My Bucket List

Posted on December 28, 2016 by

Every other year, I update my bucket list to cross off items that I’ve done and add in new items that have appeared on my travel radar. Some people say travel isn’t about ticking off lists, but I like to see travel as a challenge and a form of self-improvement. Keeping track of places I’ve been and accomplishments I’ve made each year is my way of housekeeping.

Now that 2017 is almost upon us, it’s time to do some self-reflection and reassess my travel goals. In the past three years, I managed to tick off every item on my last bucket list — except for my dream of trekking to Everest Base Camp (which will be ticked off in 2017!). 2017 is looking very good as I already have plans to tick off more than half of the items on this list.

My Bucket List:

Celebrate Timkat Festival in Ethiopia

Ethiopia has long been under my travel radar, but only recently did it seem more accessible. I’m really excited to be going to Ethiopia in January for the Timkat festival, the most important holiday for the Ethopian Orthodox faithful. As a celebration of Epiphany, Timkat is best known for its ritual reenactment of baptism of Jesus. Today it’s a very colourful and vibrant festival, with processions of Ethiopian priests and devout Christians dressed in golden robes and carrying embroidered fringed umbrellas.

st. george'sFlickr image by hey tiffany

Biking and Kayaking in Vang Vieng, Laos

The only country I haven’t been to Southeast Asia is Laos — so it’s time to change that! From February onwards, I’ll be spending three months in Southeast Asia with Alberto and Kaleya, so we’ve booked a trip to Laos with InsideVietnam to explore all over the country.

The part of Laos that I’m most interested in seeing is Vang Vieng, a place I would actually avoid in the past. It was once party central to young backpackers who would go tubing down the river while drunk. Because of an alarming number of alcohol-related injuries and deaths, measures have been taken to transform the town into an outdoor adventure hub. Now the area is great for hiking, kayaking and caving, and we’re really keen to do all that outdoorsy stuff amidst the limestone cliffs and mountains.

Vang Vieng Rice PaddiesFlickr image by Matthew Klein

Going to Everest Base Camp in Tibet

I’ve been wanting to visit the Everest Base Camp since my trip to Nepal in 2014, and I’m finally making it a reality in 2017. In fact, I’m so stoked about my Tibet – Everest Base Camp trip that I’ve decided to run it as my own tour in conjunction with Tibet Vista, a pioneer in the Tibetan travel industry.

My Tibet tour runs from 27th May to 3rd June 2017 — and you are invited to join us! My aim is to offer something that is unlike typical group tours. The small-group tour is informal and flexible, and the group will be small (max 12 people) to keep it intimate and easy for everyone to get to know each other. There are limited spaces, so sign up soon!

Tibet - Mount EverestFlickr image by Goran Hoglund

Exploring/Hiking Iraqi Kurdistan

Iraq is a name often associated with war, so it comes as a surprise to many that there’s actually a part of Iraq that’s safe to visit. Iraqi Kurdistan, in the north of the country, is an autonomous region that has been stable for a few years now. Safety is maintained by police forces in each city and evidence of instability only evident when entering or leaving the Kurdish north. I first heard about Kurdistan when my friend Anil from Foxnomad first visited, and I’ve been intrigued ever since.

Together with the guys from Go Wild Kurdistan, we’re planning to run a tour to Kurdistan September 2017. The idea is to run something very informal and casual, for adventurous travelers to explore and feel a bit safer by traveling in a group. Email me if you’re keen on joining us!

Picturesque AkreFlickr image by David Stanley

Trekking Afghanistan’s Wakhan Valley

Another place that has been on my radar for awhile is Afghanistan. Ever since reading about my friend Stephen Lioy’s trip to Afghanistan, I’ve been wanting to visit myself and experience a side of the country that few know about. Another friend Jonny Duncan aka Backpacking Man recently went to Afghanistan and his pictures made me really want to go there sometime in 2017.

Wakhan Valley in the northern part of Afghanistan is actually considered ‘safe’ and visas are obtainable. It’s right across the border from Tajikistan and it’s a very mountainous and rugged region, perfect for trekking. I’ve heard that the Little and Big Pamir Mountains are spectacular and offer some of the best hiking in Central Asia.

Wakhan valleyFlickr image by Evgeni Zotov

Hiking the W Circuit in the Chilean Patagonia

In 2008, Alberto and I spent four months backpacking all over South America, but we left out Chile and Brazil as they were too big to cover in such a short time. I went to Brazil for Carnaval in 2014, but still haven’t had made it to Chile.

The Chilean Patagonia has been calling out to me for years and I really want to hike the W Circuit if I ever get there. The W Trek is Patagonia’s most famous hiking route, with the granite towers that give the park its name the standout feature. The W Circuit is a full loop that can be done in seven days without carrying any food or gear, between refugios (basic dorm-roomed huts) or campsites. The landscapes look spectacular and almost remind me of Antarctica.

Mirador Las TorresFlickr image by throgers

What’s Done

Over the past decade or so of intensive traveling, we’ve done some amazing stuff and managed to cross quite a few items off our old bucket list:

Go on an Antarctica Expedition (2013)

See the Northern Lights (2013)

Spot Polar Bears in the Arctic (2011)

Gorilla Tracking (2014)

Cage Shark Diving (twice! 2010 & 2013)

Swim with Whale Sharks (2013)

Go Skydiving (2009 & 2014)

Climb an Active Volcano (2009 & 2011)

Go on Safari in Africa (we’ve done this many times now – in KenyaZimbabweSouth AfricaBotswana and Namibia)

What’s on your bucket list? Share with us here!

About Nellie Huang

Nellie Huang is a professional travel writer and blogger with a special interest in off-grid destinations and adventure travel. Her mission is to visit every country in the world. In her quest, she's climbed an active volcano in Iceland, swam with sealions in the Galapagos, built a school in Tanzania, waddled with penguins in Antarctica, crossed into North Korea and drank beer in Palestine.

5 Responses to “My Bucket List”

  1. Debby January 2, 2014 11:00 am #

    Uff, Spain is way too hot in summer! Good luck :)

  2. kristy January 6, 2014 11:47 pm #

    I am also looking forward for the next 365 days of fun & adventure this year. I will be off to HongKong this Saturday with my friends for our reunion getaway. Oh I miss them.

  3. LS@Sweden Road Trip January 28, 2014 11:28 am #

    Great list! I definitely got some ideas for my own. I like that they're all very doable too

  4. Amy Croson May 30, 2017 6:21 pm #

    Hi Nellie,
    Great bucket list & blog. Would you be interested in an interview with my blog Bucket List Bound? It’s all about lists like yours & I’d love to discuss how your bucket list all started & what’s changed in your life since it’s creation. I hope you’re having a good day! Please let me know what you think.

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