Itching to take the road less travelled? These trip ideas are just what you need.
Calling all thrill seekers! If you’re tired of taking the same ol’ holidays to predictable destinations, Lonely Planet’s Atlas of Adventure is the perfect guide to planning the action-packed vacation you’ve always dreamed of. Gear up for adrenalin-pumping activities in exotic, far-ﬂung locales. Here are 10 recommendations to whet your wanderlust.
Central America’s quirkiest adrenalin activity is a 50-minute drive from the colonial city of Leon, and an hour’s uphill hike, which brings you to the summit of the still-active Cerro Negro (728m). The ﬁne, black volcanic ash on the 41-degree slope is perfect for boarding or ash surﬁng. You simply place your backside on board and let gravity do its thing. Boarders can be at the bottom again in under three minutes – and blacker in the face and clothes, with a wider grin.
To experience the head-spins (pink dolphins, potential sightings of capuchin monkeys, tapirs, three-toed sloths and caiman) and horrors (piranhas, humidity and horrendous insects) of the Brazilian rainforest, you need to travel along the water that powers it all. Multi-day canoe trips can be taken along tributaries of the Amazon, such the Urubu, which can be accessed via Manaus. Sea kayaking is possible all along the Atlantic coast – including around Rio, offering a unique perspective of iconic sights such as Sugarloaf Mountain and Christ the Redeemer – but the Costa Verde in southeast Brazil, accessed via Paraty in the Bay of Ilha Grande, is particularly spectacular, with dramatic Jurassic Park-esque coastline vistas and even a tropical fjord: Saco do Mamangua. Just 74km from the megatropolis of Sao Paulo, the Juquitiba River washes the urban grime from wide-eyed paddle-grabbers during white-water rafting trips that are at their feistiest from November to March. Rafting can also be enjoyed on the Foz do Iguacu, by the famous falls, and on Rio Novo in Minas Gerais, Tijucas River in Santa Catarina, and Jacaru River in Para.
Mires cover a ﬁfth of mainland Estonia, and play an important role in the country’s folklore. During summer, strap on a pair of bog shoes (like snowshoes) and enjoy an amble around these mysterious peaty domains, which are over 10,000 years old and boast unique wildlife. Top bog walks include Lahemaa and Viru in the north, and Soomaa and Matsalu in the south.
An hour south of Paris is the best, most famous and historic bouldering area in the world: Fontainebleau. Imagine all the things that would make for a perfect bouldering area – ﬂat, sandy landings, endless boulders, soft-on-the-skin sandstone, unique shapes, densely concentrated problems – and you will ﬁnd them here. Originally considered a training ground for the Alps, bleausards (local climbers) have been bouldering here for more than 100 years. What’s more, it’s considered a rite of passage to get burnt off by well-muscled geriatric bleausards, who generally have all the classics wired. Best of all, you are never too far from a cafe au lait and croissant, while rest days can be spent touring the art galleries and museums of Paris.
The Namib is the world’s oldest desert, but there’s a new way to experience its dunes: on a board. Not far from Namibia’s coastal town of Swakopmund, one of Southern Africa’s top adventure-activity capitals, there are mountains of sand that provide perfect slopes to carve down. When you ﬁrst set eyes on the dunes towering hundreds of metres into the blue African sky, you’ll begin to buzz with anticipation, though it’s wise to conserve a little energy. Your journey of joy starts with a hike up to your launching point. With board, gloves and goggles in hand, you’re eventually staring down over some serious off-piste action. Now, strap in, lean further back than you’re used to (if you’re familiar with snowboarding) and let loose! Once you’ve had your ﬁll, try the lie-down schuss option, which will see you hit speeds of 80km/h. Alter Action runs daily dune boarding trips from Swakopmund.
Experience the world's oldest desert on a board. Mountains of sand provide perfect slopes to carve down.
An exciting combination of scrambling, jumping, wild swimming and free climbing, coasteering involves traversing the intertidal zone of a section of a coast without using a boat, board or ropes. Participants should expect to get wet and meet jagged rocks, and wear appropriate safety clothing: typically a wetsuit, helmet and footwear. The concept was coined in 1986 by Andy Middleton, director of TYF Adventure in Pembrokeshire, Wales. Today, the pursuit is offered by hundreds of operators who guide groups on rugged shorelines all around the UK – especially Wales, Cornwall and Devon – and well beyond. It’s also practised independently, but good local knowledge is crucial for safety.
In Jamaica, river rafting doesn’t mean white water, but rather its diametric opposite: being punted gently on a bamboo raft. Try the Great River and Martha Brae, but deﬁnitely don’t miss the Rio Grande – popularised by Australian-born actor Errol Flynn – for 12km of heart- stoppingly beautiful countryside, with easy rapids and pools to swim in.
Stumbled upon by a local farmer only in 1990, and ﬁrst explored in 2009, Son Doong is the world’s largest cave by volume. In 2013, the ﬁrst visitors were allowed into the cavern, but it’s no simple spelunking jaunt. Located in Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park in central Vietnam, near the Laos border, the remote cave can only be entered on guided trips run by Quang Binh- based Oxalis Adventure Tours, which rightly claims that fewer people have entered the cave than have stood on the summit of Mount Everest. The challenging trip involves more than a day of trekking to the cave entrance, passing through swift-ﬁlled Hang En Cave (the world’s third-largest) along the way. Visitors here spend three days in Son Doong Cave, camping inside it each night. Its dimensions are extraordinary and comprise passages as high as 200m and as wide as 150m. In fact, it is said that you could ﬂy a 747 through it. The journey involves underground river crossings and strands of jungle nurtured by the sunlight that pours through the cave’s two large dolines.
Don't miss rafting on Jamaica's Rio Grande River for 12km of heart-stoppingly beautiful countryside.
With each stroke of the paddle you’ll know that you are stirring a river where giants lurk. And although the canoe glides ever so silently across the water’s still surface, you quickly get the feeling that you are being watched. Eyes of hippos and crocodiles pop up here and there, vanishing beneath the surface as swiftly as they appear. The Mighty Zambezi River’s banks in Lower Zambezi National Park are no less dramatic, with prowling lions, hulking elephants and a plethora of birdlife. Considering the closeness of the encounters, the experience feels as intimate as it does alarming. Unforgettable.
Canada’s indigenous history and European roots are tightly entwined with trade, travel and exploration via dogsledding, and mushing is a central part of the country’s culture. Reliving this historical partnership while being dragged at considerable speed (teams of six dogs can reach up to 30km/h) across distances of around 80km per day is an exhilarating experience. You will ﬁnd dogsled tours in most Canadian provinces and the chance to see how these dogs – and their owner/mushers – work as a team to transport you into the wilderness is something not to be missed. Although you will ﬁnd similar dogsledding experiences in other provinces as well, Hautes-Gorges-de-la-Riviere-Malbaie National Park (yep, it’s a mouthful) is one of Canada’s premier dogsledding destinations, thanks to its mix of mountains, cliffs, wild rivers, and remote log cabins. The best thing is, most dogsledding guide outﬁts will show you how to harness up and then lead your own dog team, ensuring that your childhood dream of reliving that Jack London adventure becomes an unforgettable reality. Just don’t stop for the bears!
Fewer people have entered the Son Doong Cave than have stood on the summit of Mount Everest.
REPRODUCED WITH PERMISSION FROM LONELY PLANET’S ATLAS OF ADVENTURE, © 2017
PHOTOS (VOLCANO BOARDING) MARKUS RENNER/GETTY IMAGES/FSTOP (KAYAKING) JOSÉ EDUARDO NUCCI/GETTY IMAGES (BOG WALKING) ANNA GRIGORJEVA/SHUTTERSTOCK (BOULDERING) 123RF.COM (DUNE BOARDING) KLAUS BRANDSTAETTER/GETTY IMAGES PHOTOS (COASTEERING) PETE SEAWARD/LONELY PLANET (CAVING) MIKE ROWBOTTOM/500PX (RAFTING) DOUGLAS PEARSON/GETTY IMAGES (CANOE SAFARI) 123RF.COM (DOG SLEDDING) BENOIT ROUSSEAU/GETTY IMAGES