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Travel buzz

The best-reviewed bucket list trips to book this Black Friday

Nov 16, 2023 by The Go Ahead Tours Team

For many of us, traveling on a bucket list trip is an achievement of a lifetime. But it’s one that can be defined in multiple ways. For you, it might be about crossing the Pacific to immerse yourself in the enduring traditions of Japan. For someone else, it might be about beholding the ancient wonders of Egypt. Whichever destination speaks to you, all these trips have one thing in common: They often speak to us on a deeper level. Often, a bucket list vacation includes destinations we’ve dreamed about for a long time. During our Black Friday event, many of our most beloved itineraries will be on sale, meaning these travel dreams can soon become reality.

To help you make sense of which you might want to book this time around, we’ve compiled our best-reviewed trips to date. If you’re on the fence about a destination, maybe you’ll want to hear what your fellow travelers have to say about these thrilling places. They’ve already enjoyed those bucket list experiences—now, it’s your turn!

1. Kenya Wildlife Safari: Mount Kenya, Maasai Mara & Amboseli

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Why you’ll love this Kenyan safari

If you’ve never been on a safari, take our incredible Black Friday deals as a sign that you need to check this off your bucket list. What makes a trip to Kenya so special? The country is home to a diverse collection of wildlife, and the sheer number of animals will astound you. Whether you’re seeing rare Rothschild giraffes at the Giraffe Center just outside Nairobi or stalking a lioness as she hunts in the Maasai Mara, every wildlife encounter makes our 13-day Kenya Wildlife Safari: Mount Kenya, Maasai Mara & Amboseli tour a bucket list vacation.

Highlights of the tour

  • Tracking Africa’s Big Five. There’s no denying that a game drive in the Maasai Mara—a 600-square-mile national reserve in southwestern Kenya—is one of the most impressive safari and wildlife tours you can go on. The sheer abundance of leopards, lions, elephants, warthogs, rhinos—well, you get the idea. You’ll check seeing the Big Five off your bucket list in no time. (You’ll also want to pay attention to the immense beauty of these lands.)
  • Meeting Kenyan creatives. During this 13-day Kenya trip, you’ll also get to meet local artisans at places like Sandstorm Kenya. This company started as a safari tent maker, but now employs dozens of Maasai craftspeople who hand-make beautiful bags from canvas and leather.

Take it from a traveler

“Our tour guide, Mustafa, was absolutely the best! He was friendly, knowledgeable, and went above and beyond for all of us. There were only 13 in our tour, which was perfect. Everyone meshed well together and I now consider them all friends. We had three safari vehicles that we took everywhere. The driver of my vehicle, Jackson, was also knowledgeable about his country and the animals. He made sure we were comfortable, and he was a joy to spend so many hours together with. Overall, this tour was the trip of a lifetime. I highly recommend it to anyone interested in conservation and animals. Kenya and Tanzania left me with new perspectives and I will never forget the people and wildlife who touched my life on this tour.”

—Five-star review from four-time traveler Deborah

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2. South Africa: Cape Town to Kruger National Park

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Why you’ll love this bucket list tour of South Africa

For many travelers, a trip to South Africa serves as a great gateway into more vacations and tours of the continent. And it’s often one of the bucket list places to visit if you want a safari that can also include a big-city component. Our 11-day South Africa: Cape Town to Kruger National Park tour is exactly that: Time spent exploring Cape Town’s rich cultural and natural treasures is complemented with an adventure in Kruger National Park—one of the most famous safari destinations in the world. You won’t want to miss this unforgettable travel twofer during our Black Friday sales.

Highlights of the tour

  • Discovering Cape Town’s beauty and history. A tour of Cape Town is one of the most beloved sections of this itinerary thanks to the Mother City’s combination of gorgeous landscapes and rich heritage. You’ll get to take a cable car ride up Table Mountain for some of the most spellbinding views of the city—but you’ll also have the option to take an excursion to Robben Island with a former political prisoner as your guide.
  • Taking an inspiring safari. Game drives in beautiful Kruger National Park (during which you’ll likely spot more wildlife than you’ve ever dreamed of) illustrate why safaris are such important bucket list vacations.

Take it from a traveler

“I booked this tour to celebrate 40 years of life, and celebrate is exactly what I did. This trip is fast-paced and jam-packed with information, sights, shopping, food, and fun. Our Tour Director, Roland, was phenomenal and showed that he cared for our wellbeing. The safari at Kruger National Park was fabulous. The spice experience was a MUST and the scenery in our travels was indescribable. Overall a 10/10 and would do this over in a heartbeat.”

—Five-star review from first-time traveler Jillian

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3. Costa Rica: Rainforests, Volcanoes & Wildlife

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Why you’ll love this tour of Costa Rica

For nature lovers, there might be no greater bucket list destination than Costa Rica. When it comes to the land of pura vida, travelers are treated to one unforgettable experience after another, and our nine-day Costa Rica: Rainforests, Volcanoes & Wildlife tour gives you a taste of this Central American country’s immense natural diversity—from national parks to cloud forests to innovative agricultural projects.

Highlights of the tour

  • Experiencing Costa Rica’s best national parks. This Costa Rica tour will take you to two preserves guaranteed to leave you in awe. Along the Caribbean coast, you’ll soak in the beauty of the rainforest at Tortuguero National Park. And at Arenal Volcano National Park, you’ll marvel at the exciting ecosystem that orbits a 5,500-foot-tall volcano.
  • Learning about nature-first projects—and meeting the people who bring them to life. We love how this itinerary gets you up close and personal with the people who honor Costa Rica’s inspiring commitment to protecting and preserving nature. In La Fortuna, you’ll visit an eco-friendly, carbon-negative ranch that’s considered the first of its kind in the country. And In the Monteverde region, you’ll visit a farm that makes some of the world’s best-tasting coffee.

Take it from a traveler

“This trip exceeded all of my expectations right from day one. Our tour guide, Patricia, and bus driver, Michael, were both knowledgeable and exceptionally helpful. All of the local guides we had also were excellent. The trip offered something new and exciting every day: from going to local fruit stands and markets to visiting national parks; from swimming in the ocean to snorkeling off a catamaran; from walking through the cloud forest to walking on suspended bridges above the canopy. It was truly an amazing trip that I would highly recommend.”

—Five-star review from first-time traveler Lorraine

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4. A Week in Belize: Ruins, Reefs & Rainforests

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Why you’ll love this wonderful week in Belize

Featuring an intoxicating mix of ancient ruins and awesome natural landscapes, this bucket list trip to Belize offers an unforgettable look at one of Central America’s most captivating countries. Just imagine it: a week of Mayan ruins, snorkeling, and chocolate tastings. Can you dream up a more memorable way to travel to Belize? If you can’t, then you’ll want to book our A Week in Belize: Ruins, Reefs & Rainforests tour during our Black Friday deals this year.

Highlights of the tour

  • Examining Mayan artifacts. This weeklong itinerary takes you to two major Mayan archaeological sites: Lamanai, a pre-Columbian settlement named after the crocodiles that live in a nearby river, and Xunantunich, home to over two dozen temples and palaces.
  • Snorkeling in a marine reserve. Aboard a boat with a local guide, you’ll get to explore Hol Chan Marine Reserve and Coral Gardens, two wildlife-rich destinations that showcase Belize’s unbelievable biodiversity. And, yes, you can snorkel at both and see some of the marine life up close!

Take it from a traveler

“Our Belize tour covered everything I wanted to see and do. We spent time at the beach and snorkeling the coral reef. We had some fabulous opportunities to meet the locals and learn about their drumming, farming, and traditional cooking. We made fantastic friends with the other tour participants. Our guide was great! He handled everything that was thrown at him with grace and poise. The weather was an ideal 85 degrees and sunny. We had a few short showers while in the rainforest which only added to the charm of the experience.”

—Five-star review from second-time traveler Jennifer

Enjoy a week in Belize

5. U.S. National Parks: The Grand Canyon to Yellowstone

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Why you’ll love this tour of the U.S. National Parks

National park lovers, rejoice! This 12-day tour of the American West is the bucket list vacation of your dreams. You’ll get to explore the widely diverse landscapes of this pocket of the Lower 48 with stops at Yellowstone, Grand Canyon, Zion, and much more. No trip to the U.S. is complete without seeing a national park—make it happen by taking advantage of this year’s Black Friday deals!

Highlights of the tour

  • Comparing some of the country’s best national parks. Whether it’s the 800-year-old cliff dwellings at Mesa Verde or the dramatic expanse of ochre rock formations that have long defined Zion, this itinerary is full of jaw-dropping moments. And we haven’t even mentioned the Grand Canyon! We offer an additional excursion that shows off this gorgeous natural wonder from a unique vantage point: aboard a helicopter.
  • Adding some cultural excursions between park visits. Along with plenty of time spent marveling at some of the most beautiful natural landscapes of the American West, our 12-day U.S. National Parks: The Grand Canyon to Yellowstone tour includes more culturally minded activities. There’s an educational stop at the Explore Navajo Interactive Museum in Arizona, as well as a visit to Santa Fe’s Loretto Chapel to view its miraculous staircase. (The spiral structure lacks a central support pole, leaving many architecture enthusiasts to consider it an innovative feat of woodworking.)

Take it from a traveler

“This tour was fantastic from beginning to end: a well-paced and wonderful way to cover a lot of ground and take in the beauty of nature without worrying about transportation or accommodations. Geoff is an amazing and very thoughtful tour director who always went the extra mile to make the tour enjoyable and educational for all. Terri, our bus driver, took great care to get us safely and comfortably to all locations. I highly recommend this tour for anyone looking to see the beauty of the Western U.S.”

—Five-star review from third-time traveler John

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6. Canadian Rockies by Train: Banff, Lake Louise & Vancouver

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Why you’ll love this jaunt through the Canadian Rockies

Some places are best discovered by boat, others by car, and still others are most magical when experienced by train. And magic is exactly what you’ll get on our Canadian Rockies by Train: Banff, Lake Louise & Vancouver tour. This bucket list trip starts in the picturesque mountain town of Banff, known for its snow-capped peaks and crystalline lakes, before heading farther west aboard the Rocky Mountaineer train. We can’t imagine a more iconic trip to Canada.

Highlights of the tour

  • Discovering the best, most beautiful parts of Banff. The first half of this trip is all about the Banff region—a part of Canada teeming with postcard-worthy natural splendor. Over four days, you’ll walk on a glacier, canoe on Lake Louise, and explore the charming mountain town of Canmore, home to many of Canada’s top athletes. If you want to add to your adventure, spring for the endless fun of the Banff River Float.
  • Taking a scenic train ride through the mountains. Aboard the vintage Rocky Mountaineer train, you’ll soak in the rugged beauty of the Canadian Rockies. Along the way, make sure your camera’s handy: You’ll spot craggy mountains, shimmering glacial lakes, and rushing rivers.

Take it from a traveler

“You will not believe your eyes when you gaze upon some of the spectacular sights on the Rocky Mountaineer. You question if you’re looking at a painting when you see the deep turquoise lakes of Banff. The scenery on the train is as rich as the meals they serve you. You will be enthralled by the Canadian splendor on this nine-day adventure.”

—Five-star review from first-time traveler Timothy

Visit the Canadian Rockies

7. Japan: Kyoto, the Japanese Alps & Tokyo

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Why you’ll love this trek across Japan

For many, a trip to Japan is the ultimate bucket list vacation—and if you love buzzing metropolises, scenic mountainside locales, great art, and delicious food, then this two-week Japan: Kyoto, the Japanese Alps & Tokyo is perfect for you. It combines iconic cities with an easygoing trip through the Japanese Alps, creating a well-rounded itinerary full of unforgettable memories. And all of it will be yours for the taking during our Black Friday sales event.

Highlights of the tour

  • Living it up in Tokyo, Kyoto, and Osaka. You’ll get to experience three of Japan’s most important cities, each delivering a unique layer of the Japanese experience. Whether it’s the elegance of Kyoto, the grandeur of Tokyo, or the bustling energy of Osaka, you’ll get to sample the distinct character of these major urban centers.
  • Soaking up the serenity of the Japanese Alps. Did you know there are Alpine mountains in Japan? It’s a spectacular region in a country full of spectacular regions, and your two days there will provide a nice counterbalance to the bigger cities included in the itinerary. You’ll get to visit Kamikōchi, a remote valley and one of the region’s most stunning attractions. You’ll also take a moderate hike along Tashiro Pond, a lake formed by a volcanic eruption.

Take it from a traveler

“This trip would not have been as successful without our Tour Director Yuki. She made sure each person had their needs met. On off-dinner days, she was able to organize reservations for us as it is difficult to do so in a country as busy as Japan. Japan is by far the most friendly places I have toured. People go out of their way to assist you. My wife and I were at a department store buying chocolate and wanted to find a place there that sold cheese. The person behind the counter got out and walked us over to where the cheese was sold halfway across the store. This happened multiple times for us on our tour.”

—Five-star review from seventh-time traveler Don

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8. Grand Tour of Thailand: Bangkok, Chiang Mai & Phuket

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Why you’ll love this bucket list trip to Thailand

Two weeks in Thailand—with an itinerary that spans soaring temples, dreamy islands, friendly elephants, and incredibly sumptuous food—are sure to deliver a bucket list vacation. Our Grand Tour of Thailand: Bangkok, Chiang Mai & Phuket tour covers so much ground and offers such an immersive experience that you’ll come away feeling like you’ve just taken in everything the country has to offer. And during our Black Friday event, you’ll be getting a grand trip to Thailand for less!

Highlights of the tour

  • Seeing Thai life in its markets. Whether it’s exploring the Damnoen Saduak Floating Market while sailing on a long-tail boat, absorbing the tingling energy of the Maeklong Railway Market (where vendors set up shop right on the train line), or immersing yourself in the lively atmosphere of the Chiang Mai Night Market, there’s plenty to learn about Thai life and culture at these sensational shopping destinations.
  • Connecting with Asian elephants. One of the most popular moments of our Chiang Mai tours in northern Thailand is the visit to the ChangChill Elephant Sanctuary. Here, you’ll see how this organization provides care and support for Asian elephants—many of whom are rescues. During the visit, you’ll not only learn about the sanctuary’s mission and watch elephants roam the grounds, but you’ll also prepare medicine and food for them while you chat with mahouts, or elephant caretakers. It's truly both a rewarding and educational experience that you will never forget.

Take it from a traveler

“This was my second EF tour and it exceeded all of my expectations. It has something for everyone: bustling cities, small towns, mountains, waterfalls, rivers, oceans, beaches, temples, food, culture, and the greatest people! Our tour director, Dream, was amazing and so responsive to all of our wants and needs. The family-hosted dinner is a MUST. The hosts were incredible and the food, wonderful. If you are wondering whether you should go on this tour, let me help you out: YES!”

—Five-star review from second-time traveler Louise

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9. Highlights of Australia & New Zealand

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Why you’ll love this trip to Australia and New Zealand

Dreaming about a bucket list trip Down Under? Making the journey to Australia and New Zealand can be a huge deal, if only because of how much you have to travel to get there. But once you arrive, you’ll know that it’s worth it. Our 15-day Highlights of Australia & New Zealand tour ensures you get to see, hear, smell, and taste the best that these enchanting nations have to offer. From snorkeling the Great Barrier Reef and touring the inside of the Sydney Opera House to sightseeing in Melbourne and Auckland, this two-week adventure is destined to make a lasting impression. (Remember: Don’t miss our Black Friday event to score a great deal on this sensational trip to Australia and New Zealand.)

Highlights of the tour

  • Getting up close and personal with the Great Barrier Reef. For many, a trip to Australia wouldn’t be complete without seeing the Great Barrier Reef. And on this itinerary, you’ll get to pick between two ways to see this natural wonder. Climb aboard a glass-bottomed boat to see the corals from above, or grab some snorkeling gear and get in the water. All of it starts, however, with a meeting with a marine biologist, so you can learn about the importance of this fragile ecosystem.
  • Admiring New Zealand’s wild beauty. On our New Zealand tours, you’ll be guided through some of the planet’s most striking natural wonders. Fiordland National Park, for example, is full of breathtaking scenery, from beech forests to mirror-like lakes. But you can take your visit up a notch by signing up for an added excursion. The trip to Waiheke Island is one of our travelers’ favorites. Not only do you get to sail out to this lush island full of exciting history, colorful flora, and craggy beaches, but there will also be opportunities to sip and sample local wine and olive oils.

Take it from a traveler

“This trip, with the additional excursions, topped off my bucket list! I could not have had a better time in any way, shape, or form. The hotels were very nice, the food was sensational, the tour guide was an A+++ in my book, and the trip was everything I expected and far more! I highly recommend this trip!”

—Five-star review from second-time traveler Bea

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10. Egypt & Nile River Cruise

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Why you’ll love this mesmerizing Egyptian vacation

What’s more iconic than Egypt’s ancient attractions? For some travelers, seeing the Great Pyramid of Giza, the Sphinx, and many other historic sites along the Nile River is one of the most important bucket list moments of their lives. Our 12-day Egypt & Nile River Cruise tour offers an immersive experience that shows off the very best that this great country has to offer—and it’s not just about sightseeing, either. There are countless opportunities to dig deeper into Egyptian culture and traditions, including learning about papyrus and having a meal with a local family. We believe everyone should take at least one trip to Egypt, and that’s why this tour is part of our exciting Black Friday Event.

Highlights of the tour

  • Getting your fill of ancient wonders. We don’t need to tell you that this tour covers the most jaw-dropping sites you could ever hope to see, from the Temple of Luxor to the Temple of Queen Hatshepsut (one of the few dedicated to a female pharaoh). But have you ever dreamt of sailing a felucca to view granite rocks that resemble a herd of bathing elephants? It’s one of the more unexpected excursions on this tour!
  • Spending time with an Egyptian family. One of our favorite optional excursions on this bucket list vacation is the Cairo Home-Hosted Dinner, during which you’ll get to learn about modern Egyptian living from the perspective of a local family. And you’ll do this over an aromatic, flavorful Egyptian feast.

Take it from a traveler

“My husband and I chose Egypt for our honeymoon, and it was the best decision. Our tour guide, Hala, made us feel special and even arranged a celebration for us one of the nights. Egypt has always fascinated me, and Hala did amazing with explaining the history, landmarks, and people involved in each stop. I got home and so many of my friends and family expressed interest in going because our pictures were so beautiful. Seeing things in person that I had only read about in history books was something I cannot put in words. Everything about this experience was perfect.”

—Five-star review from first-time traveler Carolyn

Cruise down the Nile with us

Want to start checking things off your travel bucket list? Shop our best-reviewed tours and score one of our amazing Black Friday deals now!

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About the author | The Go Ahead Tours Team
We’re a team of passionate travel experts, dedicated to helping people explore the world. From inspiring stories to tips for an amazing trip, the topics we cover are all about getting you out there and making discoveries.

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views of the aegean sea from the greek islands with white buildings in the foreground views of the aegean sea from the greek islands with white buildings in the foreground
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