Top 10 travel experiences for your bucket list

Andy Stevens / 28 March 2017

Whale watching in Azores? Seeing The Big Five? Here's our guide to the top 10 travel experiences for your bucket list



10. Eat at Marrakech's Djemaa El-Fna square

Marrakech's famous Djemaa El-Fna square (pictured) will be a familiar sight from countless TV travel shows.

But to soak up some proper souk action and the truly magical atmosphere of this extraordinary Moroccan city you really have to be there, in person, at sunset.

Djemaa El-Fna square is the definitive, hyper-exotic playground for all senses, and for our money home to the greatest people show in the north African Maghreb.

Snake-charmers, spice-sellers, innumerable food stalls with all manner of the sweet and the savoury, lively hawkers flogging traditional cure-alls and the tastebud-tantalising scent of restaurant tagines and more in the air, the Djemaa El-Fna takes evocative to a different level.

Bursting with colour, Morocco’s vibrant cities and glorious landscapes are sure to inspire you.

Experience the 'real' Morocco on a tour that takes you to the mountainous countryside to the busy city of Marrakech Find out more here.

9. Whale-watching in the Azores

The unspoilt Azores in the Atlantic are a prime spot for incomparable sightings of migrating and resident whales and dolphins, especially in the spring.

Humpback, fin and sperm whales -- and of course those dolphins -- are among the 25 varied species who either pass through or live in the waters of the Azores' protected archipelago.

It's truly an experience without equal when you take an excursion into the ocean to see these noble creatures flipping in and out of the water at close range.

Islands like gems scattered in the Atlantic, an idyllic whale-watching paradise, the Azores beckons…

Find out about Saga's holiday to Azores

8. Climb the Central Asian steppes and mountains

For the full gamut of soaring natural beauty, inspiring archaeological finds and geological surprises, you'll be hard pushed to top, yes... Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan.

On a guided tour of the majestic wild lands of these one-time Soviet republics, take the route from Issyk-Kul to Karakol to see Bronze Age rock carvings, the vast gorges of Djety-Oguz and Barskoon, and the Cup of Manas waterfall.

And for its bizarre rock formations, the fairy-tale setting of Skazka Canyon takes some beating. Don't say you knew that already.

Explore the lands in the shadow of the Tien Shan Mountains on a holiday to Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan

7. Explore the gardens and islands of Croatia

Croatia might not be the first place that springs to mind when those of you who appreciate beautiful gardens and flowers think of booking a holiday. 

Historic Dubrovnik, and Croatia's increasingly popular resorts tend to be top of the list for tourists. But devoted garden lovers know they are missing a trick.

Dubrovnik itself has stunning monastery gardens to visit, replete with exotic shrubs, palm and citrus trees. It's Croatia's islands, however, which are a particular delight.

The island of Lokrum has an arboretum filled with eucalyptus and succulents; Sipan Island has olive groves, meadows and the gardens of Villa Skokibuha, and Lapadski Obala is home to 500-year-old oriental plane trees and an historic woodland garden at Villa Gucetic.

Discover the country its tourist board bills as ‘the Mediterranean as it once was’…

6. See the almost extinct wildlife along the Brahmaputra River

To the eastern side of the great Indian sub-continent for a cruise through the heart of Assam and the mighty Brahmaputra river valley.

The Brahmaputra is a mammoth 1,800 miles long, flowing through China, India and Bangladesh. This huge, life-giving artery is home in its vastness to some of the planet's rarest species such as the one-horned rhino, the golden Langur monkey and one of the world's greatest nature reserves, Kaziranga National Park.

Take a jeep safari into the Karizanga on your trip to see birds, elephants, buffalo, tigers, panthers and swamp deer living and roaming undisturbed.

Sail through Assam on the mighty Brahmaputra river

5. Explore the historic and natural wonders in coastal Colombia

The world heritage city of Cartagena on Colombia's Caribbean coast is a bit of a surprise package. And a pleasing one at that.

Cartagena's history is there for all to enjoy, with city walls, cathedral, palaces and fortifications dating back to the 16th century having earned this one-time colonial port the Unesco seal of approval.

Nearby you can sample a little island life, too, with a boat trip to the Rosario Islands, an archipelago with national park status, complete with mangroves and coral reefs.

From the golden sands of the Caribbean coastline to the silvery peaks of the Andes Mountains, Colombia’s riches are many and varied.

Find Saga holidays to Colombia

4. A passage through northern India

Spectacular train journeys to dazzling cultural sites across northern India needn't just be the preserve of famous men on the television called Michael. You can go, too.

Ancient temples in Khajuraho, the holy Hindu city of Varanasi, the Deeg Palace and its Mughal mansions and gardens - and not forgetting the obligatory tick-off visit to the sublime Taj Mahal - a first-class ride on Indian railways can be a classic combination of comfort and culture.

With its dazzling breadth of experiences and deep spirituality, India never fails to delight the senses and uplift the soul. 

Reader offer: Receive £100 free spending money on all Wendy Wu Tours to India

3. Explore authentic Cuba... before it's too late

Beyond the pace and fast-changing 1950s charm of capital city Havana, there's a Cuba at one with nature that's ripe for exploring.

The peaceful Las Terrazas Nature Reserve west of Havana is a haven for exotic birdlife. Here you can enjoy a spot of hiking through woodland for a glimpse of these vibrant creatures in both tree and flight. You can even munch on a banana straight from its eponymous trees - it's allowed.

Cuba's Valley of Vinales, meanwhile, brings you up close to the farming heartlands of two of the island's most famous exports: tobacco and coffee.

That other great export of note, Cuban music, can be heard raw and authentic on a visit to the city of Santiago.

Intoxicating rhythms, colourful cars, a unique landscape and a compelling history – discover Cuba for yourself

2. Spot The Big Five on Safari

A touring safari around the great national parks of southern Africa is the ultimate sightseeing trip for anyone wanting to see the continent's so-called Big Five - elephant, lion, buffalo, leopard and rhino - in all their natural glory. From a safe distance, mind you.

One such park to visit and stay in is the Northern Tuli Game Reserve in Botswana, alongside the Limpopo River. It's a big game watcher's dreamland, and as home to a large population of elephants, it's often called the 'land of the giants', for obvious reasons.

Spot the 'big five' on this all-inclusive safari holiday at an authentic game lodge in Limpopo

1. Climb the Rockies 

For big adventure on a scale that goes up to at least 11, Canada's mountains confidently take top billing.

The Canadian Rockies are the daddy in the land of the maple leaf. And getting around them in all their snow-capped, vertiginous vastness is a triumph of wonder and engineering all on its own - and a big part of the whole, fabled and cinematic Rocky Mountain experience.

Here's just a few tasters for you on your trip: take a gondola ride up Sulphur Mountain, a helicopter flight over the Rockies in Banff National Park, and go from Jasper to Kamloops through eye-popping mountain scenery on the Rocky Mountaineer train-to-end-all-trains.

You'll never look at the 8.15 to Waterloo in quite the same light again.

Cool mountain peaks and even ‘cooler’ cities, Canada offers a world of experiences. 

For more travel destinations to add to your bucket list, take a look at our Top 10 unusual bucket list destinations 

The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated.

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