It’s almost New Year’s Eve, folks, and you know what that means?

Our favorite traveling couple is at it again!

Darek and Ilona have a tradition of being on the road every year for New Year’s. That’s a pretty awesome tradition, am I right? They finish each year—and welcome each new one—by going on an incredible adventure together. Suddenly, the New Year’s Eve party I agreed to go to this year doesn’t sound quite so exciting!

Where’s our favorite traveling duo headed this year? Read on to find out! (Warning: wanderlust triggers ahead!)

1.) Why do you like to spend your New Year’s traveling?

Wave 1Ilona: I believe that New Year’s is something special, and I kind of believe that whatever you’re doing on New Year’s Eve you’ll do for the whole next year. This is why I like to do something special, something different and unique.

Darek: Usually around the holidays you have extra days off and you can use them however you want. Of course, we use them to discover new places.

Ilona: Going to the bar is so cliché. I prefer to open a bottle of champagne in some unique place, surrounded by nobody else—except maybe some animals!

2.) What made you choose the Wave for this year’s trip?

wave 7 - my favoriteIlona: I saw a picture of the Wave in an article about unique places to visit and I started Googling it. It turned out to be on the Arizona/Utah border—which isn’t too far for a quick holiday trip—so I figured, why not go there?

Darek: Ilona showed me a few pictures of this destination and I fell in love. Plus, the Wave is just one part of a big desert and canyon area, so there was a lot more to see. I was excited!

3.) So what is the Wave, exactly?

Wave 4Darek: The Wave is a rock formation formed by wind, water, and sand, over a period of millions of years. It’s so unique that the US government needs to protect it. Our first impression when we entered the Wave was just, wow.

And it’s not only about the Wave—there are so many rock formations like the white castle, the second wave, the big hamburger, the neon, the dinosaur brains and so many others (all with equally weird names!). We even saw dinosaur tracks. All of it is in the Coyotes Buttes North which is the part of Vermillion Cliffs National Monument.

Ilona: And surprisingly (or maybe not), it’s not a national park, so it’s not as easily accessible and or as popular as other areas.

4.) What do you mean, it’s not easily accessible?

Wave 3Ilona: The Wave is such a unique place that only 20 people a day can hike there. Maybe this is why it’s not a national park—so that it stays a little bit under the radar and doesn’t get destroyed by people.

Darek: It’s also a very remote destination, so getting the permit is only half the battle.

Ilona: You have to apply online four months ahead of time, and only 10 lucky people win the lottery. Another 10 can get accepted the day before they want to hike as part of a walk-in lottery.

Darek: I remember when I called a ranger in August to ask about my chances to get a permit for December, he told me, “Your chances are slim to none.” So we are very lucky we got it!

5.) Is it worth all the trouble?

Wave 5Ilona: Of course! The pictures speak for themselves. It’s an amazing place and I feel so special that I could be there.

Darek: Definitely, but it requires some preparation. I spent days beforehand making sure that we would be able to find our way there, explore the area, and most importantly, make it back to our car safely at the end of the hike.

Ilona: The Coyotes Buttes North is not only about the Wave. There are lots of other rock formations to see there that are really cool—you’ll feel like you’re on Mars! The research that Darek did definitely paid off.

6.) What advice would you give to others hoping to visit the Wave?

Wave 2Darek: Once you win a lottery, make sure you go there. You don’t know when you’ll get another chance! Don’t be scared off by people warning that you may get lost and end up spending the night in freezing temperatures without food or water, surrounded by wild life. That is a risk—they’re right—but with a little bit of basic preparation, you can avoid all that and enjoy your hike.

Make sure you get an SUV with four-wheel drive and a GPS navigator with up to date topographical maps. Don’t just use the GPS on the drive—use it while you’re hiking too! When you start hiking, make sure to mark where your car is so you can easily find your way back. Bring enough water and food for a full day hike. Know your surrounding so you know where you are. Have fun, smile and take a lot of pictures (that’s required).

Ilona: Darek’s advice might seem overblown, but it’s really not. Since it’s not a national park, trails aren’t marked and there are only 18 other people in the area who may (or may not) be able to help you should you run into trouble. Bringing the GPS is a huge source of peace of mind—you’ll always be able to find your way back when you need to. Just be prepared, and you don’t have to be afraid. We even saw families with children doing the hike!

7.) Do you have any New Year’s travel resolutions?

wave 6Ilona: Yes! I have one, and I’ll never make another one. We just want to travel as much as we can, as far as we can, and explore this wonderful world. I don’t think we need any other resolution.

Darek: Yes, to travel more and to not be afraid of discovering the parts of our world that are more far flung and less developed than we’re used to. Walking African safari, anyone?

Let’s all add the Wave to our bucket lists, shall we? Are any of you traveling this New Year’s Eve? Where are you headed? Let us know in the comments!

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About The Author

Hannah Winsten

Hannah Winsten is a freelance writer and marketing consultant living in New York City. A total travel junkie, Hannah came to CheapOair as a French translator and SEM associate after returning from a stint living abroad in Paris. She’s also working on her first book--you know you want to read it. Find her on Twitter at @HannahRWinsten.