The ten best adventure holidays

Enjoy a break far from the norm, with our guide to adrenaline-packed adventure holidays

Marcus Webb – Virgin Money Living Mentor

by Marcus Webb | Independent Money Mentor

Editor of Delayed Gratification and independent journalist


Beach holidays aren’t for everyone. For a particular breed of people, lazing and luxuriating comes a distant second to thrills, spills and good old-fashioned physical exertion. To unleash your inner Indiana Jones, get yourself booked onto one of these ten great adventure holidays…

Discover a Lost City

Trekking to Ciudad Perdida, an ancient city in Colombia’s Sierra Nevada which was discovered in the 1970s five centuries after it was abandoned, isn’t easy. You’re likely to face intense heat and humidity, waist-high mud and dauntingly steep ascents. But it’s worth a trifle of discomfort for the breathtaking views and a rare chance to glimpse an archaeological gem.

Become a Mongolian warrior

It doesn’t get more adventurous than a Genghis Khan warrior-training course in Mongolia. Yep, these really exist. On a nine-day tour run by Pioneer Expeditions, you’ll become skilled in nomadic horse-riding, wrestling, Mongolian cooking and traditional archery, all while touring the country’s vast, stark landscape. You’ll leave feeling healthy and strong, but hopefully not inspired to “do a Genghis” and brutally conquer a quarter of the planet. 

Ride an Icelandic volcano

You might remember Eyjafjallajökull. It’s the notorious, unpronounceable Icelandic volcano whose 2010 eruption led to over 100,000 flights being cancelled. Now you can take a thrilling snowmobile ride on its glacier. Don’t fret about molten lava – the last eruption before 2010 was way back in 1823 so we’re not due another any time soon.

See Kyrgyzstan by horseback

Tian Shan translates as ‘Celestial Mountains’ – and the views from the towering peaks of this 1,500-kilometre-long mountain range are indeed heavenly. The mountains stretch from Kazakhstan to China, but arguably the most epic landscapes are in landlocked Kyrgyzstan. On a horseback tour of the Kyrgyz mountain trails you can follow in the footsteps of Silk Road traders: an amazingly unusual holiday break.

Dive the Papuan coral reefs

Kimbe Bay in Papua New Guinea offers one of the most diverse marine habitats on Earth. It takes ages to reach the remote island of West New Britain, which helps explain why the marine life in this part of the Bismarck Sea is positively teeming. At the Walindi Plantation Resort’s dive centre you can become acquainted with the colourful likes of clown triggerfish, hawksbill turtles and pilot whales.

Spot lions in Rwanda

Rwanda’s Akagera national park has long offered some of Africa’s most stirring safaris, although wild lions were only reintroduced a few years ago. Today Akagera is a ‘Big Five’ park – with African lions, elephants, leopards, Cape buffalo and rhinoceroses in one place. Get that zoom lens ready… 

Dog-sled in the Alps

Alaskan huskies are energetic little fellows. Every winter these beautiful, elegant dogs tirelessly pull sleds through the hiking trails of the gorgeous Chamonix Valley, near the base of Mont Blanc in the French Alps. It’s an exhilarating winter activity, but prepare for a bumpy ride – along with the occasional clumsy tumble into the snow.

Balloon over Wadi Rum

The camps in the Wadi Rum desert valley in Jordan offer a luxurious twist on traditional Bedouin life. At night you can gaze at the clear star-studded sky, and by day you can ride camels past sandstone mountains, trek on sand dunes or – most thrillingly of all – take a hot-air balloon ride and savour the bird's-eye view of the stunning terrain. 

The Arctic surf school

On Norway’s Lofoten islands the scenery is soaring and the surf is spectacular. This ain’t Hawaii – the water is freezing – but thanks to next-gen wetsuits, cold-water surfing is on the rise, and the saunas at the world’s most northerly school in the charming village of Unstad will help warm you up after your chilly ten-hanging session.

The American wolf-watching tour

Yellowstone National Park, a vast wilderness spread over three US states, is the place for seeing wolves in the wild. If you fail to spot one of the 80 or so wolves, which were recently reintroduced to Yellowstone after nearly 70 years, you can console yourself with superb hiking, fishing and horseback-riding.  

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