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Once in a Lifetime Trips - The world's 50 most extraordinary and memorable travel experiences
(Clarkson Potter) ISBN 978-0307406927 030740692-X

Do you need help to plan dream vacations for your bucket list of must-see, must-do travel experiences? Chris Santella interviewed 50 travel experts who describe their adventures, cultural encounters and ecotourism activities in unique places around the world.

Inspirational and informative, Once in a Lifetime Trips is divided by location (ocean, island, jungle, mountain, desert, country, city and sky). In the introduction to each chapter, the author explains the appeal of the category. For example, he notes that certain places in the world, like Antarctica and Melanesia, can only be reached by ship.

Adventure trips

The answer to the question of 'Why go?' begins each two- and three-page vacation package, adventure trip and expedition cruise story.

Full and two-page photos depict adventures such as hiking the Wadi al-Qashah in Oman and travel experiences such as climbing Grand Teton in Wyoming.

Vacation packages

The travel information, advice and impressions of the travelers, interviewed by Chris Santella, make you want to pack your bags, book your flights and go on one of these vacation packages. Experiences in Once in a Lifetime Trips cover all interests, from adventure travel (e.g., swimming with great white sharks) and culinary vacations (e.g., walking and eating in Vietnam) to eco-tourism (e.g., birding in Papua New Guinea) and cultural trips (e.g., the painted monasteries of Romania).

The back of the 224-page book provides contact information and websites for tour operators, who offer the vacations and holidays in the guidebook.

Trips to the Middle East

Mysteries of Egypt trip includes rare access the tomb of Queen Nefertari, wife of Ramses II, in the Valley of the Queens. On a three-day cruise up the Nile to Aswan, passengers visit Edfu at the Temple of Horus and Kom Ombo (a temple to Horus and Sobek, the crocodile god). A private jet brings the group to Abu Simbel to tour the rock-cut temples of Ramses II. In Cairo, Zahi Hawass leads a private tour of the Egyptian Museum. The Egypt tour ends with camel rides to a tent in the desert, near the illuminated pyramids, for a gourmet dinner with wine and music.

In the Trekking Oman trip, village guides lead visitors along mountain paths, used by shepherds, hunters and animals, through dramatic scenery in the al-Hajar Mountains. The hiking trip begins in the modern capital city of Oman, Muscat. On the Wadi al-Qashah trek, hikers see wild Jesus donkeys (with white crosses on their black backs) and enjoy cardamom flavored coffee and fresh dates with Omani families. Nizwa craftsmen show them engraved khanjars (short, curved ceremonial daggers).

How to get to the North Pole

To the North Pole, Norway is a High Arctic expedition that begins in Oslo, Norway, and continues to Longyearbyen on Spitsbergen. The most northern point in Europe, Spitsbergen is 600 miles south of the North Pole.

Travelers reach the North Pole in five days, by charter jet to Barneo (a Russian base camp on the ice), then a Russian Mi-8 helicopter to within 10 km. of the North Pole. Participants cross-country ski to the North Pole, located by GPS at 90 degrees north latitude. After an overnight in sleeping bags and tents, they return to Barneo.

The Wild Borneo tour explores the Kinabatangan Wildlife Sanctuary, which shelters the highest concentration of orangutans in Malaysia. Travelers stay in the Borneo Rainforest Lodge, built on stilts above the jungle floor in the Danum Valley. Participants scuba or snorkel on marine reefs from the Borneo Divers Mabul Resort and Sipadan Island.

Once in a Lifetime Trips


On the Ocean
  • In Harriman's wake: circumnavigating Alaska
  • Ultimate Antarctica
  • Extreme fly-fishing in the Chilean fjords
  • Exploring the Galapagos
  • The Spice Islands by phinisi
  • Melanesia: swimming with mantas, dancing with fire
  • Mexico: swimming with great white sharks
  • Diving to the Titanic off Newfoundland
On an Island
  • Among the moai on Easter Island
  • Paddling Polynesia
  • Surf's up at Sumba-Nihiwatu, Indonesia
  • Island-hopping in the Seychelles
In the Jungle
  • Elephant safari in Botswana
  • Rafting the Mosquito Coast, Honduras
  • Wild Borneo
  • Into the heart of Myanmar
  • On the trail of the tiger in Nepal
  • Birding in Papua New Guinea
  • Roughing it on the Amazon in Peru
  • The great ape safari in Rwanda and Tanzania
In the Mountains and the Desert
  • Hiking the Canadian Rockies
  • A Buddhist pilgrimage to Bhutan
  • The mysteries of Egypt
  • In search of eagles and dragons in Mongolia
  • Heli-skiing in New Zealand's Southern Alps
  • Trekking Oman
  • Trekking the Inca Trail like a king
  • Coasting on the King's Trail of Sweden
  • Scaling Grand Teton, Wyoming
In the Country
  • Of islands and outback
  • Playing the courses of the British Open
  • Provence by bike
  • Savoring Siena by steed
  • Exploring Iceland, the Land of Fire and Ice
  • Floating the soul of Ireland
  • Polar bear safari in Manitoba
  • To the North Pole, Norway
  • Pickin' at Ohio's Fur Peace Ranch
  • The painted monasteries of Romania
  • Sipping in South Africa
  • The fairy chimneys of Cappadocia
In the City
  • Tea, tango and Malbec from Buenos Aires to Mendoza
  • Istanbul by Orient-Express
  • The world's greatest opera houses by private jet
  • Intro to India: Rajasthan
  • Magic-carpet ride in Iran
  • A night at the Burj Al Arab in Dubai
  • Walking and eating in Vietnam
In the Sky
  • Visiting the International Space Station
  • Top Gun Cape Town
If you go


Chris Santella is the author of the Fifty Places to... Before You Die series.

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