There were but two options: create a theatrical interlude about the awesomeness of the long awaited top 10, or go with enough smugness to make David Beckham gag. Lets go with option two; holy crap we did some awesome stuff.
Grab something alcoholic if you can, take a moment and get ready to hate the hell out of us because for one final drum-rolling moment we’re clinging still to the airy heights of professional traveller indulgence before it all comes crashing down, oh how sweet the fall will be for ye the green eyed masses.
10 – Mendoza, Argentina:
Talking of indulgence, there was always going to be a time in this trip where we tested once and for all if it was possible to survive on red wine and decadent food alone. The answer definitively is no, and we apologise to Argentinian plumbing; humbly and sincerely. Joined by Kate and Sophie, team Melbourne, we ate, we drank and we were introduced to a slice of the good life, Argentinian style. Lunches among the vines, stunning scenery and friendships forged in hysterically inappropriate childish giggling; Mendoza you won us, and we truly do need to apologise.
9 – Estancias, Salta and San Javier, Argentina:
For a country that can drive you absolutely mental at times, Argentina really does come through with the goods as well. Sayta ranch and La Constancia were two grand haciendas that introduced us to a slice of latin life we’ll never forget. Sayta’s beating heart of gaucho lifestyle contrasted with La Constancia’s yesteryear opulence and grace, shared with our mates Laf and Barnaby, were not only a travel must but probably the defining element that elevates Argentinian culture for us, two big houses to hang a national identity on and oh it fits so well.
8 – Angkor, Cambodia:
No introduction necessary, the great city of Angkor reaches far more than just the famed Angkor Wat. Once the greatest city in the world we were not only dragged back into another time but elevated to the peak of that time. The lasting seed of Angkor, more than any other ancient relic, is our awareness of where our worlds real power was. History as we westerners know it has a distinctly European tint but among the stones of great Angkor that history so swiftly had amore global rewrite.
7 – Africa Safari, Botswana:
Us both in a car for three weeks touring wild Africa. Comical, disastrous and relationship testing are terms that come to mind; unforgettable is another. From the hospitality of Heidi and Herman, team Botswana, to the stories of two childhoods that were told a world apart, the road trip in our poor bakke, Simba, gees we thrashed that car, was equally an introspective journey as it was a worldly one for us. Elephants, hyenas and hippos invaded our camps, while Nxai pans saw three cheetah only overshadowed by the best tantrum in history on the road trip that felt like us against the world. And we totally won.
6 – Havana, Cuba:
What to say about Havana, what words to put to a place that exists outside the bounds of comparison with any other city. There’s not much to say really, Havana screams near the top of this years experiences on it’s individuality, not it’s greatness alone. Waffly social ideals and pinko left wing hippie truisms are cafe conversations no more. To quote Anthony Kiedis “If you have to ask, you’ll never know”. In truth Havana can only be described to someone who has been to Havana; but for how long will this remain the case, did we catch the final glimmers of a gem lost to the world forever?
5 – Catedral Reserve, Argentina:
A slight confession, we like the outdoors, we like mountains and we like experiencing the wild world. We’ve already rated the Patagonian Andes in this list and such is the immensity of Catedral reserve that it simply needs not only another entry but one of it’s own. Three days of walking for these outdoor junkies took us into mountains, glorious lakes, great sights and staying in some of the most idyllic locations on earth. What makes it special though is the sense of escape into the mountains; we didn’t so much just kiss the wild, we gave it a good long snog and it was all we’d hoped.
4 – San Pedro De Atacama, Chile:
If Catedral reserve was the long pash with the wilderness, San Pedro De Atacama is finding out that the wilderness has a really kinky side; and we liked it. Weird and unbelievable earthly phenomenons are daily playthings for the Atacama desert and at the hub of it all is the little town of San Pedro. We’ll probably never go to anywhere quite as disorienting and diverse in terms of what our planet is capable of, so for taking already admiring views of our planet and making them so much more, San Pedro De Atacama is not only a place we’ll likely never see a comparison to, it’s a place that showed us we were comparing the wrong things all this time.
3 – Cenote Diving, Tulum, Mexico:
In a similar vein to San Pedro, scuba diving in cenotes also expanded what we thought was possible in our world. Beneath the rocky terrain of the Yucatan peninsular there lies a subterranean water world the stuff of science fiction and Peter Pan like childhood wonder. Plonking through the crust of this earth you fly in water so clear our vision never got lost in blue, we could fly through clouds and touch the sky below without hallucinogenic cactus root. The memories we will carry forever are placed in perspective only by the bare scratch we made on the network of amazement that lies there; the world is a wonderful place above, on top and down below as well.
2 – The Gibbon Experience, Laos:
How do you top the mind bending trips we’ve already put on this list? It’s not easy to split the difference but flying through the forest and living over 40m up in the treetops is a good start. Like the mind expansion of San Pedro, the special secret of Havana, the unbelievability of cenotes and with a dash of the wild just like Catedral reserve, The Gibbon Experience has it all. What is has that the others don’t however is great food, zipped to our door on cables high in the trees. It’s the little things that make the big things that bit bigger.
1 – Rob and Greg, Vietnam:
Possibly a contentious one this one, an experience or a collection of experiences, and no we didn’t go to a swingers party. In truth the road trip through Vietnam was over about five weeks but it’s not the sum of the parts that makes it the single greatest, coolest, most memorable thing we did this year, it’s how the road trip elevated all these parts. Many times we screamed or howled into our masks for the sheer uncontainable awesomeness of the ride. We had feisty affairs with our two bikes, Rob and Greg, we got off the track and those bikes carried us closer to true cultural experiences than ever before. For simply having it all and making us feel more alive, more like kids again than ever before the two temperamental moles, Rob and Greg, are our number one; and two. Boys we really hope you found good homes, we miss you.