Happy 2017 everyone! For the first Tuesday of this year, I thought I'd reflect back and highlight some travel moments from 2016. It was a good year for new adventures, and while there are many reasons why I find travel so rewarding and fulfilling, one of my favourite things about it is finding places and spaces (both near and far) that leave me in constant awe of the beautiful earth that we live in. This round-up focuses on these special moments and natural wonders around the world that I was fortunate enough to see and experience last year.
01 // Cherry blossoms at the Tidal Basin, Washington DC, USA
I've always loved cherry blossoms and one of the things on my wander list is to go to Japan during cherry blossom season. While I haven't been able to accomplish that yet, seeing the cherry blossoms at the Tidal Basin in DC is the next best thing. Honestly, I didn't know how impressive this would be since we have lots of cherry blossoms blooming at home, but the row of cherry blossoms right by the waters took my breath away.
02 // Zhangjiajie National Forest Park, China
The quartz-sandstone pillars that are nestled in the mountains of northwestern China is a sight to behold. While it took quite a bit of effort to get here and there were tons of tourists everywhere, I was in awe of these incredible natural formations that resulted from thousands of years of physical erosion.
03 // Mt. Pilatus, Switzerland
Checked this off my wander list! I've been dying to go to Switzerland and see the Swiss alps, and despite all the anticipation and my high expectations, it did not disappoint. We went up Mt. Pilatus on a picture perfect day and the views from the top were absolutely stunning.
04 // Arashiyama Bamboo Forest, Japan
We went to the bamboo forest in the afternoon, so there were a lot of people walking through it. Definitely not ideal, but it was still pretty amazing to see this place for myself. I still remember the sound of the tall bamboo branches rustling in the wind and seeing tiny leaves floating in the air, catching the sunlight in such magical ways that I can't quite put into words.
05 // Mt. Fuji, Japan
Over the years, I developed a bit of an obsession with seeing Mt. Fuji. It is the highest mountain in Japan and is famous for its near symmetrical shape and its snowcapped cone. However, it is known to be somewhat difficult to see due to clouds and low visibility, especially during the summer months. We had tried to see Mt. Fuji a few years ago from Hakone, but no luck. This time around, we headed to Kawaguchiko to catch a glimpse of this famed mountain. Success! I was so excited to wake up from my nap on the bus, open my window shades, and see that it was a beautifully sunny day and Mt. Fuji was visible. What a beautiful sight and definitely one of the highlights of our trip.
06 // Autumn in Kawaguchiko, Japan
The autumn colors in Kawaguchiko were so, so beautiful. They were unlike anything I had seen before and I was especially in awe of the different hues and colors of the mountains around us.
07 // Wintertime in Mt. Seymour, BC, Canada
My friends convinced me to go snowshoeing with them and it turned out to be an awesome adventure in a winter wonderland. We walked among snow covered trees and the untouched, pristine snow in some areas looked like rolling waves in the ocean.
08 // Grand Canyon National Park South Rim, Arizona, USA
This was my first time going to Grand Canyon and I didn't really do any research, so I was in awe of how incredibly massive it is. We hit up a couple of different viewpoints but my favourite had to be the desert view, where we watched the sunset and saw how the fading light changed the colors of the canyon from rusty red to pale blues and pinks.
09 // Horseshoe Bend, Arizona, USA
We stayed in Page, AZ and Horseshoe Bend is just a couple of miles from the city. We woke up early one morning, made the short hike to the bend (seeing frost in the desert was very cool), and arrived just before sunrise. The view from the steep cliff around the bend was unforgettable and I admit it was nerve-wracking to get near the edge just to snap this photo. This experience can literally be summed up as one step from death, since there are no railings in place and a misstep or slip can result in a fall down to the bottom. Scary.
10 // Antelope Canyon, Arizona, USA
Ending the year with one of the most beautiful places I've seen in my life. I had first heard of Antelope Canyon about eight or nine years ago and while the photos were absolutely stunning, I thought it would be impossible to go and never researched it to see how accessible it was. Fast forward to the end of 2016 and as we were planning our trip to Grand Canyon, I remembered Antelope Canyon being in Arizona as well. We ended up going on a road trip around the state and we spent one of our mornings exploring this beautiful slot canyon. Walking through the canyon and seeing how the sunlight hit the walls and changed the reddish hues of the sandstone is a sight I'll never forget.
I don't know what adventures 2017 has to hold, but I hope they will be as rewarding and beautiful as last year's. Do you have any grand travel plans for this year?