Is there such thing as a trip of a lifetime?

Ship in Antarctica

I believe there is, for sure. But the problem is – there’s not just one trip…there are many trips of a lifetime. Every destination, location and journey can provide a lifelong compendium of memories that you’ll share and savour for years to come.

I believe I have been on trips of a lifetime (note the plural), but I also have many more on my ‘to do’ list….some grand, some less so, but they all provide the promise, motivation and wanderlust that keeps me travelling.

Here’s a breakdown of some of my trips of a lifetime and why they have earned the title as such…

  1. Antarctica – a place I did not even know was on the travel radar. It was only when hard work and luck bestowed on us the possibility of such a trip that Ali raised it as an idea – as a true once in a lifetime opportunity to go on a journey of dreams, one that he’d dreamt of since he was young. I did not take any convincing – this was our opportunity to travel to the end of the world and see sights that few others have the privilege of seeing first hand, to experience the extremes of nature at its worst (the Drake Passage) and best (icebergs and polar wildlife). From start to finish, the planning and preparation to the trip itself, it was a dream come true. We relished every moment and savoured every experience, from camping on the ice, to swimming in the Antarctic Ocean, from sitting alongside penguin colonies to travelling alongside porpoising penguins, it was everything we could ask for and more.
  2. Our Arctic expedition – I never thought that a holiday could ‘top’ Antarctica, but my goodness, this journey put up some stiff competition. Greenland took my breath away! Its scale was like nothing I have ever seen before – it’s like the Antarctic on steroids. Everything was larger, brighter, more colourful, more rugged and incredibly vast. The icebergs towered over us, 100 feet tall and so populous they covered your every vision. The feeling of desolation was immense, and your ability to explore was limited only by time, your energy and the threat of wandering polar bears. There was a real sense of a journey – of an exploration. We took time to learn about the geology and topology of the place, about its wildlife and climate, its people and its customs, and the journey was richer as a result. It was, and became, more than a wildlife trip to spot polar bears – we saw and witnessed things we could only dream of, like rotating icebergs, calving glaciers, the Northern Lights, and the Persieus meteor shower, we ‘bumped’ into a sleeping Blue Whale and raced zodiacs along fiords.
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  4. Kenya – blows my mind every time we visit. Its a true animal lovers and photographers paradise. On our last visit we stayed at amazingly secluded locations, travelled with fantastic Massai guides and witnessed everything nature could throw at us, including two cheetah kills / chases and the great migration river crossing. We had breakfast watching baby elephants, fell asleep to the sound of lions roaring, witnessed baboons make a kill, saw warthogs hide in their holes and camped overnight in the middle of a valley with hyenas prowling around our small dome tent. It never fails to excite the senses and set your heart racing and for that, every trip to Kenya is like no other.
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  6. Florida – in February 2010 we had the privilege of obtaining tickets to Kennedy Space Center to see the last ever night shuttle launch. So many of our holidays are dominated by the achievement of mother nature, yet it was incredibly humbling to see Endeavour take to the sky at circa 3:40am and witness the engineering and intellectual achievements of mankind. It was humbling exhilarating and knee trembling all at once and immediately rendered me an emotional wreck.As she took to the sky, night turned seemingly to day as the flames from the launch lit up the nightsky. All around us people screamed and shouted in delight, the emotion spreading like a tremor, getting louder and louder as Endeavour cleared the tree line and came into sight. There was a collective and emotional sign of relief from the crowd and tears all round. My knees buckled and I struggled to stand straight. Eyes cast to the sky we held our breath as she separated her fuel tanks and twisted higher into the night sky. It was a sight and experience like no other – a true once in a lifetime opportunity as NASA’s shuttle programme now reaches its end.

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