Travelling is an adventure. Through travel, you can have new experiences, flavours and encounters that redefine your perception of the world. From adrenaline-pumping escapades to awe-inspiring expeditions, this bucket list is your passport to the most extraordinary and daring experiences the world has to offer.
Whether you seek to conquer towering peaks, dive into the depths of the ocean, or immerse yourself in diverse cultures, these adventures are bound to ignite your wanderlust and leave you craving more. Take this as a timely reminder that we all need to get out there, keep adventuring and challenge ourselves. Here are 40 top ideas to test your travel mettle.
An African safari at Shamwari
One of Africa’s most exclusive safari destinations, Shamwari offers not only the opportunity to see a multitude of African wildlife but also the chance to actively contribute to their preservation. Shamwari’s expert rangers ensure guests are treated to unforgettable wildlife adventures in the untamed African wilderness adventures including guided bush walks and photographic safaris. At the heart of Shamwari is an unwavering dedication to wildlife conservation and environmental sustainability. The reserve houses a Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre that cares for injured, sick, and orphaned animals, and a vulture breeding centre – a collaboration between Shamwari and vulture conservation organisation Vulpro. Shamwari also hosts two Born Free Big Cat Sanctuaries and Education Centres.
Bareboat in the Whitsundays
Join Portland Roads Sailing the Whitsundays – the only company licensed to sail to all 74 islands in the Whitsundays region – to go to islands others cannot and have bays all to yourself. The seven-strong fleet of luxury catamarans is available for bareboat – self-skippered – charter adventures for novice and experienced sailors alike. Better yet, visitors don’t need a boat license or sailing experience to skipper these 38- to 45-foot vessels, with an extensive briefing supplied. Once you set off, the wind in your sails and the salty air in your face, feel the burden of stress and responsibility slip away on the tide.
You can also feel content that this charter company is a sustainable tourism-accredited business, is carbon neutral, and holds Climate Action, Recognition of Culture and Advanced Ecotourism certifications. Portland Roads Sailing the Whitsundays really does respect the environment and the waters of Ngaro, its history, its people and the land that has flourished for millennia.
Visit the Northern Lights capital of the world
You’re all bundled up in warm clothes, standing in the crisp Alaskan air. Suddenly, a shimmering curtain of light appears, painting the sky in hues of green, red, and blue. Welcome to Fairbanks, Alaska – the Aurora Borealis capital of the world. Aurora Season in Fairbanks is from August 21 to April 21. Book a guided tour with a local operator, who will take you to the best viewing spots and provide insights into this fascinating phenomenon. Or venture out on your own, following the aurora forecast and seeking out secluded areas away from the distraction of the city lights.
Beyond the dazzling natural light show, Fairbanks offers everything from adrenaline-fuelled adventure to cultural immersion. Go dog sledding through the snowy wilderness or snowmobiling across frozen waterways. Take a guided tour of the Chena Hot Springs to soak in the mineral-rich waters. Visit the Fairbanks Ice Museum, and learn the history and culture of Alaska at the Museum of the North.
Nature experiences on Kangaroo Island
Everywhere you go on Kangaroo Island is a veritable wildlife safari. As soon as you arrive off the SeaLink ferry, your island exploration begins. In Flinders Chase National Park, marvel at the mercurial Remarkable Rocks, crafted over 500 million years, and venture down the boardwalk from Cape du Couedic Lighthouse to Admiral’s Arch, spotting long-nosed fur seals as you go. At Seal Bay Conservation Park, home to a population of endangered Australian sea lions, join a ranger-guided beach tour where you can watch from a respectable distance and learn about their incredible long-range fishing abilities. Afterwards, sample award-winning gins at Kangaroo Island Spirits, sip on a cider at Emu Ridge Eucalyptus Distillery, savour a wine at one of the island’s wineries or knock the top off a craft beer at Kangaroo Island Brewery.
Air safari in Australia
Australia has it all. Urban cities and tiny townships, rainforests, mountain ranges, outback deserts, coastlines, and rolling green hills. Australian Air Safaris allow you to see the best of Australia by private or light plane. You will see some most remote parts of the country quickly and efficiently, without hours of driving in between.
See Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park and King’s Canyon in the Northern Territory, traverse the Tasmanian wilderness or gaze upon the moonlike landscape of Mungo National Park in New South Wales. The multiple aircraft in the privately owned fleet are flown by pilots who double as expert guides. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime way to experience the land Down Under from above.
Japan’s most adventurous island
Tokashiki Island in Okinawa has a warm climate year-round and is a paradise for adventure seekers. The island is perfect for sea kayaking, snorkelling, diving with sea turtles and wildlife spotting. While Aharen Beach is the primary activity hub, stunning Tokashiku Beach stands out for its natural beauty. Visitors can also visit WWII historic sites, Shinto shrines, and traditional villages or take an e-Bike tour across the island. Then explore rice fields, the local village, see local wildlife and soak up the island’s breathtaking scenery from its observatories and high lookouts.
Tokashiki is easily accessed via a 40-minute, high-speed ferry from Naha. Perfect for an overnight stay, travellers can partake in night tours along the beach, and stay in a guesthouse, modern hotel, private beach house or one of the campsites on the island.
Sailing one of the world’s great cruising grounds is a bucket-list experience, and Queensland Yacht Charters, a member of Dream Yacht Worldwide, is the cream of the crop in the Whitsundays. Drop anchor in dreamy bays where you can frolic with fishy friends in a riot of colour, relax on board, and enjoy evening drinks with golden sunsets. You don’t have to have a boat licence – there is a comprehensive briefing before you set off. If you really want to put your feet up, you can choose a skippered charter. Set off from Airlie Beach or Hamilton Island and find your blissful base at places like Nara Inlet, Stonehaven or Butterfly Bay on Hook Island, and don’t miss Whitehaven Beach.
Be charmed in Ireland
Ireland is a playground for adventure seekers. Every step is guaranteed to be accompanied by a spirit of hospitality and warmth from the people you encounter along the way. From friendly chats in cosy pubs, where the locals regularly perform traditional music, to the warm hellos received on winding walking trails. Ireland offers kayaking at the Cliffs of Moher, pints and paragliding in Dingle, bike riding at the Ring of Kerry and scaling the Mourne Mountains. Take a tour of Giant’s Causeway to explore the interlocking basalt columns and tackle the Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge. Suspended above the water, the rope bridge was first erected by salmon fishermen 350 years ago and is sure to set pulses racing.
Aqua-packed Rockingham, WA
45 minutes south of Perth, Rockingham has 37km of sandy beaches, crystalline waters and protected bays. Animal encounters and bucket-list experiences abound in Rockingham. Explore the world beneath the water with a scuba diving lesson, or get up close and personal with the furred, feathered and finned residents of Shoalwater Islands Marine Park. Join a sea kayak tour of Penguin and Seal Islands, swim with wild dolphins or take in the idyllic surroundings from a stand-up paddleboard.
Set sail in Europe
Want to sail Greece, the Amalfi Coast, Corsica, the French Riviera, Malta, Croatia, or the Adriatic? Star Clippers’ European itineraries access small ports in charming villages and secluded coves. This means you can experience Europe’s off-the-beaten-path destinations with small, handcrafted shore excursions. Each ship welcomes no more than 230 guests, with legendary service and gourmet culinary offerings. You can even lend a hand hoisting the sails, or just lay back and let the crew do all the work. With ships boasting billowing sails as they harness the power of the wind for a true sailing experience, you can also be sure that your journey is a sustainable one.
Cape York Motorcycles
With Cape York Motorcycles you can feel the freedom of riding a dirt bike through lush bushland, twisty forest trails and across creeks in Cape York, North Queensland. All while leaving minimal impact. You’ll venture to places you never thought possible on a seven-day adventure experience, including the chance to discover some local gems, including the Old Telegraph Track, Tip of Australia, Heritage listed Rainforests, Historic Cooktown, and picturesque Twin Falls – and you might even spot a croc or cassowary along the way. The multi-award-winning company was the first of its kind to achieve Eco-Certification and it takes the environment seriously. From its maintenance of the bikes to maintaining fuel efficiency to fundraising for local conservation and community activities.
Gorillas in Rwanda
Rwanda is a wonder. Although geographically small, this landlocked country is blessed with unique biodiversity and landscapes decorated with volcanoes, montane rainforest and rolling plains. Hidden within the undulating vistas are more than half of the world’s remaining mountain gorilla population, and travellers come from far and wide to catch a glimpse of the magnificent creatures.
From animal encounters with chimpanzees and golden monkeys to inspiring cultural enrichment and jaw-dropping environments, One&Only Resorts affords guests the ability to experience all that Rwanda has to offer. Its two unique properties, One&Only Nyungwe House and One&Only Gorilla’s Nest offer an array of once-in-a-lifetime experiences.
WA’s secret islands
The Houtman Abrolhos Islands are Australia’s best-kept secret and the best way to explore them is on a five-day cruise on the Eco Abrolhos, a 35m, four-deck catamaran that can carry 32 passengers in 17 air-conditioned cabins with ensuites. Set off to this stunning marine wonderland, 70 kilometres off the coast of Geraldton. Recently declared a National Park, the Abrolhos Islands consist of 122 islands in three main groups; the Wallabi, Pelsaert or Southern Group and Easter Groups. Snorkel on coral reefs, join a lobster pot tour, go fishing to enjoy ocean-to-plate cuisine and learn about the famous survival story of the shipwrecked Batavia. Eco Abrolhos also offers a 13-night Kimberley itinerary, going further and seeing more, to places like Horizontal Falls, Montgomery Reef and King George River.
Stay, play and stargaze in Flagstaff, Arizona
Immerse yourself in the breathtaking vistas of Grand Canyon National Park before dining in one of Flagstaff’s 200 restaurants, grab a craft beer along the Flagstaff Brewery Trail and get your pics on Route 66 with a visit to the Flagstaff Visitor Center. Visit Wupatki National Monument, where 800-year-old pueblos stand as a testament to ancient civilisations. Delve into geologic wonders and the history of the Apollo moon missions at Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument and explore the Island Trail’s cliff dwellings and scenic overlooks at Walnut Canyon National Monument.
Flagstaff’s celestial allure has earned its status as the world’s first international dark sky city. Experience the cosmos at Lowell Observatory, where Pluto was discovered in 1930. Visit Meteor Crater, the world’s best-preserved meteor impact site. Then cap off your City of Seven Wonders adventure, full of wonder under Flagstaff’s star-studded skies.
Go cruising – but not as you know it
In the world of cruising, size matters, but not in the way you might think. UnCruise Adventures is demonstrating how going small can lead to big, unforgettable experiences. With fewer passengers and smaller vessels, UnCruise minimises its ecological footprint. UnCruise’s all-inclusive seven- and 14-night adventure itineraries explore destinations such as Alaska, Hawaii, the Galapagos, Mexico, and the Aleutian Islands, focusing on nature, wildlife, and outdoor adventures that begin right off the boat. Passengers are invited to enjoy kayaking, hiking, and wildlife watching in pristine, remote locations they’d otherwise be unable to reach. The company also places a strong emphasis on community support and local partnerships, connecting travellers with the communities they visit.
School your kids with Bear Grylls
Bear Grylls is the epitome of an outdoors type of guy. He can survive in all kinds of terrain, find food everywhere – even though it may not be tasty – and he can sleep out in the elements. With a lot of our kids these days more attuned to the indoors than out, it is a great idea to sign them up for the Bear Grylls Survival Academy, the ultimate outdoor experience exclusive to NRMA Holiday Parks and Resorts. Each 60-minute mission is completely supervised and aims to teach kids how to think like a survivor, and a lot of fun will be had and new friends will be made during the process.
Hidden beneath the crystalline waves of Western Australia’s Coral Bay is a wonderland of marine wildlife. From turtles and whales to dolphins, dugongs, manta rays and reef sharks, the pristine waters are an idyllic escape for swimmers, snorkellers and divers alike. To experience the best of the region, embark upon a five-night Ningaloo Reef Tour aboard Shore Thing, a beautifully appointed 15-metre catamaran with cabins and staterooms to accommodate up to 10 guests. Hosted by Sail Ningaloo, the cruise navigates 70 kilometres of calm waters from the coral formations of Coral Bay and the thriving ecosystem of Bateman Bay, on to the historical ruins of the Norwegian Bay whaling station. Hear tragic tales of the shipwrecks on the reef before exploring the locale by snorkelling, scuba diving or kayaking along the secluded coastline. It’s a unique experience for passengers as Sail Ningaloo is one of the only operators with access to these preserved natural areas.
Rock climbing in Yosemite National Park
Few could walk among the dramatic plunging waterfalls, sky-high granite cliffs and giant sequoias of California’s Yosemite National Park and not leave a changed person. While it’s famed for its hikes, people have been rock climbing here since the late 60s. The appeal? Adrenalin alone as you reach the highest peaks in the park. Join a climbing class (they meet daily) and you’ll soon be scaling this pristine locale with ease and soaking it up from a whole new perspective.
Slow travel in Switzerland
The Jungfrau Region in Switzerland boasts 500 kilometres of well-maintained and signposted trails in this jagged peaked, green-carpeted wonderland. Take the 1.5-hour trail from Männlichen to Kleine Scheidegg, enveloped by majestic mountains, or tackle the two-hour downhill walk from the Jungfrau railway station at the Eiger Glacier to Kleine Scheidegg. This walk takes you from the famous wall of rock that is the North Face of the Eiger, down along its base with striking views.
Foiling in Fiji
Foiling is taking off in surf breaks around the world. If you want to learn to foil or improve your technique, head to Namotu in Fiji. A tiny slice of palm-fringed paradise, Namotu is a huge aquatic playground that offers foil and surf programmes offering everything you could possibly need. Sign up for the Surf and Foil Camps with Matt Wilkinson and Adam Bennetts, with unlimited use of surfboats to get out to the famous breaks around Namotu, a surf guide, professional filming, use of Fliteboards, as well as the delights of this exquisite island.
Horse riding tour in Africa
From the pristine waters of Botswana’s Okavango Delta to the lush grasslands of Kenya’s Masai Mara, the striking landscape of Namibia and vibrant Rajasthan, The Classic Safari Company’s luxury horse riding holidays will see you saddle up for an active and exhilarating safari through stunning scenery. Whether you’re a seasoned rider or simply an adventurous thrill seeker looking to gallivant in thrilling style, The Classic Safari Company’s itineraries, led by experienced guides and staying in luxurious lodges and camps, offer a unique and unforgettable safari experience.
Ski at Val d’Isere
The French Alps are home to some of the biggest resorts in the world with snow-covered mountain views that stretch all the way to Switzerland and Italy. Val d’Isère has a whopping 300km of skiable terrain with a wide variety of runs across two mountains and numerous peaks. For an extra adrenaline rush, try paragliding from the top of Solaise Mountain, learn a new skill by signing up to biathlon lessons, tackle an illuminated night ropes course, go snowmobiling through the mystical snow country above the Chevril Dam, venture out on an electric mountain bike tour, or try climbing up a frozen waterfall. For added adventure of the party kind, head to La Folie Douce for a cocktail or three.
Jaw-dropping hikes in Scotland
The Quiraing Walk on the Isle of Skye is a piece of heaven for photographers and nature enthusiasts. The trail traverses some of the most beautiful and dramatic scenery in Scotland. The 6.8km challenging circuit’s soaring cliffs, hidden plateaus and gravity-defying rock pinnacles are worth every hard-earned step. The hike is just part of the Trotternish Ridge on Scotland’s Hebrides archipelago.
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Swim the globe
A great way to see the world is to swim it. SwimTrek offers swim tours that cover from three to eight kilometres a day in scenic destinations. Whether it’s swimming along Oman’s fjords in the Musandam Peninsula, delighting in the Greek Islands, Maldives or Croatia, discovering Saskatchewan’s Churchill River system in Canada, encountering sea lions and marine iguanas in the Galapagos Islands, or tackling the Thames in England, you’ll be led by experienced swim guides. Tours include above-water activities like hiking, yoga, kayaking, and sightseeing, showcasing the natural beauty of each destination
Dive between two continents
Swimming between tectonic plates may sound like science fiction. But take a trip into Iceland’s Thingvellir National Park and you’ll find it’s a very real experience. Silfra Fissure is filled with glacial meltwater from Langjokull, and it’s one of the best snorkelling spots in the world. It is located between the North American and Eurasian tectonic plates, which move apart at a rate of 2cm per year. Explore incredible submarine rock formations such as the Silfra Crack, Hall, Cathedral and Lagoon and marvel at the jewel-hued algae that grow within them.
Summit the Macau Tower
Conquer the world’s highest urban climb by summiting the Macau Tower. From level 61 of the tower, you’ll be guided up 100 metres of internal and external ladders before reaching the needle tip of the tower that sticks out 338m into the sky. At the summit, be prepared to cling tightly to a mast that can sway in the wind as you stand on a narrow, open-air platform, exposed to the elements. Those with nerves of steel will be rewarded with the best views of Macau, Zhuhai and the Pearl River Delta.
The glittering cityscape of Dubai is an unforgettable sight. The towering Burj Khalifa skyscraper, luxury boutiques and fine dining establishments make this cosmopolitan city by the sea the jewel of the United Arab Emirates. However, visitors should look skywards if seeking a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Skydive Dubai offers Palm and Desert dropzones, tandem skydives for first-timers and classes for those looking to fly solo. Not for the faint of heart, tandem skydiving hits a freefall of more than 193km per hour and has unbelievable views of Palm Jumeirah Island, Ain Dubai and Burj al Arab.
Indonesia’s best diving
On a tiny island in Indonesia, Wakatobi Resort is punching well above its weight in marine protection initiatives. Located on a UNESCO marine biosphere reserve, the resort is renowned for its diving the world over. There are 50 mapped dive sites, 1,000 fish species and more than 500 varieties of multi-hued corals, sea fans and sponges. The resort’s private marine park is the largest coral barrier reef in Indonesia – second to the Great Barrier Reef. Through its Collaborative Reef Conservation Program, a portion of resort revenue goes directly to local communities.
Kayak in Canada
Haida Gwaii, nestled off British Columbia’s coast, is best explored by kayak. Glide through the Burnaby Narrows, explore UNESCO World Heritage Site, Ninstints, and delve into the wilds of Gwaii Haanas National Park Reserve’s southern reaches, to encounter orcas, humpbacks, and bears as you learn the rich history of Haida’s First Nations seafaring culture from expert guides.
Abseil Table Mountain
Abseiling down the iconic Table Mountain is an experience for thrill-seekers, offering breathtaking views as you scale 112 metres down one of the Seven Wonders of Nature. This one-hour experience involves a controlled descent down from one of the world’s highest commercial abseiling points, 1,067m above sea level. The panoramic views over the Mother City from the cliff’s edge are unbeatable, featuring Robben Island, Lions Head, The Twelve Apostles and Camps Bay, with the dazzling blue Atlantic under your feet. Cape Town Abseil is a pulse-racing experience to get under your belt.
Mountain bike in North Dakota
Mountain bikers come from near and far to ride The Maah Daah Hey Trail trail in North Dakota, the longest single-track mountain biking route in the USA. The Maah Daah Hey Trail is a 230-kilometre playground connecting the north and south units of the Theodore Roosevelt National Park and running through the Little Missouri Grasslands and the rugged Badlands. Most experienced riders will do it over four or five days, either carrying their own camping gear or organising someone to take it for them. You can also book a group ride through Dakota Cyclery at Medora.
Heli-hike in Canada
Hike above deep valleys, icefields and glacial lakes in the otherworldly British Columbia on a heli-hike experience with CMH at places like Bugaboos or Cariboos. Here, you can follow in the footsteps of legendary mountaineers as you roam among sky-scraping granite titans in one of the province’s great natural wonders. After each day hiking on your four or seven-day adventure, enjoy a hearty dinner and bed down in rustic luxury.
Paddle the Bermagui River
Paddle up the seven-kilometre Bermagui River alongside mangrove forests and lofty woodlands, that herons, kingfishers and sea eagles call home. The emerald water of this estuary on NSW’s Sapphire Coast is the playground for ecotourism Australia-certified Navigate Expeditions. Stop for a swim in a secluded spot with your expert guide, and then glide back down the river to the sound of nothing but your oar hitting the glassy water, and the tranquil song of the bellbird.
White water rafting in Arizona
Roar along the Colorado River through one of the world’s most stunning natural wonders with Grand Canyon Whitewater. A whitewater adventure offers breathtaking views of towering red rock formation, rugged landscapes and hidden waterfalls. Navigate adrenaline-pumping rapids and tranquil stretches as you experience the Grand Canyon’s geological history and unique ecosystems up close. All rafting trips are led by experienced and certified guides and multi-day trips allow you to camp beneath the stars and explore hidden side canyons, with knowledgeable guides sharing fascinating insights.
Explore Africa’s waterways
Watch an African sunset on a Chobe River cruise, then glide through the Okavango Delta on a traditional mokoro (canoe). Abercrombie & Kent’s nine-day ‘African Waterways’ journey explores the unspoiled beauty of Botswana’s natural wonders. Delve deep into the heart of the Okavango Delta and the wilderness of Chobe National Park, which has one of the largest concentrations of game on the continent. Experience thrilling game safaris by 4WD, boat, and on foot, plus a spectacular helicopter flight to Sanctuary Chief’s Camp for extraordinary game viewing in the Mombo Concession, Africa’s “predator capital”. Finish each day in sophisticated style with sundowners, spa treatments and private accommodation at Sanctuary Retreats’ Lodges & Camps.
Glaciers in New Zealand
Walking on a glacier is an unforgettable experience. In New Zealand’s South Island, stepping out on the ice is easy. New Zealand’s Glacier Country is home to Fox Glacier and Franz Josef Glacier, the most accessible rivers of ice in the world. Fox Glacier Guiding runs a range of tours to Fox Glacier, from a half-day e-bike and hike through Fox Glacier Valley to the adrenaline-addled Flying Fox Heli-Hikes. Choose the half-day option or go big, and do the full-day tour where you’ll put on your crampons and climb through the icefalls and dramatic landscapes of this frozen natural wonder.
Hot air balloon over the African plains
Take to the skies to spot wildlife on a hot air balloon safari in Africa. Adventure Aloft Balloon Safaris offer these surreal experiences over the Masai Mara, Serengeti, Ngorongoro Conservation Area and Tarangire National Park. Watch in the dark of the pre-dawn, as the balloon expands, before lifting off. The pilot flies at various heights, wildlife spotting as you fly along. Once the balloon lands, it’s off to a spectacular breakfast on the open plains, with a dazzle of zebra, nervous impala and maybe even a giraffe.
Cruise French canals
Paris will be really jumping during the Olympics in July and August 2024. After all the fun of the Games, chill out on a canal boat holiday with Le Boat – Europe’s number one boating holiday company. Discover the beauty of the countryside from the country’s canals and romantic rivers, explore the sights, or stop at any time to relax and indulge in fine French wines and delicious food. There are nine regions to choose from including the Canal du Midi, Nivernais, the Camargue and Brittany. The boats are easy to drive, can cater for from two to 10+ people, and you can explore at your own pace.
An emerging trekking hotspot
The Transcaucasian Trail stretches across the borderlands between Europe and Asia and will link more than 20 national parks across Azerbaijan, Georgia, and Armenia. World Expeditions is offering guided treks along the Trail in Georgia, with highlights including Tbilisi, stunning views in Svaneti, the ancient sites of Mtskheta and Uplistsikhe, Mount Ushba’s waterfalls and Mount Tetnuli’s glaciers.
Surprisingly, Africa’s tallest mountain isn’t part of a mountain range. Instead, it presides free and tall over the plains of Tanzania at 5,895 metres above sea level. Mount Kilimanjaro is a dormant volcano home to monkeys, antelope and highland animals. Those who crave an alpine adventure can make the climb to its snow-capped peak with a bit of help from tour operator Maasai Wanderings. Whether a seven-day challenge or two-week journey piques your interest, climbers can explore the African rainforest, scrublands and the icy summit of the Roof of Africa.
We hope you travel far and wide to embark on whichever adventure on this list piques your interest.
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