Best Travel Experiences

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Updated August 31, 2016 / João Leitão / 16 Comments / Filed in: / Reading time 13 minutes


Best Travel Experiences

Best Travel Experiences

Best Travels 👍

There are many nice places to travel around the World.

Yet, some unique experiences are kept secret and only a few people have the chance of getting involved with them.

On this page I want to write about some of the best travel experiences I’ve had.

These examples can easily work as inspiration and motivation for your future travels.

Please note that I’ve been traveling for more than 15 years and some of the older pictures on this page are not of so good quality as the most recent ones.

Happy travels!

✅ Berber Triple Marriage in Sahara Desert

Berber Marriage in Sahara Desert, Morocco

Berber Marriage in Hassilabied village, Sahara Desert, Morocco – Best Travel Experiences

ℹ️ I had the chance of being invited to an authentic Amazigh (Berber) triple marriage in Sahara Desert – southeast Morocco. Since I lived and worked near the Dunes of Erg Chebbi during 4 years, it was easy to get involved with the local community and get this type of invitation. Although many people no longer get married in such a traditional way, one of the grooms decided he wanted this kind of ceremony, so that young kids could see and experience how Berber got married in this region of Sahara.

Berber Marriage in Sahara Desert, Morocco

Berber Marriage in Hassilabied village, Sahara Desert, Morocco – Best Travel Experiences

ℹ️ Fiancés arrived at the marriage camp site in Hassilabied village riding a camel. The grooms arrived riding a… 4X4. But yet the whole experience, from the clothes and music to the ceremony itself, was fantastic.

Read the page: People of Morocco.

✅ Driving from Mitad del Mundo to Fin del Mundo

Driving from Mitad del Mundo to Fin del Mundo

Driving from Mitad del Mundo to Fin del Mundo

ℹ️ I drove a car from the city of Quito near the Equator line on a place called “Mitad del Mundo” (half of the world) to Ushuaia, often called as “Fin del Mundo” (end of the world). Ushuaia is located down in the southern most part of Argentina in the south American continent. I crossed half of the planet’s continental landmass driving 13351 KM / 8296 MI on my own. Driving through the Andes Mountains, Atacama Desert, Patagonia and Tierra del Fuego are on my top list of moments.

Read the page: Driving in South America.

✅ Being a monk in a Buddhist Monastery

Being a monk in a Buddhist Monastery

Being a monk in a Buddhist Monastery

ℹ️ Lumbini in Nepal is the birthplace of Buddha. In the vicinity of the actual place of His birth there are several Buddhist monasteries. I was lucky enough to spend some time living the life of a real monk: early wake up, Buddhist prayer and meditation, healthy food. Great experience to my soul in a time of great need.

✅ Feeding Wild hyenas in Harar

Feeding Wild hyenas in Harar, Ethiopia

Feeding Wild hyenas in Harar, Ethiopia – Best Travel Experiences

ℹ️ When I visited the city of Harar for a few days, I had the chance of feeding wild hyenas. An incredible experience in which, after a ritual, the hyenas are called to come and eat raw meat. It seems this ceremony is being done for a few decades, passing from generation to generation. Hyenas are part of Harar mysticism, and during the night you actually hear them running down the empty dark streets of this Ethiopian Muslim holy city.

✅ Crossing Sahara Desert with a moped

Crossing Sahara Desert with a moped

Crossing Sahara Desert with a moped – Best Travel Experiences

ℹ️ Back in 2010 my friend Samuel and I decided to go on an adventure from Erfoud to Erg Chebbi Dunes along the Algerian border line passing through Tisserdmine army base. Motocrossing the Sahara Desert with a Motobecane moped is not really something you do every day.

Read the page: Moped in Sahara Desert.

✅ Joining the Central Asia Rally

Joining the Central Asia Rally

Joining the Central Asia Rally – Best Travel Experiences

ℹ️ In 2012 I participated in one of the most adventurous alternative car rally in the World. A few teams joined together in Central Asia Rally to overland all the way from Europe to Central Asia. It is indeed a unique and best travel experience if you’re looking for different ways of traveling. Hungary, Ukraine, Russia, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan, 14 days – 6500 kilometers (4000 miles) – endless dreams!

✅ Hot air balloon ride in the Valley of the Kings

Hot air balloon ride in the Valley of the Kings, Egypt

Hot air balloon ride in the Valley of the Kings, Egypt – Best Travel Experiences

ℹ️ On my trip in Luxor – Egypt, I got to ride a hot air balloon over the amazing Valley of the Kings. Amazing sunrise while farmers were burning the fields.

Read the page: Visit Luxor, the World’s greatest open air Museum.

✅ Living with an indigenous tribe in the Amazon

Living with an indigenous Tatuyo tribe in the Amazon Rain Forest

Living with an indigenous Tatuyo tribe in the Amazon Rain Forest – Best Travel Experiences

ℹ️ During four days I had the chance of living with an authentic Brazilian indigenous tribe. I was taught Amazon Forest survival and local customs and traditions. Living with an indigenous Tatuyo tribe in the Amazon Rain Forest can be possible and it is a great way of knowing a totally different culture.

Read the page: Amazon Brazilian tribe.

✅ 22 hours pick-up truck trip to Timbuktu

22 hours pick-up truck trip to Timbuktu

22 hours pick-up truck trip to Timbuktu

ℹ️ A 22 hours insane journey from Gao to Timbuktu in Mali. Traveling on top of the cargo of a Mauritanian smuggler pick-up truck along with 18 other people was quite rough. Everything was OK until there was a sand storm and we had to jump out of the 4WD at 1:30 AM at gunpoint by the Malian army. Unforgettable experience.

📹 Pick-up truck travel in Mali:

Read the page: Photos of Timbuktu the Mysterious.

✅ Exploring Antarctica with Shackleton and Scott

Exploring Antarctica with Shackleton and Scott

Exploring Antarctica with Shackleton and Scott – Best Travel Experiences

ℹ️ During my 15 day Antarctica Cruise trip, along with the team of experts on board of the Ocean Diamond ship, I had the pleasure of traveling in the company of Jonathan Shackleton, the cousin of explorer Ernest Henry Shackleton, and Falcon Scott, the grandson of explorer Robert Falcon Scott. How cool is that?

Read the page: Visit Half Moon Island – forsaken humid Antarctica and Antarctica Cruise 15 day Expedition.

✅ Swimming with sea turtles in the Galapagos

Swimming with sea turtles in the Galapagos, Ecuador

Swimming with sea turtles in the Galapagos, Ecuador – Best Travel Experiences

ℹ️ Snorkeling in the Galapagos is really great. Swimming with sea turtles was one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever done in my life. I advise snorkeling with Sea Turtles in La Loberia Beach, San Cristóbal Island – Galapagos Archipelago. Highly recommended.

Read the page: Galapagos Last Minute Cruises – What to Know.

✅ Meeting local people and making new friends

Meeting local people and make new friends

Meeting local people and making new friends

ℹ️ When I travel one of my goals is to meet people, talk and discuss with them differences in culture, banal aspects of life, politics, spirituality and religion. With this process of making new friends around the world, I become wiser in getting acquainted with other ways of thinking and living. Traveling is one of the most important school of life.

✅ Driving in Iraq

Driving in Iraq

Driving in Iraq

ℹ️ In Amedi I met a Syriac Orthodox church caretaker who invited me to drive his car and take him all the way to Barzani village to visit the Kurdish nationalist’s cemetery. This gave me an incredible insight of the region’s struggle, history and politics. Due to his old age, he lost part of his eyesight, so he couldn’t drive anymore. Instead of having his car parked in front of his house, he solved his problem by getting a private driver. Me. I ended up visiting many other villages and churches on the way. Very interesting.

Read the page: Driving in Iraq – Amedi to Barzan Road Trip and Kurdistan Travel Guide – Northern Iraq.

✅ Maracanã Epic Football match in Rio de Janeiro

Maracanã Epic Football match in Rio de Janeiro

Maracanã Epic Football match in Rio de Janeiro – Best Travel Experiences

ℹ️ Attending an epic Maracanã football / soccer match in Rio de Janeiro between Flamengo and Fluminense, the famous Fla-Flu game was an epic experience. The match gave 2-0 with Flamengo team winning.

✅ Religious ceremony in Lalibela’s Rock-Hewn Churches

Religious ceremony in Lalibela's Rock-Hewn Churches

Religious ceremony in Lalibela’s Rock-Hewn Churches, Ethiopia – Best Travel Experiences

ℹ️ Attending a religious ceremony in Lalibela’s Rock-Hewn Churches is an incredible and unique travel experience. During this Christian Orthodox celebration, there are prayers, music, incense and Bible recitation. I attended this special ceremony at Bet Maryam Church.

Read the page: Visit Ethiopia – Historical Places.

✅ Fully crossing the Amazon River

Fully crossing the Amazon River

Fully crossing the Amazon River – Best Travel Experiences

ℹ️ Francisco de Orellana completed the first known navigation of the entire length of the Amazon River back in the 16th century. I made the trip from Macapá in Brazil (near the Atlantic Ocean) until Iquitos in Peru, and from Iquitos I took the Napo river all the way to El Coca (Ecuador), making the same itinerary as the famous “conquistador”. It took me around 600 hours of boats and sleeping in a hammock.

Read the page: Travel Amazon River – 543 hours on Amazon Boats – Brazil, Peru & Ecuador.

✅ Gaijatra, Festival of Cows in Tansen

Gaijatra, Festival of Cows in Tansen

Gaijatra, Festival of Cows in Tansen – Best Travel Experiences

ℹ️ While in Tansen, a picturesque town in southern Nepal, I was surprised by the interesting Festival of Cows, locally known as Gaijatra. Thousands of people gathered on the streets, with live music, and many young boys and girls dressed with traditional clothes. Very nice.

✅ Dubai by night from the top of the 2722 feet Burj Khalifa

Dubai by night from the top of the 2722 feet Burj Khalifa

Dubai by night from the top of the 2722 feet Burj Khalifa – Best Travel Experiences

ℹ️ While in Dubai (United Arab Emirates), one of the best experiences is to go up to the observation deck of Burj Khalifa, the tallest building in the world. Located in Downtown Dubai, Burj Khalifa is 829.8 meters / 2722 feet tall. This building in Dubai is the tallest existing structure, the tallest structure ever built, the tallest freestanding structure, the tallest skyscraper, the building with most floors: 163, the building with the world’s highest occupied floor: 584.5 meters, the world’s highest elevator installation, the world’s longest travel distance elevators: 504 meters, the world’s highest nightclub: 144th floor, etc etc… Not yet convinced?

✅ Romantic gondola ride in Venice

Romantic gondola ride in Venice

Romantic gondola ride in Venice – Best Travel Experiences

ℹ️ A Romantic gondola ride in Venice is one of many people’s top 10 best travel experiences ever. I personally took the ride during sunset so that Venice canals got a bit more dramatic. My girlfriend loved it.

Read the page: Driving in Italy & San Marino – Venice to Rome Road Trip and Visit Venice Iconic City.

✅ Swimming with Whale Sharks in Holbox Island

Swimming with Whale Sharks in Mexico

Swimming with Whale Sharks in Mexico

ℹ️ In the Mexican island of Holbox you can make amazing dives into the Mayan Riviera blue waters and swim with 10 meters / 32 feet whale sharks.

✅ Meeting Afghan Troops in the middle of nowhere

Meeting Afghan Troops

Meeting Afghan Troops

ℹ️ While driving in Afghanistan on my own, I had the chance of meeting Afghan troops patrolling the unsafe northern sections of the country. Very hospitable and friendly people doing a very hard job.

Read the page: Visit Mazar-i-Sharif – Afghan city of the Noble Shrine.

✅ Visiting the Korean Demilitarized Zone DMZ

Korean Demilitarized Zone in North Korea - DMZ

Korean Demilitarized Zone in North Korea – DMZ

ℹ️ During my trip to North Korea I could visit the most heavily armed region in the world, the Korean Demilitarized Zone, most commonly called DMZ.

Read the page: Visit North Korea.

✅ Trekking Machu Picchu Mountain

Trekking Machu Picchu Mountain

Trekking Machu Picchu Mountain

ℹ️ To get away from Machu Picchu crowded ruins, you can trek up the sacred Machupicchu Mountain at 3082 meters / 10111 feet high. The way up is a bit tough but the spectacular views of the ruins from above are breathtaking. This part of the Peruvian mountains is amazing.

Read the page: Visit Peru.

✅ Visiting Fatima Masumeh Shrine in Qom

Visiting Fatima Masumeh Shrine in Qom, Iran

Visiting Fatima Masumeh Shrine in Qom, Iran – Best Travel Experiences

ℹ️ The Shrine of Fatima Masumeh, in the Holy city of Qom, is considered to be one of the most significant Shi’i sites in Iran. Going inside the Mosque and watching thousands of people praying and worshiping such a place was incredible and unforgettable. Inside the mausoleum there are several rooms, all heading to the main section where the tomb is located. Everyone is pushing each other trying to touch the tomb with their hands. Some people are even crying. All visitors should sit down, grab a Koran and enjoy this moment as one important pilgrimage for Muslims in the region. Fatimah bint Musa al-Kadhim is commonly known as Fatimah al-Masumah. She was the daughter of the eleventh Twelver Shiah Imam, Musa al-Kadhi, and sister of the eighth Twelver Shiah Imam, Ali ar-Ridha. When invited by other people to go inside the shrine, non-muslims can easily get in, as long as they behave appropriately for the occasion.

Read the page: Visit Iran.

✅ Joining the Caucasus Challenge Rally

Joining the Caucasus Challenge Rally - Best Travel Experiences

Joining the Caucasus Challenge Rally – Best Travel Experiences

ℹ️ In 2008 I participated in a 7500 km / 4660 mi adventurous car rally across Europe. This rally took me from Hungary all the way to the Caucasus region of Georgia, Armenia and the troubled region of Nagorno Karabakh. Being one of the chosen travelers to represent the famous travel website Virtual Tourist and driving a 25-year-old Russian Moskvitch, this crazy 11 country border hopping experience was one of a lifetime. 2008 Rally Route: Hungary, Croatia, Bosnia, Montenegro, Kosovo, Albania, Bulgaria, Turkey, Georgia, Azerbaijan and Armenia.

✅ Climbing the Cerro Blanco sand dune

Climbing the Cerro Blanco sand dune - Best Travel Experiences

Climbing the Cerro Blanco sand dune – Best Travel Experiences

ℹ️ The biggest sand dune in the world is called Cerro Blanco and goes up to 2100 m / 6889 ft. It’s located in southern Peru near the famous city of Nasca. You can climb the dune taking about 5 hours, and slide down sandboarding.

✅ UN army escort in DRC

UN army escort in DRC

UN army escort in DRC

Read the page: African Bread Recipe – Democratic Republic of the Congo.

✅ Évora – Tambacounda Expedition 2004

Évora - Tambacounda Expedition 2004

Évora – Tambacounda Expedition 2004

ℹ️ Évora Tambacounda 2004 was an overland expedition starting in Évora, Portugal and ending in Tambacounda, Senegal. The trip with more than 13000 km took 32 days round-trip through Portugal, Spain, Morocco, Moroccan Western Sahara, un-protected Western Sahara, Mauritania, Senegal and The Gambia.

✅ Mauritania Desert Expedition

Mauritania Desert Expedition

Mauritania Desert Expedition

ℹ️ Although I’ve been to Mauritania 5 times, one of the most unforgettable trip was indeed with my Moroccan friend Moha, where we explored the desert with a 4X4 all the way from Morocco down to Chinguetti in Mauritania. For desert lovers, Mauritania is as harsh as the name can sound.

Read the page: People of Mauritania and Ben Amera & Ben Aicha – Mauritania Isolated Desert Monoliths.

✅ Kung-Fu training in Iran

Kung-Fu training in Iran

Kung-Fu training in Iran

ℹ️ Kung-fu TO’a is a modern Iranian martial art, developed in the 1960’s by Ibrahim Mirzaei. I started practicing this style of Kung-Fu back in 1994. During my first trip to Iran in 2004 I was welcomed to join classes in an Esfahan and Qeshm Island Kung-Fu TO’a school.

✅ Children Summer Volunteering in Kazakhstan

Children Summer Volunteering in Kazakhstan

Children Summer Volunteering in Kazakhstan

ℹ️ During the Summer of 2004 I was volunteering in Almaty, south Kazakhstan. My job consisted of taking care of children through art workshops and teaching English in a summer camp.

✅ Army Escort Somalia Taxi Ride

Army Escort Somalia Taxi Ride

Army Escort Somalia Taxi Ride

Read the page: Somaliland Travel Guide.

✅ South Sudan Independence

South Sudan Independence

South Sudan Independence

ℹ️ I was the first travel blogger to cross the borders of South Sudan. I was actually congratulated by the border immigration officer to be the first Portuguese to enter the newest country in Africa. I traveled to South Sudan to be able to participate on the 11th July 2011 Independence Day, but the border was closed due to national security. I entered the country on the 12th July when everyone was still parting on the streets of the capital Juba.

Read the page: South Sudan Travel Guide.

✅ Working on a Farm in up State New York

Working on a Farm in up State New York

Working on a Farm in up State New York

✅ Flight Over Mount Everest

Flight Over Mount Everest

Flight Over Mount Everest

✅ Whale Watching in Iceland

Whale Watching in Iceland

Whale Watching in Iceland

Read the page: Visit Iceland.

✅ Hitchhiking West Africa

Hitchhiking West Africa

Hitchhiking West Africa

ℹ️ Back in 2003 I hitchhiked all the way to the border of Senegal crossing Moroccan Western Sahara and the Mauritanian Desert.

✅ Living Abroad

Living Abroad, my house in Ukraine

Living Abroad, my house in Ukraine

ℹ️ So far I have lived in Finland, Brazil, Turkey, Portugal, Morocco, Ukraine and United States. Going away from our comfort zone back home is indeed a fulfilling experience that enriches our life with practical stuff, as well as our spirit towards ourselves and others. Best self-development practice ever.

✅ Being Invited to stay with a nomad Kazakh Family

Being Invited to stay with a nomad Kazakh Family

Being Invited to stay with a nomad Kazakh Family

Read the page: Nomads of Kazakhstan – Ile Alatau Range.

Visual artist shares inspiring photos and exotic travel destinations. Adventure travel blogger with ideas and narratives to motivate independent travelers and audacious backpackers. Intense journeys into more than 126 countries around Africa, Antarctica, Asia, Europe, North America, South America and Oceania since 1999. Expat in Morocco - North Africa since 2007, polyglot and proud Lonely Planet Pathfinders blogger.

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16 Comments. Leave new

Thank you for this nice and wonderful information! It is very inspiring. I’m really admired your thoughts.

Reply

Absolutely the essence of the travel experience! This is what long term travellers search for but only a few of us get to experience. Well done!

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Hi. Thanks for sharing motivational experiences with some awsm stories and some awsm pics.

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i really love those mopeds! 😀

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I love reading your stories and seeing your photos. You inspire me to get off the beaten track and travel more adventurously. Thank you.

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Thanks for your feedback Catherine! Indeed traveling is a great way to open minds and give yourself the chance of experience and learn about different cultures. I wish you all the best! Greetings from the French Riviera!

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Hi
Thanks for the tips !

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These are absolutely amazing. I love the pictures, especially the one with wild hyenas in Harar. Such an adventure. Love your blog!

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Thank you Hatice. I’m glad you enjoyed my blog. Have a nice day.

Reply

Hi João, quite an adventure! Lots of interesting stories on your blog. You are almost done with Earth! What’s next? Come to Indochina!

Reply
IRENE FLORES
April 28, 2015 4:59 pm

Maravilloso todo esto que relatas, describes en experiencias de viaje,
Lugares bien interesantes, sin limites
Gracias por compartirlo

Reply

Hola Irene muchas gracias por tu comentario y por visitar mi página web de viajes. Besito desde Marruecos!

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Hi João,
Thanks for sharing these stories and congratulations on your enduring travels! I appreciate the mix of more traditional experiences (Venice gondola) with the other more adventurous ones! Best wishes for future travels.

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Hello. I was browsing your blog posts and was wondering why there are no posts about food and less images about it. I was researching for my next trip and I saw your site. Food is important for a traveller because it also makes every travel worthwhile. Awesome blog by the way.

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