K.C. was a featured writer for Yahoo! Travel before joining trips to discover in 2013. She is the author of Best Travel Guide for First Time Visitors to Ireland, an Amazon bestseller every year between 2013 and 2016. She has been a featured expert on Newsweek, Travel + Leisure, Travelocity, among others.
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There are so many benefits to taking an adventure tour, including discovering places you might not otherwise find out about, traveling with like-minded people and having an unforgettable time. From more gentle activities like going for an easy hike through spectacular scenery to elephant treks and swimming with sharks, these adventure tours offer something for everyone.
Hang Gliding Interlaken specializes in tandem flights above the Swiss Alps – the “Heart-Stopping Heights” tour is not for the faint of heart. Thrill-seekers will not only enjoy a heart-pounding experience but the ultimate in the breathtaking mountain scenery. If you aren’t up for an over-the-top adventure, you can choose a smooth, scenic flight, but for an especially unforgettable experience, take the wilder ride with extreme dives and wingovers along with the chance to practically touch the clouds while enjoying jaw-dropping views of Switzerland. You can even bring home the in-flight DVD just to prove you’ve really been there and done that.
Vagabond specializes in small group adventure tours in the beautiful, lush Emerald Isle. The 8-day Wild Irish Rover Tour offers the chance to take in some of Ireland’s most impressive scenery, from the beautiful, rugged coastline to Connemara’s towering mountains, including the famous Cliffs of Moher, Killarney National Park and the Blarney Stone. Activity options including hiking, horseback riding, mountain biking and even the chance to paddle in a sea kayak alongside Fungi the Dolphin in the glistening waters of the Dingle Peninsula.
Unique Jungle Tours offers this once-in-a-lifetime experience that includes a four-day safari in the Mahale Mountains of Mahale Mountain National Park, the home of a rare large number of wild chimpanzees. Visitors access the park via boat or light aircraft and can join in on research studies that track wild habituated chimpanzees as well as take part in all sorts of activities from mountain climbing to snorkeling, fishing and kayaking to relaxing on pristine, deserted white sandy beaches.
Living the Dream Divers Tour on Seven Mile Beach in the Cayman Islands is available to divers of all abilities. Whether you’re looking for a low-key adventure like snorkeling in the shallow waters of Stingray City or going all out and scuba diving among nurse sharks, moray eels, sea turtles along with a wealth of tropical fish, this tour is ideal. The Cayman Islands are well known as one of the best destinations on the entire planet for jumping into a spectacular, balmy underwater world with schools of brightly colored fish and southern stingrays. Living the Dream Divers will even pick you up from your hotel or condo along Seven Mile Beach.
Quark Expeditions offers the chance to do what few people on earth can: mingle with penguins, seals and whales in Antarctica, the most pristine, remote location on the planet. The package includes your flight from Chile over the Drake Passage to the Antarctic Peninsula, where you’ll enter the Antarctic Circle by ship to Adelaide Island. Activity options including snowshoeing over fresh powder, accessing areas that few humans ever see, polar camping and kayaking across tranquil waters through astounding icebergs.
Italiaoutdoors Food and Wine offers the Agony and Ecstasy Bike Tour, its most extreme cycling tour. The seven-day adventure features an especially hardcore itinerary that includes some of the most difficult climbs in the Dolomites, known for their sheer cliffs and vertical walls in the northern Italian Alps. This tour is designed for the serious cyclist who is up for a big challenge through this demanding terrain – along with the rewards of incredible scenery, fabulous homemade meals and great local wine.
Hiking enthusiasts who are looking for an off-the-beaten-path adventure, are sure to find it with the Jiankou Great Wall Hike. Hikers will enjoy easy access, albeit a heavily traveled path in the Great Wall’s restored area, as well as many isolated, virtually untouched spots throughout the six-hour trek. You’ll need a sturdy walking stick and a semi-tough constitution, but the views make it well worth your while, especially for the chance to take it all in without hordes of other tourists. Hiking the Wall also offers a 2-day trek with the chance to camp overnight, viewing a spectacular sunrise and sunset on the old Wall. This adventure is not for those with a fear of heights.
Desafio Adventure Company offers everything a thrill-seeker could ever want in beautifully lush Costa Rica. Travelers have the opportunity to rappel down a cascading waterfall and then follow the river through deep gorges as well as to hike to the edge of the Arenal Volcano National Park, where molten lava is still flowing from the volcano. Try your hand at canyoneering, soak in soothing natural hot springs or journey through the rainforest on horseback where you’ll mingle with toucans, monkeys, armadillos and sloths.
Jackson Hole Whitewater’s classic white-water rafting tour is suitable for just about all ages, with its eight-mile excursion down Wyoming’s Snake River allowing travelers to paddle through the winding rapids, or sit back and just enjoying the magnificent scenery. It’s perfect for families with young children, but it’s still a lot of fun with a number of big waves along the way. If you’re up for a bigger challenge, join in the eight-person raft trip in which riders are required to pull their own weight while powerfully paddling through the twists and turns of the winding river.
Visiting an elephant sanctuary is a must when visiting Thailand, as it is truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience. The Elephant Nature Park in Chiang Mai is one of the best, as the owner “Lek”, an award-winning conservationist, is dedicated to rescuing injured and mistreated elephants. Instead of riding the elephants, visitors are given the opportunity to observe these gentle giants in an expansive prairie and feed them baskets of fruit.
KE Adventure Travel offers an unforgettable six-day walking tour over the recently opened Waitukubuli National trail on Dominica, offering visitors the chance to experience the stunning natural beauty of the island’s quiet, uncrowded beaches as well as its rugged, jungle-veiled terrain. It begins at the southernmost tip of the island, covering 115 miles of rainforest, reaching the innermost areas of the island as well as both coasts, culminating in Portsmouth at the north end of the island. The tour includes a Caribbean culture cooking class as well as guesthouse lodging and the chance to interact with island natives, who live on 3,700 acres that were set aside for them in 1903 along the east coast. Dominica is the only island in the Eastern Caribbean that still has a population of pre-Columbian native Caribs, who were exterminated or driven from neighboring islands.
The snow leopard is one of the most elusive, and the rarest, cats on the planet. To have the chance to spot one, you’ll have to head to some of the most remote regions on earth, like the rugged Altai mountain range in western Mongolia. Nomadic Expeditions, in partnership with the World Wildlife Fund, offers this very unique two-week adventure tour which includes hiking up to six hours a day while camels carry your belongings, in a land with soaring 8,000-foot peaks and massive alpine lakes in search of this beautiful creature. You’ll stay and dine with nomadic Mongolian host families in traditional ger dwellings.
Jericoacoara, or Jeri as it’s often called, is still a relatively undiscovered coastal village, located in northwestern Brazil. Getting there isn’t easy, but it is fun, arriving by 4X4 over rough roads. Once you’re there, you’ll get to enjoy the experience of snowboarding at the beach, though technically you’ll be “sandboarding.” It’s like snowboarding but you’ll glide across the sand dunes rather than snowy slopes. Travelers also enjoy picturesque ocean views while taking part in other activities like horseback riding, yoga and surfing.
If you’ve ever wanted to know what it might be like to swim with sharks, here’s your chance. North Shore Shark Adventures in Haleiwa, Hawaii provides a first-hand encounter with these amazing creatures. You’ll travel three miles offshore before being invited to enter a secure metal cage from which to view the brilliant underwater world. With such clear waters in the area, tour-goers can expect to see 200 feet into the distance while enjoying a very up-close-and-personal experience with the sharks as well as other marine life, including sea turtles and dolphins.
Upplevelsebolaget (say that three times!) is an eco-tour operator based just outside the town of Uddevalla in Sweden, easily accessible by train or bus from Gothenburg, along the spectacular Bohuslan coast, where thousands of islands await to be explored by kayak. The islands begin at Kosterhavet Marine National Park near the border with Norway, stretching down to the remote Weather Islands. Not only can travelers enjoy some of the best sea kayaking on earth, but there are opportunities for mountain biking and rock climbing too. Upplevelsebolaget offers a number of guided and unguided single- and multi-day paddle trips, with the 3-day tour to Havstenssund said to be one of the most popular. Your kayak, all equipment, tent and meals are provided.
What better place to learn to scuba than Fiji, and from a Cousteau at that. Whether you’re a beginner or a pro, the Jean-Michel Cousteau Resort in Fiji offers an experience of a lifetime by exploring the world-class Namena reefs. If you’re new to the sport, you’ll have the chance to learn from expert staff with the very best, cutting-edge equipment and techniques. The resort also features activities like Medicine Walks, hiking and kayaking along with a spa offering beachside treatments. Guest stay in freestanding thatched-roof huts with ocean views.