My Travel Experiences allow you to deepen your understanding of a destination’s culture. These experiences usually involve local people and are a great way to increase your traveling experience.
Make it happen: Spot lions and rhinos on a game drive. Camp beneath a star-studded sky in the Serengeti. Drive the Icefields Parkway and marvel at the flinty vistas spread out before you.
We’re not far off from the days when traveling to outer space will be as easy as booking a flight to Europe. In just a few years, private companies will allow anyone to experience that final frontier for a fee.
Since the first commercial space passenger, American businessman Dennis Tito, flew to the International Space Station in 2001, the number of paying customers has grown significantly. The sixth space traveler to make the trip, American computer game millionaire Richard Garriott, took off in 2008, while Canadian billionaire Guy Laliberte and Russian entrepreneur Aleksandr Volkov made a two-week stay at the ISS in 2009 (the ISS is home to a number of scientists who also take trips on board as part of the regular crew).
The cost of a ticket varies, depending on which company you choose to fly with; Virgin Galactic is offering suborbital flights, while SpaceX and Blue Origin, owned by Amazon’s Jeff Bezos, are chartering orbital journeys. Typically, passengers pay millions of dollars per seat to board a spacecraft.
Aside from the price tag, space tourism isn’t without its risks. The physical and mental challenges of spaceflight can be grueling, even for trained astronauts. During the flight, travelers experience everything from dizziness and sleepiness to loss of appetite and stomach upsets. Once in orbit, however, the body’s systems adapt and passengers find themselves feeling calm and euphoric. Astronauts also report a life-changing experience known as the Overview Effect, in which they feel a renewed sense of responsibility for protecting Earth.
Shark Cage Diving
Many travelers put shark cage diving on their bucket lists for the thrill of being within a few feet of one of nature’s fiercest predators. While it is certainly terrifying and potentially life threatening, shark cage diving is also one of the safest travel experiences available today. Cage dives are generally supervised by professional guides who ensure the safety of both the tourists and the sharks.
In addition to being a great way to overcome fears and learn more about these majestic marine creatures, shark cage diving is a huge boon for the conservation of sharks. As long as the tours are run by ethical and responsible companies (not the ones whose videos you’ve probably seen on Youtube), the revenue generated can help prevent shark finning and illegal fishing.
Cage dives generally involve the use of a strong, sturdy metal cage which is lowered into the water. Most cages can fit 4 to 6 people at a time. However, for private or specialized shark cage dives, the number is usually reduced.
To attract the sharks to the cage, fish parts are used as bait and a practice called ‘chumming’ is sometimes employed. Sometimes, inquisitive sharks will even come right up to the cage bars for the ultimate ’lens-in-mouth’ photo opportunity. Unlike scuba diving, shark cage dives often don’t require the use of air tanks. Instead, some organisers provide their own hookah-style air system that pumps air directly to the divers underwater.
Riding Mules & Camels
A mule is a hybrid of donkey and horse – bigger than a donkey but smaller than a horse, it requires less food to maintain its weight and strength. It is surefooted, requires fewer shoes than horses and doesn’t need to gallop, yet they still excel in many disciplines that are traditionally dominated by horses, such as endurance riding and Western dressage. Yet, despite this, they remain comparatively unpopular.
It is this inviolable commitment to self-preservation, often misinterpreted as stubbornness, that helps a mule travel such long distances with ease. The mule knows its own limits and will only snack if it can do so without risking the rest of its body.
During the Indian wars in the American Southwest mules were praised for their endurance. One company of scouts loaded 200 pounds onto a single mule and sent it off on a three-day trek. The mule covered 280 miles in the heat of the desert.
Thousands of donkeys, horses and mules are used by the tourism industry worldwide to take holidaymakers on rides, treks and tours. This generates a livelihood for their owners and is an important part of keeping these animals alive. But, according to a survey by SPANA, nearly half of British adults who have taken part in animal activities abroad, like camel rides and horse-drawn carriage trips, have been concerned that their tour provider might not be treating the animals well. SPANA has produced a Holiday Hooves guide to help tourists choose a responsible tour provider and what to do if they see an animal being mistreated.
Climbing Mount Everest
Mount Everest is the tallest peak on Earth and one of the most difficult summits to reach. Typically, climbers spend several weeks acclimatizing to altitude in the lower regions of the mountain before starting their ascent. Then it’s a matter of working up to higher camps as they move northward along the route. Climbers use supplemental oxygen at this altitude, and there are numerous places on the mountain where it is hard to even put up a tent due to the strong winds and lack of space.
Getting to the base camp on Everest’s south side is a multi-day affair. First you have to get past the Khumbu Icefall, which is a major obstacle on the route. Once you make it to the base camp, you have to set up a tent and organize your gear. Then you can begin your climb up the southeast ridge toward the top of Everest, the peak that Edmund Hilary and Tenzing Norgay climbed in 1953.
There are 17 routes to the summit of Everest, but most climbers use the Southeast ridge route from Nepal. There are other, less popular routes, but they have higher risks of avalanches and require more climbing experience. Statistically, the most dangerous part of climbing Everest is from camp 4 to the summit. At this point, climbers are exhausted and oxygen deprived, so poor judgment or a lapse in concentration could cost them their lives.