Adventure holidays no longer have to be the exclusive domain of the intrepid, young, single traveller, ready to rough it in the world’s most remote places. Many couples and families like a bit of an adrenaline rush too. Here are just some ideas for those who would like to inject a spot of action into their travels, whilst not losing out on comfort and luxury.
With more protected land than any other country in the world, more bird species than the whole of North America, more butterflies than Africa and beaches on tow oceans, Costa Rica could have been put on the planet as a living classroom for natural history. A two-week trip could encompass Pacific rainforests, nights in a jungle loge, an exhilarating river-rafting trip, the impressively active Arenal volcano and the cloud forest of Monteverde where you can test your nerve on a canopy walkway high in treetops. And there’s a final wind-down at a beachfront hotel on the Pacific coast, with swimming, surfing, horse-riding and turtle watching on the menu.
First to Marrakech and ‘the biggest circus in the world’ on Djemma El Fna, the main square, with its daily show of juggles, acrobats, snake charmers and drummers. From there, drive to the exotic south, to Ouarzazate, the gate to the desert. You can then drive by 4WD through the palm groves of the Draa valley, visiting the kasbahs of ancient warlords who guarded the caravan routes through the Atlas Mountains, before spending the final few days on the beach of Essaouria.
Why not give skiing miss this year and go trekking, white-water rafting and elephant riding in the world’s greatest adventure playground? On trek in the Himalayan foothills, you can either camp o stay in warm, comfortable lodges if the rigours of life under canvas do not appeal, before running the rapids of the beautiful Seti River down to the Royal Chitwan National Park. Here you stay in lodges built on stilts, track one-horned rhinoceros and Royal Bengal tiger through the lowland jungles of this spectacular wildlife, and even get to wash your own elephant at the end of the day – animal therapy at its very best!
A mixed bag of exotic pleasures, starting with the high-octane capital of Bangkok. After doing the hot rounds of historical sights, including the Grand Palace, a walled, magical inner city filled with a fantasia of murals, ceramics, gold-leaf and mother-of-pearl topped by dreaming spires, there’s also time for hair-raising jaunts by tuk-tuk and longtail boats. From there we would recommend heading north to Chiang Mai and up to Chiang Rai, gateway to the so-called Golden Triangle, an elephant camp and visit exotic hill tribes before spending time on once of Thailand’s fabulous beaches.
Arguably the most interesting of the Middle East destinations and ideal for couples and families who would like to inject a measure of education into their holidays. As well as beach, Oman reveals a rich seam of history, markets unchanged since Biblical times, nights in the desert with adventures ranging from dune bashing to camel rides and spectacular mountain scenery.
Woven into its geography of coastal desert, a backbone of soaring Andean peaks and Amazonian jungle are fabled archaeological sites, a vibrant Indian culture and a veneer of Spanish colonialism. Plus there’s Lake Titicaca, the highest navigable lake in the world with its unique Uros islands made form floating reeds, the Inca capital of Cuzco and the classic trek to Machu Picchu, the Lost City of the Incas, past waterfalls, ruins and cloud forest. Or you can take the train for ease and speed. We would also recommend, if time permits, adding a cruise of the Galapagos Islands, Darwin’s ‘Living Laboratory’.
Nick Van Gruisen is Managing Director of The Ultimate Travel Company.
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