So, given how painful we find it to drag ourselves out of bed before the sun does, it has to be actually worth the effort. Here are the top three places we were actually glad we made ourselves get out of bed “in the middle of the night”…
First on our list, at number three:3)Angkor Wat, Cambodia – You’re picked up at your hotel in what seems to be the middle of the night. The sway of the tuk tuk has you almost dozing by the time you reach the entrance. Good news – it’s only a short walk inside where you gather with a couple hundred of your new best friends who are all waiting for the same thing you are. You start to wonder why on Earth you dragged yourself out of bed just to hang out with a whole bunch of other tourists…when the first rays creep over the horizon and a pink halo emerges around Angkor. Then you forget how tired you were just a second ago – you’re too busy trying to catch your breath.
Next on our list, at number two:2) Masada, Israel: You pull into the parking lot in the dark. You crane your neck up and see the chairlift, high above – taunting you. The trail is easy at first. Wide and well marked, it starts out fairly level. Quickly it turns steeper and then steeper still, until your panting mingles with the panting of the others making the climb. The darkness starts to fade and you climb faster and faster, anxious to beat the sun. You reach the top just in time to see the first rays of the sun play over the Dead Sea – a brilliant orange blaze beating back the darkness of a desert night.
What’s the best part of a cold night spent in a tent? Climbing out of it in the morning! And that’s just how you’ll start your day when you’re ready for the number one place to see the sunrise:1) Dune 45, Namib Desert, Namibia – You drive through the darkness, with only the headlights of the other vehicles shepherding tourists to the dune to keep you company. You can see your breath in the air and your feet feel heavy as you trudge through the sand trying to stay along the ridge. The desert is silent except for the huffing and puffing of the other tired tourists around you. You struggle to keep up, and keep your eyes off the ever growing drop-off you’re walking along. By the time you finally reach the top, your legs are like Jello and you’re regretting that gym membership you passed on. Then, the sun creeps over the crest of a far off dune, and the first rays break through the black of night. With darkness lifting, the fog still blankets the valley floor, but slowly the sun rises higher and the fog beats its retreat as the rays illuminate another dune and the shadows dance on the waves of sand.