What are YOUR Top Ten Travel Moments?

Wendy Redal May 6, 2010 3

I’m usually too busy to watch television, so it’s perhaps not surprising I didn’t know who Samantha Brown was, when a friend told me she had her dream job. I may be the only travel addict who was not aware that Brown hosts a popular show on the Travel Channel chronicling her peripatetic pursuits, from basking on Barcelona’s best beaches to sampling exotic fare like cow-foot soup in Belize.

Our family will never forget meeting wild giant tortoises in the Galapagos!

Our family will never forget meeting wild giant tortoises in the Galapagos!

Now that I’ve discovered Brown and her show, I’d have to concur with my friend. Dream Job, indeed. But my life is not without its own gratifying slate of experiences collected while wandering around the world. Brown attempts to narrow down her Top Ten Travel Moments on her website and inspired me to do likewise.

I’ve posted mine here — albeit a somewhat arbitrary list. (Some are no-brainers; others — how on earth do I choose?). I’d also love to know yours. Will you add them to the comments at the bottom, to share with our fellow traveler-readers?

Wendy’s Top Ten Travel Moments

• Coming face to face with a polar bear in Churchill, bold enough to climb up on our Polar Rover’s windshield and peer curiously into our eyes.

• Staring eye to eye with a sea lion in the Galapagos, which swam right up to me as I was snorkeling and gazed into my mask, inches away.

• Hiking up a mountain in Africa to sit with a silverback gorilla as he stripped the leaves from bamboo fronds and munched nonchanlantly in front of us

• Hot air ballooning over the Serengeti as a giraffe raced our shadow over the plains

• Trekking along a 12,000-foot ridge in Nepal, cloaked in an opaque mist, then seeing it clear to reveal the ice-bound hulk of Annapurna I immediately across the valley.

• Riding 115 miles on horseback across the Mongolia steppe, camping and drinking fermented mare’s milk with nomads along the way.

• Descending the Yungas Highway in Bolivia, a 9,000-foot drop in 80 miles from La Paz to the Amazon Basin with precipitous drops from each single-lane switchback – and carcasses of cars and buses rusting below.

• Downing a Sour Toe Cocktail in Dawson City, Yukon: the drink of your choice with a pickled human toe dropped in for good measure. (Click the link for the full story!) The toe has to touch your lips to count. I’m official!

• Hiking among the impossibly turquoise lakes and waterfalls of Croatia’s Plitvice Lakes National Park – like a scene from a mythical fantasy.

I can already think of five or six others that really should be on this list, too. How could I leave off my trek to Machu Picchu, or watching massive icebergs birthed in Alaska’s Glacier Bay? Or standing among the humming wings of 10 million monarch butterflies in Mexico? And of course there are a whole bunch more from Explorers’ Corner’s repertoire of amazing adventures that would be contenders – which are on my bucket list! Camping among penguins in Antarctica, anyone? Trekking Ellesmere Island at 82 degrees North latitude? Kayaking Halong Bay’s limestone-studded lagoons in Vietnam?

The world is so big, and life is just too short. Here’s to making the most of it.

Yours for adventure,



  1. Wendy Worrall Redal May 12, 2010 at 2:45 pm - Reply


    Those sound like amazing memories! And you describe them so eloquently — I can feel like I’m right there. Thanks for sharing!


  2. Lynn May 12, 2010 at 3:36 am - Reply

    It’s difficult to settle on the top travel moments when there are so many things that come to mind, but even more difficult to convey the feelings and excitement which accompanied the experience. However, here goes. I have tried to avoid doubling up with any you have already included (cos gorillas and ballooning in the Serengeti are definitely up there!)

    * Hiking across the Himalayas from Nepal into western Tibet to undertake the gruelling 52km circumambulation (what a great word!) of Mount Kailash. Reputedly the world’s most venerated holy place, pilgrims take as long as 4 weeks to complete the circuit as they throw themselves forward prostrate on the ground then pull themselves up to creep a few feet forward. Amazing!

    * Sailing the Galapagos Islands on the Angelique, a beautiful old sailing ship. A particular highlight was falling sleeping on the wooden deck to the sounds of gently lapping waves and billowing sails.

    * Being the first white woman to visit a Dayak village in the upper-reaches of the Kapuas river in Kalimantan. One very memorable moment was standing alone for 20 minutes in the middle of the river in the consuming darkness of the rainforest night while my friend went to get a lamp so we could locate my carelessly dropped torch.

    * Walking along the shores of the Antarctic Peninsula amid thousands of penguins, and ‘swimming’ in the volcanic heated waters of Deception Island before plunging into the icy depths of the open sea!

    * Still in Antarctica, sailing through the Neumayer and Lemaire Channels between towering rock faces and spectacular glaciers, and kayaking among the blue-white glistening icebergs of a sheltered harbour.

    * Driving through the amazing beauty of the red sands, blue waters and stunning gorges of the Kimberleys in Western Australia.

    * Gorging on freshly caught seafood on the shores of Chilika Lake, Orissa, while local fishermen entice you with their abundance of ‘natural pearls’.

    * Wandering through the frenetic Wednesday market in Kalimpong, West Bengal, laughing and haggling with the good-natured vendors and savouring the array of sights, sounds and smells.

    * Accompanying a terrified water buffalo in a precariously balanced dug-out canoe up-river in the Mentawai Islands (off western Sumatra) before trekking with a local shaman through the rainforest for 3 days visiting local villages.

    * Camel trekking in the desert outside Jaisalmer in Rajasthan. It would have been a travel lowlight (whoever thought riding a camel was a good idea??) except for the magic of lying in the sand under the stars of a cloudless sky and falling asleep to the gentle serenading of the local tribesmen. Worth every bump, bruise and ache, of which there were many!

  3. Marlys May 7, 2010 at 8:41 am - Reply

    Great article Wendy! Two of mine would be sitting on a whitewashed roof on
    the island of Patmos watching the priests parade through the streets black robes flowing, displaying their El Greco to celebrate Greek Orthodox Easter.
    Another would be watching the sun rise over Mt Kiliminjaro, (beautiful) while watching baboons pull laundry off the line of some other visitors and try their boxers on over their heads (hilarious) until we tried to run them off (scary).

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