Best Experiences

Best Experiences

This page lists just a few of our great experiences so far. Having been on the road for over ten months in sixteen countries, it’s been so hard to narrow this down.

We hope it acts as an encouragement. Where will you go on your Middle Aged Gap Year?

On Mount Etna, Sicily

img_7374We drove up to as high as cars can go, then took a cable car and hiked for an hour around a crater.

Volcanic fumes were everywhere and the underfoot rock was hot. We refused the 4 x 4 back, choosing to run down the snow covered mountain, which was great fun.

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Climbing up to Torres del Paine, Southern Chile

img_0903This was a tiring eight hour hike, but well worth the effort. We reached the top of the trail in glorious weather, and spent an hour there admiring the unique scenery and smiling and laughing with the other climbers who had made it.

All taking lots of selfies and photos. Sheer joy!

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Watching the sunset on the Beagle Channel


Getting to Ushuaia was an early goal of the gap year. And the boat trip along the Beagle Channel, to land on a windswept island, was the best experience there. We felt like FitzRoy and Darwin, discovering a wild, dramatic landscape.

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Cycling in the Atacama Desert, Northern Chile

IMG_3513An extended stay in San Pedro de Atacama was a total delight. We so loved San Pedro; full of eager young travellers, hippies and happy Chileans.

But perhaps our best memory was a day’s bike ride down a gorge as narrow as the one in Petra. And we had it all to ourselves.

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Staying on an Estancia in Paraguay

img_9397Paraguay really is a strange little country. You have to experience it to believe it. It’s like the place that the rest of the world passed by. A dreamland where nothing is quite as it seems and everyone seems to be a caricature from an old book.

Our Estancia was like this too. We never met the owners, just paid the maid and enjoyed riding horses into an endless savanna where the horizon was infinite and the humidity and temperature stopped all sensible thought.

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Seeing the Iguacu Falls from the Brazilian side

dscf1399This wonderful experience of water, noise and exhilaration is a must for any trip to South America. And you need to allow a full day for your visit, and be ready to get very wet.

After seeing Iguacu, there’s really no point viewing any other waterfall, anywhere else in the world.

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Spending four days in the Amazon Basin in Ecuador

IMG_4569By overnight bus, taxi, and two hour boat ride, we reached our lodge deep in the jungle.

For the next four days, we undertook day and night time treks to see the most wonderful insects, animals and plants, and also swam, at sunset, in the Floating Lagoon, which was a sublime experience.

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Jumping the waves on our perfect beach in Costa Rica

IMG_4823Uvita Beach is a beach second to none. Miles of unspoilt sand, water as warm as a bath and a backdrop of untouched Costa Rican jungle.

Add to this the perfect waves for being kids again.

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Visiting Graceland in Memphis

IMG_5607Even a die-hard fan like Hilary learnt lots of new stuff about Elvis at his Graceland home.

We spent a day wallowing in his music, films, cars, planes, horses, and all his memorabilia.

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Experiencing a winter wonderland in Alberta

IMG_3161During one of Canada’s worst winters for decades, Lake Louise was a feast of thick snow and ice, the like of which we hadn’t seen before. So much silence and unspoilt beauty that superlatives are wasted.

Looking at the huge views, there was no evidence that man had ever been on this planet.

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Wowed by Chihuly glass in Seattle

IMG_3836Travelling like this is introducing us to so many new things. We had never heard of Chihuly before, we had never seen his work. Now, for us, glass art will never be the same again. These were immense creative designs, so beautiful to admire.

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The perfect view in Yosemite National Park, California

IMG_6575Truth be told, we were disappointed with the crowds at Yosemite. Because the higher ground was still snowbound, only the Valley was open, and so all the tourists were concentrated in one small area. We did our best to get away from the herds, with a full day trek up the John Muir Path. Afterwards, it was all made worthwhile when visiting the Tunnel View.

This was the perfect place to pose for a picture with Hilary’s sister Stephanie who had joined us for this leg of the gap year.

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Camping in Joshua Tree National Park, California

IMG_5109We camped extensively, throughout western America, with our three nights in Joshua Tree the beautiful highlight.

It was living with the sun, in tune with the isolated, incredible desert scenery. The outside world didn’t exist.

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In Australia’s Red Centre

OurIMG_6121 campervan life gave us nights under the stars, freedom of the open road and a round trip to Uluru and King’s Canyon.

Totally amazing scenery and some of the most desolate landscapes we have experienced all year.

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At the top of Mount Fuji

WIMG_7793e were genuinely chuffed to see the sunrise from the summit of Mount Fuji.

And the experience of walking with so many excited and passionate Japanese will stay in our memory.

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Up the world’s second highest building

IMG_8643We spent a couple of hours looking down at the city of 24m people from the Shanghai Tower.

An incredible introduction to the scale of change and growth in modern China.

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At the races in Hong Kong

AIMG_9592nyone for racing? We loved the fun atmosphere under the floodlights, with the skyscrapers all around.

The glossy horses and jockeys in satin silks flashed by in such an unlikely setting. An English scene with an Oriental twist.

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Please note, we’ll be adding new experiences as we go on, and no doubt remembering some that should already be on the list. By the end of the gap year, our aim is to show our top 20 experiences.