All gap years are exciting and new to the person undertaking them, but some are more generic than others. Spending a year in Europe, South East Asia or Australia is hardly trailblazing (as fun as it might be). The best way to have a unique experience is to travel the road less taken. In this day and age that is almost impossible, but there are routes that are less standard than others when it comes to gap year adventures. Why not try one of our three wild card gap years to make memories you will never forget.
Let’s start with a route that is becoming increasingly popular with each year, South America.
South America can be tackled in two different ways, the ‘hit as many countries as possible in one-year’ approach or a few months living and working in a handful of selected countries. The main influence on either choice will be what landmarks, sights and cities interest you most. A few of the most popular reasons to visit the region are:
1. Machu Picchu
This Inca citadel dating back to the 15th century is a UNESCO world heritage site set high above the clouds of Peru in the Andes mountain range.
2. The Amazon
The World’s largest tropical rainforest covers much of the north-west of South America and has been under constant threat in recent years will soon be unrecognisable so visit while you can.
3. Rio De Janeiro
The Brazilian party capital is a must-see, whether you are standing under Christ the Redeemer or on Copacabana beach if you can make it during carnival your experience will be out of this world.
If you want to experience every terrain in one geological area Patagonia is the place for you. It has desert, savannah, mountains and ice fjords – not to mention it is the end of the world!
5. Galapagos Islands
You don’t have to be David Attenborough to realise that this archipelago is the world’s premier wildlife spot – follow in the footsteps of Charles Darwin and get yourself on a boat to these volcanic islands if you are anywhere near the Pacific coast.
Truly a continent of variety Africa has a huge array of cultures and landscapes to explore. The North is a land of ancient religions and mystique, Central Africa boasts vast national parks and jungle, and to the South there are more wildlife reserves and feats of sublime nature then you could ever want. Our top recommendations for an African dream adventure are:
1. Pyramids of Giza
One of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, constructed nearly 4500 years ago, the pyramids are an unmissable landmark.
2. Victoria Falls
An awe-inspiring piece of natural architecture on the border between Zambia and Zimbabwe, Victoria Falls is set amongst two national parks and worth a trip if you are in Southern Africa.
Feeling fit? Why not visit Tanzania and climb a mountain in your gap year? It is by no means an easy feat but is perfectly doable for those in good shape. Use a designated travel company like Kilimanjaro Challenge to make sure you are in the best hands.
4. The Maasai Mara
Kenya’s premier national reserve the Maasai Mara is the place to go for the ‘big five’. See elephants, rhinos, lions, leopards and buffalo while you still have the chance.
5. Cape Town
Cape Town is a melting pot of cultures surrounded by breath-taking scenery from Table Mountain to the Cape of Good Hope. The city is a trendy, up and coming metropolis that offers some of the best wine in the world and once in a lifetime experience like cage diving with great whites.
The Far East
Forget Full Moon Party get to grips with a part of the world that has captivated the West for hundreds of years by visiting the Far East. From the ancient Silk Road trading route to the hyper-modern draw of cities like Seoul, Tokyo and Shenzhen there is something to satisfy all travellers’ wanderlust. Our must-see stops are:
1. The Great Wall
The Great Wall of China spans 13,171 miles running along much of the China’s northern border, some people walk a fraction of it and other cycle or run the entire length of it. How much you want to undertake is up to you.
2. Gobi Desert
The Gobi Desert is a cold desert that extends into both China and Mongolia. Dinosaur fossils have been found there, Genghis Khan and his Mongol army would disappear into it for months on end and it looks like it is straight out of Game of Thrones. If you feel like going truly off the map this is the place for you, to get a better idea of how to go about visiting the Gobi desert read Goats on the Road’s blog.
Kyoto was the ancient capital of Japan and the remaining Buddhist temples and imperial gardens show a hint of the splendour that is inherent in the city. It is the go-to place for a slice of traditional Japan keeping alive the traditions of geishas and kaiseki dining.
4. Hong Kong
A skyline to rival Manhattan, Buddhist and Sikh temples, colonial churches, vibrant street markets, luxury shopping malls, beaches and parks – Hong Kong has it all. It is intense, entirely unique and unforgettable.
Try something different today and grab yourself an amazing gap year adventure deal.