My Top Travel Experiences of 2014

As the year comes to an end, it’s traditional to review the year, and share the best moments. I’ve often been accused of being premature (don’t ask), so it’s possibly appropriate that I jump the gun, and recall a few memories which made 2014 an especially good year. This may be a risky strategy, the year still has some legs in it, and a trip to Iceland next week certainly has some potential to add several memorable travel experiences.

Travel Experiences: A setting sun on a fly fisherman in Smithers, British Columbia, Canada on Mallory on Travel adventure, adventure travel, photography Iain Mallory-175 fly_fisherman

As the sun sets on 2014

This year overflowed with special moments; as the world of new media opens up more opportunities almost daily, the chances are, there will be more adventures in store in the future. Travel adventures aside, recently being awarded the Oman Air Travel Blogger of the Year, and chosen as a Canadian Photography Ambassador were two unexpected, but extremely welcome surprises.

Shameless self promotion aside, choosing the highlights from a year filled with exceptional travel experiences, was a challenge, but here are my personal favourites:

Coast to Coast in Canada

Spending six weeks travelling from Halifax, Nova Scotia to Vancouver, British Columbia, experiencing the best of Canada by rail, and car is impossible dismiss in any list of highlights. Witnessing the beauty, and diversity of the provinces through the window of a Via Rail carriage was an unforgettable experience.

Travel experiences; Bridge at Bow Lake in the Canadian Rockies, Alberta in Canada on Mallory on Travel adventure, adventure travel, photography Iain Mallory-339 bow_lake

Bow Lake, Canadian Rockies

Driving through the Rockies, probably my favourite mountain range, meeting fascinating people, passionate about their culture, the environment, and their way of life left an indelible mark on me. First Nation communities proudly retaining their heritage, and culture through dance, and Pow-Wows, while educating visitors through interpretive centres, and museums was especially inspiring.

Travel experiences: A cargo train seen travelling across Canada from Nova Scotia to British Columbia with Via Rail on Mallory on Travel adventure, adventure travel, photography Iain Mallory-53 canadian_rail

On tracks in Canada

Travel experiences; Black bear and cubs in the New Brunswick province of Canada on Mallory on Travel adventure, adventure travel, photography Iain Mallory-300-52 black_bears

Black bear family

The iconic Canadian wildlife seemed a little camera-shy during my journey. However, getting up close and personal with black bears in New Brunswick, and an acrobatic flying display by raptors near Prince Rupert were hardly mere compensations.

Visiting a Township near Cape Town

Just visiting Cape Town, one city that seems to hold a special place in most travellers heart, was a highlight in itself. It’s one of the world’s most loved cities, squeezed between the ocean, and the dominating escarpment of Table Mountain, there is plenty to keep any visitor entertained for several weeks.

Travel experiences; The township of Masiphumelele near Cape Town, South Africa on Mallory on Travel adventure, adventure travel, photography Iain Mallory-300-25 masiphumelele_township

Masiphumelele; the “Spirit to Succeed”

In, and around the city there are so many attractions; from browsing the shops, or enjoying a craft beer at the Waterfront, to the colony of unbelievably cute penguins at Simon’s Town, and the feeling of being at the World’s End in nearby Cape Point National Park.

Joggers in the shadow of Table Mountain in Cape Town, South Africa on Mallory on Travel adventure, adventure travel, photography Iain Mallory-300-4 table_mountain

Jogging under an icon

African penguin at Simon's Town near Cape Town, South Africa on Mallory on Travel adventure, adventure travel, photography Iain Mallory-300-37 african_penguin

Taking a bow

Visiting the township of Masiphumelele, was both poignant, and inspiring. Conditions in the shanty town ranged from habitable to atrocious, people living in corrugated tin shacks, with raw sewage running down the streets where schoolchildren played had me initially reeling in stunned sympathy. However, having my guide explain some enterprising initiatives, and speaking to several locals left me with a more lasting impression; inspired by their constant optimism, and spirit. I left uplifted, and certain that the residents would eventually succeed in building a better place for themselves.

Travelling to Remote St Helena

Another of the easier choices to make, travelling five days by ship to reach one of the most remote islands on earth is certainly a highlight. In the capital, Jamestown friendly “Saints”, offer genuine smiles, and greetings, adding to the undeniable charm of this South Atlantic island.

Travel experiences; The mountains and coastline of St Helena, one of the world's most remote islands in the South Atlantic on Mallory on Travel adventure, adventure travel, photography Iain Mallory-300-24 st_helena

Remote, and beautiful

There is plenty more to explore than Longwood House, the exile of Napoleon, and his now empty tomb. The island has many tracks to discover, with spectacular scenery, hilltop fortifications, and natural swimming pools such as Lot’s Wife Ponds, which are well worth the trek. Home to Jonathan, the oldest known living land animal, and ornithological superstars, such as pretty fairy terns, and the endemic wirebird.

Sunrise on the South Atlantic island of St Helena on Mallory on Travel adventure, adventure travel, photography Iain Mallory-309 atlantic_sunrise

Sunrise over Turk’s Cap

Fairy terns near Lot's Wife Ponds on St Helena in the South Atlantic on Mallory on Travel adventure, adventure travel, photography

Aptly named fairy terns nesting

I also managed to achieve a lifetime ambition, swimming with a whale shark, another reason St Helena couldn’t be omitted. It is also set to become a hotspot for the largest fish in the world, as shoals of more than thirty sharks are becoming common place early each year.

Invited to the Queensland Room #753 Project

Visiting Queensland, Australia including the Whitsundays, Eungella, Townsville, and Surfer’s Paradise gave me plenty of memorable moments, but actually being selected for this great travel initiative was an undoubted highlight.

Travel experiences; A green turtle on the Great Barrier Reef off Lady Elliot Island in Queensland, Australia on Mallory on Travel adventure, adventure travel, photography Iain Mallory-300-35 green_turtle

Swimming with turtles

Considering some of the other 21 illustrious names selected, including Dave, and Deb of the PlanetD, Nellie Huang of Wildjunket, and Sherry Ott of Ottsworld, being invited was an honour.

Iain Mallory selfie in Serpentine Gorge on the Larapinta Trail, the Northern Territory, Australia on Mallory on Travel adventure, adventure travel, photography

The uncovered selfie

Surfer's Paradise looking over towards Broadbeach in Queensland, Australia on Mallory on Travel adventure, adventure travel, photography Iain Mallory-300-27 surfers_queensland

Sunset over Surfer’s Paradise

I attended the inaugural aboriginal open day on Palm Island, and saw a platypus for the first time, swam with turtles on the Great Barrier Reef, and experienced a moving Anzac Day service at dawn. However, it was the little individual touches from Peppers, Broadbeach, which made the project a little special. They had managed to find the only selfie I’d ever taken, and hung it on the wall, and watching a favourite film “Gladiator” on my own private cinema, made this a very personal experience.

David Attenborough moments in Costa Rica

Costa Rica is my most recent travel experience, and had me creeping ever closer to South America, so far a no go territory in my travel career. It’s a beautiful country, with lush cloudforests, and deserted, white sand beaches, with a fascinating, and friendly culture, there’s plenty to appeal to all kinds of traveller.

Travel experiences; Howler Monkeys in the canopy of the Monteverde cloudforest Costa Rica on Mallory on Travel adventure, adventure travel, photography Iain_Mallory_9201 howler_monkeys

So incredibly close

Standing high in the canopy of the cloudforest on a hanging bridge within touching distance of a troop of howler monkeys, happily going unperturbed about their business left me almost speechless (I said almost). They sat calmly for several minutes, allowing the group to excitedly snap pictures, even appearing to pose for our benefit, it seemed impossible that anything would top it anytime soon.

Several days later however, on a pitch black night, I was sat on a beach, under a star filled sky in the Tortuguera National Park. Along with several other excited visitors, transfixed by a green turtle emerging from the crashing surf to lay her precious egg cargo. Witnessing the supreme effort, and delicate care of the turtle in completing this super important task is something everybody needs to see for themselves. It was a magical moment, and one I never wanted to end.

A developing storm in the cloudforest of Monteverde in Costa Rica on Mallory on Travel adventure, adventure travel, photography Iain_Mallory_9040 monteverde_cloudforest

A developing storm at sunset

A storm in the cloudforest of Monteverde, Costa Rica on Mallory on Travel adventure, adventure travel, photography Iain_Mallory_9090 lightning_strike

Hoping lightning strikes twice for Costa Rica

Sharing these special travel experiences is not merely to show how lucky I have been this past year. It’s hoped they may provide some inspiration for those still unsure where to visit next year.

Hang on though, don’t rush out to make a booking just yet, Iceland is still to come, there may still be room for a revision.

What were your travel highlights of 2014? Please share them in the comments.


Comments 12

    1. Post

      Lol just goes to show I’m already living in the future haha though thinking outside the box, they should also be top travel experiences, inspiration for 2015 😉

  1. Frank

    Gorgeous pics. But I’m confused by your title “Top travels experiences of 2015”. On the 2nd line you mention 2105 being an especially good year. So maybe you are jumping the gun with your post? 🙂 Are you referring to 2014?

    1. Post

      Thanks, glad you like the pics, as for the spurious date issue, apologies, was already thinking ahead. Guess that’s what happens when you post late at night, and tired 😉 Actually later on even put 2105, so was really jumping the gun, at least I know you were awake when reading this.

  2. Wandering Justin

    My best travel experience of 2014 … definitely going to Curitiba, Brazil for some World Cup matches. Curitiba surprised me … especially the craft beer. I had fun picking up a few Portuguese phrases, too!

  3. Jackie De Burca

    There’s an amazing spectrum of experiences in your travels so far in 2014 (even though you also time travelled :)) as has been pointed out. You certainly have plenty of inspiration here for readers. Your piece on the shanty town reminds me of being in Dakar, Senegal many years ago. I was staying with some British diplomat friends. We went to ex-pat parties in beautiful villas, but not far from them were the same kind of shanty towns that you talk about. How poignant…and I have to say that this part of travelling, when we see such severe inequality is tough.

    Stunning photos by the way, including the selfie 🙂 – I would love to go to Costa Rica!

  4. Youseef

    Lol! just advanced!
    life is very beautiful and most enjoyable with tour in nice places in the world, i think Canada is one of best Country for tour in the world, morocco also a nice country for desert travel, camel tour and others nice plac

  5. Lance

    Great list! We finally made it to South Africa after you suggestions last year (thank you!). Couldn’t agree more about Cape Town and the Cape Point – it was gorgeous!

  6. Miguel Angel

    Hello, nice tips, greetings you have a beautiful blog. I´m from Cancun Mexico and if you are traveling to this beautiful country, here is one tip, visit Cancun and do the whale shark tour, the season starts every May to September, we receive hundreds of whale sharks every year. one in a life time adventure!

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