In my life, there have always been things I’ve know that I want to see and do before I die, most of them relate specifically to traveling and seeing the world. This bucket list has always been in my mind, constantly growing with each new place or activity I learn about, but after my first date with Jeff last January, where he shared his bucket list items with me, I was inspired to write mine down.
I also figured that if I wrote it down, the goals on the list would be easier to achieve, and so far, I’ve found that to be true. My trip to Africa this summer brought with it many opportunities to cross items off my list, and for some of the activities, it was enough motivation to push me through some of my fears.
Cage Diving with Great White Sharks
Once I knew I was heading to South Africa, I just knew that I had to get in a cage and swim with Great Whites. But, for months, I refused to think about what I’d be actually doing; it wasn’t until I arrived at the activity center that I began to think about what was in store for me. Still, I couldn’t wrap my head around what we’d be doing. I’ll admit seeing the sharks swimming around our small little boat was a bit intimidating, but there wasn’t exactly time to think about it. In the freezing cold morning temperatures, we had to strip down to our bathing suits and replace our clothes with 7mm wetsuits. Then, it was time to enter the cage. For me, this worst part – feeling trapped inside a cage that was being thrown about the huge swells. But going under the water to look at the sharks was actually one of the most peaceful experiences I’ve ever had. It was almost as if I was able to spy on them and gain a better idea of what their lives are like when they aren’t being portrayed as human-attacking monsters. Instead of being the adrenaline-rushing activity I was expecting, it turned out to be more of a chance for me to appreciate the animal I was swimming with. This surprised me more than anything.
Boat Ride on the Nile River
I’ve dreamt of visiting Egypt for my entire life, and one thing I always wanted to do was ride a boat on the Nile River. While in Luxor, I was able to cross this item off my bucket list. Jeff and I took a private sunset cruise on a felucca, and not only was it romantic, but it gave me an entirely different view of Egypt and the great river that calls the country home. We stopped off at an island, had some bananas and watermelon, met a few local people, and ended the night with Egyptian tea. It was a nice break from the hustle and bustle of the cities, and a chance to truly enjoy being in Egypt.
This was one activity that I was most looking forward to on my trip, until I got to the adventure center. We watched the video of activities offered and immediately I was taken aback by how terrifying it looked. The idea of speeding down a sand dune at up to 80 km/h on a piece of plywood on my stomach no longer sounded appealing. But, almost everyone in my group decided to do the Adventure Combo, which included two hours of quad biking and one hour of sand boarding. I was nervous, but I wanted to do an activity with all of my friends, so I sucked up my fears and headed out on the dunes the next day.
The hike up the sand dune with plywood in hand was probably my least favorite part of the activity, but once I was hanging off the edge of the dune head first over a drop down, my adrenaline started pumping. The guides counted to two and sent me speeding down the dune, while I screamed at the top of my lungs. With the wind racing across my face, I had never felt more free. In fact, I wound up liking sand boarding a lot more than the quad biking, which was exactly the opposite of my expectations.
See the Pyramids in Egypt
As I mentioned, Egypt has always been a dream destination for me. In school, I couldn’t get enough of ancient civilizations, especially Egypt. The pyramids fascinated me, and I always knew that one day I would see them. While I wasn’t exactly expecting them to be so close to the rest of the city of Giza, I was blown away right from the first time I saw them. Being able to wander about this area and truly appreciate their size and beauty is something I will truly never forget.
Even though I headed out on this adventure alone, I’m not exactly sure many people would call this traveling solo, since I was on a group tour. But, for me, it was the perfect way to travel alone, especially for my first time. Maybe, one day, I will go off on my very own, but for now, I’m crossing this off my list. It was a huge step for me to head out to Africa not knowing anyone, and for now, that’s a great enough accomplishment in my eyes.
See Victoria Falls
Victoria Falls has been on my list for some time, and seeing it in person was more spectacular than I ever imagined. You can hear the falls as you approach, the sound of rushing of water matches perfectly with the feeling of anticipation upon finally seeing the Falls with your very own eyes. First, you feel the spray of water, and then the first view hits you like nothing else. In all of my life, no natural sight has taken my breathe away, but Victoria Falls actually did.
Since this was my first day in Africa, I was able to experience the Falls alone, which I believe, helped me greater appreciate all of its glory and splendor. So far, it is my favorite of all natural beauty I have seen with my own eyes.
Ride a camel
I’ve always wanted to ride a camel, but I also felt that it needed to be done somewhere authentic, where camels were actually used. I knew I didn’t want this experience at a zoo or an amusement park, and my trip to Egypt opened up that opportunity quite easily. While it may be the most touristy experience at the Pyramids of Giza, it was exactly how I wanted to experience my camel ride. At the pyramid viewpoint, Jeff and I had started our ride right down to the pyramids themselves. While being atop the camel was a bit awkward and unsteady, the views that we were able to take in were the most memorable of all our time in Egypt.
Climb Table Mountain
This was probably the most physically demanding activity of my trip, but it was an experience I will never forget. The views during the climb were picture-perfect and the mountain itself was beautiful. It may have taken Jeff and me four hours to hike to the top, but the views once we got there were well-worth the climb. It definitely felt good to work hard and reach this goal. You can read more about the hike here.
Pushing through challenges and fears is often what makes a trip so incredible. While traveling, your senses are heightened and your view of life is entirely different. You are able to live each day as your last because you really aren’t sure when, or if, you will ever return to the place you are visiting. This leaves plenty of opportunities to step outside the comfort zone and check a few things off the bucket list.