Take your holiday plans to exciting heights by adding a unique experience to your trip. From riding with gauchos in Patagonia to truffle hunting in Tuscany, here are some novel suggestions for the new year by the team at Lightfoot Travel.
1. Live with eagle hunters in Mongolia
For an escape that will introduce you to an authentic slice of life, head to the wilds of Western Mongolia and spend time with the eagle hunters. You’ll join a local family and live alongside them in their traditional ger as they prepare for the annual eagle hunting festival. Travel in October and you’ll also get to ride 60km together across the plains to the festival site to watch them compete in their yearly competition.
2. Heli golf experience in Queenstown
If golf is your passion, this is for you. Fly high into the mountain range above Queenstown, New Zealand, to play the game’s most extreme par three hole. Fire 100 percent biodegradable golf balls on to a green that lies halfway down the mountain, and don’t worry if you miss – you’ll send it into the nearby water hazard, which in this case happens to be Lake Wakatipu.
3. Hot-air balloon over Bali
You may already know Bali’s beautiful beaches and turquoise waters well, but have you considered seeing this stunning island from the sky? The Chedi Club Bali now takes guests 50 metres above the property so you can soak up the lush landscape from a different perspective. Flights take place at dusk and dawn.
4. Fly by microlight over the Victoria Falls
Belt up and admire the view when you take a trip over Victoria Falls. Your microlight pilot will whisk you over the Smoke That Thunders along the Zambezi River and by the Mosioa-Tunya National Park for what just might be the flight of your life. For an even closer view, brave the mighty waters yourself with a dip in the Devil’s Pool, a natural swimming pool that forms at the lip of the Falls during the dry season.
5. Ride with gauchos in Patagonia
Fulfil your cowboy/cowgirl fantasies with a trip to the Andes to learn how to become a gaucho. At Estancia Huechahue, you can spend the day working cattle with the gauchos and mastering the art of wielding a lasso. You can also ride out with them and discover the land they call home. Keen riders can choose to sign up for a 10-day ride across the Andes from Chile to Argentina, camping and staying in estancias along the way. Yeeeehaaaw!
6. Go truffle hunting in Tuscany
Foodies will be in their element with a stay at the boutique luxury castle hotel, Castello Di Vicarello in Tuscany. Relaxing in regal surroundings, you’ll have the opportunity to join a local farmer and his dogs as they practise the ancient art of truffle hunting. In addition, head on a private tour of the vineyard with the owner and sample Tuscan wine. You can even learn how to whip up an authentic Tuscan dish with the truffles you found earlier.
7. Take a submarine ride around the Maldives
Don’t like getting your hair wet? Explore the captivating underwater world of Baa Atoll in the Maldives in the new three-seater submarine at the Four Seasons Landaa Giraavaru. This Bond-style vessel will take you 37 metres below the surface so that you can explore the UNESCO Biosphere Reserve and see coral reefs, and spot turtles, sharks and dolphins without taking your clothes off. (You can always dive into your own pool when you return!)
8. Walk with elephants in the Okavango Delta
When it comes to travelling companions, these are hard to beat. Abu Camp in Botswana gives guests the chance to follow an elephant herd by foot as they wander through the bush, feeding as they go.
9. Drive a Porsche on ice in Lapland
Swap tarmac for ice in one of the most dramatic landscapes in the world. Each winter, the Porsche team carves out 13 tracks in the snow and gives guests the chance to drive purpose-built cars up to 200kph through Santa’s playground. Four of the tracks are full-sized replicas of some of the world’s most famous circuits: Yas Marina in Abu Dhabi, Paul Ricard in France, Nurburgring in Germany and Silverstone in England.
10. Meet a tribe in Brazil
Experience a fascinating culture and a life less ordinary in Brazil where you can rub shoulders with the Xingu Indians. The Kamayurá tribe is happy to welcome you to their homeland, where you can discover more about their ancient way of life. Numbers are limited on how many can enter, and visitation fees go straight to the tribe.
See more in our travel section
This article first appeared in the December/January 2018/19 issue of Expat Living magazine. Subscribe now so you never miss an issue.