18 One-of-a-Kind Adventures to Add to Your Bucket List
From high-flying balloon rides to walking with elephants, you’ll want to experience these unique adventures
Visit one of the original Seven Wonders of the Ancient World
Of the original Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, there is only one still standing: the Great Pyramids of Giza in Egypt. The royal tombs and the nearby Great Sphinx will amaze you with their beauty and history; it's impossible not to appreciate the magnitude of time as you stand next to these ancient treasures. Because Egypt is a tumultuous place to visit, it is a smart idea to go with a tour group, like Contiki, that will get you from point A to point B seamlessly. Explore these 10 UNESCO World Heritage sites everyone should visit at least once.
Spend the night in the desert
When you fall asleep under the desert sky, you'll lose count of the endless stars that dot every corner of the sky—that's why spending a night in the sands of the Middle East should be a bucket-list item for every traveler. For a luxe experience, book a night at Qasr Al Sarab, 90 minutes outside of Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.
Kayak with belugas
Whale watching is one thing, but rowing alongside hundreds of whales with young calves nudging at your oar is a different experience entirely. Because the mammals are curious and vocal, you'll hear them as they guide you along the Hudson Bay in Manitoba, Canada. Read about 50 things to do before you turn 50.
See a new wonder of the world
This adventure takes you from Christ the Redeemer in Brazil, one of the New Seven Wonders of the World, to Iguazu Falls, an expansive waterfall that borders three countries: Brazil, Argentina, and Paraguay. While on this trek, you'll experience these jaw-dropping sights and spend time in Buenos Aires. What's not to love?
Have the Sistine Chapel all to yourself
As with any world-renowned monument, lines at the Sistine Chapel in Vatican City are usually hours-long, even when you have prepurchased tickets. This is especially true during peak travel seasons, so why not rent the place just for yourself? Via City Wonders, you can book a very small tour group that allows you to enter 30 minutes before other tour operators join, and 90 minutes before the general public is allowed inside. This gives you the opportunity to witness Michelangelo's handiwork without being nudged in every corner. Check out these 10 forbidden places no one will be allowed to visit.
Meet, pet, and feed wolves
Usually, the very idea of having a wolf encounter would be enough to make you run for the hills—literally. But when you visit this Wolf Education Center in Divide, Colorado, you have the opportunity to get to know these animals in a safe, protected environment. After taking a tour of the mountain area, you'll get 25 minutes of feeding, petting, and even "kissing" wolves as a photographer captures the experience. Pick up a bucket-list idea for every state.
Explore the Amazon
The largest tropical rain forest in the world showcases an incomparable biodiversity, with captivating plants and animals you won't find anywhere else on the planet. At the center of the Amazon is Manaus, Brazil, where the second-longest river in the world, containing one fifth of the earth's fresh water, runs through. When you take a river cruise here, you'll see the wonders of the jungle up close, giving you an experience you'll surely write home about for decades (or at least post about on Facebook).
Take a hot-air balloon ride
Every September, you can take in the Snowmass Balloon Festival, one of the highest-altitude hot-air balloon events in the country in Aspen, Colorado. Over the span of three days, 30 pilots compete in challenges, like a distance race that covers the entire Roaring Fork Valley. When you stay at Hotel Jerome, you'll get an up-close-and-personal view of the spectacle, and that venue can help you book a ride yourself. Read on for 11 bucket-list destinations that won't break the bank.