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    18 Bucket-List Travel Experiences That Are Pricey But Amazing

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    1. Watching the northern lights from a glass igloo

    a glass igloo in the snow surrounded by trees and magical lights
    Patrick Piel / Getty Images

    The northern lights is obviously an amazing phenomenon high up on many peoples' bucket lists. But why spend a night outside in the freezing cold when you could watch the stunning natural light show from inside? The Kakslauttanen Arctic Resort in Finnish Lapland has rows of glass igloos so you can snuggle up and see the aurora borealis from the comfort of your bed.

    2. Sleeping in an ice cave

    interior of a hotel room made entirely of ice with snow on the ground
    Patrick Piel / Getty Images

    The Icehotel in Sweden is rebuilt every winter from snow and ice, and it's a pretty surreal place to stay. Everything, including the beds and chairs, is made from ice — though you'll be kept warm as you sleep with a thermal sleeping bag and reindeer-hide throws. Each room is unique, designed by a different ice artist and decorated with a special theme. There's also an ice bar and restaurant, as well as an ice chapel that's popular for weddings.

    3. Watching the great wildebeest migration from a hot air balloon

    A hot air balloon hovering above a giant grassy plain covered in hundreds of animals
    Asodaphotography / Getty Images

    Every year, millions of zebras, antelope, and wildebeest make a long migratory journey across Tanzania and Kenya, facing predators like crocodiles and lions. It's amazing to see while on safari, but if you really want to appreciate the scale of the migration, you need to see it from the air. A hot air balloon tour hovers over the vast landscape, and can dip lower for a closer look at the animals. Sip on a glass of champagne as the sun comes up and watch it all unfold below you.

    4. Sleeping in an underwater bedroom

    A floating house, showing a woman sitting on the roof, and a man swimming in the water underneath
    Manta Resort / Via themantaresort.com

    There are a handful of very cool underwater hotels around the world, but at the Manta Resort on Pemba Island in Tanzania, you can stay in a room floating just offshore — so it's like your own private island. The top level, above the water, is perfect for sunbathing and stargazing, and at night you can sleep in the submerged glass-walled bedroom and watch schools of fish swim by.

    5. Tracking gorillas in Uganda

    A huge gorilla on a path in the forest, surrounded by trees
    Andreygudkov / Getty Images

    Going on a gorilla trek in Bwindi Forest National Park is a pretty life-changing experience. You travel through the forest, tracking the giant mountain gorillas that live in the area. If you've only ever seen them in zoos, it's amazing to get up close and see them in their natural habitat. The permits to access the park are expensive, though a portion of it goes toward conservation for the local animal population. Opt for one of the tour operators that are focused on sustainability and ethical animal practices.

    6. Staying in an environmentally-friendly luxe hotel

    Looking out the window of a hotel room at the desert, the walls and furniture all blend in with the landscape
    Adrere Amellal / Nabil Tarazi / Via adrereamellal.com

    A lot of the time, luxury travel experiences aren't great for the planet. But this hotel in the Egyptian desert manages to be extremely eco-friendly while also being luxe as hell. There's no electricity — just candles, hurricane lamps, and stars — and the food is all locally sourced. The whole thing is built out of local materials like palms, clay, dried salt, and straw, and blends seamlessly into the rocky landscape.

    7. Drinking tequila in Tequila

    A luxury "jose cuervo" train on a track lined with spiky agave plants
    Jose Cuervo Express

    Tequila shots are always a good idea, but they're even better on a dedicated tequila train. The Jose Cuervo train takes you from their distillery in Guadalajara, Mexico, and travels through fields of agave to the town of Tequila. The main drawcard is the all-you-can-drink tequila while you're on board — but it's more of a "fancy tasting" vibe rather than a "10 shots and dance on the table" vibe.

    8. Camping under a solar eclipse

    A row of geometric tents in a field at night
    Blink / Via blacktomato.com

    Seeing a solar eclipse with your own two eyes — safely protected, of course — is pretty damn special. But it's always better to do it out in the wild, where your view isn't hampered by air or light pollution. There's usually an eclipse every year, but you need to be in the right place to get the maximum impact — NASA's website has the info you need to get organized. This year's solar eclipse will be strongest in Argentina and Chile, and the most glamorous way to watch it is from a see-through dome tent in the wilds of Patagonia.

    9. Swimming with humpbacks

    A person in the water with a snorkel about 6 feet from a whale
    Black Tomato / Via blacktomato.com

    Because Iceland is so far north, during summer the sun barely even sets. For a few hours there's a surreal-looking semi-dusk period called the Midnight Sun, where the sun hangs low and bright orange in the sky. It's amazing to see for yourself, but you can make it even more special by combining it with another iconic Icelandic tourism activity — swimming with humpback whales. In the remote far north waters, you can swim alongside humpback whales as they migrate up from the Caribbean, under the magical Midnight Sun. Before you go, be sure to look for and book ethical tours.

    10. Spending a night in the desert

    A purple and orange sunset over the desert where permanent tents are set up among sand dunes
    Wadi Rum Bedouin Camp / Via wadirumbedouincamp.com

    Jordan's Wadi Rum desert is amazing; photos just can't do it justice. Get the full experience by riding a camel out to a Bedouin Camp, where you can spend the night by the fire eating traditional food and sleeping in tents under a sky full of stars. Tours are operated by local Bedouin families who'll share their knowledge of the land, cooking, animal tracking, and local medicine with you. The next day you can enjoy freshly brewed Arabian coffee and take a 4x4 tour over sand dunes — a perfect getaway.

    11. Sailing through some of the most diverse islands on Earth

    A couple sitting on a white sand beach next to wild sea lions
    Bkamprath / Getty Images

    The Galápagos Islands are like nowhere else on Earth. This remote archipelago is home to a number of amazing plant and animal species that are unique to the area. In fact, it was a trip here that inspired Charles Darwin's Theory of Evolution. Tourism to the area is limited and expensive in order to protect the wildlife, but it offers the chance to get up close to sea lions, giant lizards, turtles, and birds that aren't too scared of humans. Take a multi-day luxury yacht tour around the islands to really enjoy the experience — and be sure to choose a tour run by local operators, as they're usually more focused on ethical and sustainable tourism.

    12. Visiting a polar bear island

    A mother and two young polar bear cubs on the snow
    Gerald Corsi / Getty Images

    Did you know one of the best places in the world to see polar bears is in Russia? Wrangel Island is not easy to visit: you need several permits, and it can only be reached by helicopter. But once you're there, it's breathtaking. Its harsh polar climate doesn't stop the island from having an amazingly diverse eco-system. It has the densest population of polar bear dens in the world, and is also home to walruses, snow geese, muskoxen, arctic foxes, and reindeer.

    13. Spending the night alone in the middle of the ocean

    A couple sitting on a deserted beach next to a luxury tent surrounded by lanterns
    Soneva Fushi / Via proposals.soneva.com

    With white-sand beaches, overwater bungalows, and a slew of celebrity holidaymakers, the Maldives has turned into quite a luxury destination. Here, you can experience something pretty special — spending the night on your own private remote sandbank, accessible only by boat. You'll have a candlelit dinner right by the water, and sleep in a luxury tent before being woken by a stunning sunrise.

    14. Cruising to European capitals

    A long boat travelling down the river, on the banks is a small European town
    U River Cruises / Via Facebook: Urivercruises

    Forget cheap buses and sweltering trains, the best way to complete a Eurotrip is by doing it on the water. A river cruise doesn't just have to be slow-paced and quiet, though! You can find companies that do river tours designed for travelers who are keen to be active and explore every new destination. Trips include things like yoga, silent discos, kayaking, mixology classes, and food tours.

    15. Snow leopard spotting in the Himalayas

    A glowing tent set up under a starry sky, surrounded by snowy mountains
    Gagarych / Getty Images

    If you want to get in touch with nature without getting too in touch, why not go glamping in the Himalayas? Forget group trips and set itineraries — you can design a completely bespoke trip based on what you want to see and do. Take a private jet up to a remote alpine town, then make your way to your luxury tent overlooking the famous mountain range. Of course, you'll have your own private chef and astrologer to help you with stargazing, as well as a guide to take you on a trek to spot snow leopards.

    16. Exploring the icy waters of Antarctica

    Paul Souders / Getty Images

    You can't just take a jaunt to Antarctica for the weekend — it's a trip that takes planning and money. The ultimate way to do it is on a luxury cruise down to the icy continent to experience its wonder and beauty, without compromising on comfort. Once you get there, it's not just vast shelves of ice floating around. You'll see geothermal beaches, giant ice mountains, unique marine and bird life, and amazing astral phenomena like the southern lights and — in summer — the midnight sun.

    17. Traveling on a train fit for royals

    A luxurious train carriage with an ornate ceiling, plush red and gold couches, tables with flowers, glowing lamps, and a patterned carpet
    Palace on Wheels

    Train travel can sometimes be kinda scummy, but India's Palace on Wheels train is quite literally the opposite. Travel from New Delhi across the region of Rajasthan for eight days, in carriages once used by royalty, taking in the amazing scenery as it rolls past your window. The journey includes day trips to places like the Taj Mahal, as well as a personal butler on board. In addition to a restaurant and bar, there's even a spa on board. True luxury.

    18. Staying in a Tuscan villa

    An outdoor patio of a stone and timber house surrounded by green trees
    Villa Pippistrelli / Via villapipistrelli.com

    Live out your Under The Tuscan Sun dream, but do it in an already-restored luxury Tuscan farmhouse without doing any of the work. There are plenty of stunning estates and resorts in the rolling Tuscan countryside that you can pick from. Just make sure you're close to a good winery and a good restaurant, then you'll be all set! Villa Pippistrelli, just south of Siena, is a good place to start planning.

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