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It is amazing how many people have “a trip around the world” or a number of exotic, culturally significant or spiritually uplifting destinations to visit on their bucket lists, as if we were nomads at heart (which perhaps we are).
Equally interesting is that some people have more things on their bucket list than anyone could achieve in a whole lifetime, and others have few or even none.
For both of these, and for travel lovers of all shapes and sizes, here is the ultimate bucket list of “must-see” places. It is not necessarily a practical list; some of these places are all but inaccessible, others in some way dangerous, including countries burdened by poverty, racked by disease, ravaged by war or suffering in the wake of some terrible (or man-made) catastrophe. Some of them will also be way over the average person’s budget.
However, we need to dream before we can act: in the words of a very wise North American Indian: “Truly rich is he who has more dreams in his soul than reality can destroy”. Some of these places one might actually visit, but in our dreams, we can visit them all.
Sierra Leone’s Banana Islands comprise 3 islands: Ricketts Island (famed for its forests), Dublin Island (famed for its wonderful beaches) and Mes-Meheux, which is uninhabited. Ricketts Island and Dublin Island are linked to each other by a causeway. The islands are located off the coast of Yawri bay, around 25 km south of Freetown; they are among the best-loved destinations of Sierra Leone, providing an idyllic and peaceful getaway scarcely touched by tourism. Tropical vegetation, secluded beaches and azure water make the Banana Islands a wonderful vacation location; they are fantastic for sailors, snorkelers and scuba divers too.
The nearest airport is at Freetown; various ferries and other boats run regularly to Banana islands, which will be organized by your hotel if you choose to stay on the islands themselves.
Considered one of the most beautiful fjords in the world, the spectacular Geirangerfjord (together with the Nærøyfjord) was designated an UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2005. It is one of Norway’s best-visited attractions, and it is not difficult to see why; 260 metres in depth, surrounded by mountains up to 1.700 metres high and dotted with spectacular waterfalls and deserted farmsteads which speak of a different way of life in a bygone era, the Geirangerfjord is unspeakably serene, unspeakably majestic and unspeakably nostalgic. The best way to explore its attractions – and those of the tiny village of Geiranger, located at the southernmost tip of the fjord – is by boat or kayak; a number of exciting options can be booked in Alesund,
the nearest large city and airport (108 km, 2 hours 20 minutes by road). Day tours of the Geirangerfjord can be booked there and are tailormade to suit your wishes.
Paharpur`s chief claim to fame is the Somapura Mahavihara, a famous Buddhist monastery and one of the most significant archaeological sites in the country. Findings indicate that it was built during the Pala dynasty by the Pala king Dharmapala (781-821 AD); it was designated an UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1985 in an attempt to rescue the fine terracotta relief art with which the exterior of the monastery is decorated, which had suffered immensely under inadequate maintenance and funding, climatic conditions and the general exploitation of the country.
Paharpur is located in the Naogaon district of northwestern Bangladesh. The closest large city and airport is Dhaka, around 270 km southeast of Paharpur; the trip can take up to seven hours and will be the adventure of a lifetime!
Colonia del Sacramento is a city on the banks of the Plata river in southwest Uruguay. It is one of the oldest towns in Uruguay; the old quarter was designated an UNESCO Heritage Site in 1995. A fascinating mix of Portuguese and Spanish colonial styles, Colonia del Sacramento has it all, from old town walls and churches to wineries, museums and restaurants – even a bull-ring (Plaza de Toros Real San Carlos, no longer used since bull-fighting was banned in Uruguay in 1912).
Colonia del Sacramento is just under 200 km from Montevideo airport in Uruguay (2 ½ hours by road). The airport Laguna de los Patos is 17 km to the east and ferries run regularly from Buenos Aires.
171 km southeast of Darwin, Australia`s famous Kakadu Park covers an area of 19.804 square kilometres (half the size of Switzerland!). Around 500 Aborigines live on the land, and approximately half of the park consists of land owned by them; aboriginal peoples occupied the Kakadu region for up to 40.000 years, and it is famous for its strong aboriginal culture and traditions. It also hosts one of the most productive uranium mines in the world. 74 species of mammal and more than 280 species of bird inhabit the park, which is mind-blowingly wild and beautiful. Visitors can camp or spend nights at one of the park`s many lodges and cabins, in order to explore at their leisure.
The nearest town is Jabiru, which is a three-hour drive from Darwin.