Many travelers create bucket lists as inspiration for their adventures. Here are 10 activities for travelers who want to discover their inner explore, or for those who want to take adventure to a whole other level.
LEVEL 1: NICE & SLOW
1. Take a Hot-Air Balloon Ride
Stepping aboard a hot air balloon is a guaranteed way revel in the world’s most beautiful landscapes, high above the hustle and bustle and fray. You’ll be talking about the experience long after you’re back on solid ground. There’s nothing quite like floating over the yellow grasses of the Serengeti while lions and zebras frolic just a hundred feet below. Or watching the first rays of sun paint Myanmar’s ancient pagodas and temples in hues of gold. On average, baskets carry 4-12people , so the ride can be both intimate and romantic if you desire. There are also festivals worldwide which celebrate ballooning as a lofty spectator sport. Fans turn out in droves each October to watch as hundreds of jaunty balloons ascend en masse into the skies above Albuquerque, New Mexico, making it the world’s most photographed event. Whether you choose the birds’-eye view over a French château à la the Montgolfiers’ original flight or prefer to skim the treetops of the Costa Rican rainforest, your spirits are destined to soar. Check out these top 10 destinations for hot air ballooning.
2. Sleep in an Igloo under the Northern Lights
The Igloo Village of Hotel Kakslauttanen in Finland boasts 20 thermal glass igloos that allow visitors to enjoy incredible views of the Aurora Borealis from the warmth and comfort of their own hut. The sparse trees and complete lack of light pollution reveal millions of stars each night, and during the peak winter months the location offers incredible views of the Northern Lights.Each glass igloo is fitted with thermal glass walls and ceilings, that insulate the interior to keep it warm and cozy at night. For the more adventurous, the hotel also offers lodging in a dozen traditional igloos made of ice.These ice houses have an internal temperature of only 21 degrees fahrenheit, so you better pack warm! Another option would be to stay at the Ice Hotel in Jukkasjarvi, in Northern Sweden. Every winter a hotel is carved from snow and blocks of frozen water from the River Torne. It’s constructed on the shoreline. The room temperature is between -5 degrees C and -8 degrees C. Outside it’s -20. Reindeer skins, and sleeping bags suitable for subzero temperatures keep guests warm. This unusual resort opens it’s doors every January to visitors. Then in April when the temperature rises it simply melts away! It uses local and natural resources and it also one of the major providers of employment in the region.
3. River Raft
Whether hurtling downstream or navigating treacherous rapids that threaten to overturn your dingy, river rafting is an exhilarating way to get your pulse racing and your clothes soaking. Grab a paddle, hop in an inflatable raft and explore some of the world’s most daringly turbulent waters. Try Tully River Full-Day White Water Rafting from Cairns boasting an incredible 45 rapids; drifting beneath an array of tropical wildlife on the Whitewater Rafting on the Pacuare River in Costa Rica or taking on the mighty Colorado River with a Grand Canyon Rafting Trip from Las Vegas. Fancy an underground water adventure instead? Go Black Water Rafting at Waitomo Caves near Auckland and you can navigate eerie caves, underground waterfalls and caverns filled with glowworms. Just don’t forget your life jacket!
4. Walk on the edge of Canada’s CN Tower
The CN Tower is formerly the tallest tower in the world, now surpassed by Dubai’s Burj Khalifa. EdgeWalk is CN Tower’s most thrilling attraction in its history, and the first of its kind in North America. It is the world’s highest full circle hands-free walk on a 5 ft (1.5 m) wide ledge encircling the top of the Tower’s main pod, 356m/1168ft (116 storeys) above the ground. Visitors walk in groups of six, while attached to an overhead safety rail via a trolley and harness system. Trained EdgeWalk guides will encourage participants to push their personal limits, allowing them to lean back over Toronto with nothing but air and breathtaking views of Lake Ontario beneath them. Designed with the highest international safety and security standards in mind, EdgeWalk runs for 1.5 hours, with the outdoor walk lasting approximately 30 minutes. Tickets cost $175 CAD. Click here for more info. Do you dare?
LEVEL 2: BRING IT ON
5. Camel trek across Morrocco
Morocco is best known for its ancient cities–Fes, Marrakesh, Tangier–which burst with the colors, smells, sounds, and textures of market life. But arguably Morocco’s most impressive landscapes are its vast expanses of desert, and the traditional way to see them is by camel, which offers an unparalleled look at a beautifully monochromatic land. Mountain Travel Sobek has guided tours in Morocco for more than 30 years, and on their 13-day trips, guests camel trek along an ancient caravan route through the desert. The experience is straight out of Lawrence of Arabia: You’ll visit giant, crumbling casbahs, see the high snowy peaks of the Atlas Mountains, and wander souqs spilling with pungent smells and colorful wares. At night, trekkers camp in canvas tents and stare up at stars amidst profound silence. Mountain Travel Sobek offers 13-day camel trekking trips through Morocco from $3,995 (www.mtsobek.com).
6. Hike the Peruvian Incan Trail
Machu Picchu is a lost city tucked deep in Peru’s tropical mountain forests that wasn’t “discovered” by Hiram Bingham until 1911. Thousands of trekkers go on pilgrimage along the Inca Trail every year to witness the mountaintop ruins enshrouded in mists, but only a few choose the newer alternative trail: the Salcantay Route. Winding around 20,000-foot (over 6,000-meter) peaks, along riversides, and through several coffee plantations, orchards, and thatched-hut villages, the 39-mile (63-kilometer) route traverses 15 ecosystems and tops out at over 15,000 feet (4,572 meters). The grand finale is a view of Machu Picchu from the southwest, one that few tourists see! Many backpackers camp along the way, but for those who prefer to travel like Inca royalty, there are remote luxe ecolodges along the trail. There, the answer to sore legs is a hot tub, a goose-down bed, a hearty organic cuisine, and a stupefying view of the Inca’s sacred snow-crowned peaks. Mountain Lodges of Peru runs seven-day trips between four ecolodges along the Salcantay Route, including guides, pack horses, food, and lodging ($2,850;www.mountainlodgesofperu.com).
7. Dive Mexico’s Yucatán’s Cenotes
LEVEL 3: I’M SORTA OK WITH DIEING. SORTA.
Jump out of a Plane Strap Yourself to a Plane
Consider yourself a bit of an adrenaline junkie? Then why not take the ultimate thrill ride with a unique wing walking experience! Wing walking has its roots in the early days of aviation, when reckless daredevils wowed the crowds with stunning displays of boldness and bravery. A highly experienced pilot will take you through a pulse-pounding series of thrilling aerobatic manoeuvres, including low-level flypasts and a heart-stopping 500ft dive. When it comes to pushing the envelope of excitement and testing the boundaries of your own courage, the wing walking experience really is the ultimate in extreme sports activities. West Coast Spin Doctors in the USA & this U.K. company are two places that offer this gravity-defying activity.
9. Cage Swim with Great White Sharks
Most folks on the planet mortally fear great white sharks. Except for a few brave souls, that is, who have swum with them cageless and unharmed. Those few have figured out that even though the apex predators are some of the world’s largest sharks, humans aren’t their natural prey. Swimming with great whites takes patience, vigilance, the humility to retreat quickly, and, perhaps above all, guts. There are 4 main places where you can sign up:
- False Bay/Seal Island, South Africa: With Apex Shark Expeditions, you can dive with the sharks at Seal Island from April to mid-September — outside those months they move inshore to feed on game fish and smaller sharks. Visiting between June and mid-August is best. brings the best chance to see predation.
- Isla de Guadalupe, Mexico: The Solmar V company has two surface cages with room for four divers each, as well as a submersible that accommodates two divers plus a guide. August through October is peak season for seeing great whites off Guadalupe.
- Farallon Islands, California: Great White Adventures based in San Francisco operates trips from September through late November, when the elephant seals are in their greatest numbers. It’s $775 per person for a day of cage diving (12-hour trip), including weights and belts, breakfast, lunch and beverages (including beer and wine). If you want only to observe the sharks from the deck, it’s $375 per person.
- Neptune Islands, South Australia: Trips take place during summer and winter, from the end of November to the end of February, and from late May until the end of October. June, July and August offer the best chance to see the massive females. Rodney Fox Shark Expeditions runs 2- & 3- night expeditions during summer, and four-night trips during winter months.
10. Complete the Explore Sweden Adventure Race
For racers tackling Explore Sweden in July, that translates to nearly 24 hours of nonstop action that can stretch as long as 670 miles (1,078 kilometers) and take between 4-7 days! Generally, racers never know what to expect as each year, race organizers create a new route and a new set of activities. In 2010, racers traveled 520 miles (837 kilometers) from Norway’s high peaks, down through Sweden’s river valleys, and to the Baltic coast, trekking, mountaineering, kayaking, mountain biking, and rappelling along the way! Past races have taken participants canoeing, sailing, and what the Swedes call “coasteering,” or traveling sections of dramatic coastline by any human-powered means, such as swimming, paddling, and climbing. The diversity ensures that those who manage to limp across the finish line after days of nonstop movement will have some serious bragging rights. Explore Sweden is open to any four-person team with a $3,500 entry fee (www.exploresweden.se).