#10: The Segway; It can kill you...literally
It may seem innocent enough but these things can kill you. In a tragic form of irony, the beloved CEO of the Segway (pic left) Jimi Heselden perhaps overestimated the the scooter's capabilities in September 2011 — he drove an turf model off a cliff and fell to his death on his English estate. Nevertheless the Segway is slowly but surly gaining traction throughout the world,especially in urban and tourist industries. A number of police departments in Europe actually use the Segway today.
#9: Chiva Express; is it a bus, is it a train, what the hell is it?
The Chiva Express is a bus that rides the rails in Ecuador, taking travelers up into the Andes on a very scenic route. The rails were originally laid to connect the mountains to the sea but now the route is decidedly for sightseeing. The best seats are up on the roof, though the mountain air might be a bit chilly for some.
#8: The Chicken Bus; its not just a phrase...
These brightly colored buses have become the budget traveler's quintessential Latin American transport experience. For locals in places such as Guatemala or Panama, these buses are an essential and affordable means of transportation that gets them from village to village. There's a good reason they call this "the chicken bus". Many times you will find these buses loaded with not just people but their livestock; chickens being brought to or from a market. Don’t be surprised if it’s standing room only. At times the chicken may be the least of your concerns, (pic left). Unfortunately, I must warn those eager to adventure on such buses. Many crimes frequently take place on them, including thefts and robberies so don't wear your Rolex and keep your eyes open if your still willing to do it.
#7: Dune Bashing/ Desert Trekking
In a region overshadowed by touristy Dubai, the Sultanate of Oman offers mountainous and sandy adventures. Though it is not as much of a common use form of travel, Dune bashing across the desert can be one of the most unique and exhilarating experiences you can have. It will provide the rare opportunity to access remote and sparsely traveled towns and villages. I wish I could have done while I was in the Middle East. It is amazing to see the drastic lifestyle differences of people living in Dubai or Abu Dhabi compared to the surrounding expanse of desert. To see more you can watch this BBC Travel Report.
#6: Space Tourism; you think I'm kidding...
This may seem like more of a joke then "real" but by 2014 it will be a reality; at least for those who have around $180,000 to spend on a site seeing tour around the earth. There are three companies; Excalibur Almaz, Virgin Galactic, and Russia’s Soyuz who are seriously developing space programs. Civilian "tourists" who are willing to shell out as much as $32,000,000 may travel to the moon and back. Virgin Galactic is set to begin short flights just outside the atmosphere about 99 miles into space beginning in 2014. The moon travel; well I'll believe that one when I see it.
#5: Dog Sledding; Reindeer have nuthin on us
According to an oft-quoted Greenland folk saying, “A hunter without dogs is half a hunter”. The early Inuit, the indigenous people of Greenland, had to get by on what they were able to catch and kill, so dogs often meant the difference between survival and starvation on the more than 2,160,000sqkm-island, most of which is covered in ice. Today, the dog sled continues to play a vital role as a means of winter transport for the country’s 45,000 Inuit population. And this is not just Greenland, dog sledding is used in a number of places including Alaska, Russia, Finland, Slovenia, and certain parts of Asia.
#4: The Tuk Tuk
Tuk-Tuks are three wheeled, motorized vehicles that are useful for short distances throughout Thailand. They usually have a small cabin for the driver in the front and seating for two to three passengers in the rear.They originally used single stroke engines and many still do today. They we're actually named due to the odd and goofy sounds they make during transit.
#3: Chinese Junk Ships; standing the test of time
The first Chinese junks were built in the Song dynasty between 960-1270. Later, in 1271-1368 a Mongol emperor built the first Chinese imperial treasure fleets. These junks sailed to Sumatra, Ceylon, and southern India. The famous explorer, Marco Polo journeyed to the Mongol court and described seeing four-masted junks that had sixty cabins for merchants and crews of up to 300. Today, these ships are still used for trade and transit. Some Asian families live on these ships and use them as a source of livelihood providing transport for people or moving goods from on place to another.
#2: The Rickshaw; who needs engines anyway
The rickshaw is a covered, two-wheeled cart that is pulled by people. The driver holds a rod in each hand and pulls the rickshaw. Rickshaws can have one or two riders. Only two people can ride at one time, because people - mostly men - pull the rickshaw through the crowded streets. The word 'rickshaw' comes from the Japanese word jinrikisha which means "human-powered vehicle." Today the rickshaw has been replaced by the more widely used velotaxi. This has the same principal but you guessed it; its pedal powered. I wonder if they know they could stick a lawn mower engine on there and save themselves a lot of effort. Oh well.
AND NUMBER ONE is....Elephant Trekking!
Today, their numbers are sadly dwindling but Instead of lounging by the beach all day, travelers can explore the area inland on elephant tours. These elephant trekking tours offer a much-needed lift to the tourism industry, and generate the funds to assure the survival of thousands of elephants in a dignified manner. Be sure to go with ethically sound operators who ensure the elephants are well taken care of – these tours can be booked through most hotels. Phuket, Thailand has many tour companies which operate such treks.
I had to go with the elephant trekking as the number one. Mainly because it is accessible and affordable. It also supports the wildlife, landscape, and local economy.