As I sit down on a rainy summer day and begin to research a marathon of upcoming adventures, I was struck by the inspiration to compile a post about the places in the world that have inspired me and have left a significant lasting memory on my mind. I have been asked a lot about some of my most favorite places in the world, and this would be the best way to sum them up.
It's a hard task to summarize your most favorite places in the world, so much in fact, that many of these could be interchangeable on any given day, thus I am not going to place a number rank on these great destinations. Most importantly, I hope that this list continues to evolve and change through the years as I continue my passion of travel and admiring the wonderful landscapes of this world we call home.
Not all of these destinations are going to appeal to readers, but they appealed to me immensely for various reasoning. The sheer beauty of the location, the difficulty of reaching the destination, the company I was with, or even the inspiration drawn from these dramatic views.
Okay...I may have lied. This glacial lagoon in south east Iceland is almost always the first place that pops up in my mind when someone asks the question of my favorite places I have been to in the world.
Something about the peace and tranquility of this lagoon filled with massive icebergs that have broken off from Europe's largest glacier really hits home with me. It was mid-day when I experienced Jökulsárlón and all of its glory. It was sort of a dreary rainy day too, but yet the weather seemed to amplify the beauty presented by nature in this location. There were a decent amount of tourists here, but still, there was a relaxing silence. If you pay close attention, you will even hear off in the distance the loud and distinct sound of crackling ice as it breaks off into the lagoon. It has a very powerful sound to it, almost similar to thunder.
Jökulsárlón will go down as a special place in my travel memories, maybe because of my love for Iceland, or the fond experiences of the overall trip. Either way, this is definitely a spot to check out if you ever find yourself in this island country.
To learn more about Jökulsárlón and my travels in Iceland, click here!
Torres del Paine National Park, Chile
Nearly at the end of the world, or at least the southern end you'll find this Chilean wilderness wonderland. It is at the southern end of the legendary Patagonia region of South America. Patagonia is a vast expanse of wilderness that has been relatively untouched by development. It is a host to an abundance of wild life, the Andes, and dramatic weather. It is also home to the famous Mount Fitz Roy which is pictured on the Patagonia clothing brand as well. This area inspired the owners of Patagonia and The North Face to create their brands and sell products aimed at outdoor adventurers.
This entire southern portion of South America is incredible. The landscapes are stunningly beautiful. It's diverse wildlife is just as incredible. This destination may be more likely for those who truly seek adventure and aren't expecting a laid back beach vacation. Its a rugged environment, and the weather reflects it. What would you expect being nearly at the end of the world!?
Torres del Paine National Park in and of itself was a pretty impressive place. There are a lot of great hiking opportunities and some pretty epic landscapes to see. It is home to the famous W Trail, which is a hike that takes about 4-6 days to complete, and brings you up close and personal to some of the greatest aspects of the park which includes the towers and a monstrous glacier. If you have even more time, consider the O trail which takes about 10 or more days, and circles the entire park. For those taking this option, there are places to stay along the trail (campsites or refugios which are 'primitive' buildings set up for hikers basically.)
The thing that I remember most fondly of this park is the great views, Grey Glacier, and Torres del Paine. Torres del Paine hid from us when we made it to their location unfortunately. It was still a beautiful location, but I wish the cloud cover would have lifted for even five minutes. It was still worth it either way.
It's hard to get down to Torres del Paine National Park, but I recommend checking it out. It's one of those destinations that's sort of popular, but it doesn't see the masses of the tourism industry quite yet. Still sort of a 'hidden gem'.
If you want to learn more about this destination and some other cool areas from my travels check out these articles on Patagonia, Tierra del Fuego, Valparaiso, and the Atacama Desert.
Havasu Falls, Arizona
Havasu Falls has hit social media by storm for its perfect aqua blue waters and amazing waterfall thats tucked away deep in the Grand Canyon area in Arizona. It's a perfect example of what comes to mind when you think of a desert oasis.
The cool aspect about Havasu Falls is that its not the only waterfall within close proximity. There are basically 4 more! Mooney Falls is almost an exact replica of Havasu Falls. It even involves a cool tunnel network and via ferrata (iron road) system to reach the bottom of it. Reaching the bottom of this is probably not suggested for those who are afraid of heights, or cramped spaces.
I set off on my 10 mile trek to Havasu Falls in April of 2017, which was a rather spontaneous trip. To even hike to this area out you need to have a permit, which is very difficult to obtain, unless you are very proactive and begin calling early in the season. It's not cheap either. It's around the $100-120 range at the time that this article was written.
Another thing about reaching this waterfall is it is definitely not a day trip. The tribe that owns the rights to this amazing region won't even allow visitors to do day trips. It's a total of 20 miles. You wouldn't even have enough time to admire the beauty of these waterfalls if you did it in the same day.
This was honestly one of the most difficult hikes I have made. The only reason why this hike was so difficult was the last mile and a half with a 45 pound backpack. It's basically going up the Grand Canyon walls on your way out. This is done with a network of switch backs, and trail that just goes straight up the cliff. It's brutal. The hike to Havasu Falls isn't actually too bad. Its 10 miles, but relatively flat or downhill. The thing that will get you on this portion of the hike is the heat, and distance. There is not much shade to hide away from the scorching desert sun.
This was one of my favorite hikes I have ever done, and one of the coolest waterfalls I have ever seen. It is beautifully unique. It can get a bit busy, and its hard to access, but it is worth it!
It was a surreal experience the morning I went to Mooney Falls and enjoyed the view to myself for over a hour. It was a good spot to think and reflect on life and where my life was currently headed.