As humans, we’re always dreaming of our next adventure on the horizon. We’re naturally curious creatures, so it makes sense that our hearts and minds often ponder over the pond to somewhere distant- a place that radiates beauty, whispers freedom and offers a journey. Sometimes all we need are a few pictures to brighten up our day or spark that imaginative bug that tells you to book those flights. I’ve listed some of my top 7 places that make my heart pound that little bit faster. I hope they inspire you too.
1. The Grotta Palazzese, Italy
When I close my eyes and think of somewhere incredible, my mind always comes back to The Grotta Palazzese. Located in Puglia, the south-eastern district of Italy, this breathtaking restaurant is perched inside a cave overlooking the Adriatic sea. A small van will escort you from a local meeting point to take you to your restaurant seat, high above the worries of the world and with a stunning view to match. If I were a Disney princess, this is where I would want to be for the rest of my life. #bucketlist
2. Paro Taktsang, Bhutan
Clinging curiously to the side of a mountain in the Himalayas is Paro Taktsang, also known as The Tiger’s Nest. This special monastery has been part of Buddhist culture for hundreds of years. Said to be the home of a religious legend whom lived in the mountainous caves, Paro Taktsang was constructed over dynasties until it was completed in the 1600s. The temple, host to monks and Bhutanese royals alike, was ravaged by fire in the early 2000s. Although original work, art and important structures were lost, it was rebuilt in 2005. As the Bhutanese point out, buildings are temporal and are meant to be renewed; the ideas and philosophies they represent cannot be destroyed.
3. Wollemi Pines, Undisclosed Location in Australia
Discovered in 1994, these thousand-year-old trees were found by accident when a National Park’s ranger stumbled upon the original Wollemi Pine group whilst abseiling. So what’s all the hype about a bunch of trees? Well, this discovery was so major it was equivalent to finding a living dinosaur on earth. The original pines are hidden in an undisclosed location in Wollemi National Park, New South Wales, and can only be found via helicopter deep within a ravine. These trees are so special that only a handful of scientists get to see them every year, not to mention they are blindfolded in the process of flying to see them! The group of 40 original trees have absolutely no genetic variation between them- meaning that over the thousands of years of fire, wind, rain and weather, the trees have not adapted ONCE to their surroundings (and this is pretty incredible). To save the extremely endangered/ awesome plant, you can now buy Wollemi Pines to grow at home, or you can visit them in a national park in Australia or globally. But the original group of ancient trees will forever remain a mystery to the public. Call me a nature nerd, but before I die, my dream is to see the original pines in their full pre-historic glory.
4. Sigiriya, Sri Lanka
Deep within the central province of Sri Lanka, Sigiriya, also known as Lion Rock, has become an iconic place of worship and reflection for tourists and locals alike. Constructed over 1,500 years ago, this site was hand-picked by King Kasyapa in the year 477 to mark the land for his new capital. He built his palace atop of the 2oo-metre high rock, allowing incredible views across his holy land. On a small plateau about halfway up the mountain, King Kasyapa instructed his people to carve an enormous lion gateway into the rock, hence it’s name. Hand-painted gods cover the walls along the hike up to the mountain top. After King Kasyapa’s death, his palace was abandoned and was used as a Buddhist monastery until the 14th century. It’s now a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and is still one of the best and earliest examples of ancient urban planning.
5. Piran, Slovenia
With the Adriatic Sea breeze blowing lightly and the sun-kissed heat from the European sun greeting your skin, Piran makes for a gorgeous city located in Slovenia. Medieval architecture meets narrow laneways and compact houses. The town has a population of just under 4,000 permanent residents. You can find the city square boasting with seafood restaurants (produce all caught locally of course), and expect to find some incredible classical music concerts happening, as the town was the birthplace of Baroque composer, Giuseppe Tartini. Over the years, Piran was always in the midst of geological debate diving in and out of becoming a municipality of either Italy or Slovenia. Because of this reason, Piran is thought of as the ‘sister of Venice’, and it’s pretty clear to see why.
6. Mount Hua, Huayin City
Considered the world’s most dangerous and deadly hike, Mount Hua boasts a sight that some are prepared to risk their lives for. Located near the city of Huayin in the Shaanxi province, Mount Hua peaks at over 2km in height and is well-identified by its sheer dropping cliff faces. Daoist Temples were reportedly built on the mountain site as early as 2BC. They believed that in the heart of the mountain lived the god of the underworld, and such makes Mount Hua a popular place of religious communion. Now, in 2018, the mountain is highlighted as one of the most dangerous tourist experiences one can have. You can expect to walk across 30cm wide planks on the face of the mountain, with an instant drop to near-death just a foot fall away. I mean, of course you’re strapped into wires above your wobbly footing, but do you really trust a small bunch of cables, met with extreme weather, to support you on the edge of the world? Would you walk this infamous trail?
7. The Ultimate Safari, Uganda
From the words of our Yakkazoo CEO, Mark Barrett, a Ugandan Safari is something that must be on everyone’s bucket list. He recently came back from a 30-day adventure touring the grasslands and wild regions of the country and his photos below only highlight some of the awesome sights he got to witness. Yes, of course you see the incredible wildlife like rhinos, giraffes, elephants and the likes, but one of the bigger and better highlights for Mark was seeing how the locals lived- touring small villages, tea plantations, and towns with red dust roads. You get to explore the nation and its people in their full beauty. And of course, the photos aren’t too bad either. Just check out how ridiculously close he came to gorgeous gorillas and lions. Mother nature will shine at her very best when the sun sets over the Ugandan skyline, and you can bet your money I’ll be looking at flights this weekend.