10 Big Travel Adventures For 2013

Travel adventures to Denali National Park in AlaskaThough 2013 may only be a few days old, it is never too early to start planning our travels for the year ahead. If you’re looking to put a healthy dose of adventure into your life this year, then Gadling is here to help. We have ten suggestions for big travel adventures that are sure to challenge and delight in the months ahead. These journeys are not for the faint of heart, however, as they will carry you to the very ends of the Earth in pursuit of a true once-in-a-lifetime travel experience.

Backpack Through Denali National Park
Even in the 21st century, Alaska remains a wild and untamed frontier that is quite simply the perfect playground for outdoor enthusiasts and adventure travelers alike. At the heart of that beautiful landscape is the incomparable Denali National Park, which is essentially 4.7 million acres filled with breathtaking scenery and spectacular wildlife. Alaska Alpine Adventures offers both seven- and ten-day backpacking excursions into the park, taking travelers across massive glaciers, high into mountain passes and along remote rivers that few people ever see. These trips are a backpacker’s dream come true in one of the last great wildernesses on the planet.

Explore Namibia’s Skeleton Coast
Located along Namibia‘s northern-shores, the Skeleton Coast is so named for the smashed hulls of ships that have washed up on its beaches. More than a thousand vessels have come to rest in those sands, giving the place an otherworldly feeling that is difficult to describe. Desolate, yet incredibly beautiful, the coast is home to an array of wildlife including sea lions, baboons, elephants and even rare black rhinos. The region is inaccessible by land, but several adventure travel companies, including Audley Travel, can arrange for safaris to this remote corner of the world. This is a destination for those who truly want to get away from it all, as it is seldom visited and far from the traditional travel crowd.Travel adventures in the Himalay with Sacred RidesMountain Bike The Himalayas
For decades, one of the staples of adventure travel has been trekking in the Himalaya. But for those looking for a completely different challenge amongst the tallest mountains on the planet, Sacred Rides has a fantastic alternative. The company, which specializes in unique mountain biking tours around the globe, gives travelers the chance to pedal their way through Nepal on a 12-day tour that is truly unique. This adventure takes riders into the remote Mustang Valley, through the shadows of both Annapurna and Dhaulagiri, and into the deepest mountain pass on the planet. Along the way, they’ll catch their breath in ancient Hindu temples, Buddhist monasteries and rustic mountain villages.

Whitewater Raft The World
We’ve told you about Mountain Travel Sobek’s amazing new rafting excursion before, but it is so ambitious and grand it’s worth mentioning again. The company’s Six-Continent Whitewater Adventure is unlike any other, offering travelers the ability to experience Class III-IV rapids in California, Ecuador, Spain, Kenya, India and Australia on a single 25-day whirlwind journey. If you’re a fan of whitewater rafting, it simply doesn’t get any bigger or more adventurous than this.

Trek The Atlas Mountains
Already hiked through the Andes, Alps and Himalaya but still find your feet are itching for an adventure? Why not hit the trail in the High Atlas Mountains of Morocco? Stretching from the Atlantic Ocean to the Sahara Desert, the Atlas Mountains offer unexpectedly rugged routes that wind through verdant valleys, across sparsely populated alpine meadows and over snow-capped summits. Travelers are treated to breathtaking vistas and are welcomed by the friendly locals who inhabit the tiny villages that are sprinkled throughout the region. Explore World Wide offers a variety of travel options to the Atlas Range, including short climbs to the top of the 13,671-foot Toubkal Peak and extended 15-day treks across the region. Like all great hiking excursions, these options provide a good mix of scenic landscapes, physical challenges and unique cultural immersion opportunities.

Learn To Sea Kayak In Patagonia
If you’ve ever wanted to learn how to sea kayak, there are few places on the planet that are better suited to obtain those skills than Patagonia. The incredible wilderness located along the southernmost tip of South America is amongst the most beautiful settings on the planet and it remains an incredibly remote and wild place even today. And who better to train travelers in the art of sea kayaking than the folks at NOLS – the National Outdoor Leadership School. The organization leads a couple of trips to Chile each year where their guests gain paddling skills while traveling through lush rainforests, past towering granite spires and around pristine beaches. Paddlers will encounter plenty of wildlife along the way as well, including sea lions, giant otters, Andean condors and much more. This trip is a mix of equal parts adventure, learning and exploration that lets travelers go home with new skills and a host of wonderful memories.

Travel adventures on the SerengetiTake A Walking Safari Across The Serengeti
The Serengeti is one of those iconic destinations that every adventure traveler should have on their list of places to visit. With its dizzying array of wildlife, it is simply a magical place for animal lovers and naturalists alike. But those looking to experience the traditional safari in a unique way will want to check out the Walk on the Wildside itinerary from the team at Mountain Madness. This trip gets travelers out of the safari vehicle and actually puts them on the rolling savannah on foot. Specially trained guides will keep travelers safe as they spend their days hiking from one campsite to the next, all the while moving amongst vast herds of antelope, wildebeests and zebras, keeping their eyes peeled for elephants and lions along the way. At night they’ll actually camp right on the Serengeti, drifting off to sleep to the sounds of wild animals grazing just outside their tent.

Go Camping In Antarctica
For many, a visit to Antarctica is the ultimate adventure, as the frozen continent is the very definition of the “ends of the Earth.” While there are numerous travel companies that offer cruises to the bottom of the world, not many of them also offer the ability to actually go camping while there. But adventurous travelers looking for the ultimate cold weather camping experience will want to check out the itineraries available from Quark Expeditions. Their Crossing The Circle tour not only offers the option to go kayaking with whales and visit remote penguin colonies, but travelers can actually camp on the Antarctic Peninsula itself. Just be sure to pack a warm sleeping bag and your long underwear.

Climb The Highest Peak In South America
Located in western Argentina, the 22,480-foot Aconcagua is the tallest peak in South America and the highest in the world outside of the Himalaya. Despite its extreme altitude, however, the mountain requires only a few rudimentary technical skills to climb, making it accessible to adventurers who enjoy venturing into thin air. The standard route to the top is essentially a challenging hike requiring about three weeks to complete, including acclimatization and shuttling gear to high camps. The climb also happens to serve as a great training ground for a potential attempt on Everest or other more demanding mountains. The Adventure Consultants are one of the best companies around when it comes to organizing an Aconcagua climb, offering multiple expeditions to the mountain each year and providing top notch service, skills training and guidance. This is the trip for those who have trekked to the summit of Kilimanjaro and are now looking for new high altitude challenge.

The Ultimate African Adventure – Cairo to Cape Town Overland
If you’re looking for the ultimate African experience, it’s tough to beat Intrepid Travel’s amazing Cairo to Cape Town overland adventure. As the name implies, your excursion will begin in Egypt‘s capital city and proceed south to the capital of South Africa. In between, travelers will pass through the Sudan, Ethiopia, Kenya, Tanzania, Zanzibar, Malawi, Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Botswana and Namibia. The trip is an incredible 117 days in length and offers a mix of camping and rustic accommodations. The itinerary features stops in some of the continent’s more vibrant and exciting cities, while also providing plenty of opportunity to encounter Africa’s famous wildlife in a number of fantastic natural settings. If you’re a fan of African travel, it just doesn’t get any better than this. That is, provided you have four months of vacation time saved up.

Hopefully this list has provided you with some ideas for your own big adventures for 2013. Good luck in your travels in the year ahead and enjoy the road.

[Photo Credit: Kent Miller, Kraig Becker]

Ten big travel adventures for 2012

Ten big travel adventures for 2012A new year always brings new possibilities, particularly in the realm of travel. With 2012 now officially underway, it is time to start plotting our adventures for the year ahead. This year, rather than share yet another top ten list of adventure travel destinations, we thought it would be fun to recommend some highly specific adventures instead. These are unique journeys that will take you to the very ends of the Earth and deliver a travel experience that simply can’t be easily found elsewhere.

Visit Yellowstone in Winter
Yellowstone National Park is one of the most breathtakingly scenic destinations in all of North America, and well worth a visit any time of the year. But in the heart of winter, it takes on a whole new level of beauty and wonder. With fewer than 100,000 visitors during the colder months, the park offers plenty of solitude as well, making it the perfect winter wonderland for those looking for a true wilderness adventure in the snow. Cross country skiing, snowshoeing, and wildlife spotting are amongst the best activities, and Austin Lehman Adventures offers fantastic itineraries that provide all of that and much more.

Explore Botswana’s Okavango Delta By Canoe
Botswana is home to the Okavango Delta, which is formed when waters from the Okavango River empty into the flat-lands near the base of the Kalahari Desert. The result is a fertile piece of swampland that attracts all manner of African wildlife, including elephants, zebras, giraffes, lions, and much more. The best way to explore that expanse of wetlands is in a traditional dugout canoe, which puts you in very close proximity with those amazing animals. National Geographic Expeditions has a unique itinerary that allows travelers to do just that, while learning to track game with the famed Kalahari Bushmen and wander the Makgadikgadi salt flats on horseback. This is truly an amazing, once in a lifetime, journey to the very heart of Africa.

Cycle The Silk Road
Stretching across Europe and Asia, the Silk Road was once one of the most important trading routes in the entire world. Today it serves as the dramatic and historic backdrop for one of the longest, and most epic, annual cycling trips that any adventure traveler could ever ask for. The Silk Route Tour, which is designed by the team behind the amazing Tour d’Afrique, stretches from Shanghai to Istanbul, covering a distance of more than 7450 miles and requiring 129 days to complete. This year’s route takes riders into Iran for the first time and will test their legs on Tajikistan’s Pamir Highway, which rises above 15,000 feet. Don’t have time to commit to the full tour? Then ride any combination of the individual legs instead.Ten big travel adventures for 2012Climb A Himalayan Peak
Standing 23,494 feet in height, Pumori is a Himalayan peak that often serves as a tune-up climb for mountaineers hoping to move on to bigger challenges such as Everest. Located in the Khumbu Region of Nepal, Pumori also happens to be a great challenge for those who want to experience a major alpine expedition in the most spectacular mountain chain on the planet. Peak Freaks, one of the top Himalayan guide services in world, offers an excellent, fully featured, 34-day climb up the mountains South Ridge, which requires no high altitude experience, although some technical skills with crampons and ice axes are a must.

Go Gorilla Spotting in Rwanda
The mountain gorilla is one of the most elusive and endangered animals on the planet, and because of this, their remote habitats have been designated as nature preserves and sanctuaries throughout Africa. One of the best places to spot them is in Rwanda, where adventure travel and eco-tourism have helped directly fund the preservation of these gentle creatures. Visitors to the Virunga Volcanoes National Park must hike for miles through dense forests just to catch a glimpse of the gorillas, but those who have made the journey report that it is a magical experience unlike any other. Adventure travel specialists Abercrombie & Kent can help make that experience a reality for wildlife lovers who want a very personal encounter with these amazing primates.

Trek The Wakhan Corridor in Afghanistan
In the remote northeast corner of Afghanistan there is a narrow strip of land known as the Wakhan Corridor. The region once served as a buffer zone between the British and Russian Empires, but today it is a wilderness that rarely sees outside visitors. Trekking through that valley is akin to stepping back in time, as there are few modern amenities to be found. What is in abundance however are scenic mountain vistas, tiny villages populated by local herdsman, and rugged trekking routes that are amongst the most remote on the planet. Few travel companies organize expeditions to the region, although Wild Frontiers out of the U.K. does have plans to lead two excursions – one 20 days in length, the other 30 – into the Corridor this year.

Ten big travel adventures for 2012Hike and Bike Easter Island
Speaking of remote destinations, they don’t come much more remote than Easter Island. Famous for the mysterious moai statues that proliferate the landscape, the South Pacific island is an intriguing mix of history and outdoor adventure. For those looking to visit the place for themselves, G Adventures offers an affordable option that features full and half-day cycling excursions and day hikes to visit some of the more famous locations where the stone faces that Easter Island is known for are in abundance.

Dive The Maldives
For more than 45 years, the Professional Association of Diving Instructors, or PADI, has been teaching travelers how to scuba dive. But the organization also offers a host of diving trips to some of the most exotic destinations on the planet. For example, the PADI itinerary to the Maldives take divers on a cruise through the beautiful island nation, where the waters offer visibility in excess of 100 feet and encounters with sharks, manta rays, sea turtles and scores of other marine animals.

Experience Mongolia’s Gobi Desert
Mongolia’s Gobi Desert has long held an undeniable allure to the adventure traveler, and what better way to take in its wonders than by traveling overland through those remote landscapes. Intrepid Travel has a new itinerary for 2012 that sends travelers on a three-week long odyssey over towering sand dunes, past ancient ruins, and through lush, open steppe lands. Accommodations range from traditional Mongolian Yurts to rugged bush camps. This is the ultimate road trip through a part of the world that few outsiders are lucky enough to ever see.

Ski To The South Pole
If you’re a well heeled adventure traveler looking for the ultimate escape, a last degree journey to the South Pole may just be fit the bill. The expedition begins in Antarctica at 89°S and covers the final 60 miles to the Pole on cross country skis. It isn’t an easy journey however, as you’ll be pulling your food and gear behind you in a sled, while battling fierce winds, subzero temperatures, and occasional whiteout conditions. If this sounds like your particular brand of suffering, than Adventure Consultants has a 17-day itinerary that you’ll probably love. Just don’t let the sticker shock scare you.

Good luck in your 2012 adventures, where ever they may take you.

[Photo credits: Pumori - Philip Ling; Easter Island - Aurbina both via WikiMedia]

Gadling on the Road Archives


Here at Gadling we pride ourselves in putting our money where our mouth is. In other words, we write about travel because we are all travelers. This is our passion, this is our hobby, this is our life.

Unfortunately, we can’t all travel 100% of the time. But, when we do hit the road, we tend to hit it rather well.

Over the last few years, our writers and correspondents have traveled the globe, absorbed their surroundings, converted what they’ve seen into zeros and ones on their laptop, and then digitally rearranged it for you right here on Gadling. Sometimes it might be a simple post, but other times we’ve built entire series around exotic locations. Sadly, as time passes, these features have died a lonely death, disappearing into the void of cyberspace never to be seen again.

As a result, we’ve decided to resurrect some of the very best and provide for them a nice, accessible home so that they may continue providing virtual sustenance to our readers. The link to this new home is just below our Gadling Writers on the Road section (which features our current writers on assignment). To explore our prior destinations, simply click on the Archives Button and you’ll soon be up to your knees in China, Beijing, Alaska, Haiti, Miami, St. Lucia, Tajikistan, the Balkans, and Trinidad & Tobago.

Enjoy!