The World’s Most Amazing Adventures
Yes, these are crazy times. World travel has suddenly come screeching to a halt. From the isles of Oceania to the glaciers of Chile to sweeping sands of the Sahara, adventurers around the globe have had to buckle down and wait for Covid-19 to pass. Fantasies of exotic destinations will have to remain just that for the time being… fantasies.
Yet for those arm-chair travelers who still dare to dream, here is a list of 20 of our favorite adventures to put on your bucket list. Hopefully, the world will start up again in the not-too-distant future. Hang in there, people, this too shall pass.
Climbing a Peak in Antarctica
Our Take: Setting foot on the 7th continent is an epic adventure no matter what. But climbing a peak, even a tiny peak in Orne Harbor, takes it to another level (pun intended). Gaze out over the jagged, stony towers around you. Take in the gorgeous ice dome sloping up thousands of feet towards the South Pole. And – hey – how did those penguins get up here?
Biking Bagan – Myanmar
Our Take: No biking in Petra or Machu Picchu. In Angkor Watt, the temples are too far apart, and there are too many vehicles on the road. But wait, biking in Myanmar’s surreal temple city of Bagan is JUST RIGHT. With thousands of soaring stone spires punctuated by the occasional golden dome, it just doesn’t get more beautiful.
Diving a Cenote – Mexico
Our Take: For us Jules Verne fans, any caving experience is awesome. But how about giving your caving adventure an aquatic twist by diving the famous cenotes of Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula. From the stunning stalactites of Dos Ojos to the Stygian fog of Angelita, every cenote dive is a uniquely thrilling experience. You can play out your Journey to the Center of the Earth and your Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea fantasies at the same time!
Walking with Tigers – Nepal
Our Take: We’ve tracked tigers in multiple locations across Asia and the experience is always AWESOME. But one location stands head and shoulders above the rest, Chitwan National Park in Nepal. Our Chitwan tiger trek was on foot with our guides protecting us with nothing but bamboo sticks. Yikes!!! To make it even better, this park boasts sun bears, rhinos, gharials and wild elephants.
Trekking to Remote Villages in the Atlas Mountains – Morocco
Our Take: We’ve trekked some of the best destinations on earth including the Himalayas, the Andes, the Rockies, the Alps, the Rwenzoris, and more. (All awesome!) But we are singling out the Atlas Mountains because this off-the-track destination offers great potential for discovery. Imagine adobe villages in valleys filled with cherries and apricots backed with jagged desert mountains. Beautiful and delicious!
Discovering the Tribal Villages of Sumba – Indonesia
Our Take: We grabbed a couple of motorbikes and hit the backroads of of the Indonesian island of Sumba completing a big loop around the the western side of the island. The isolated region’s unique tribal culture and soaring hut architecture are pure adventure gold. But you need to take a moment to learn about the culture before you do this on your own.
Sailing down the Nile in a Felucca – Egypt
Our Take: This was my Agatha Christie dream fulfilled: floating down the Nile through reed-filled waters past river-side villages, camel markets, and ancient Egyptian temples. While some prefer luxury cruises, we opted for the more down-to-earth felucca version of this epic trip. If you are really lucky like us, you might even get a borderline alcoholic captain who spends most of his time sleeping one off below deck. Then, you’ll get to captain the boat while he is unconscious!!!
Tracking Mountain Gorillas – DRC
Our Take: Every true adventurer wants to play Dian Fossey for a day. Just nine years after she died, we visited the Virungas in the Democratic Republic of Congo (then called Zaire), where she first encountered mountain gorillas before moving to Rwanda. Seeing these magnificent animals in the wild is the holy grail for wildlife fans. Nothing quite captures the feeling of a massive silverback strolling by just inches from you! (That’s the good kind of fear!)
Doing the Kailash Kora – Tibet
Our Take: Join a stream of Tibetan nomads as they complete their pilgrimage around Kailash, the holiest mountain in the Tibetan world. The otherworldly scenery in this remote destination is beyond gorgeous and the mountain’s pyramidal peak will leave you breathless (in more ways than one). However, we recommend that you NOT do the kora during a snowstorm as we did!!!
Crossing the Sahara – Sudan
Our Take: Crossing the Sahara is perhaps the most classically epic adventure out there. (We stupidly chose to do it in a bus with a dead battery adding greatly to the challenge.) Politics will dictate whether you cross from Algeria to Mali, Libya to Niger/Chad, or – as we did – from Egypt to Sudan. Regardless of your route, vast stretches of desolation, technical challenges, and a sense of unbridled discovery will change you forever.
Hanging Way Out on Angel’s Landing – USA
Our Take: Stepping down a bit on the difficulty meter, we offer up what we consider to be one of the world’s greatest, relatively easy day hikes. Located in Zion National Park in the U.S. state of Utah, Angel’s Landing dishes up a huge amount of reward for very little risk. Yes, you might plunge off a sheer cliff or tumble into a slickrock crevice, but you really can’t beat that 360-degree red-rock view.
Encountering the Akha – Laos
Our Take: The world’s most fascinating native cultures are vanishing by the day. When I first encountered the Akha in 1990, their extraordinary, traditional villages were widespread and well-preserved in many parts of Southeast Asia. Now, due to the pressures of rapid development, few truly traditional villages survive. The forest village of the Akha woman in this picture was forcibly resettled just a year after we met her in 2010.
Scaling the World’s Most Beautiful Dunes – Namibia
Our Take: We think it is safe to say the world’s most spectacular dunes are in Namibia. It’s not just their gorgeous apricot hue that makes them special, nor is it that massive scale that win them the title. It’s the sight of a group of gemsboks or a lone ostrich wandering through the tinted sand that wins the prize. And if you are lucky, you might even stumble across a seasonal pond filled with flamingos!
Drift Diving in Sipadan – Malaysia
Our Take: Sipadan is on everyone’s list of the world’s greatest scuba diving destinations. Located in the Celebes Sea off the coast of northern Borneo, the unique oceanic islet has walls which plunge 2,000ft (600m) straight down. You can literally step off the white-sand beach into the deep ocean. Obviously, this unique deep-sea formation is swarming with schools of barracuda, sharks, turtles and more.
Doing a Via Ferrata in the Alps – Slovenia
Our Take: The Alps are obviously spectacular no matter where you visit them. While most people immediately think of Switzerland or Austria to take in Europe’s most famous range, we particularly love the Slovenian Alps because the country has preserved the majority of its highest peaks as a national park (yay, Slovenia!) The best way to visit them is on one of their thrilling via ferrata routes. Don’t slip!
Wandering through Elephant Baobabs – Madagascar
Our Take: Every inch of Madagascar qualifies as a world-class adventure, including most of its “roads”. There are dozens of activities we could add to this list, such as repelling into the tsingy stone forests, tracking aye-ayes at midnight, and hunting for fragments of elephant bird eggshell in the coastal dunes. But somehow, rolling through the towering elephant baobabs on the back of a zebu-drawn cart will always be our defining Madagascar adventure.
Kayaking Palawan – Philippines
Our Take: The glassy, emerald waters of Palawan are the ultimate kayaking playground. Whether you are floating through swarms of jellyfish off Coron island or drifting from one white-sand beach to another off El Nido, water-world Palawan will thrill even the most jaded ocean explorer. However, we would recommend hitting these waters in the shoulder season to cut down on the crowds. We did… and it was awesome!
Sleeping on a Sheer Cliff – Peru
Our Take: So it’s super easy, you strap on a harness, scale a 1,000-foot cliff, and shimmy along a sheer stone wall to your transparent bubble hotel room. Next, you sip wine and eat a gourmet meal under a perfect, starry Peruvian sky. The following morning, you dangle your legs and wiggle your toes over Peru’s Sacred Valley as you eat breakfast. Finally, you zipline down the cliffs. No prob! (Yes, staying in the Skylodge near Ollantaytambo, Peru is one of our favorite adventures ever. But we are burying it near the bottom of our list to hide it from casual adventures who refuse to read an entire post.)
Exploring the Thar Desert By Camel – India
Our Take: We’ve ridden camels in the Sahara, camels in the Middle East, camels on the Mongolian grasslands, camels in Central Asia… but NO PLACE has ever come close to our experience in India’s Thar desert. Why? Because here we got the opportunity to get out and really ride like the adventurers of old. No guide leading you around like a ride at Disneyland. Here, you have the opportunity to take the reins and set out on an epic multi-day odyssey across a vast desert wilderness.
Peering into an Active Volcano – Guatemala
Our Take: Last but not least, everybody has to stand on the edge of an active volcano and stare down into a pool of molten lava, right? Our opportunity came back in 2000 when we climbed Pacaya, one of Guatamala’s most famous, or should I say infamous, peaks. Attractions include extreme heat, difficult-to-climb inclines of sliding ash, noxious fumes, and way too much danger. USEFUL TIP: It’s generally suggested that you try to time your visit for a moment when the volcano doesn’t erupt.