What’s life without an adventure? Anybody can go on a run-of-the-mill shopping escapade in the heart of Bangkok, or a luxury resort getaway in Bali. Not many have ventured into the unknown and come back with a National Geographic-worthy story to tell. Before it is too late, why not get extreme for once and feel what it’s like to jump off an airplane, run with the cheetahs or take a hot bath in mythical-looking caves?
Some activities that come with our top 10 picks here would definitely qualify as high risk, so we’re issuing our customary reminder to compare travel insurance on GoBear before you answer the call of the wild. And now that the talk is over, we’ll let the adrenaline junkie in you do the rest.
1. Best safari adventure: Kruger National Park, South Africa
Leave Night Safari to the adolescents. The real safari adventure takes place at the great grassy plains of Africa, where hotpots like Namibia, Botswana and Northern Kenya have been quintessential homes to the Big Five (lion, leopard, rhino, elephant and buffalo). But we’re going with Johannesburg’s Kruger National Park for beginners to ease into the scene. At 118 years, this is the oldest wildlife park in Africa and what better way to do it than cruise straight into the lion’s den in a rented jeep? It can’t get any more safari than that. Kruger National Park is also big on variety; other than the Big Five, expect to also get wild with the cheetahs, crocodiles, giraffes and hippos.
2. Best spelunking adventure: Iceland
Like Lucius Fox, you must’ve been wondering what on Earth spelunking is when Bruce Wayne mentioned it in Batman Begins. First of all, it’s cave exploration. Second, you can do just that in Iceland. The Grjótagjá lava cave is one of the must-spelunks for adventurers. Icy on the outside and scorching on the inside, the marble-like stones and impossibly blue waters would make you feel like you’ve just stepped into a scene from a fantasy film. If you’re wondering why it indeed feels like it, that’s because Grjótagjá was used as a filming location for an episode of HBO’s hit series Game of Thrones.
3. Best Game of Thrones adventure: Northern Ireland
While we’re on Game of Thrones, give your fellow fan friends some serious envy by making your own Westeros trek. Outside of the studios, a number of scenes were shot against breathtaking backdrops across Northern Ireland and when the filming locations in the country were revealed, tourism immediately saw a major spike. Relive all the epic battles, bloodbaths and plot intricacies at The Dark Hedges, Ballycastle, Cushendun Caves, Larrybane, Ballintoy Harbour, Dunluce Castle and Downhill. If you’re pressed for time because you have other adventures lined up, arrange for a tour for an express treatment.
4. Best nomad adventure: Gorkhi-Terelj National Park, Mongolia
Despite all the convenience that come with the wired life, it can leave us a little too skittish for our own good. Enter the nomadic lifestyle in Mongolia, where you can truly leave all your Facebook, Instagram and work emails behind, and recharge your batteries. At Terelj, which isn’t far off the capital of Ulaanbaatar, you’ll get a throwback to much simpler times when you see folks herding their livestock or when you put up at Ger tourist camps to rub shoulders with the locals. It’s hard not to think about Gobi Desert and horseback riding while you’re in the land of Genghis Khan. So giddy up, ride forth and discover the vastness of the Mongolian terrain like a proud war veteran.
5. Best bungee jump: The Nevis, New Zealand
Take a leap of faith over at Queenstown, New Zealand, a place where thrill seekers can’t seem to get enough of. Feel your adrenaline rise as the vehicle ascends the mountain, where you’ll transit to a cable car that takes you to a dangling cabin. Ready now? Great. Because your next immediate step is a 134-metre plunge into the Nevis gorge. Cue the deathly screams.
6. Best skydive: Everest Skydive, Nepal
If skydiving is one of those things you’ll only attempt once in your life just to check it off your bucket list, then check it off with a bang (we don’t mean it literally). This is a death-defying adventure that will see you jump off a chopper at 23,000 feet, whirl about in thin oxygen and descend straight into some of the world’s highest mountain peaks. Maybe you’ll see your entire life flash past you, maybe you won’t. You can choose to land at Syangboche Airport or Amadablam Basecamp.
Only those with a lion’s heart and tremendously YOLO outlook need apply.
7. Best hiking adventure: Amazon Rainforest, Brazil
Don’t expect to see any hulking Amazonian warrior ladies skipping about in just their brassieres, but you will witness some of the best flora and fauna nature has to offer at the Amazon rainforest. Boasting the world’s second longest river and 10 million square kilometers (making up 40% of Brazil) of rain-washed greenery, little wonder the Amazon rainforest is considered the core of Earth’s life force. The sheer size of the rainforest can be intimidating for a mere mortal and you might be at your wits’ end as to where you should start and end the hike of hikes. But tours can easily be arranged whether you’d like to spend your nights at a jungle lodge or meander through the great wilderness on a canoe cruise.
The best time to visit is between May and June, in between the wettest and warmest seasons.
8. Best mountain biking: Zermatt, Switzerland
How about a Tour de Swiss for those who prefer adventures on two wheels? Within Switzerland alone, there are many different mountain biking trails with varying levels of difficulty. The indefatigable athlete would want to burn his quads by conquering glacial ascents, and the easily fatigued occasional biker might want to take it easy with gentle descents while taking in the pastoral grandeur of Switzerland. Whatever the case, mountain biking in Zermatt would leave you happy to be distracted by breathtaking views of the Matterhorn, and that’s all that matters.
9. Best snorkeling adventure: Grand Cayman Island
A typical snorkeling trip probably just involves a ‘Finding Nemo’ moment of swimming with fluorescent fishes. A not so typical snorkeling trip would enable you to get interactive with hundreds of stingrays gliding all around you in the Caribbean ocean. Located at a sand bank a little out of Grand Cayman Island, Stingray City has organised tours to bring you into the depths of ultra-clear Caribbean waters. Don’t get too alarmed when these harmless guys sucker up to you, quite literally. This snorkeling trip has proven to be extremely popular with tourists and the boats tend to get really packed, so research the schedules thoroughly if you want a little more space and a little less noise.
Get into the blue during either spring or summer for optimum conditions.
10. Best life-or-death adventure: North Korea
Trying to avoid being sentenced to a decade or more of hard labour could pass off as an adventure.