My Big Five

I make the claim so often to people that I don’t have a bucket list.  For me to compile a list of things that I want to see in this world would be silly.  Quite simply, I want to see every single bit of this world, and not leave any place unseen or any adventure behind.  However, the truth is that the term “bucket list” has become altered over the years.  In the truest sense of the term a bucket list is a list of things that you absolutely want to do before you kick the bucket; there is definitely more urgency in putting the term that way isn’t there?  So speaking in terms of “you have 1 month to live, unlimited resources, what are the 5 things you’d want/need to do?”  I would have a list.  This is my big 5.

Extreme Queenstown


Most who know me know that I’m a bit of adrenaline junkie.  I remember seeing a television program on the adventure activities in Queenstown, New Zealand about 5 years and I was hooked.  Since then I can’t stop thinking about jumping out of a plane, racing down a hill on a street luge, or doing some sort of bungee jump in Queenstown.  If I was told that I had to jump on a plane and go to my one last destination today it would be Queenstown, without a doubt.  In fact, I’m getting a little bit excited right now just thinking about it.

Image supplied by Your Golf Travel.

Image supplied by Your Golf Travel.

Golfing the UK

I love golf, and I know many of you think that it is boring or it isn’t even a real sport, but for me it’s a great game.  I have always dreamed of golfing the United Kingdom.  I’d love to golf in Scotland on those lush green courses or along the rough coast of Ireland as waves beat the rocky shores.  I know that you’re probably thinking that UK golf breaks probably aren’t high on most people’s bucket lists but for me, it’s always been something I’ve wanted to do.



Everest Base Camp


I am one of those people who thinks he can do anything he sets is mind to and works for.  I used to think that I could climb Mount Everest, and although there is still a part of me that knows I could do it, I am really just too lazy to go through all that training (great excuse right?).  However, I really would like to see the great mountain, even if I did so from the confines of Everest base camp.  Even growing up near the great Rocky Mountains the sheer power of the truly great mountains of the world still blows me away.

African Safari

I have always been a big fan of watching and photographing wildlife in their natural habitat.  I have travelled to some of the most amazing wildlife destinations in the entire world: the pantanal of Brazil, the Osa Peninsula of Costa Rica and, of course, Antarctica.  However, I have never felt that rush of being just a few feet away from elephants, lions, hippos and all the other great wildlife in Africa.  Watching the great migration would be a thrill of a lifetime, and photographing all the wildlife in motion would be a dream come true.


I know this one probably surprises most people, but Timbuktu has always been high on my list of destinations to visit.  Why you ask?  Because it’s got a great name, I’ll be honest.  The name of this ancient city has always been what has drawn me, and I’d be lying if I said that wasn’t the main reason this is on my list.  How many people can actually say when responding to the question of “where are you?” “Oh, well, I’m in Timbuktu.”  It’s brilliant.  After years of studying the world in University I have learned that Timbuktu is so much more than just a great name, and is actually one of the most important sites on the African continent.  All the more reason to visit.

What’s your big 5?

Author: Brendan van Son

Author: I am a travel writer and photographer from Alberta, Canada. Over my years as a travel photographer, I have visited 6 of the 7 continents and more countries than I have any desire to count. If you want to improve your skills, be sure to check out my travel photography channel on Youtube . Also, check out my profile on . to learn a little bit more about me and my work.

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  1. Definitely agree with you on Everest and Safari (I’ll be hitting up Africa later this year!!). Have to say that my ‘big five’ would be Hawaii, Sydney/Bondi, Great Wall of China, Maldives and Belize for the diving.

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    • Ohhh Good list. I think the Maldives and Great Wall would be on my 10. I’ve been to Belize so check that off. I’ll tell you, Belize is the best diving/snorkeling I have ever done. I’m not sure I’ll ever find a place better.

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  2. What a great list! Mine would be:
    1) African Safari
    2) Skydiving and zorbing in New Zealand
    3) Antarctica
    4) The Maldives
    5) Yi Peng Lantern Festival and Full Moon Party in Thailand

    I have to agree that Belize is top for diving and snorkeling. I just can’t get enough of that place!

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    • Elle, we nearly have the same list. Antarctica would be on my list too if I hadn’t already been (tongue sticking out while taunting). I have zorbed in Canada and it is hillarious!

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  3. Interesting choice. I think my Mum, who travels more than anyone else I know has done 4 of those (she’s never been into golf) In fact as Billy Connolly once said

    “The Scottish invented golf, but only as a joke”

    Mine would be

    (1) Swim in the sea above the Marianas trench. 7 miles of water beneath you must feel odd
    (2) Stand at the South Pole. So like everywhere is North
    (3) Stand at the North pole so everywhere is south
    (4) Be in the Atacama desert just after it rains (about every 10 years) so the whole desert comes to life with flowers. As a photographer this is a must for me
    (5) Skate with Rodney Mullen. As a skateboarder who is the same age as me I’d like to see who’s better

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    • @Matt – great list. One of the 8 times I was in the Atacama it almost rained. There were thunder clouds developing and they just never plopped… we we’re so excited but it just didn’t go down.

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  4. Top 5… err I would need a top 50 at least! lol I really dug the one about Timbuktu! It’s a classic saying in the USA and it always made me think where it was and why we say it “Hey man, where did you go, Timbuktu or something?”

    I always wanted to see Abu Dhabi just because in the Garfield cartoon, Garfield would ship Odie off to there every time. Finally went and have to say it’s not full of cartoon dogs in the least! lol

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    • Agree Troy, we say the same about Timbuktu. I would need a top 500, but gun to your head 5 places… it makes you realize your tops.

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  5. African safari is probably my #1 – someday! It’s hard for me to define a permanent top 5 because I feel like I hear about new places and get so excited about them that I have to bump other spots down the list, but right this second it would be:

    1. Safari
    2. Cuba (time sensitive because I want to go before it opens up more)
    3. Angkor Wat and surrounding areas
    4. Petra
    5. Amazon cruise

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    • I’ve gotten 3 of your 5… I really want to see Ankor Wat and Petra too… there’s just too much to see isn’t there???

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  6. In no particular order:

    1. take the Trans-Siberian all the way from Vladivostok to Moscow.
    2. hike the Annapurna Circuit in Nepal.
    3. run the Great Wall Marathon.
    4. go on an African safari.
    5. go to the Olympics.

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    • Good List Katie! I’d love to do the Olympics some day too. I had the chance to work the Vancouver Olympics, but my schedule just didn’t line up. Maybe Rio!!!

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  7. Great list! Other than the golf, although my fiance would be with you on that one!

    I agree completely on the African safari and am hoping to do that sometime soon.

    I am getting some of mine this summer – going to Tahiti (well French Polynesia, really) which has always been a dream. Also this summer I’m going to accomplish another from my list – scuba dive in the Great Barrier Reef. We decided to do this sooner than later since all sources seem to say it will be gone in the near future.

    I agree with Emily that my list changes whenever I hear about somewhere new and exciting.

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    • I have always wanted to go to Tahti, mostly because of a really bad soft drink we used to have called Tahiti Treat. If you get the chance watch the Imax from Tahiti on surfing, it’s brilliant.

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  8. 1. Kayak the Falkland Islands
    2. Kililmanjaro
    3. Flyfish Italian-Slovenian border
    4. Fly Fish the Kamchaka Peninsula
    5. Everest Base Camp

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    • Good List Jim, I would have had Kilimanjaro had the list been 6. Also, have you ever kayaked the Vancouver Islands? If not, you really should.

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  9. My big 5 of things to see:
    total solar eclipse,
    African wildlife (like you),
    erupting volcano,
    Space Shuttle launch (missed! Went 3 times, got 3 scrubs… no comment),
    Northern Lights.
    Everest base camp must be a unique experience!
    And I understand your point on “Timbuktu”… I want to visit Halifax and Phoenix just for their names. 🙂

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    • @Giulia Lake Titicaca was always my #1 for great names, but I’ve been there 8 times now haha

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  10. Everest Base Camp is very high on my list as well, must be such an amazing feeling just seeing that mountain. I think Queenstown is nice place for bungy jumping and has a nice scenery around it, but a bit to many tourist for me 🙂 I also would love to visit Timbuktu, lots of people don’t know where it is, but they do know its far far away. I would add climbing the Kilimanjaro, hiking the entire Pacific Crest Trail and swimming with Whale sharks to the list.

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  11. 1. Work at the World Cup in Brazil
    2. Win a salsa competition in Colombia
    3. Build a school/library in Ecuador
    4. Sail the Mediterranean
    5. Sofia Vergara

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    • @Gareth, I should have known you to come up with a list like that. I’m in for #s 1,3,4 and definitely 5

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  12. Nice list – totally agree with African Safari / Timbuktu / Everest Base Camp they’re top 10 for me.

    Mine would be, Ganges Gnats, Orinoco River, Samarkand Uzbekistan, Angkor Wat … but definitely, definitely Antartica – would dearly love to step on that 7th continent …

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  13. My dad is going golfing in Scotland for two weeks in June with a few of his mates–they’re golfing 18 or 36 holes every day at some of Scotland’s most famous courses. Certainly not on my list, but I can see the appeal!

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    • Way to add to my jealousy Christine… can you ask them if I can play???

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  14. 1) South and West China
    2) Northern lights
    3) Desert
    4) Antarctica
    5) Africa

    and many more. 🙂
    Timbuktu– what a great name!

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    • I really want to get to Western China too Juno!

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  15. I don’t have a bucket list either, but Everest base camp and African Safari rank highly on my list. So do the Australian Outback & Antarctica. I would love to take a boat across the Pacific too.

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  16. I want to do all of these, especially Everest base camp. I’m a bit of a golf nut too, so if we happen to be in the UK at the same time, we’ll get our names on the lottery for St. Andrews.

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    • @Pete… I wonder if we can use our online status to get us one to St. Andrews…. oh the things I would do to play on that course.

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  17. I swear, one of these days, I am going on Safari!! It seems like I’m the only one who hasn’t been!

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  18. My Big 5 are:
    1. Antarctica
    2. Northern lights (Norway, Finland or Iceland)
    3. Timbuktu
    4. Bhutan
    5. Uzbekistan (Bukhara & Samarkand)

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    • @Keith… Uzbekistan would have made my top20. Bhutan I had never really been interested in until recently. Good list!

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  19. the idea of a busket list is an interesting one because its hard to think of a must do list before l die…. afterall lm going to live til lm 100!
    But while lm fit and active and have a working brain – my top 5 list would be:
    1. Driving in a campervan from NY to Miami, then head up to Canada, keep driving through to Alaska, then head up to the Artic circle and see how far l can get to see the North Pole and Polar bears. ( Ive already been to Antarctica so have to see how the other half lives!)
    2. Sailing around the Greek Islands following the turtles – great marine photography
    3. The Scottish Islands from Arran to St Kilda then on to the Shetlands
    4. London to Japan, via India: one car, 6 months
    5. Diving Pompaii (I’ve already dived Galapagagos)
    6. Afrcian Safari: my truck, one year, Egypt to CapeTown

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    • Anthea, that’s a great list… but you cheated by making yours 6! haha

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  20. one of my top five is to go fly fishing for piranha down in Brazil on the Amazon river.

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