12 Apr Five Adventure Destinations to Discover Next
If you’re a passionate adventure traveler, chances are you’ve already explored more than a few of the world’s iconic destinations. On your continuing quest for fresh travel discoveries, your curious spirit pushes you toward places that typical tourists aren’t likely to visit — or may never even have heard of. And we’ve got some suggestions to help you find them. Think about where you’ve enjoyed traveling most, then consider novel options — like the ones below — to raise the adventure quotient!
If you loved the Amazon…scout for jaguars in the Pantanal
Though the Amazon — the world’s biggest rain forest — is better known, the Pantanal is South America’s grandest wildlife sanctuary. It covers more than 75,000 square miles, mostly in Brazil, but sprawls into Paraguay and Bolivia, too, comprising the largest wetland on the planet: These seasonal freshwater floodplains support profuse aquatic life that attracts larger predators, from birds to reptiles and mammals, creating a huge, intricate food chain — the largest concentration of wildlife in the Americas! At the top is the sleek, elegant jaguar, and a trip to the Pantanal with Natural Habitat Adventures offers an excellent chance to see these elusive feline hunters. From Porto Jofre in the northern reaches of the Pantanal, you’ll board a boat to navigate the maze of lakes, lagoons, rivers, channels and marshes, keeping watch not just for jaguars but also giant otters, caiman, capybara, sloth, monkeys and waterbirds. Then fly via chartered plane to Caiman Ecological Refuge in the south Pantanal to add giant anteater, tapir, ocelet and hyacinth macaw sightings to your list. All along the way, you’ll witness how working together with local ranchers on conservation priorities protects habitats and livelihoods both.
If you loved the Swiss Alps… cycle through Slovenia’s Julian Alps
Little-known Slovenia is a microcosm of European geography, from ice-edged peaks to balmy Mediterranean shores. It’s also where you’ll find the most easterly part of the Alps, an extension of dramatic limestone mountains that stretch across the border from northeastern Italy. The highest in the range is Mt. Triglav, at 8,805 feet. If you’ve already gaped at the Matterhorn or trekked the Mont Blanc circuit through France and Switzerland, discover the alpine heights of Slovenia on a cycling adventure with Backroads. While mountain grandeur is front and center on this foray into Slovenia’s most scenic regions, visitors will also explore traditional villages and get a taste of acclaimed local vintages in the Goriška Brda wine region. Pedaling north, follow the turquoise Soča River to Lake Bohinj in Triglav National Park, then continue to Lake Bled. This mountain jewel is famed for its single island in the middle of the lake topped by a dramatic 17th-century church. Stay at the Hotel Vila Bled, once the summer villa of former Yugoslav president Tito, and tap the hotel’s private fleet of traditional wooden rowboats to access the island. The resort town of Bled has long drawn travelers with its thermal spas, the perfect antidote for any aching muscles you might have sustained on your alpine ascent.
If you loved Yellowstone…look for grizzlies in Canada’s Wild West
British Columbia’s rugged Chilcotin Country is just an hour’s flight north of Vancouver, but its pine forests, rushing rivers, dazzling teal lakes and tall peaks rearing up in every direction could not offer a starker contrast to — or reprieve from — the urban crush. And amidst all this scenic drama, wildlife abounds. The region is chock-full of grizzlies and black bears, not to mention moose, elk, deer and bighorn sheep. In fact, if you love Yellowstone but yearn to escape the crowds, hightail it to Chilko Lake Bear Camp with O.A.R.S. It’s the ultimate multisport adventure base, with accommodations in deluxe canvas safari-style tents. The tent cabins, plus a spacious dining area and lounge, are built on raised wooden platforms overlooking the Chilko River at the head of the lake. You can choose a 4-, 5- or 8-day adventure, but you’ll no doubt need the whole week to sample the full array of activities offered. Choose a canoe or stand-up paddleboard to explore the lake; ride a horse or a mountain bike over trails that plumb the forests and trace ridgelines; fish for trophy trout; tackle the Chilko River’s whitewater or smooth stretches on a raft or inflatable ducky…and, of course, look for grizzly bears on guided wilderness outings — they’re often spotted along the shoreline, with guests able to admire them from the safety of a kayak on the lake.
If you loved Hawaii…spend a tropical idyll in Samoa
The South Pacific has long held a fabled allure for travelers. And while Hawaii’s mountains, waterfalls and legendary surf breaks draw scores of adventurers, sometimes you just want something a bit more exotic. That’s where aptly named Off the Beaten Path comes in, with its Fa’a Samoa adventure focused on the tropical islands comprising the National Park of American Samoa. A small group meets in Pago Pago, the capital of American Samoa, which lies more than 2,500 miles southwest of Hawaii — a 5-hour flight from Honolulu. Seafaring Polynesian explorers first settled this far-flung archipelago 3,000 years ago, and three of its islands.— Tutuila, Ta`ū, and Ofu — are the focus of this unusual adventure. Tutuila features a meandering coastline punctuated with coves and bays, while Ta’ū’s southern coast boasts some of the highest cliffs in the world, rising from the water to the summit of 3,000-foot Lata Mountain. Ofu offers fantastic snorkeling in aquamarine water from a beach of powdery white sand. Wildlife delights, too, with flying foxes (fruit bats), red-footed boobies and green sea turtles on view. Guests also enjoy visits to small villages where residents still practice many ancient customs of family-focused Samoan culture. In fact, Samoa still implements traditional village governance, and due to its stellar environment and social welfare policies, Ethical Traveler named Samoa one of the world’s ten best ethical destinations in both 2015 and 2016.
If you loved your East Africa safari…watch wildlife in untouristed Chad
Most any African safari offers a thrilling adventure. But some are guaranteed to boost your adrenaline more than others, especially if you’re wandering through wild bush that few other western travelers have ever seen. That’s what’s on offer in Chad with GeoEx. If Kenya and Tanzania sound entirely too conventional, or if you’ve already tracked the Big Five in Kruger or forayed into Botswana’s rich reserves, Chad offers safari aficionados a truly different experience. Guests fly into N’Djamena, the capital of this country in north-central Africa that edges the Sahara Desert. But the focus of this pioneering safari lies in southern Chad, in Zakouma National Park. GeoEx is one of very few tour operators permitted to lead safaris in this virtually unvisited park, accessing it via chartered flights. Just eight guests spend a week exploring alongside legendary modern-day explorer Kingsley Holgate, a member of Britain’s Royal Geographic Society, and premier wildlife guide Brad Hansen. Zakouma contains one of the world’s most diverse grassland ecosystems and is home to a huge herd of rehabilitated elephants — a major conservation success story. The savanna is etched with seasonal waterways that support rich birdlife, including thousands of black-crowned cranes, marabou storks and Abyssinian ground hornbills. On land, look for game not seen in other African safari regions, such as red-fronted gazelles, Lelwel hartebeest and Kordofan giraffes, and predators like cheetah and spotted hyena. Cultural encounters are also a significant part of this African adventure: On village visits, meet Sahel Belt nomads, people of Arab descent whose family groups move in colorful trains, with camels, oxen and horses adorned with leather tassels, brass bells and cowrie shells.
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