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]

Mountain Travel Sobek Offers Rafting Adventure That Spans 25 Days, 6 Continents

Mountain Travel Sobek has a 25-day, 6-Continent rafting adventureAdrenaline junkies and globetrotting adventure travelers will want to take note of an impressive new itinerary being offered by Mountain Travel Sobek. Yesterday, the company unveiled a new excursion that will send travelers on a whitewater odyssey that spans six continents in 25 days, taking them to some remote corners of the planet in the process.

The trip runs from May 9 to June 2, 2013, and begins in California where the thrill seekers will cut their teeth on Class III and IV rapids along the Kings, Kaweah and Upper Kern Rivers. After getting their feet wet on those rafting experiences, it’ll be on to Ecuador, followed by Spain, Kenya and India, before finally wrapping up in Australia.

Each destination will provide a similar, yet uniquely different, rafting experience, as travelers take on South America’s famed Rio Blanco and raging rivers in the high Pyrenees. In Africa they’ll spot wildlife along the Athi River and in India they’ll take to the water in the shadow of Nanda Devi, considered to be one of the most beautiful of all the Himalayan peaks. Finally, after three weeks of travel and training, the group will run the famed North Johnstone River in Australia, which rushes through a remote volcanic gorge that few people ever see.

For adventurous travelers this is certainly a once-in-a-lifetime trip. The opportunity to visit any one of these rivers independently is a fantastic experience but to get them all on one itinerary is unbelievable. The trip will even be led by Mountain Travel Sobek’s co-founder John Yost, a renowned rafting guide in his own right. Cost for the trip is $8695 without airfare and group size is limited to just 8-12 guests. For more information click here.

On a personal note, when I read about this new rafting option, it immediately earned a spot on my bucket list. A whirlwind adventure that spans the globe, visiting highly diverse landscapes, sounds like a fantastic journey to me. I would absolutely love to join this expedition.

Adventure vacation Guide 2012: Ecuador

Most Norteamericanos are hard-pressed to locate Ecuador on the map. Those familiar with this South American country the size of Colorado usually associate it with the (admittedly) spectacular Galapagos Islands. Yet Ecuador has so much more offer besides the Galapagos, and 2012 is the year to get your hardcore on. Why? Because the country’s adventure travel industry is blowing up–but it’s still affordable, especially if you opt for independent travel or book certain activities through domestic outfitters or U.S. travel companies that work directly with Ecuadorean guides.

Whatever your recreational interests, budget, or experience, odds are Ecuador has it: mountaineering, glacier climbing, and volcano bagging; trekking on foot or horseback; Class III to VI whitewater kayaking and rafting; sea kayaking, scuba diving, and snorkeling; surfing; remote jungle lodges and endemic wildlife, and agritourism. Need more convincing? Ecuador’s adventure tourism increasingly has an emphasis on sustainability. When it comes to protecting its fragile ecosystem and indigenous communities, Ecuador has become quite progressive for a developing nation, which hasn’t always been the case.

If you like a cultural or culinary component to your travels, there’s that, too. You can opt for an active, educational trip to indigenous-owned and -operated Amazonian eco-lodges, or play in the Pacific regions, which retain a strong Afro-Ecuadorean influence.

Agritourism is also hot in Ecuador, most notably at centuries-old haciendas, although there are also coffee and cacao plantation tours. Ecuadorean food is a diverse melding of indigenous and outside ethnic influences that’s regionally influenced: be sure to patronize markets, roadside restaurants, and street food stalls for some of the most memorable eats.

[flickr image via Rinaldo W]

Teva giving away adventure vacation to Fiji

Teva, the company that manufactures a host of great outdoor and travel footwear, is preparing to send a few lucky travelers on a once in a lifetime adventure to the South Pacific, where they’ll have the opportunity explore Fiji aboard a private yacht, while hiking, snorkeling, and rafting through beautiful tropical locations.

The Teva House 2011 contest will select one lucky winner from the U.S., the U.K., the Netherlands, Korea, and Australia, and award them a trip for two to Tui Tai, Fiji in April of 2011. Once there, they’ll spend 10 days living aboard a 140′ long luxury adventure class yacht while exploring remote places that few travelers ever have the opportunity to see. They’ll occupy their time by hiking jungle trails and snorkeling coral reefs that are 100 miles from the closest resorts, while meeting local villagers who seldom see visitors of any kind.

One of the highlights of the trip will be a whitewater rafting excursion, conducted by O.A.R.S., that will send the travelers down the Upper Navua Gorge on Viti Levu Island. Towering walls of black lava, overgrown with giant ferns and other jungle foliage, are the hallmark of this spectacular trip, which has been described as a “river of Eden” unlike any other place on Earth. That full day adventure will include lunch on a sandbar at the heart of the canyon and a chance to interact with villagers that still travel the river on their own handmade bamboo rafts.

For more information on this amazing trip and to enter the contest, simply go to TevaHouse.com and select the flag of your home country. Then, fill out the form and start working on your tan. It gets very sunny in Fiji.

[Photo credit: OARS]

Wine, Dine and Raft Your Way Along Idaho’s Snake River

What better way to spend an adventure-filled whitewater rafting trip along Idaho’s Hell’s Canyon (the deepest gorge in North America) than to experience it while sampling an array of Oregon Pinot Noir’s and delicious cuisine whipped up on-site by a renown executive chef?

O.A.R.S. (Outdoor Adventure River Specialists) is offering a five day “wine on the river” adventure trip starting September 14th, along the dam-controlled Snake River, which is known for its powerful drops and “roller-coaster” waves along Class III rapids. After a fun-filled day bucking through the rolling waters, participants are treated to an evening of award-winning wines from the Pacific Northwest designed to be savored along the river’s sandy beaches. Hors’douvres along with dinner will then be expertly prepared under the direction of executive chef, Adam Bernstein, owner of Adam’s Place Restaurant in Eugene, Oregon.

Adam’s Place, which specializes in organic and sustainable Northwestern cuisine lightly dotted with European and Asian influences, boasts a menu which includes such regional delights as steamed Pacific mussels in white wine, all-natural Carlton Farm pork tenderloin (all of Chef Bernstein’s meats are hormone and antibiotic-free) as well as stick-to-your-ribs comfort foods like chicken crock pie with a biscuit crust and hand-cut paparadelle with braised lamb and wild mushrooms, which after a long day battling the mighty river, are sure to satisfy any hungry outdoor enthusiast.

Williamette Valley native and local wine expert, Robert Wolfe, who is also president of the Oregon Pinot Noir Club oversees tastings and pairings, and will lead participants on a guided tour of some of the region’s best vintages and varietals. And, this is no run-of-the-mill wine experience. Each wine will be carefully selected to complement Chef Bernstein’s culinary offerings, allowing diners to get a taste of a five-star restaurant right along the banks of the Snake River.

In addition to afternoons on the water, participants can take short hikes to local historic sites, view prehistoric Native American pictographs, fish for Rainbow Trout, or for more gallant travelers, participate in a spectacular vista hike from Suicide Point, which offers a dramatic view of the river and its canyon walls.

Included in your trip is five days of rafting with four nights camping, a scenic charter air flight to the put-in point, all meals with beer and wine at dinner, and expedition equipment (including a 2-person shared tent and sleeping bags) as well a personal flotation device, wetsuits and waterproof bags to hold your gear.

For over 30 years, O.A.R.S. has been running river trips throughout Idaho, Utah, California, Oregon, Wyoming, the Grand Canyon and internationally. Along with enrichment travel opportunities, O.A.R.S. strives to encourage and actively support a deeper appreciation and preservation of its rivers and natural ecosystems through responsible tourism. For more about O.A.R.S. or to book a trip, please visit www.oars.com

–Kendra