- Machu Picchu, Peru:
Located high in the Andes mountains of Peru, Machu Picchu is now believed to have been a sacred royal retreat for the Incan rulers and is a must on a list of places to travel. Built in the 15th century AD and abandoned less than a 100 years later, the remote site continues to amaze with its perfectly joined, mortarless, intricate stonework. Huge multi-ton blocks of stone are perfectly joined with each other, without the use of mortar or cement.
The journey to Machu Picchu typically starts in the mountain city of Cusco, which was the capital city of the Inca Empire. Cusco is a fascinating place to explore-be sure to spend a few days there before or after your Machu Picchu adventure.
It’s possible to hike the Inca Trail from Cusco to Machu Picchu. The full hike takes five days, but you can also start closer and do a one-, two- or three-day hike along the trail. Most people take the train from Cusco, which takes about three and a half hours.
2. The Grand Canyon, Arizona
This incredible natural wonder is in the U.S. state of Arizona and our 2nd choice on the list of places to travel. It’s one of those beautiful places for which photos or video just don’t do it justice-its sheer size and scope is hard to comprehend.
With geology formed over the past two billion years, yes billion, the 277 mile-long canyon itself is believed to have been started around five to six million years ago. It was formed by the flow of the Colorado River, which still flows through it and continues to erode the geology along its course. The Grand Canyon is up to 18 miles wide in places and up to a mile deep. Imagine standing on the edge, looking down a sheer rock wall almost a mile to the river below.
Most visitors come to the area referred to as the South Rim, and there is a range of accommodations available, from tents to a rustic luxury canyon-side resort built from logs. There are a few accommodations on the remote North Rim, and these are reserved years in advance.
Many visitors access the canyon via the historic Grand Canyon Railway, which runs from the town of Williams, Arizona. The 64-mile rail line provides an entertaining way to get to the canyon with food and live music on board. For those driving, the canyon is about a three-and-a-half-hour drive north from Phoenix (or south from Las Vegas).
3. Masai Mara, Kenya
Kenya’s Masai Mara is an incredible bio-diverse area and a popular safari destination. It’s an opportunity to see the “big five” animals (lion, leopard, rhinoceros, elephant, and Cape buffalo) all during one trip or, if you’re lucky, during one afternoon.
The protected Masai Mara National Reserve park area is huge, over 1,500 square kilometers of mainly grassland, extending all the way to the Serengeti plain of Tanzania. The popular times to visit are during the twice-yearly migrations, the main one being in July and August. Over a million wildebeest and other animals cross the area in huge groups to go from one feeding area to another. Most visitors fly into Nairobi, then take a small bush plane to the Mara.
4. Montreal Canada
As you listen to the sound of French being spoken around you and explore Old Montreal, wandering down its narrow cobblestone streets-you might think you’re in France. The historic area is filled with quaint shops and cafés; this Canadian city can be a chance to experience a bit of Europe in North America.
The city also has a thriving food scene, with several popular farmers markets, including the Atwater Market and the Jean Talon Market. It’s also known for its bagels, cooked hot and fresh by several iconic must-visit bakeries.
Be sure to visit the beautiful Notre-Dame Basilica and take a drive up to Mount Royal, the big hill (or low mountain) the city is named after. You’ll be rewarded with some amazing views extending all the way to the port.
5. New Zealand
With its striking natural beauty, friendly citizens, and recent popularity due to its use as the filming location for the Lord of the Rings films (as well as many others), this island nation is one of the world’s great places to visit. The biodiversity here is amazing-it’s believed New Zealand was one of the last places on earth to have human inhabitants.
Start your visit off in the capital city of Auckland, with its culture, history, and museums. Spend some time on the water and at the beach-Waitemata Harbour has beaches, along with a range of sailing and boating activities.
Visit the Rotorua area to learn about and experience indigenous Maori culture and head to Queenstown to experience the country’s wide range of outdoor extreme action sports. Remember, this is where bungee jumping was invented.