For many of us, holidays are a time to relax and unwind, to take a break from the stresses of everyday life and do absolutely nothing. However, for others travel is an adventure and an opportunity to be pushed to the limit. So thrill-seekers, intrepid explorers and adrenaline junkies take note, we’re bringing you the five best destinations for an adventurous active holiday.
Iceland’s official tourist information site states that Iceland is ‘not a destination, it’s an adventure’, and they are not exaggerating (well, not too much). Just a short bus ride from Iceland’s capital and you can find yourself inside the crater of the dormant Thrihnukagigur volcano. You are lowered down the 120m crater with its colourful rock formations created by magma and sulphur gases. Despite having not erupted in over 4000 years, experts say that it could come back to life at any moment… Iceland is often referred to as ‘the land of fire and ice’, so in contrast to the dark depths of a volcano, take a wildlife-spotting boat trip to see porpoises, dolphins, puffins and humpback whales. Or you can even combine sea and fire on an adventure into the depths of the ocean by way of a caving and snorkelling tour in Þingvellir National Park where there are amazing underwater rock formations created by volcanic activity.
2. Chobe, Botswana
Its 580 species of birds, 75 species of large mammals and 2500 plant species make Botswana one of the most rewarding countries to visit in Africa for a safari adventure. The likes of Chobe National Park – the second largest in the country – is home to 40,000 elephants among many other large mammals. The park itself has a beautifully diverse landscape, from the wonderfully green Serondela area by the river to the painfully hot and dry hinterland. Get on the Chobe River by boat to spot animals like hippos and crocodiles to add to your list of wildlfe wonders.
Cuba’s intoxicatingly exciting atmosphere extends far beyond sipping Mojitos and smoking cigars in Havana’s Plaza de Armas – there is plenty more action and adventure to be had in this Caribbean paradise. You’ll need to hire a car to get to Valle de Viñales, or go by bike to see its stunning landscape of tobacco fields, mountains and painted cliff faces. Get up close with those cliffs, and get even better views (don’t look down!) by going rock climbing Or get macho on a big game fishing trip: charter your boat at the Marina Hemingway (of course), nine miles west of Havana. With beautiful coral reefs and tropical fish, the seas around Havana are also great for scuba diving and snorkelling – El Muerto is an especially popular diving site.
Sydney’s Bondi beach is synonymous with surfing – so give the ultimate Australian experience a go. Let’s Go Surfing offers a variety of classes of various durations and skill levels. Throughout Sydney there are many activities for thrill seekers who wish to stay on land. Climb the iconic Sydney Harbour Bridge for a dynamic view of the city. Or head out of town to the Blue Mountains for camping, hiking and abseiling. Hikers can walk to The Three Sister’s rock formation that towers over the valley. However, for the less adventurous reading this, there is a scenic railway from which you can admire the scenery from the comfort of a train, but really – why wouldn’t you want to be out exploring?
Finland is the most sparsely populated country in the EU and therefore has a vast amount of natural and unspoiled landscape to explore. Nuuksio National Park, just north-west of Helsinki, is a land of huge forests pockmarked with many lakes, ideal for canoe touring. Its also famous for its flying squirrels. In winter strap on your snow shows and take a hike through the park where you can admire the thick, white blanket of snow that every so often is disrupted by the tracks of woodland animals. And whatever the weather you can always finish off your day by relaxing your aching bones in one of Helsinki’s many saunas.