Can you think of a past experience where you felt so happy and grateful to be where you were that time stood still and all your worries melted away? I’m talking about an experience you dreamed about for years and couldn’t believe it was actually happening or that was beyond your wildest dreams. A life-changing experience you’ll remember for the rest of your life.
When I think about this question, I get a flood of images showcasing experiences I’ve had around around the globe – funnily enough all involving water. Images of elephants, oceans, boats, adventure and rivers all seem to appear followed by feelings of joy, fulfillment and gratitude.
Growing up in Australia by surfing beaches, I always felt connected to the water and the lifestyle that comes with hot weather and beaches. For many people water has a calming effect and is often associated with remote and vast landscapes – think about being out in sea only surrounded by the ocean or riding down a river surround only by trees and nature.
As previously mentioned being out in nature brings about feelings of connectedness, relaxation, clarity, feeling present and discovering new things. So it’s no wonder most of my life-changing travel experiences were both outdoors and involved water.
Here is a photo journal of 9 joyful water travel moments and experiences I will remember for the rest of my life:
1. Sailing down the Nile River on a Felucca – Luxor, Egypt
I gracefully floated down the Nile river on a hot day just before sunset, passing ancient temples, valleys and tombs. I listened to the gentle lapping of the water and echoes of arabic prayers broadcasting out of nearby mosques.
#nileriver #luxor #felucca #egypttravel
2. Hiking through a canyon carved out of a lake – Wadi Mujib, Jordan
I walked for a couple of hours with my guide to reach a waterfall at the end of a deserted, water-filled canyon. With the water sometimes up to my waist, I climbed and swam up and over mini-waterfalls and slid down slippery slide rocks.
#WadiMujib #canyonhike #waterhike #hikingjordan
3. Bathing an elephant during bath time – Chitwan National Park, Nepal
I sat nervously on the elephant’s back to clean it during its bath time, then as directed I stood up as the elephant shook and I fell into the water. To get back up I climbed on to the elephant’s trunk and while holding its ears, the elephant raised its trunk with a roar to place me on top of his head. A truly unique experience.
#ChitwanNationalPark #elephantbath #nepal
4. Paddling down the Ganges River during sunset – Varanasi, India
On a hot sticky evening in Varanasi I gently floated down mother Ganga in a wooden row boat. I sat mesmerized by the colors and sounds of locals bathing in the holy water as sanskrit chants blasted out all around them.
5. Floating in the dead sea and having a mud bath – Dead Sea, Jordan & Israel
I watched in amazement as the dense, oily, and salty dead sea water forcefully pushed my body up to surface, as I took care to avoid water splashing into my eye. After sourcing natural mud, I applied it to my body and face and washed it off to find my skin feeling soft, smooth and clean.
#deadsea #mudbath #jordan #Israel
6. White water rafting in the Himalayas – Ladakh, India
I rolled down the Zanskar river in a rubber raft nervously awaiting the rush of excitement from the next rapid. I felt truly mesmerized by the beauty of the surrounding barren mountains illuminated in purple and green tones.
7. Stand-up paddle boarding in the Italian Riviera – Cinque Terre, Italy
On a hot Autumn day, I explored Monterosso beach in the Italian Riviera on a stand-up paddle board. The water was warm, calm, and quiet as I observed nearby boats, a few swimmers, other people on rented paddle boards and small purple jellyfish scattered throughout the water.
#cinqueterre #SUPing #SUPItaly
8. Riding an elephant through jungles and rivers – Chiang Mai, Thailand
I sat on top of a elephant as it trampled through the luscious green jungle paths and confidently waded through a river, while locals on bamboo rafts passed us by. I gained a higher perspective of my surrounding environment from being up so high, while also feeling safe and secure on the elephants back.
9. Swimming under an island to discover a hidden beach – Marieta Islands, Mexico
After jumping off my tour boat to swim 5 minutes through freezing water inside a dark cave under an island, I finally reached a small hidden beach. After exploring the caves and enjoying the unique location, I swam for 10 minutes back to the tour boat, yelling excitedly as I saw 2 whales breaching nearby.
#marietaislands #sayulitasailing #nayarit