Holidays may seem like a distant memory amid the coronavirus pandemic, but we still need a little dose of travel inspiration for when the lockdown is lifted. And after being confined to your own home (and garden, if you're lucky) for several weeks, your ideal summer holiday may not be the usual week of sun, sea and sand! If you're dreaming of a more exciting break, you’ll love these action-packed adventure holidays in destinations as diverse as Peru, Zimbabwe and Canada. Whether you want a challenge to test your physical and mental strength or simply want a once-in-a-lifetime experience that you’ll never forget, we’ve got it all and then some. Read on for our top 20 adventure holidays around the world…
1) Trek the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu
It’s no wonder Machu Picchu often features high on many people’s travel bucket lists; this ancient city is set high in the Andes Mountains in Peru, with the trek to get there an adventure in itself, involving four days of hiking at altitudes of up to 4,200m. If you don’t fancy doing it alone, book onto an organised tour along the Inca Trail, many of which include activities like paddle-boarding and zip-lining along the way.
2) Run the Great Wall Marathon
Sure, you could walk along part of the Great Wall of China, but why not test yourself even further by running the Great Wall Marathon? Considered one of the world’s most challenge marathons, the arduous course includes some 5,164 steps and passes through the lower valley and into the neighbouring villages. It was completed by none other than Pippa Middleton in 2016, with the Duchess of Cambridge’s sister crossing the finish line in an impressive 4 hours and 54 minutes.
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3) Take the Three Peaks challenge
You don’t have to leave the UK for an adventure holiday; challenge yourself by taking on the Three Peaks Challenge, climbing the three highest peaks of Scotland, England and Wales. While many people aim to do this in as little as 24 hours, you could take your time and allow stops in each country to turn it into more of a holiday, and break up the 462-mile drive between all three.
4) Go on a walking safari in Zimbabwe
Take the traditional safari experience to the next level by swapping a jeep for a walking safari tour in Zimbabwe. A number of small guided walking safaris are available at Hwange National Park, home to lions, leopards, rhinos, elephants and much more. An experience to remember.
5) Explore the lost city of Petra and Wadi Rum desert, Jordan
An eclectic group of celebs including Princess Beatrice, Ellie Goulding and Karlie Kloss all holidayed here together early in 2017, and we can see why they loved it so much. Jordan has a plethora of things to see and do, including visiting the lost city of Petra and exploring the desert on sand buggies or by camel. Thrill-seekers won’t want to miss abseiling and rock climbing in Wadi Rum.
6) Swim alongside endangered species in Australia
Located in Western Australia, Ningaloo Reef attracts 500 species of fish, along with some endangered species like hawksbill and loggerhead turtles, which nest on beaches and islands close to Ningaloo between November and April. You may be able to spot them – along with humpback whales – during a snorkelling trip along the beautiful reef.
7) Go on an adrenaline-filled adventure in the Azores
Venture to São Miguel in the Azores for an action-packed holiday with activities like whale watching, canyoning, rock climbing, cliff-diving and swimming with dolphins all on offer. The Azores experience warm to mild temperatures all-year-round, although you may want to avoid travelling during the rainy season (November to March) to make the most of all of the activities.
8) Take a ranch holiday in USA
Live like a cowboy and experience life on a cattle ranch with an all-American adventure holiday. At Dixie Dude Ranch in the Texas Hill Country, you can go hiking, horseback riding and swimming, before joining in campfire sing-a-longs and dancing in the evenings. A real break from the norm.
9) Go skiing on Mount Etna, Sicily
It may not seem possible, but when temperatures plummet to zero in Sicily during the winter, Europe’s largest active volcano also becomes a unique skiing destination. There are two small ski resorts on the north and south sides of Mount Etna, and you’ll have incredible views across to the Ionic, Adriatic and Mediterranean Seas when the weather is good.
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10) Snorkel with sharks in the Galapagos
If you dare, you can swim up close to sharks off the island of Marchena in the Galapagos archipelago. One of the best places to view marine life is Punta Espejo on the southeast edge of the island, where you’ll not only find hammerhead and Galapagos sharks but also dolphins, sea lions, sea turtles, rays and eels.
11) See polar bears in the wild at Baffin Island
Baffin Island is the largest island in Canada, yet home to only 11,000 people, due to the harsh weather conditions and remote location close to the Arctic Circle. While visiting here does not come easy (or cheap), adventurers will love the opportunity to see animals like polar bears, Arctic foxes and Arctic wolves in their natural habitat, while orca and beluga whales live in the surrounding waters. Enlist a local guide to show you around safely.
12) Trek the Corcovado rainforest in Costa Rica
Costa Rica has been hailed as the most biodiverse country on earth, and the reason why will soon become evident when you visit the Corcovado National Park Rainforest - home to sloths, monkeys, poison-arrow frogs and a huge array of other weird and wonderful creatures. There are also 23 miles of beaches here, as well as hiking trails and campsites for adventurers who wish to stay overnight.
13) Raft the Grand Canyon, USA
When you think of the Grand Canyon, you may imagine cruising overhead in a helicopter or looking down on the iconic red rock from above, but heading down to the Colorado River will offer a whole new vantage point. Commercial tour trips offer the opportunity to go rafting along the Colorado River for anywhere between one day to three weeks, but book in advance to guarantee you don’t miss out on the opportunity.
14) Descend into Thrihnukagigur Volcano, Iceland
Take a unique descent below the earth’s surface on a trip into Thrihnukagigur Volcano in Iceland. Commercial tours have been operating at this volcano since 2012, giving visitors the opportunity to go 120m below ground in a special lift, seeing the colourful cavern that has been drained of its magma. It has been over 4,000 years since the volcano last erupted, but tours are still announced on a year-by-year basis.
15) Stroke a whale in Mexico
You may not think of whales as the friendliest of creatures, but the grey whales that gather in Baja Mexico from December to April each year are known to come within touching distance of boat tours, allowing some people the chance to stroke or pat them. Many trips sell out far in advance, with February, March and April the best times to go.
16) Surfing in Sri Lanka
Surfing may not be the first thing that springs to mind when you think about Sri Lanka, but with its minimal crowds, peeling waves and inviting water, it’s a great place to go for beginners and more experienced surfers alike. Head to Weligama, in the South West of Sri Lanka, for easy access to many of the best southern surf points.
17) Trekking in Morocco
Challenge yourself with a climbing trip up North Africa’s highest peak, Mount Toubkal, which stands 4,167m tall. Avoid visiting in the summer, when temperatures can reach as high as 37°C, and instead plan a winter climb when the mountain is almost deserted and offers picturesque views over the Toubkal Massif.
18) Paraglide over the Alps
While skiing and hiking in the Alps are already popular holidays, paragliding over the mountains is a whole new experience entirely and one you’ll never forget.
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19) Motorcycle in the Isle of Man
As the home to the annual Isle of Man TT races and Festival of Motorcycling, it’s no wonder the Isle of Man is considered one of the best places in the world for the sport. You can take to the course for a motorcycling adventure, with a number of different tours available.
20) Cruise Fiordland National Park, New Zealand
Head to New Zealand’s largest national park, Fiordland, for an incredible cruise, seeing wildlife such as New Zealand fur seals and Fiordland crested penguins. There’ll be some exciting activities along the way too, like kayaking or taking small boats to explore the more of the magnificent park.