exist and can be found in just a few places in the entire world – including the remote lakes of Raja Ampat. Swimming with jellyfish is even a possibility if you dare. This is just one of the many several fascinating miracles from the Indonesian Archipelago!