San Pedro de Atacama

My top 10 travel in 2015 – what a year!

I know the year isn’t over yet, but I got to thinking about where I wanted to travel to in 2016, which also made me look back on the year that’s been.  I started wondering, what were my favourite travel experiences this year, what was my top 10 travel in 2015?  I’ve been very lucky, as for starters I am based in one of the most beautiful cities in the world (Sydney!), with all sorts of amazing adventures on my doorstep. I’ve also been fortunate enough to have had some awesome experiences further afield.

“Once a year, go somewhere you have never been before”

Dalai Lama

So without any further ado and in no particular order, here were my top 10 travel experiences from 2015.

Top 10 Travel in 2015

1. Sunrise in Borobudur, Indonesia

Getting to Borobudur involved a flight to Jakarta, a flight to Yogyakarta and a wake-up call that felt like the middle of the night.  In my defense, 3.30 am actually is in the middle of the night!  Then there was a hair-raising drive with a would-be racing car driver for nearly an hour and a short hike to the top of the temples.  Finally there was some jostling for position with the rest of the hopefuls and their cameras, waiting for the sunrise.

I wasn’t too optimistic, as I had a history of getting up at ridiculous o’clock and waiting hopefully for a sunrise which never happened (or in the case of Angkor Wat, was drenched in rain instead), but this!  Wow, this was all worth it!

Borobudur sunrise

2. Australia Day in Noosa, Australia

The year had hardly started but I had moved house and just started a new job, so I was already in need of a break.  I love active holidays, but this time I felt like an indulgent treat.  I couldn’t have picked a better spot – Noosa delivered all that and more.  I stayed in a rather expensive little one-bedroom apartment up the hill from the main street where all the action seemed to be.  It was an easy walk to the fantastic bars and restaurants on Hastings Street, the beach and the Noosa National Park.

I was only there for a couple of days, but I completely fell in love with the place – the beach is gorgeous, the National Park is stunning, and the food was sensational.  I indulged completely, with beach time, shopping time, a couple of visits to the day spa, walks through the park, a run along the beach and delicious food and wine.  I can’t wait to go back!

Noosa, Queensland, Australia

3. Road trip across Salar de Uyuni

I had signed up for a 3-day 4WD experience from Atacama Desert over to Uyuni, and to be honest I didn’t really know what was in store.  So I was in for a real treat, discovering some of the most amazing landscapes on the planet. Most of the road trip was through the rather grandly named Eduardo Avaroa Andean Fauna National Reserve.  Words will never do it justice.  We saw flamingos, volcanoes, llamas, a cactus island, the world’s largest salt lake, hot springs and volcanic lagoons.  The trip itself was rugged, dusty, bumpy, and at times fairly primitive, but the scenery was absolutely spectacular.  This is not just one of my travel highlights for 2015 but of all time.  If you haven’t been then go now, you’re in for a real treat!

Salar de Uyuni, Bolivia

4. Hiking the Lares Trail, Peru

I didn’t know much about hiking in Peru beyond the famous Inca Trail, but I knew I wanted to do something to get out of the towns and experience nature.  Turns out that the Inca Trail was booked up months in advance, but the Lares Trail was not.  This turned out to be a real blessing in disguise, because it was gorgeous.  It was a three day hike through the beautiful Lares Valley.  At times it was quite challenging. There was one day where we climbed from 3800 metres to 4800 metres, no easy task at that altitude I promise you!  However the views made it all worthwhile.  I loved that we got to meet and interact with the local children, who were very shy and sweet but would whisper their names to our guide.  I also liked that in three days we only came across two other walking groups.  It seemed like we had this perfect place to ourselves.

Lares trek

5. Seeing Machu Picchu, Peru

Sometimes when you see something iconic and famous that you’ve dreamed of for a long time, it can feel a bit of a let-down.  Somehow it doesn’t quite live up to the expectation, or it just feels a little disappointing, a bit meh. However I am happy to report that this was not the case at all at Machu Picchu.

It was an early start to the day, the bus left Machu Picchu town at 6.00 am, and already the streets were buzzing with travellers and anticipation.  The road up to the famous site was steep and winding, and I nervously looked out the window, fingers crossed we would make it up!  Obviously we did, and finally seeing this impressive architectural feat felt very special.  What an amazing day and an amazing memory.

Machu Picchu

6. Food tour in Lima, Peru

I wasn’t expecting Lima to be anything much more than a stopover. I had less than 24 hours in this huge sprawling city on my way to Santiago and then back to Sydney.  However browsing on the internet I had stumbled across an evening food tour that would give me a brief introduction to the city via some of its fantastic restaurants.  Over the last few years, there’s been a food revolution underway in Lima.  Proudly showcasing local ingredients and traditional dishes with a twist, Lima now has the reputation of one of the gourmet capitals of the world, and for a few short hours I was able to join the revolution too.

Views over Lima

Views over Lima

7. Atacama Desert, Chile

My first visit to South America was in 2010, and I was desperate to visit the Atacama Desert.  However, like everyone else in the world, time and money were both limited.  After spending my cash on a memorable journey into the Ecuadorian Amazon, there was nothing left in the kitty.   So five years later on my second trip to South America there was no way I was missing out!  I flew straight from Sydney to Calama, and then travelled about 90 minutes to arrive in San Pedro de Atacama. This tiny little town in the middle of nowhere is the gateway to the desert and the stunning scenery. One highlight was watching the sunrise at the magnificent Geysers at El Tatio, at 4,320 metres above sea level.  It might have been one of the coldest places I’ve ever been, however it was also one of the most beautiful.  Simply stunning.

San Pedro de Atacama, Chile

The colours as the sun came up were simply gorgeous.

8. Exploring La Paz, Bolivia

I didn’t know much about La Paz, other than it was the highest capital in the world. At 3,500 metres I definitely felt it too, puffing my way around the hilly streets.  I’m not sure what it was about this city, but I completely fell for its charms.  I loved seeing the indigenous ladies scurrying around the streets in their layers of skirts and their bowler hats; exploring the Mercado de Hechiceria (Witches’ Market); enjoying the views from the teleferico; riding the local buses. I sat and enjoyed people watching in the plazas, including Plaza Murillo near the Presidential Palace and saw President Morales arrive in his motorcade.  I loved wandering the streets, trying the local food delicacies like saltenas and limon con leche.  I loved it in La Paz.

La Paz

Catch the teleferico for amazing views over the city

9. Downhill all the way: cycling the Death Road

I am not much of a cyclist, so mountain biking downhill for 65kms on a road so dangerous that it is known as the Death Road, was always going to be a challenge!  Perhaps that’s why it was one of my best memories, it certainly didn’t come naturally to me.  I had my hands firmly on the brakes the entire way, gripping tightly.  The muscles in my forearms reminded me of this later! However despite feeling terrified for about 90% of the ride I loved it, and the feeling of achievement when I reached the bottom was incredible. The only thing I didn’t love was that the way back to La Paz was back up that same road.  But clearly I survived!

Death Road, Bolivia

10. Weekend in Wilsons Prom, Australia

I had heard about Wilsons Prom, in Victoria, and always wanted to visit.  Then as luck would have it, some friends who live in Melbourne had bought a holiday house and invited me to stay for the weekend.  It was about a two hour drive from Melbourne down to Sandy Point, where their holiday house is, but it’s like you have entered another world.  Sandy Point is a sleepy little town right on the beach.  Wilsons Prom is all I had heard about and then some.  Broad open coastline with gorgeous white sand – a pristine untouched world.  Or so it felt to me!  There’s plenty of wildlife, with a wombat leaving evidence of his nearby home by digging holes under their fence.  They also have a koala who visits them occasionally too.  A little bit of Aussie magic!

Wilsons Prom, Victoria

What an amazing year I’ve had, I have been so lucky – and it’s not over yet.  Japan, here I come!

What were your favourite travel memories this year?  I would love to hear from you!

Comments
6 Responses to “My top 10 travel in 2015 – what a year!”
  1. Rod says:

    WOW. looks like you have had an amazing year travelling. I hope 2016 brings you the same. 🙂

  2. Campbell says:

    Pleased to see Wilsons Prom made it to the top 10!!

    Keep on travelling…

  3. Lucy says:

    #1, woohoo! I agree. I’m sure it was the company…

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