Bucket List Worthy
Words can hardly describe the simple, profound and breathtaking magic of watching the sun emerge from the horizon in the stillness of the early morning. From sandy beaches and tranquil lakesides, to mountaintops and world wonders, here are the best places in the world where witnessing nature’s daily miracle is worth getting up early.
Courtesy Tourism Cambodia
It takes at least a few days to explore Angkor Wat, Cambodia’s famed archeological park containing 45 temples that spread over 400 square feet. One of those days should begin with a sunrise. Watching the sky wake up to a copper glow behind lacy silhouettes of 9th century Khmer Empire temples is well worth the long queues and elbowing tourists. Visit between November and March for clear skies and mild weather.
Undoubtedly the most famous stone circle in the world, Stonehenge is believed to have been built as a religious site by Britons 4,000 years ago. The mystique of this site peaks during the summer solstice when the rising sun lines up perfectly with the central stone formation for only that one day out of the entire year. Thousands gather every year to welcome the first day of summer. You’ll need to taxi, shuttle or walk from the nearby campsite to be a part of this spiritual celebration.
Courtesy Tourism Egypt
A visit to the Great Pyramids of Egypt is worthy of a whole day, and it’s best so start that day early so you can experience the magic of the morning sun. Hop atop a camel to ride slowly through the desert as the light from the sun mixes with the dust to create a hazy glow backlighting the perfect conical shapes of the pyramids. Many packaged tours are available and include transportation, a guide, admission fees to inside the pyramids and the Sphinx Temple, and lunch.
Courtesy Journey Machu Picchu
You’ll have to hike for four days, getting up in the wee hours on the last day to make it to Inti Punku – also known as the Sun Gate – for a chance to witness the first rays of sunlight pouring over Machu Picchu from a perfect vantage point. Another hour’s walk will bring you down to the entrance where you’ll have time to explore the Incan ruins in calm well before bus loads of tourists begin to pour in. Visiting in July or August is your best chance at dry weather.
A sunrise cruise on the River Ganges is a Zen-like experience: the water lapping against the side of the boat, the golden light from the morning sun shimmering on the surface of the river, bathing the bankside structures of Varanasi in hues of honey. You’ll slip into your very own morning meditation as your boat floats by riverfront steps of Varanasi where locals come to worship in the early hours of the morning.
Dig your toes into pristine white sand on a picture-perfect island as you watch the sun rise before anyone else in the world. Kiribati is a tiny pacific nation made up of three groups of islands, and is officially the first inhabited place on Earth to see the sun every morning. The destination boasts world-class fishing, unique cultural experiences, and a fascinating history of World War II. Catch a flight from Fiji or Hawaii to get here.
It’s so quiet on Easter Island before dawn, that you’ll feel the need to hold your breath as to not disturb the silence. The darkness veils everything in front of your eyes. Then, as the first trace of light begins to streak across the sky, silhouettes of massive rock sculptures begin to emerge against the horizon. The moai are believed to be sculptures carved in the likeness of ancestors by Polynesian settlers between 800 and 1200 AD. There are hundreds of them spread across Easter Island in Chile.
Courtesy Tourism Banff and Lake Louise
Moraine Lake may be the most famous one in this region, but the proximity of Vermillion lakes to Banff and even Calgary make them a perfect site for watching the sunrise. In the early morning hours, the calm lake is like a mirror that perfectly reflects the surrounding scenery emblazoned by the colours of the rising sun. Vermillion lakes are a 6-minute drive from Banff, and 1.5 hours from Calgary.