It’s official: holidays are having a bit of an overhaul. No longer happy with a standard fly-and-flop break in the sun, more of us than ever are switching up our annual getaway in favor of something a little different – and a whole lot more experiential. And this fresh approach to holidays goes by the name of adventure tourism. Which is next on your list?
1. By Horse: Canter Through Kyrgyzstan
Saddle up and prepare for the ride of your life on a horseback trek through Kyrgyzstan. This rugged Central Asian country – where snow-capped mountains give way to grassy slopes and glacial lakes – takes the phrase ‘off the beaten track’ to another level. And a horseback tour is the best way to have a truly authentic experience here. You’ll cross virtually untouched terrain to reach stop-offs like the Sary Chelek national reserve, whose glassy lakes are so clear that the mountain reflections look like optical illusions. And you can sleep under canopy and stars in a traditional yurt, or immerse yourself in local culture with a traditional homestay.
2. By Water: Dive for Sea Turtles in the Bahamas
As tempting as it is, don’t settle for a beach break in the Bahamas this year. Instead, delve beneath the crystal waters off the coast for a snorkelling adventure worthy of the big screen. Organised turtle tracking tours let you get up-close to hawksbill and green sea turtles in the name of conservation. As part of a group of researchers, you’ll help to monitor these endangered sea creatures, and gain access to some of the world’s most mesmerising coral reefs in the process. We guarantee you’ll never look at beach breaks in the same way again.
3. By Sledge: Set Off on a Husky Tour in Finland
If you’ve ever trudged through thigh-high snow in Finland, you’ll know that getting from A to B is an adventure in itself. But a husky safari is an absolute must if you want to explore this fairy-tale landscape to its full. You’ll take the reins and be spirited away through snow-dappled forests and across frozen lakes. And when the sun sets you can switch to a snowmobile and set off on a Northern Lights exploration tour. Visit between October and April for the best chance of spotting the elusive Aurora Borealis as they paint the night sky a vivid green.
4. By Bike: Climb The Earth's Spine in the Italian Alps
If your idea of the perfect adventure involves two wheels, make your way to the Italian Alps – where cycling is anything but run of the mill. We’re talking steep climbs, rocky descents, and widescreen views worth bringing your GoPro for. There are various organised tours where you can hire bikes and equipment, or you can go it alone if you’re a cycling pro. Either way, the Stelvio Pass (pictured) is a must; at an elevation of 2,758m, the views will leave you breathless (as will the incline). Plus, this is prime territory for the full A-Z of outdoor pursuits, so you can test your mettle at paragliding, kayaking and white water rafting while you’re here.
5. By Zip-Line: Speed Through the Costa Rican Jungle
Shrouded in mist thanks to its elevated position in the Costa Rican highlands, the Monteverde Cloud Forest has an ethereal appeal. Go full Tarzan and speed your way through the greenery on a zip-line, or slow the pace and tiptoe across the network of bridges suspended in the treetops. You’ll pass lakes, waterfalls and hot springs on the way in nature’s equivalent of a peacock spreading its feathers. Plus, when you need a break from adrenaline-fuelled adventures, Costa Rica’s postcard-worthy beaches are yours for the taking.
6. By Camel: Trek to the Base of Mount Kilimanjaro
If you’re planning to climb Mount Kilimanjaro, you’re already in line for a pretty epic adventure. And you can raise the stakes even higher with a camel trek to get there in style. Set off through the changing landscapes of Tanzania with a Masai guide at your side, and you’ll meet hyenas, zebras and elephants en route. Once the sun sets, you’ll eat by the light of a campfire and sleep under the stars. Then you’ll arrive fully-rested, ready to take on the world’s tallest freestanding mountain. This is definitely one to tell the grandkids.
7. By Car: Drive America’s Route 66
Get behind the wheel of a convertible and prepare to channel your inner Jack Kerouac on a road trip to remember. America’s Route 66 is the country’s most iconic highway for good reason: a drive down this revered road will give you a dose of Americana like no other. Stop off at old-school diners, stay in retro motels, and pass classic Mustangs and Chevys along the route. It’s a taste of the highway’s heyday back in the 1950s, and one thing’s guaranteed: you’ll never take another drive quite like it.
8. By Train: Ride the Trans-Siberian Railway
The Trans-Siberian railway is a try-before-you-die kind of experience. Take the Rossiya No 2 service across this vast Russian railway network and you’ll cross eight time zones to get from Moscow to Vladivostok. The journey takes six days and slices through parts of Russia most people don’t get to see in their lifetime. Plus, it connects to the Chinese rail network at one end, so you can keep going all the way to Beijing if your railway adventure isn’t quite finished.
9. By Air: Paraglide Over Oman
Muscat’s beauty is undeniable, wherever you’re standing. But the view of this port city from above is another thing altogether. Paraglide your way over the capital of Oman and prepare to be stunned at the vista. The birds-eye view takes in the Gulf of Oman, inland from the rocky mountain edge and out across the ultramarine ocean in the opposite direction. You can work your way up from novice paraglider to pilot licence-holder in the space of ten days. From there, you can paraglide anywhere in the world.
10. By Foot: Hike Through the Tierra del Fuego Mountains
Poised at the very tip of South America, the Tierra del Fuego archipelago is home to some of the most dramatic landscapes in the world. Vast inhospitable mountain ranges, soaring cliffs and icy glaciers give this Patagonian wilderness a kind of bleak beauty you won’t find anywhere else. It pulls in serious hikers like a magnet, and its allure is nothing new – explorers including Sir Francis Drake, Charles Darwin and Captain James Cook have all passed through here. Plus, if you pay a visit to the Argentine town of Ushuaia – the most southerly city on the planet – you’ve reached what’s known as ‘The End of the World’. As far as epic journeys go, it doesn’t get much more adventurous than that.