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Rainbow in mountains in Chile

Our Favorite Travel Moments of 2015

We asked our country specialists to give us their best travel moments from 2015 and here are our favorites!

Bathing with Elephants in Thailand


This was my partner’s first trip to Thailand; an absolute highlight of my year was watching his over-the-top excitement at everything we did – especially getting sprayed by elephants! I think I forgot how amazing Thailand is until I saw it again through new eyes.

Lauren Burzalow, Southeast Asia Specialist 
Rainbow over Victoria Falls in South Africa


After swimming in Angel’s Pool above Victoria Falls, I was able to catch a glimpse of some rainbows coming out over the mist.

Andrew George, Africa Regional Manager
Street art in Costa Rica


Cycling through puddles on the beach, looking at street art on Isla Holbox in Mexico mid-October between thunder storms was an unforgettable part of my recent Mexico trip.

Victoria Schennum, Mexico Specialist
Rainbow in mountains in Chile


Through 50 mph wind, I climbed the towers of Torres del Paine in southern Chile's Patagonia. The rain combined with the wind gave me a prickling sensation as it hit my face. With not a person in sight I crossed a river and began the climb. From a distance I could see a rainbow form at the same time that the sun appeared over the mountain horizon. 3 hours later as I reached the knife-like ridges of Torres Del Paine the weather cleared and I had the iconic view all to myself.

Patrick Helfer, Latin America Specialist
Local kids in Bali


While traveling through Ubud, a city rich with culture and lush landscape on the island of Bali, I had the chance to visit the Ulun Danu temple. As I was exploring the beautiful temple on the edge of Lake Bedugal, a group of young Balinese children in traditional clothing approached me with friendly smiles. We exchanged waves and curious “hellos.” It was such a special interaction that really connected me with their culture.

Blair Peterson, Southeast Asia Specialist
Hiking in Indonesia


After a 4am start myself and my guide Suwin reached the crater lake on Mt. Ijen in Eastern Java. Hundreds of workers a day carry out back-breaking work mining the toxic sulfur to sell for a little profit.

Jack Tydeman, Southeast Asia Specialist
Monks at monastery in China


When we were in Zhongdian, China at the Songzanlin Monastery we managed to arrive during the final moments of prayer before lunch. Hundreds of monks were humming their prayers until the bell rang and they all darted out of the front of the temple.

Shane Murphy, China Specialist
Mountain view in New Zealand


The scenic flight to Milford Sound was amazing, but the nature cruise was incredible. I think this is the most impressive scenic experience I’ve had and we got to see a number of seals throughout the afternoon as well.

Jess Grise, New Zealand Specialist
Piranha fishing in the Amazon, Brazil


One of my favorite moments this year was when I caught two piranhas while fishing in the Amazon in Brazil.

Ali Andino, Brazil Specialist
Rainbow in Mozambique


One of the highlights of my trip to Victoria Falls was a river cruise on the Zambezi, where I spotted hippos, crocs and the most spectacular rainbow of all time!

Hailey Colburn, Africa Specialist
Sunset in Chile


I’m not generally a morning person, but there is something special about waking up in the middle of Patagonia, long before the cafes and shops open, and taking in one of the most breathtaking sunrises with nothing but the lapping water of Lago Argentina as your soundtrack. Moments like these make an early start completely worth it while traveling.

Scott Harrington, Latin America Specialist
Machu Picchu


After 8 years of dreaming of my return to Peru to visit Machu Picchu, I finally stepped foot in the incredible ruins this year. The dreams in my head were not even close to the reality of this unbelievable fortress in the clouds!

Arden Dibble, Latin America Specialist
Fly fishing in Japan


My first time learning how to fly fish was for thirty-six-inch rainbow trout in the peaceful streams of Lake Akan, Hokkaido, with the same guide who takes Tommy Lee Jones every time he visits. 

Jessica Klauzenberg, Japan Specialist
Festival in Peru


One of the things that I love about Peru is that you never know when a parade is going to pop up. I was in Aguas Calientes near Machu Picchu when a local Festival of the Cross procession passed by where I was having lunch.

Rachel Robar, Latin America Specialist
Zen Garden Japan


Sitting in silence in a Buddhist Temple, looking out on a Zen Garden in Japan, in the pouring rain - it doesn’t get any better than that. By far, the best experience of my trip. 

Amanda D'Aiuto, Japan Regional Manager
Moroccan musicians

Moroccan musicians

Playing Gnawa music with traditional African performers was truly a magical experience. As the sun set on the Moroccan Sahara Desert, the music seemed to echo across the empty dunes as we sat in total seclusion from civilization under the starlight sky. It didn't seem like we were from different cultures at that moment; we were one.

Marie Aja, Morocco Specialist
Whirling Dervishes in Turkey


The whirling dervishes are a mystical Sufi sect of Islam who spin in circles to praise Allah.  They allow people to watch this spine – tingling rite, which is held in an ancient caravanserai (an old wayside inn to accommodate merchants and their animals), along with beautiful and quite spiritual music. It was so compelling that I bought a CD of the music to alleviate stress!

Brigitte Crumpler, Egypt and Morocco Specialist 
Snorkeling in Egypt

Snorkeling in Egypt

This past year I had the opportunity to go snorkelling in Egypt. It's one of the coolest places I've ever been underwater, and the Red Sea Coast is absolutely beautiful.

Jackie Roth, Egypt and Morocco Specialist
Climbing in waterfalls in Costa Rica


 Rappelling down waterfalls in the middle of a remote rainforest in Turrialba, Costa Rica was incredible. Trusting the cable and willingly leaning backwards over a canyon while avoiding the waterfall's stream and enjoying the view was an adventure I won't forget!

Dani Dorme, Latin America Specialist

Learn more about our favorite travel destinations

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Start thinking about your experience. These itineraries are simply suggestions for how you could enjoy some of the same experiences as our specialists. They’re just for inspiration, because your trip will be created around your particular tastes.
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