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What’s On Your Bucket List?

The Bucket List, starring Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman, won’t be winning any Academy Awards. Yet the movie’s premise is generating a lot of water-cooler buzz. It seems everyone is now feverishly compiling a list of the top travel experiences they want to have before kicking the bucket. Here are a few of ours.

Travel Talk: How will you fit in your trip “musts”? Do you have a five-year plan for travel?

Sail Away: Cruises are great fun, but sometimes you want to really feel like you’re in a boat. Atlantic Stars offers a ship to suit whatever nautical fantasy you may have, from the classic speedboat Rum Runner II, which zips around Newport, Rhode Island, to the 160-foot sailing cruise yacht Arabella, (photo, right) which embarks from St. Thomas and other Caribbean ports during the winter months. Rates for a fabulous five-star, six-night sailboat cruise start at $1,395.

Escape the Urban Jungle: City life can wither your soul, but an African safari will help you get back to reality. Smithsonian Journeys offers a 14-day wildlife sojourn in some the world’s finest nature sanctuaries: Arusha, Ngorongoro Crater, the Serengeti, and Lake Manyara. The cost is $8,295, which includes accommodations and meals, but not airfare. Looking for something a bit less pricey? Frugal Marlon Perkins’ wannabes take note: Go2Africa, based in Cape Town, offers a dizzying array of safari adventures to suit every budget.

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Go Wild: Tour operators in Costa Rica have long been ahead of the ecotourism curve, allowing visitors to explore fragile environments sans guilt. Wild Planet Adventures, for one, offers an “Ultimate Wildlife Tour” of this beautiful, bio-diverse country: 14 days and $3,698 buys you time in eight national parks and wildlife preserves, plus a cloud forest canopy tour, rafting and river boating, a volcano visit, night hikes and snorkeling, and time on the beach. The price covers lodging, activities, meals but not airfare.

Take the Plunge: Ready to strap on a scuba tank or wrap your lips around a snorkel and experience the life aquatic? You’ll find a whole new world underwater off the Dutch Caribbean island of Bonaire. It boasts pristine coral formations and perhaps the most varied fish population in the Caribbean. Bonaire’s Deep Blue View resort has myriad packages, starting with a seven-day dive package priced at $1,590 for two that includes accommodations, breakfasts, dive fees, and use of a pick-up truck.

At Home on the Range: When you catch yourself humming cowboy tunes and watching endless Ponderosa re-runs, it’s high time to head west and spend a week on a working ranch. Klondike Ranch, established in 1886 and located in Johnson County, Wyoming, promises guests an authentic old western adventure. Visitors help move cattle to new pastures, learn to rope cattle, and repair barbed wire fences. Weekly rates are $1,375 per person for accommodations and meals. 14 years old and up only.

See the Light: You have to witness the aurora borealis with your own eyes — no words or pictures can capture the night sky’s dancing, iridescent colors. And the best places to do it are near the magnetic poles in spots like Fairbanks, Alaska; Yellowstone in Canada’s Arctic; the southern tip of Greenland; and northern Norway. Fjord Travel offers five-night Northern Lights safaris from Oslo to Tromso (about 200 miles above the Arctic Circle) that include sleigh rides and dogsledding. They start at $1,555.

Don Your Dancing Shoes: Buenos Aires is synonymous with the tango. Born in brothels during the late 19th century, the signature dance is still performed in parks, on street corners and, of course, in neighbourhood milongas, dance halls that dot the city (admission is under $5). Arrive early enough and you can often take a tango lesson for the same price. Just remember that early is a relative term. Milongas tend to kick off around 11 p.m. and last until dawn.

Blast Off: Now that space tourism has become a reality, would-be rocketeers can shoot for the stars with the Russian Space Agency. But if a virtual flight will do, you can save yourself months of intensive training and about $30 million by taking off at Kennedy Space Center, courtesy of the Astronaut Training Experience. It involves rigorous exercises that mimic real flight training and culminates in a faux mission aboard a full-scale model of the space shuttle. The full-day ATX program is $250.

Celebrate!: The world throws some fabulous parties and everyone is invited. Right now Rio is warming up for Carnival and New Orleans is striking up the band for Mardi Gras, two pre-Lent extravaganzas that culminate this year on February 5. Prefer New Year’s? If you missed the big ball drop in the Big Apple, you can get another kick at the can by ushering in Chinese New Year February 7 in Hong Kong with fireworks, mooncakes, and dragon dancing.

Now we want to know what’s on your Bucket List. Join the conversation.

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