Part of any backpacking journey is experiencing a new culture that is vastly different from your own. For Americans in particular, just about anywhere outside of North America fits this bill and going on backpacking adventures all over the world can lead to meeting new people that will expand our worldviews and our understanding of humanity as a whole.
But that is really just half of the appeal to backpacking. The other half has to do with experiencing the great outdoors and seeing places that will truly blow your mind. Although the United States is full of beautiful and breathtaking places, it is really just the tip of the iceberg in terms of nature’s wonders.
For example, traveling through the Amazon rainforest is something that is simply incomparable to anywhere else in the world, exposing you to not just towering trees and other plants, but a host of unique animals that you cannot see anywhere else. In addition, the sheer rawness of it all is something that truly takes your breath away. What I mean by this is that when you go to places that are truly uninhabited by people, you get to experience nature in its truest form (as opposed to going to a forest in your backyard, which is only a few hundred feet away from civilization.
And while experiencing natural landmarks is an exhilarating thrill, it can be just as exhilarating when you encounter places that seamlessly integrate nature with civilization, especially when such landmarks have historical significance. For example, walking along the Great Wall of China is amazing not just because you get to see this amazing feat of Chinese ingenuity, but you get to see all of the vast surrounding forests and mountains that surround the wall itself. The same holds true for a place like Machu Picchu, which is not just amazing because it showcases the remains of an ancient civilization, but because those remains are situated on an insanely beautiful mountain ridge. In both cases, the combination of natural beauty and evidence of human civilization make for the perfect sightseeing destinations. But the natural beauty of the outdoors is what really drives the point home.
Furthermore, part of the thrill of being outdoors is actually interacting with nature, rather than just observing and admiring it from afar. Being able to walk along a beautiful stream and approach a beautiful waterfall is just as thrilling as the end result of looking upon it, if not more so. Even a strenuous hike up a mountainside can be enjoyable, regardless of whatever sight you are looking to gaze upon at the end of the hike. This interaction with nature is something that we don’t typically have in our daily lives in modernized society, and so being able to experience it while backpacking is very valuable indeed.
Overall, backpacking is a wonderful journey that incorporates a variety of different experiences. However, one of the best experiences in my opinion is the ability to not just see but interact with the great outdoors in all of its glory and splendor. So always make sure that when you go backpacking that you are doing it at least in part to experience the awesomeness of nature – otherwise you frankly are not doing it right!