Have you ever wished that the places you traveled to weren't so crowded? We expect lines when visiting a theme park but we assume that a more adventurous getaway in nature is going to be void of people, full of wildlife, and exactly like that beautiful, isolated snapshot in the latest National Geographic issue.
Unfortunately, this is not always the case. Sad reality: you hike up the top of Machu Picchu, then wait in line for two hours to enter the park. You trek up to Trolltunga for your own unique selfie, and find it flocked with people. What is wrong with the world? Why are you not alone?
Because not all adventure travel places are hidden gems, word got out, and pirates are lootin’ that booty left and right.
Don’t get discouraged though! Here is a list of five adventure travel places for daredevils to consider, each one spectacular in its own right. Whether you're looking for sun or snow, alone or bonding time, land or sea, there's an up and coming destination on this list for every old fashioned adventure seeker. Of course, the best reason to go to at least one of these places now is that the majority of the world hasn't discovered them yet. So, take a step off the beaten path and go hiking, biking, fishing, diving, and climbing the way they were meant to be experienced, without a cast of thousands.
1. Gates of the Arctic National Park - Alaska, USA
Wilderness backcountry survival skills are essential here. For those who want to hike in and explore dense vegetation with frequent river and stream crossings, the 8.4 million acres of remarkable landscape are virtually untouched. There are no roads, trails, established campsites or visitor services here. This makes journeying here a challenging adventure, one that is admittedly not for someone without outdoor survival skills. If you aren’t quite the cub scout you used to be, there is the option of hiring a local guide or outfitter for a day trip or overnights.
The most memorable adventures will include nights spent camping under the wide-open skies and days spent trekking alongside rivers and across the Brooks Range. Because there are no roads in the region, it's necessary to fly into the park or into a small nearby village and hike in. The park operates year-round, but it is only feasible to visit in the summer months, as temperatures drop to -20 to -50 in the winter (bring those sealskin slippers and caribou hide parkas anyways). While there are plenty of chances to see wolverines, caribou, grizzly bears, and other magnificent wildlife, what you likely won't see is another person.
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2. Virunga Volcanoes - Rwanda
This chain of eight active volcanoes makes for a sizzling vacation destination. It reaches across the borders of Uganda and the Congo, but the best place to access the peaks is in the Rwandan section. This area is known as a much more stable region political-wise and has proven to be the case in recent years.
Make your home base at a safari lodge, a truly extraordinary place. With genuinely spectacular volcanic views, there probably won’t be a reason to leave the property. Nonetheless, adventure calls. How about a trek to see wild animals in their natural habitats? Care to hike a volcano or take a long stroll to serene Lake Bulera? Heck, you can even jump in! No matter how you decide to spend your time, you're likely to feel breathless from both the landscape and the kindness of the local Rwandans. You’ll probably be planning your return trip to Rwanda before that erupting enthusiasm even has a chance to cool.
Did we mention that big fat gorillas will be in your neighborhood, too? So if you want to take a walk on the wild side and add a little ape to your adventures, Rwanda is the destination for you.
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3. Tiger Leaping Gorge - China
China’s crazy-futuristic city skylines or epicly long stone walls might not be the makings of an adventure-traveler’s-dream, but there’s more to the Republic than the urbanized coastline would have you believe. Get your fill of the capital, then get out of town because most of China’s untouched magic is in its wild interior.
The Tiger Leaping Gorge trek is in the gorgeous Yunnan province of China’s southwest. Nestled between Laos, Vietnam, and Tibet, Yunnan is home to the majority of the country’s minority ethnic groups. Beyond an interesting delve into what “Chinese culture” really looks like, you’ll also be exposed to the kind of rugged, natural beauty that hasn’t yet succumbed to tourists (Chinese or international alike).
Set your base in a traditional (and, might we add, adorable) thatched roof home in Lijiang before tackling the two-day trek alongside the gorge. Tip toe across waterfalls, pee in the acclaimed “World’s Most Scenic Bathroom,” huff-and-puff through the 27 bends, and hike alongside agricultural plots as you wave to the local farmers. Don’t forget to slurp your post-hike refuel noodles loudly!
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4. Saint Helena
Many people have heard of Saint Helena. Yet this remote island in the Atlantic is so closely associated with being the site of Napoleon Bonaparte's exile, that most people seem to assume that it ceased to exist once Napoleon left. That's fortunate for travelers who have discovered the myriad adventures awaiting there, as there is virtually no competition from other visitors.
Those who have traveled to Saint Helena know the island has only been accessible by boat. Specifically, most visitors needed to hop on a yacht or board the RMS St. Helena, one of the world’s last mail ships, which served as a cargo and passenger vessel. With the opening of St. Helena Airport, this may mean more people coming to this visually stunning island, but, as of now, this remote locale is a paradise for scuba diving and hiking. Part of the British Overseas Territories, many have called Saint Helena the Galapagos of the South Atlantic. Many have began the undertaking of conservation to maintain Saint Helena’s wildlife population. Whether you’re snorkeling with resplendent angelfish or jumping off cliffs with wirebirds, no one will hear your screams (or gurgles) of pure, adrenaline-filled ecstasy.
5. Lofoten Islands - Norway
If water sports are your passion, and you prefer icy fjords to chilled-out Caribbean beaches, then this may be your next favorite adventure destination. This is also the perfect spot for a bit of skiing and hiking, so land-based exploration should be on the itinerary, too. Schedule time to enjoy kayaking between the various islands, exploring villages, and sampling local delicacies in cozy eateries (fish soup and pickled herring, anyone?). The remoteness, hospitality, and safety of this area makes it the perfect adventure travel for singles; the Arctic Circle will steal your heart and give your tummy butterflies in no time.
One of the best ways to get around while also getting some exercise is cycling, an internationally acclaimed favorite ride is between Svolvær and Å. In the course of one ride, visitors will pass picturesque fishing villages and Stone Age settlements, as well as catch a glimpse of the northernmost golf course in the world (Fore!). If zooming around on two wheels isn’t your glass of aquavit, and you’d rather try your luck at traditional fishing, schedule time with a local fisherman; there are some who have been working the ocean waters for decades. With Norwegian fishing equipment and good conversation provided, the only thing you need to bring is your enthusiasm (and maybe a couple of seasickness pills). It will be a once-in-a-lifetime challenge, and the view of the islands from the ocean is absolutely breathtaking.
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Make a Decision & GO FOR IT!
When presented with lists of adventure travel tips and the opportunity of outdoor travel, it is daunting to narrow down the options, especially since there are so many exciting places to explore (and you’ll probably find plenty of your own hidden treasures, too!). Yet whatever the destination, by choosing less-crowded destinations, you can truly enjoy your holiday for what it is meant to be: enjoyed at your own pace, as you wish, without the stress of waiting in lines to consume.These five spots might be under-the-radar today, but that could change soon, so we recommend booking that plane, yacht, or ferry ticket ASAP.
This heaping dose of travel inspiration was brought to you by our friends at AsWeTravel.