You’ve already decided that you don’t want to just go abroad, you want to have an adventure. A heart-pumping, adrenaline-flowing, life-changing experience, in an “I can’t believe this is even real” natural setting. Great news: adventure is out there.
Does cheetah spotting in South Africa pique your interest? What about trekking among the world’s highest peaks in Nepal? Maybe you’d rather slow down and perfect your chaturanga during a yoga retreat. Whatever gets your blood pumping, these eight adventure travel companies have got you covered.
What to look for in adventure travel companies
Travel companies offering adventure tours are a dime a dozen, so how can you tell which ones will live up to the hype? After all, it’s no fun to discover that you spent your entire savings on a trip that provides leaky tents, sub-par equipment, or unqualified guides.
When you’re participating in a new activity, especially one that can be a bit on the wild side, it’s important to choose an outdoor adventure travel company you can trust. Do some research into the company and find out what makes them qualified to take you scuba diving or rock climbing. Do the guides have local, reputable certifications? Does the company follow certain safety standards? These are all important things to consider when you’re (sometimes literally) putting your life in a stranger’s hands.
Once you’re confident that your adventure travel company has got your back, it’s time to think about your budget. Not all adventures are created equal, and some include all of your meals while others expect you to pay for food out of pocket. Likewise, some programs pay for things like housing, transportation, and entrance fees, while others don’t. It’s a good idea to research your program’s inclusions before you make a down payment to avoid unpleasant surprises or empty wallets.
Next, do some final research into your chosen adventure travel company and read reviews online (Hint: MyGoAbroad is a great place to start!). Google the company and find out everything you can about them from people who’ve already participated. You’ll likely collect some helpful tips along the way and you’ll be able to easily spot if others had a terrible experience. Once you’ve read the good, the bad, and the (hopefully not) ugly of others’ trips, you’ll be better prepared for your own.
The best adventure travel companies for you... and you... and you... and you!
To help put you on the fast track to adventure, here are eight of the best adventure travel companies for a guaranteed epic journey abroad.
1. Learn to Surf in Australia with Oyster
Whether you’re an expert waverider or a true novice, this program near Sydney is ideal for perfecting your surfing skills. Oyster’s two-week intensive program is guaranteed to get even the clumsiest of surfers riding the waves with ease, and staying in a beach motel with other participants means you can share tips for hanging 10 over brekkie, too. In case you ever want to change it up, afternoon excursions allow you to go hiking, climbing, and check out nearby national parks.
2. Practice Yoga in Costa Rica with Nosara Spanish Institute
For those who want a side of yoga with their Spanish lessons, the Nosara Spanish Institute is the perfect coastal location to practice both. Choose from two to four hours of Spanish instruction a day and top it off with an invigorating flow class or a relaxing sunset yin session. Students have the option to stay with a host family, in group housing, or at a hotel, making the experience affordable for all budgets.
3. Discover the Himalayas with Where There Be Dragons
Spend a month trekking through the Himalayan mountains, learning from nomadic herders, and exploring the western edge of the Tibetan plateau with Where There Be Dragons. A program for high-school students, this journey promises to be challenging: not only will you navigate high-altitude mountain passes, you’ll also experience what life is like in this remote environment and learn from those who call it home.
4. Scuba Dive in Bali with Broadreach
If you’re already an experienced diver, it doesn’t get any better than a three week excursion to Indonesia with Broadreach. Spend time living on a traditional dive boat, search for manta rays, and earn your freediver certification before heading to Ubud to sample traditional Balinese cuisine. A community service project with your fellow travelers helps wrap up the program, and it’s pretty much guaranteed you’ll be missing those pygmy sea horses as you head back home.
5. Explore South Africa’s Garden Route with Frontier
There’s perhaps no better road trip in South Africa than the Garden Route, a twisting journey that winds along the coast from Port Elizabeth to Cape Town. This part of South Africa is no savannah, and you’ll be surrounded by leafy fynbos, secluded lagoons, and towering mountains as you make your way across the country with Frontier. You’ll also have the chance to try out surfing, hike in national parks, and maybe even check out an ostrich race in Oudtshoorn, the ostrich capital of the world.
6. Trek to Machu Picchu with Gapforce
Hiking to Machu Picchu is only one of the adventures that’ll get your heart pumping on this month-long expedition with Gapforce to Peru and Ecuador. After acclimating to the altitude in Cusco, you’ll hike up to the ancient Incan ruins before making your way to the Ecuadorian rainforest. After spending time volunteering with macaws and monkeys, you’ll barely have time to catch your breath before checking out the Galapagos Islands.
7. Camp in the Mongolian Countryside with Rustic Pathways
Don’t expect this trekking tour with Rustic Pathways to feel anything like your daily life, as you’ll leave behind cell service, electricity, and running water as soon as you step onto the steppe. As you travel from ger to ger, you’ll learn about nomadic life from your hosts over a plate of buuz (dumplings) and yak or camel milk. After completing a local service project, you’ll have a chance to hike to alpine lakes in the Altai Tavan Bogd mountain range before (finally!) being rewarded with a well-deserved shower in Ulaanbaatar.
8. Backpack around Southeast Asia with Stray
If you’re having a hard time deciding if you should travel with a program or go solo, this backpacking tour might be the best compromise in Southeast Asia. Think of it as a hop-on, hop-off city bus tour, but for the entire region. Not a bad idea, right? Stray lets you choose when you want to hit the road, so you can spend an extra week in Vietnam if you just can’t tear yourself away from the green hills of Ha Long Bay. Accommodations and tours are included in some packages, while others let you make arrangements on your own.
Ready for your adventure abroad?
The best adventure travel companies are the ones that are reliable, safe, and want to show you all their country has to offer. Your choice of travel company will undoubtedly influence your experience abroad, so it’s always smart to do your research before buying your plane ticket. Find a company that shares your values, start packing your bags, and remember to travel meaningfully!