If you’re a big outdoor adventurer, or if you’d like to be, there are certain travel destinations you’ll really want to consider. While some places are all about kicking back with an exotic drink and just taking in the scenery, others offer a wealth of thrilling active pursuits along with the opportunity to relax and unwind. These spots in particular can make for an especially unforgettable trip that’s filled with adventure.
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Located in the southern region of Argentina, Patagonia not only boasts some of the most unspoiled natural landscapes in the Andes, but it’s an outdoor adventurer’s paradise. There are so many options you’ll have to return again and again to experience them all. The highlight, however, is the W Trek, one of the greatest hikes on the planet, which will take you through the spectacular peaks of the Torres del Paine, meandering among soaring jagged mountains, glistening lakes and rushing rivers, dense forest and plains. Other opportunities include off-roading, horse riding, cycling and climbing.
Legendary for its endless opportunities for heart-pounding adventures and breathtaking scenery from soaring snow-capped mountains and jewel-like lakes to a dazzling coastline edged by turquoise waters. Queenstown is the best of the best with the opportunity to enjoy everything from hiking, biking and climbing to whitewater rafting, diving and more. If you’re looking for something more extreme, consider taking in New Zealand’s beauty from 12,000 feet above ground by sky diving. Or, if you’re into bungee jumping, Queenstown is the place that started it all, with the daring throwing themselves off Kawarau Bridge since 1988.
The ultimate destination for adventurers with dramatic volcanic landscapes, glaciers, powerful waterfalls and roaring rivers, not to mention the hot springs for soothing sore muscles after a day of play, Iceland is a fantastic backdrop for all sorts of activities that can be enjoyed on foot, two wheels, horseback or boat. If you’re into diving, you can even take a dip between the North American and Eurasian plates in the Silfra fissure. There are lots of guided adventure trips available too- Extreme Iceland offers a host of active day and multi-day excursions.
Antarctica offers the chance to experience one of the world’s last true wilderness destinations. From Punta Arenas, Chile, you can board a small cruise ship and then camp out on the Antarctic ice via several different outfitters. Feel a thrill similar to what early explorers experienced as they attempted to conquer the continent while getting an up close look at massive icebergs and an icy landscape that stretches as far as the eye can see. The wildlife is incredible too, including huge penguin rookeries, seals and whales. When it’s time for bed, tuck into your cozy sleeping bag and fall asleep to the crackling sounds of the glaciers and the gentle sounds of the water and ice that wash onto the beach.
Baja California Sur, Mexico
If a more tropical, balmy adventure is what you had in mind. Head south to Baja California Sur, Mexico. A wealth of adventure awaits, with many trips departing from the city of La Paz. Baja Sur Tours offers a variety of options. From January to March you can take a boat tour on one of the lagoons to mingle with the gray whales, a time when mothers bring their calves to introduce them to curious humans. Then, there’s also swimming with whale sharks tours, with the massive but gentle animals in the waters right off the shores of La Paz, as well as the chance to snorkel and even play with sea lions who inhabit nearby Isla Espíritu Santo.
Joshua Tree National Park, California
Situated in the desert of Southern California just two hours from Los Angeles, Joshua Tree National Park offers a ton of activities in an other-worldly landscape for those looking for adventure. Just a few of the opportunities include challenging scrambles through a wonderland of massively-sized rocks in remote canyons, long hikes, rock climbing, and, after dark, relaxing while enjoying some of the best stargazing on the planet. This is a great place to learn how to rock climb as one of the world’s top climbing destinations too. Joshua Tree Rock Climbing School provides a two-day basic rock climbing course that includes all your gear.
Mindo Cloud Forest, Ecuador
Deep in the lush forest of Ecuador, just a two-hour drive from the capital city of Quito, the Mindo Cloud Forest not only offers a multitude of opportunities for adventurous excursions, but all sorts of wildlife, including some 400 bird species. Ride the cable car across the forested valley and hike to some half-dozen waterfalls, and even enjoy a refreshing dip in the pools that lie underneath. Afterwards, whiz across one of the zip lines or ride the thrilling Tarzan swing. In the town of Mindo itself wandering through the butterfly and hummingbird farm is a must.
There are few better places in the world to hike than the Swiss Alps. Book a tour with the active travel company Backroads, and you can enjoy an Summer Adventure with treks through wildflower-filled meadows, passing thundering waterfalls leading to high mountain passes with jaw-dropping panoramic views of Gornergletscher, a glacier with dazzlingly brilliant blue pools and deep crevasses, as well as the iconic Matterhorn.
Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe
Even more impressive than North America’s Niagra Falls, Victoria Falls straddles the border between Zambia and Zimbabwe, more than 330 feet high and a mile across. During the peak season, from February through April, it’s the largest waterfall on the planet. This region offers a wide range of adventurous activities in addition to marveling the massive falls. Ride the rapids on the wildest white water rafting trip in the world, go zip lining, rappel, hop on a gorge swing, and if you’re brave enough, the 364-foot-high bungee jump. There are more gentle pursuits here too, from animal safaris and river cruises to fishing and golfing.