As the world of travel grinds to a halt, we asked Lonely Planet staffers to share some of their favourite memories from trips, experiences and adventures around the world. From wildlife encounters on safari to listening to an iceberg, here are some anecdotes from the great outdoors.
Driving across Siberia
We'd driven 10,000km across Russia to Siberia, then up into the Altay Mountains towards Mongolia. Almost in sight of the border, we'd turned off, following rough tracks (and rougher notes), fording fast-flowing rivers, to arrive at a high pass littered with prayer flags and empty vodka bottles. This lead into Tuva, a mysterious land of nomadic throat-singers, yurts and wide, empty spaces where the only route indicators were wheel ruts heading off across high grasslands. We'd finally arrived at Khandiktig Khol, a breathtakingly beautiful, searingly pristine lake which felt like the edge of the world. And then we understood why no one else came here – to leave you must cross 10km of pristine bog.
Steve Waters, Database Manager, Melbourne
Falconry in Killarney
My husband and I went to Ireland for our honeymoon and decided to do something a little outside of your "normal" excursion. This resulted in the decision to go "Falconing" in Killarney. I was assigned a fierce, harris hawk as my companion while my husband was assigned the most beautiful, snow-white owl that looked as if it had just fallen out of a Harry Potter movie. To see these birds of prey in the wild hunting up-close was a surreal experience, but the true magic of this memory was how deeply in love Daisy the owl fell with my husband. For some reason, she took an extreme liking to him – you can tell from the look in her eyes in the picture! I know how you feel Daisy....
Amy Nichols, Account Manager, Franklin
Snowboarding in Japan
The dream when snowboarding at Japan's Niseko Ski Resort, is to get "outside the gates" – while going off-piste is generally illegal, there are some designated areas where you can, if the conditions are right, access some less groomed fun. We spent an afternoon with an instructor to get some tips on where to find the best runs, and ventured out to Strawberry Fields after a night of heavy snowfall. The view as we came into the serene copse of snow-covered trees surrounded by fresh powder literally took my breath away, in a way that I've never experienced before.
Angela Tinson, APD, Guidebooks, Melbourne
Safari in Botswana
The morning was crisp and cool but the sky above Botswana was cloudless. We donned thick lined coats and boarded the safari vehicle and quickly covered our legs in a thick blanket. The hint of morning was upon us as we arrived on the massive, almost waterless, pan, located in the middle of the scrub approximately 100km from the Chobe National Park. A twitchy jackal was already drinking the remaining water. Three giraffe eyed the area from a safe distance and a cluster of cautious impala emerged from the dried scrub followed, almost immediately, by one massive elephant. We couldn't take our eyes from this spectacle. Our guide handed us both a piping hot coffee as we alighted from the jeep to watch a new day in the African scrub.
Chris Zeiher, Director, Sales and Marketing (Asia Pac)/Spokesperson, Melbourne
Paddleboarding in Alaska
Up close, a summer iceberg crackles like Pop Rocks candy. I discovered this on my first trip to Alaska. I was in Seward, on the state’s southern coast, and I signed up for a stand-up paddleboarding tour in the bay surrounding Bear Glacier. Decked out in an Arctic dry suit, and struggling to keep upright (it was my first time on a SUP) I paddled out among the icebergs. Some were as big as a house, others as small as a basketball. Careful not to get too close, lest they tip and come crashing down, I was fascinated by the sound – the crackle and pop of air bubbles escaping as the icebergs melted in the noon sun.
Alexander Howard, Lead Editor, Franklin
Tracking gorillas in Rwanda
My legs were screaming after climbing the volcano in Rwanda, but it was anticipation that was causing my heart to beat out of my chest. Soon I caught sight of a young mountain gorilla laying in a ray of sunshine that had pierced the canopy above. Next, a noise shifted my gaze to a behemoth silverback less than 5m away. I was as overawed by his hulking 200kg frame, as I was by his inquisitive gaze. A moment later he was joined by an infant who appeared out of the vegetation. Whether little or large, these creatures were utterly captivating.
Matt Phillips, Digital Editor, London
Road tripping in Montana
Last September, I had a trip planned to Glacier National Park in Montana. My original plan was to explore the park solo, but a few days before I left, two of my best friends found a cheap flight and decided to join me! The three of us road-tripped across the Montana Rockies in a tiny Mitsubishi Mirage, hiked the 13 mile Highline Trail, and stayed in an old western brothel that has been reconfigured to be a hostel. It was one of those magical trips where all the right factors came together and I will remember it forever.
Laura Brown, Director of Strategy, Franklin
Travels by scooter in Vietnam
The first trip that my future husband and I took together was an ill-prepared "motorbike" trip from Ha Giang in northern Vietnam. Astride a couple of 100cc scooters, we struggled up winding narrow hills and descended into wide green valleys surrounded by terraced rice paddies. I remember huge mountains rising out of the mist, tall silent trees, and an indescribable stillness; brightened by the brilliant scarves of the Hmong people, as well as their hospitality. My husband and I bonded over our misguided, frozen, wonderful adventure; it will always be a very special place for both of us.
Karen Henderson, Senior Editor, Dublin
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