Welcome back to my new monthly series on Nomadderwhere, one which highlights the incredible trips one could take in that current month - thanks to a vibrant book called Journeys of a Lifetime by National Geographic. Each month I pick a couple adventures from each section in the book in order to provide you inspiration for 365 days from now. Read the brief description to whet your appetite, and click on the trip name for further information (links provided by National Geographic...of course you could be a gritty backpacker and make it on your own).
Mississippi River Paddle Steamer: Huckleberry had the right idea. Floating along the Mississippi River is a chance to be engaged with the powerful vein of America, where one can bob between plantation mansions on the shore traveling from New Orleans to Memphis in seven days. A steamboat today offers amenities that will keep your grandmother comfortable and showcases music that will have just about anyone slapping their knees. Mark Twain would be so proud.
The Li River: Palm paintings and currency notes both boast this iconic landscape of China, but have you witnessed it first-hand? It only takes a half-day to travel down the Li River from Guilin, where you can approach the rock formations as you would passing clouds. That one looks like an Elephant! This is the truly beautiful China.
Through the Highlands of Scotland: August is THE month to visit Scotland. With the Edinburgh Fringe Festival ripping up the historical city with laughter and music and beautiful, mild weather blowing through the majestic scenery of the Highlands, one would be stupid not to make this trip at least once in their lifetime. Pack a tent, rent a car, grab your hiking boots, and get ready to be inspired by Earth.
The Icefields Parkway: If you can't rationalize an expansive trip across the globe during August, maybe you can swing by the Rocky Mountains of Canada and enjoy a little scenery before your school year or dreaded job starts up again. Though the gorgeous mountains and glaciers won't harm you, the bears sure will; stay in the car, but have that camera ready! Though you can fly through this mountainous wonderland, block out a couple days, and book some lodging well in advance for this month.
National Parks of the West: Road trips are a time-honored pastime, but train trips are classic. The American Orient Express motors through various very famous National Parks in the western states and allows its passengers to explore nature, ironically, in luxury. This would be a fantastic trip to take with your grandparents or families, although nine days with either group could get a little punchy.
The Bergen Railway: Speaking of once-in-a-lifetime, this trip through the brilliant landscapes of Norway will certainly be one to remember, since you won't have pretty pennies to make a similar trip for years. Norwegian prices are a bit steep, as are their hilly expanses and beautiful fjords. This train hugs the mountainsides with dear might, though the scene outside may feel like a fantasy. Luckily you won't get too carried away with this otherworldliness, because chances of getting intoxicated are very slim. Liquor prices don't allow.
Walking in Umbria: Tuscany is beautiful and all, but its neighbor to the southeast is just as fantastic, arguably more so. Speckled with medieval hilltop towns and sunflower fields, Umbria has a sweet spot in my heart, from my time in Spoleto studying abroad. This is where small town Italy charm is ever-present, and history dates way back, beyond the era of the Roman Empire to the time of the Etruscans. This is an Italy that never gets old.
The Drakensberg: OMG, your feet are going to be, like, SO happy with you! Tromp around South Africa's highest mountain range and spend your nights in caves. It sounds like you won't be unlucky enough to run into a lion on your way, but you very well could see some antelope and baboons bound across your path. And if you're truly serious, it seems there's an extreme trek for the experienced mountain hiker involving the entire eastern escarpment. Go get 'em, pedestrians!
In Search of Culture
Romanesque Churches: Mountains are cool, buildings are sweet, but Romanesque churches in the Spanish Pyrenees have got to be high on the stellar-meter. Designs dripping in subtly and grace have serious history attached to their existences. To study religious architecture of this time is to study human beings and all topics of interest. If you're in the area, make the trip to see some gorgeous edifices amidst some gorgeous landscapes, and you'll be able to boast some divine sightings to your friends back at home.
Rock Churches of Cappadocia: Surreal rock formations surround hundreds of houses of worship, magnifying the odd placement and unique nature of these important destinations from Christian history. Step into these stone rooms and witness the walls of murals, illustrating scenes from the Bible, which have been well-preserved thanks to the dark interiors.
In Gourmet Heaven
Napa Valley Wine: Bring your ID and a wine glass, and they can provide the rest. Though I had a rough transition from China to Napa, back in 2007, this valley really is a lovely area of manicured nature and delicious fermented drinks. I love wine, but the one wine that has ever had a truly effect on me was tasted here. Visit the Francis Ford Coppola Estate and try the Rubicon. It's over $100 a bottle, but tasting this delight is much more affordable, along with many other tasty reds. The Rubicon buckled my knees. Nuff said.
Thailand Cuisine Tour: Do you like lime? Thought so. And when I think of Thai food, I picture fresh ingredients whipped together in a simple, yet skilled way and finished with a squirt of luscious lime that makes the eyes roll back. Take nine days...heck, take two weeks, and enjoy a cuisine tour that shows off both mountain and coastal culinary traditions. I'm not really sure I need to write more. Thai food sells itself.
Into the Action
Bird-Watching in East Africa: I'm really into the wild cats while on safari, but I think that means I often miss out on some fantastic bird sightings overhead. The birds of Kenya and Tanzania seem painted and surreal. Lake Nakuru offers an awesome spectacle with its soda lake filled with pink flamingos. Here's me scaring them away.
Whale-Watching in the Azores: Sighting a mammal with a heart the size of a car is understandably a remarkable sight. Wait for them off the coast of the Azores, a series of islands governed by Portugal in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. Don't worry; whaling isn't legal here anymore. They've replaced harpoons with cameras.
Up and Away
Bush Plane Adventure: I often forget America is home to majesty that rivals the Himalayas. Air-safaris offer unique vistas over primal mountain-scapes and grizzly wildlife. This trip is about nature, about grand magnitude, about summoning your inner Alexander Supertramp...but don't eat the berries! August timing allows for missing the worst of the bug season.
Over the Great Barrier Reef: For most, it's important to be underwater when visiting the world's largest reef, but imagine seeing this spectacle from above. Spot manta-rays and sharks from afar, taking in the entirety of this ecosystem as opposed to studying its intricate detail. And be sure to fly over the perfectly shaped Heart Reef if you're going for cheesy and romantic with your significant other!
In Their Footsteps
The Hudson's Bay Company Trappers: There aren't many these days who covet beaver fur, which makes sense that the Hudson's Bay Company doesn't still thrive today, but the history of the aboriginal fur trade is possible to witness starting from Winnipeg and heading up to Canada's Hudson Bay. And hitting this trip up in August could reward you with participation in the annual Treaty & York Boat Days festival. Long live the beavers!
Wordsworth in the Lakes: Wordsworth was just that, worth his weight in words, and visiting his old stomping grounds could produce two scenarios. The best case scenario could mean you're inspired to write similar works of greatness as you picnic by the lake of Grasmere or visit Hawkshead school. The worst case scenario is you visit England during a beautiful time of year and learn about a great writer amidst lush and peaceful nature. Think about it.
How's that brain? Spinning with innumerable desires to traverse continents and climates? Pull out a pen and prioritize your life by putting one or more of these trips at the top of the list. And by planning a year in advance, you'll be quite able to save, prepare, and anticipate the rigors of your adventure in every way. Check back in September for the Journeys of a Lifetime you could partake in next year!
Where are you inspired to travel to next year? Leave a comment and be my new friend.