Howdy all. Well, it’s been a LONG time since I did a ‘list’ kind of post, and so today I’ve decided to give it a bit of a burl for you! The topic is – ‘Countries to Visit Before you Die’, and so obviously I am going to work of my personal experiences for this little list and of course, explain why I arrived at the decisions that I did. I am really thinking in terms of countries where you get more out of the experience than just seeing amazing sights for this one. So anyways, let’s start at number SIX –
So I wanted to try and include a country from each part of the world if I could, and I think of all the countries I visited in South America back in 2016, it was Ecuador that I got the most out of. Why? Well actually it goes a little against what I just said, but going to Galapagos and seeing this part of the planet is truly a unique and precious experience that if you can I really think you must go and do.
Learning about the animals of the islands, seeing the incredible landscape, hiking on volcanoes and the best of all – snorkelling with so much sea life, it was just the sort of experience which makes you realise just how LUCKY you are on this world because it’s not something that many will ever do. The islands which inspired Charles Darwin, the blue-footed booby, the sea lions! Wow.
Ecuador too I found to be as friendly as any country in South America, and the historic old part of town is really impressive. Cuenca is another city I visited where I stayed in my first ever Air BnB which was a private room in an apartment, great experience too. Plenty of hiking opportunities as well in Ecuador, it really offers a heck of a lot for the visitor.
5. The United States of America
I think that although I sure know quite a few people who tell me they have ‘no interest’ in visiting the USA, that they would genuinely get something out of visiting the most ‘famous’ country on Earth. Firstly, people are genuinely ultra-friendly in the States. They warm and welcoming, and sure you might find yourself in an uncomfortable position if you get too deeply into politics, but the easiest thing to do is, well, not!
The cities are amazing, I mean NYC is up there with the most iconic cities on the planet, right? And the landscape from shining sea to shining sea is so varied and amazing that I can genuinely say it has everything. It’s the country of movies and theme parks, with a little Las Vegas thrown in, partying in New Orleans like there’s no tomorrow, Washington DC is brilliant because we can all name at least a few American presidents, it is worth at least one visit in your life!
I wanted to choose a country from Africa in this list, and despite loving most experiences I have had in Africa, Ethiopia takes the cake. It’s mind blowing in so many was, so ancient, epic mountain hikes in the Simien, rock-hewn churches in Lalibela, relaxed Addis Ababa where you can meet people an get to know them, unique food.
My only doubt about choosing Ethiopia is that it is so unique it almost feels like it’s not part of Africa, which is good and bad. It will challenge you in many ways, physically, emotionally, the heat of the food will challenge your taste buds. This is one country that changes the visitor, exposes them to much good and bad, mountains in the north, valleys in the south and deserts in the east. Is it truly representative of Greater Africa? Perhaps not in some ways, however it definitely is a place I thoroughly recommend visiting.
When I started this list I knew Iran would be on it, representing the Middle East. Iran is without a doubt the world’s most welcoming country, at the same time as being the world’s most misunderstood country. The warmth and friendliness of the people is unrivalled, a visit will enrich you in ways you never realised was possible.
On top of the people, the architecture and cities, deserts, life, it’s all just mind-blowing. I love this country, and yes it is hard to get to but it is so worth it!
Of course I had to have Japan on this list. Kind people if shy, it shines as a beacon to the rest of the world of how well a country can be run if it’s run efficiently! The trains are always on time and super fast, it’s spotlessly clean, the food is amazing, there is a mix of mountains and nature, which is so central to the Japanese way of life, whilst the cities buzz with neon lights and great rapid transit systems. It’s one of the safest (in terms of crime) countries in the world and it’s a country that really does value tourism and lays things out perfectly for the visitor. I have never known anyone who went to Japan and didn’t come back telling me they had the time of their life.
For number one it just HAS to be India! There is not country in the world that can rival India in terms of an assault on all the senses, no country that has so much for the visitor, from temples to tigers to history to the future. It’s the number one country I think everyone who’s able to should visit in their life time because it will give you a new perspective on life.
Where there is wonderful and amazing, there is the opposite too. There’s no country you can visit that highlights the visitor’s privilege like India. People love or hate it, or in many instances both at the same time! And somehow India seems like an impossibility that nonetheless thrives in its own unique and proud way. The largest democracy on Earth, people of every imaginable religion living together – albeit not always in harmony, but then again mostly in harmony. It’s an overwhelming but infinitely rewarding experience for the traveller, one that is IMPOSSIBLE to forget. Even the shortest stay will stay with you forever.
Thanks for taking the time to pop in today! Any thoughts/comments are always greatly appreciated! Wherever you are in the world right now, take care – and May the Journey Never End!