9 Adventure Trips that Will Change Your Life
So pick your favorite destination, pack your bags — and prepare to make memories that will last a lifetime.African safaris and treks to Machu Picchu. Island-hopping through French Polynesia. Cycling in New Zealand and hiking to Angkor Wat. These once-in-a-lifetime adventures are more popular and accessible than ever, thanks to the well-curated itineraries offered below. Many of them have up close and personal wildlife viewing experiences, so pick your favorite destination, pack your bags — and prepare to make memories that will last a lifetime.
1. Trek to Machu Picchu, Peru
As you follow the ancient pathways, you will learn of the countless mysteries that surround the ways of the Inca. Their ingenuity and architectural prowess is on display as you marvel at massive boulders, trimmed to fit perfectly, without a speck of mortar, and positioned to build the magical Machu Picchu. The only thing more breathtaking than what the Inca built is the setting in which they built it. Andean peaks soar to the heavens and some of the world’s most arable valleys dip and rise between slopes. It is a magnificent stage, rich in tradition and cultural significance. Share up-close encounters with local Peruvians at village markets and learn about their arts, crafts and religious traditions. Ride through the Sacred Valley by train, marveling at its archaeological sites and sprawling vistas.
2. Walk Chile’s Wine Country & the Coast
The “thin country” stretches some 2,600 miles from starkly beautiful desert landscapes and conical volcanoes in the north to pristine alpine vistas and spectacular, glacier-carved fjords in the south. Between, sweeping coastal beauty plays host to quaint seaside towns with European accents and undulating terrain. Learn about Charles Darwin’s walks as you follow in his footsteps in La Campana National Park. Admire Victorian architecture as you stroll the cobbled lanes of Valparaíso, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Savor fresh seafood, including Chilean sea bass, breaded hake and shrimp empanadas. Follow vineyard pathways and wooded trails that fan out from authentic winemaking bodegas, promising scenic routes through a breathtaking country.
3. Bike and Walk New Zealand’s South Island
Here, a rare blend of glacier, rainforest and sea combine to shape an astonishing wilderness. It’s a land where adventurers can cycle and trek from mountainside to seaside, taking in waterfalls, forests and the snow-capped Southern Alps along the way. Ride the TranzAlpine on a spectacular rail journey, enjoy a traditional meal at a Kiwi sheep ranch and sample wines at a vineyard. Follow the banks of glacial riverbeds, tracing the footsteps of ancient Maori settlers and colonial-era gold miners. Take a magical night time stroll through a rainforest with the stars of the Southern Cross glittering above.
4. Explore the Trails of Vietnam and Cambodia
Any visit to this Southeast Asian region finds Cambodia’s Angkor Wat at its magnificent center. This sprawling ancient site, an intricate masterwork of Khmer ingenuity and engineering, is the largest temple complex in the world. Beyond this religious monument, you’ll walk through traditional enclaves — from evocative Hanoi, capital of Vietnam, to bustling Siem Reap, “the Great Gate to Angkor,” as well as historic Hoi An, a bustling Vietnamese port city. You’ll explore tiny villages, serene rice paddies, quiet beaches, and sail by private junk in the iconic waters of Ha Long Bay, Vietnam.
5. Explore Traditional Japan
Gain a rare insider’s insight into the Land of the Rising Sun on this eight-day walking tour, “Japan: Kyoto, Nara & the Kumano Kodo” from Country Walkers. Explore immaculately preserved temples and their serene Zen gardens. Follow the sacred path of the Kumano Kodo pilgrimage trail through forests punctuated with ancient cha-ya teahouses. Learn about the little-known Shugendō faith from a yamabushi priest. Immerse yourself in the shogun splendor of a country castle. Stroll through the gardens, palaces, temples, and traditional neighborhoods of Kyoto, Japan’s imperial capital for more than 1,000 years. And along the way, stay in ryokan lodgings, replete with tatami floors and hot spring baths.
6. Sail Through the Islands of French Polynesia
It begins as you settle in to the comfort and luxury of your four-masted sailing yacht. Soon, sails billow and your dream adventure gets underway. Like a box of crayons gone mad, the brilliant blue water, the lush greenery and fragrant native flowers offer a glorious invitation. During award-winning Windstar Cruises seven or ten day sail through the exotic islands of Tahiti, you’ll relish the relaxation as impossibly pink sand massages your feet and soothing warm waters welcome you like an old friend. Snorkel or dive in Rangiroa’s huge lagoon filled with fanciful fish and stunning coral. Explore the rich ecosystem of Fakarava, a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve with brag-worthy diving. At day’s end, fall asleep, cradled in the arms of gentle trade winds.
7. Discover Tropical Treasures in Costa Rica & Panama
Capture a glimpse of the richest and most biologically diverse ecosystems in Costa Rica’s Caño Negro Wildlife Refuge and the Rio Frio, home to monkeys, iguanas, sloths, and turtles. Visit butterfly gardens, steaming lakes, cloud forests and pulsing volcanoes. Experience the history and geographical wonder of the Panama Canal as you journey through the locks, lakes and rivers that traverse this famous waterway. The culture, music, and architecture combined with the rich tropical diversity of the region will combine to create memories for a lifetime.
8. Hike Australia’s Great Ocean Walk
Lace up your boots and visit the land that invented the walkabout. Be one of the first to hike the remote and recently completed Great Ocean Walk in the southern Australian state of Victoria. How’s that for bragging rights! On this eight-day self-guided tour from Country Walkers, pick your own route from a path that splits between beach walks alongside crashing surf and hilly trails over sea cliffs. Trekking some of the most remote and remarkable terrain on earth, you can spot wild kangaroos, koalas, peregrine falcons, kookaburras, and more as you pass through wildlife reserves in the Otway National Park. You’ll also thrill to scenic wonders like waterfalls, shipwrecks, the iconic Twelve Apostles sea stacks, and some of the most spectacular ocean vistas in Australia.
9. Step Back in Time in Croatia
An understanding of Croatia’s culture and history begins on its islands: More than 1,000 line its picture-perfect coast. Today, they provide a snapshot of this rich culture built on fishing, stonecutting, farming and winemaking. Indeed, walking the well-trod trails of Brač, Hvar and Korčula, you might feel that time has forgotten these rustic places altogether. It’s true that history is very much a part of the present here. On Brač, some of the last remaining stonecutters in Europe still carve luminous white stone. On Hvar, often cited as the world’s most beautiful island, lavender roots mingle with vineyard soils that produce some of the region’s best red wine. On Korčula, birthplace of Marco Polo, the Old Town’s herringbone street grid harnesses Adriatic breezes, much as it was intended to do when it was built in the 13th century. And don’t miss Dubrovnik and its majestic city walls for a postcard-worthy view overlooking the Adriatic.
How to Explore on Foot
For more than 38 years, Country Walkers has provided active, immersive, and unforgettable travel experiences on five continents. They offer two distinct ways to explore: scheduled, small-group Guided Walking Adventures and independent Self-Guided Walking Adventures. On tour, guests enjoy superb local cuisine, first-class guides, fine accommodations, and authentic cultural and natural encounters. Visit countrywalkers.com or call 800-234-6900 for more information.
How to Explore on a Tour
Holiday Vacations is one of America’s most reputable tour companies, with more than 44 years of experience. As a nationwide provider of air, rail, motorcoach and cruise guided vacations to more than 65 destinations worldwide, their packages are inclusive of all airfare, fine hotels, meals and must-see attractions. Expert tour directors handle all travel details, assuring you a carefree and memorable vacation. Visit holidayvacations.com for more information.
How to Explore by Bike
VBT Bicycling and Walking Vacations offers more than 55 deluxe, small-group bicycling, walking, and barge & sail vacations in 27 different countries and 10 U.S. states. It is the value leader in active biking vacations and has been rated among the “World’s Best Tour Operators” by the readers of Travel + Leisure for six years. Each trip includes all accommodations, many meals, two expert local trip leaders, unique sightseeing and cultural activities, and full van support. Unlike other companies, VBT also includes round-trip international airfare from more than 30 U.S. cities and select Canadian cities for all overseas vacations. Visit vbt.com or call 800-245-3868 for more information.For more travel experiences to Beautiful Places on Earth™ available from Xanterra Travel Collection® and its affiliated properties, visit xanterra.com/explore.