In this digital age, it’s easy to be an armchair traveler—browsing travel magazines on an iPad, scrolling through photos on social media, or reading a blog on the newest undiscovered destination. But nothing replaces actually being there and experiencing a new culture, landscape, or activity! An app can’t leave you breathless as the Northern Lights dance above your head or when the ground shakes as hundreds of wildebeest stampede past your vehicle. A website can’t replicate the peaceful feeling upon entering an ancient temple or hiking through olive groves.
Here are five ways to experience the world beyond the screen.
LOCAL WINE TASTING
The term “terroir” is defined as both the complete natural environment in which a particular wine is produced (including the soil, topography, and climate) and as the characteristic flavor give to a wine by that said environment. This is why a sauvignon blanc produced in South Africa will taste different from one of New Zealand. Coffee and cheese also have their own terroir. Yes, you could just go out to your local wine store and buy a bunch of bottles to do your own tasting at home, but you’ll learn so much more and have a much more rewarding experience if you go to the place of origin.
EXPLORING ON A KAYAK
We love hiking, and most of our trips are based on that, but there is something really special about floating along, enjoying the scenery without having to pay attention to your feet and the terrain beneath you. The sounds of water gently lapping at the kayak or shore, or dripping from the paddle can be quite meditative. And the 360-degree views from the middle of a fjord, lake, or lagoon, will be just as memorable (although utterly different) as those from a hiking trail.
HIKING EPIC MOUNTAINS
There is just no feeling like it in the world: reaching a peak or high pass with the landscape stretched out before you. It’ll feel as though you are on the top of the world. Not only will the views impress, but the physicality of the hikes are incredibly rewarding. Long, sometimes steep ascents give way to breathtaking vistas and the sense of accomplishment. And there’s really nothing better than refueling with hearty trailside picnics full of cheese, bread, and other regional specialties. And exploring remote mountain villages along the way gives an insight into the lifestyle and culture of those living in them.
You can’t fully experience a new culture without understanding a bit about the past of the region. And there are several historic routes around the world where you can literally follow in the footsteps of thousands who have come before. Whether it’s the gravity of purpose, the desire to connect to a more simpler time, or the landscape that draws you, walking or hiking on one of these routes is sure to leave you with memories for a lifetime.
TRACKING WILD ANIMALS
The thrill of being out in the rugged, untamed African bush, far from civilization where the wild things roam is only just tempered by the fact that you are with an experienced, trained guide. You turn the corner and suddenly something is there! Maybe it’s a sleepy hyena resting before the evening’s hunt, perhaps it’s a gazelle carefully scanning the long grass, maybe it’s a leopard in the tree. You never what you’ll see next. Ready your camera for the moment your guide spots the objective.