They are the places bucket lists are made of: Machu Picchu, the Great Barrier Reef, Petra, the Pyramid Fields, to name a few. But where to begin? The more than 1,000 landmarks that have qualified as UNESCO World Heritage sites for their exceptional cultural significance, natural beauty and dedication to preservation, are as disparate as their impressive locations. To help you narrow the field, we’ve spotlighted a range of places—and unique experiences—that are not to be missed. Indagare can arrange insider access at each of these destinations for once-in-a-lifetime exploration.
Petra and Wadi Rum
Still considered somewhat of a traveler’s secret, Jordan is home to some of the world’s most extraordinary historical and natural sites, including the “Lost City” of Petra (one of the Wonders of the Ancient World) and the mountainous Wadi Rum desert.
Insider Access: In Petra, Indagare can arrange a guided tour to see the towering stone monument at night, when it is lit with hundreds of candles, followed by dinner in Little Petra. The next day, you can venture into the Wadi Rum desert on a Jeep tour or camel ride, guided by a local Bedouin. Take in the surroundings with Champagne and the music of a grand piano, followed by dinner at sunset prepared just for you by private staff. Sleep under the stars in a luxe tented camp for a glamping experience unlike any other.
Related: Exploring Jordan
Botswana practices a low volume, low impact approach to safari tourism. This has resulted in some of the most exclusive luxury camps in Africa, with remoteness and authentic adventure guaranteed.
Insider Access: Mokoro skiff boat excursions in search of big game like hippopotamuses, giraffes and buffalo; a picnic lunch on a river bank frequented by elephants; and the chance to sleep in a luxe mobile tented camp on an uninhabited island in the delta. These Insider Journey activities can also be booked for personal trips.
Great Barrier Reef
It is the largest coral reef on the planet and one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World, but with sections of the Great Barrier Reef in Australia dying rapidly, now is the time to go. Travelers are drawn to its brilliant blue waters, powder-sand beaches and vibrant marine life.
Insider Access: Indagare can arrange a variety of excursions to private diving locations to see unique wildlife. Our trip designers can book a private yacht for your family for a day of diving and snorkeling with an expert guide who knows the best spots to discover the species that you would like to observe—or, take in the beauty of the reef from the air on a guided heli-fishing adventure through rainforest, savannah and the coast.
From the Greeks and Romans to Napoleon and Mark Twain, travelers have come to Egypt to see the temples and monuments built by the pharaohs for thousands of years.
Insider Access: This November, Indagare’s founder and CEO Melissa Biggs Bradley will lead an Insider Journey that includes behind-the-scenes touring of the iconic Pyramid Fields. In addition to lectures by world-famous archaeologist Dr. Zahi Hawass, Indagare members will explore such sites as the Sphinx’s temple, in areas that are normally off-limits. A professional photographer will document this once-in-a-lifetime experience.
Related: Treasures of Egypt
Thingvellir National Park
Straddling the North American and Eurasian tectonic plates, Thingvellir National Park is one of the most intriguing natural sites along the Golden Circle Route in Iceland. In addition to observing the Northern Lights (from November to March, in peak season) and traversing scenic hiking paths, travelers venture here to see the rift valley that was created by the separation of the tectonic plates, which have drifted apart more than 200 feet over the millennia. Nowhere else in the world can the edges of the two plates be seen so clearly as in Thingvellir National Park.
Insider Access: For an off-the-beaten-path adventure, Indagare can arrange guided snorkeling in the rift between the plates. This lava fissure—which has since filled with glacial water that is pure enough to drink—offers visibility down to the volcanic rock floor. The clarity of the water and its beautiful, crystal blue color have made Thingvellir National Park one of the top five dive sites in the world.
Related: Iceland Adventure
Peru’s wild and otherworldly landscapes—once inhabited by the ancient Incans—encompass ethereal cloud forests that hang over plunging gorges and steep cliffs. Atop one of these mountains sits the mysterious Machu Picchu, a 15th-century Incan citadel that is also one of the new Seven Wonders of the World. The site is known for its hiking trails, but they are also highly regulated and can become crowded.
Insider Access: Indagare can arrange an off-the-beaten-path expedition on horseback, which follows the Salkantay trail to the ruins. This expedition includes stays at luxurious eco-lodges along the way and the chance to be blessed in a local shaman ceremony.
Related: Just Back From…Peru
Named the “Pink City” for its brightly colored buildings, Jaipur is the center for crafts and commerce in Rajasthan. To the north lies the hilltop Amber Fort, a red sandstone palace built in the 16th century for the Rajput Maharajas. It is best known for its “palace of mirrors,” marble audience hall and lush courtyards.
Insider Access: Indagare can organize a festive, candlelit private dinner on the front lawn of the fort, accompanied by performances from local desert musicians and traditional dancers.
Related: India Style File