Imagine stepping onto the land, a sea of endless white, as the cold air fills your lungs. You take a brief moment to let it all sink in, you are standing at the end of the earth, a largely unexplored domain of endless possibilities. In the corner of your eye you see something move, upon further investigation you see a family of penguins jumping into the iceberg laden waters for a swim.
This is not your typical holiday. A voyage to Antarctica is life-changing, and with this journey, that isn't just something people say. From the scenery to the abundant wildlife, Antarctica is truly the trip of a lifetime.
In the year 1271, a young man of only seventeen began a journey that would inspire generations of travellers. Leaving from his hometown of Venice, he travelled East through exotic regions - Iran, Mongolia, and eventually Xinjiang, China, where he spent the next seventeen years learning everything about the local culture and serving as a diplomat to neighbouring regions. That experience led to one of the greatest travel memoirs ever written - The Travels of Marco Polo.
While you may not get the same authentic experience of exploring an unknown world, you can still travel in Marco Polo's footsteps in a journey that will challenge, inspire, and create incredible memories that you will cherish for a lifetime.
1.5 million wildebeest stampeding through the African plains, 400,000 zebras splashing through the waters of the Serengeti and 200,000 gazelles gracefully migrating to their new home for the year. This is not just another day at the zoo. The Great Migration allows you to take in the sheer magnitude of two million animals passing by, giving you the rare opportunity to capture the biggest show on Earth in one unrivalled experience.
Whether you are an animal lover or simply an avid bucket list junky, this journey is sure to amaze.
The largest. The hottest. The Sahara Desert. It evokes images of sand dunes for days, glorious oases, and camel rides under the scorching desert sun. The truth is more complicated. The Sahara Desert is home to eight distinct ecoregions, an immense variety of flora and fauna, and countless cultures.
Crossing the Sahara is no easy task, but for any would-be adventurer who attempts the journey, the rewards will far outweigh the risks and trials encountered along the way.
This dormant volcanic mountain in Tanzania is not just another peak to climb. The highest free-standing mountain in the world at 5,895 metres, Mt. Kilimanjaro rewards all those who reach the top with breathtaking views of the African landscape below. If you take on this journey, you can expect to trek from the dry savannah to lush forests, eventually reaching the summit after a week of sheer determination.
The amazing thing about this bucket list item, is that despite it being a dream of experienced mountaineers and average people alike, it is accessible and achievable to almost anyone
Patagonia is one of the last regions on earth that is still relatively unknown to the outside world. Sparsely populated, dramatic landscapes, and immense - 400,000 square miles of pure nature. From the jagged peaks of Torres del Paine to the glaciers of Perito Moreno, you won't find another destination that invokes the imagination quite like Patagonia.
Take to the road of Patagonia, you never know what you'll find around the bend.
Darwin made the Galapagos Islands his laboratory, studying the endemic species and diverse wildlife, eventually contributing to his groundbreaking Theory of Evolution. While you may not be interested in playing scientist, the Galapagos Islands allow visitors the unique chance to get up close with some of the world's most amazing creatures such as the Giant Tortoise and Galapagos Sea Lion. The Galapagos, 1,000 km off the coast of Ecuador, are worthy of the journey.
Miles upon miles of lush tropical rainforest. Monkeys swinging from the trees, bright and colourful birds flying overhead, and slippery anacondas swimming past under the waters. The biodiversity of the Amazon region is just one of the many reasons it deserves to be explored.
If you dream of a journey through this world wonder, there is no better way to get from A to Z than by the Amazon River itself. Join a river tour, or put one together yourself, and prepare to be amazed.
The Appalachian Trail is not just another walk in the park. On average it takes 5-7 months for the most experienced hiker, and only around 12,000 have successfully completed the journey from start to finish - that is only three times higher than the number of people who have climbed Everest (Hiking the Appalachian Trail is the equivalent of climbing Everest 16 times.). Stretching from northern Georgia to central Maine, the Appalachian Trail covers 14 US states, an unforgettable way to see America.
While this journey is far from easy, the training and subsequent adventure will change the way you look at the world.
Let's be honest, most of us will never have the opportunity to climb Everest. Not only is it incredibly expensive but it also involves some serious training. If you dream of scaling the world's tallest mountain, don't lose hope - there is one journey that will take you pretty darn close to the action. Trekking to Everest Base Camp may not be the summit, but it does require some serious advance training, planning, and a thirst for adventure. A typical trek along the Himalayan Trail will take anywhere from 10-15 days depending on how slowly your chosen operator chooses to acclimatise their guests. For this journey, however, the trek isn't the point. Walking along the rooftop of the world you will take in isolated monasteries, prayer flags flapping in the mountain breeze, rural villagers waving as you pass, meals of local yak butter and honey - in short, the type of cultural immersion that most travellers only dream of.
Take the journey to Everest Base Camp and look down on the world knowing you are (almost) as high as the almighty itself.
Jessica is editor of the Holiday Extras Blog and author of the travel blog The Fly Away American. She lives and breathes travel, and enjoys making the most of living abroad and turning everyday into an adventure. You can catch up with her on Twitter @flyawayamerican.