Adventure is good. Adventure says a lot about who we are as people. How we interact with it, the kind of adventure we seek, our reasons for doing it… these things weaved together to tell a story.
The adventure keeps us alive; without it, we stagnate. We work our 9 to 5 so we can come home afterward, cook dinner, binge Netflix on the couch with our significant other, and then – if we’re lucky and not too tired – a banal quickie before we hit the sack.
Even writing that paragraph gave me an existential crisis.
So what’s the remedy to all that deep-seated nihilistic fear and loathing? Quite simply, an adventure! Nature, the elements, adrenaline, almost falling off mountaintops dicking around and being a dillweed: now you’re really living!
So, you’re considering some good old travel adventures. Well, this is the list for you: the 12 best places for an adventure travel holiday. It’s also quite a good list if I do say so myself; at least one offering from every continent!
The activities vary, the environments vary, the budgets vary but the feeling of truly being alive remains the same among these adventure tourism destinations. These are the bucket list trips of a lifetime!
To, you know… distract you from the gnawing meaninglessness of existence.
The 5 Best Places for an Adventure Travel Holiday
Alright, we’re jumping right into it… the good stuff! The best places for adventure travel across the seven continents!
After the mega-list, we’ll get into some nitty-gritty stuff but today I want to give you your dessert before your broccoli. Who says I wouldn’t be a good dad?
They may not necessarily be the most adventurous countries (depending on your perception of ‘adventurous’) but then some, I’d argue, are pretty far out. That’s what I’m saying: we got something for everyone! It’s like Baskin Robbins if Baskin Robbins only had 5 flavors.
1. Pakistan: For The Best Place for Adventure Travel that Makes People Go “You’re going where!?”
I bet you weren’t expecting this to make the list of the best places for adventure travel holidays!
Yep, let’s talk Pakistan. And before we do, you’re gonna have to leave all your stigmas at the door (along with your shoes, thank you very much)! Our governments’ travel warnings and media organizations have painted certain parts of the world a certain way and if you listened to the boys and girls in charge all the time, you’d never have any fun.
Pakistan is one of those places where you’re taking adventure tourism to the next level and dropping a lot of the ‘tourism’ in the process. If your idea of the best adventure holidays anywhere in the world is a lot of beautiful nature with a lot of friendly, inquisitive people, it’s worth flying in the face of the status quo and traveling to Pakistan. I mean, that’s the whole point of a travel adventure, right?
You’ll find a lot of trekking in Pakistan with something for everyone from chill day hikes all the way up to the 18-day trek to the K2 base camp (the second-highest mountain in the world). If you’re an avid trekker, the Karakoram range is magnificent and a true feat to experience.
But hey, I know just where to go for the best adventure tour in Pakistan! It’s called Epic Backpacker Tours and it’s an epic (heh) project initiated by the Broke Backpacker himself, Mr. Will Hatton, after his travels and subsequent falling-in-love with Pakistan.
If you’re looking for one of the best adventure holiday tours in a far-out and distant land that you can sink your teeth into, welcome to Pakistan. Alternatively, you can try going it solo to discover one of the most adventurous countries in the world all by your lonesome.
2. Adventure Travel in New Zealand: It’s a Multi-Buy!
Time for something a little more standard but no-less downright gorgeous! The good thing about adventure travel in New Zealand is that you’re getting a lot of bang for your buck. It’s like seriously seven countries in one.
Ice-capped mountains? Check. Petrified forests? Check. Prehistoric coastline? Check. Uninhabited fjords? Check.
And that’s just the South Island!
New Zealand’s adventure tourism options have a flavor for everyone, and the closeness of everything (New Zealand really ain’t that big) makes it one of the best countries for adventure sports.
The Great Walks offer multiple levels of trekking from the well-worn Abel Tasman to the near-undisturbed Stewart Island. Or, you know, you could just walk the entirety of New Zealand; I met a dude that did it without shoes. That’s pretty metal.
There’s plenty of rock climbing in New Zealand too. In fact, it would be fair to call the Castle Hill Basin a proverbial boulder playground.
There’s Zorbing in Rotorua! It’s ok, you don’t have to pretend to care; I just wanted to let you know. Rotorua is one of the best places for adventure travel activities on North Island, however.
But where’s New Zealand’s best overall adventure holiday destination? Easy one, man. It’s Queenstown: the go-to for adventure travel sports and activities in New Zealand.
You’ve got the beautiful weather on the lake in the summer months and then, come winter, all the snowbums roll in for the powder season. A year-long travel adventure backpacking epicenter.
So what other adventure activities are there? Its mega-famous for bungy jumping, ziplining, or you can book a skydiving tour. Honestly, it’s one of the most beautiful places in the world to do it.
Oh, and if you get bored, beautiful, darling Wanaka is about an hour’s drive away… and it’s way better!
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3. Nepal: Holy Mountains and a Booming Adventure Tourism Industry
A booming adventure tourism industry describes Nepal well and is illustrated in the Mount Everest summit stats. The past decade has seen near-consistent growth in tourist arrivals to Nepal.
How come? Hmm, I can’t be certain but it may have something to do with the Himalayas… Nepal is the ‘roof of the world’ after all.
So what type of adventure tourism can you expect from Nepal? Well, again, it’s the Himalayan Mountains… so… a lot of mountaineering. Mind you, this is final-boss-level mountaineering I’m talking about. The proper hardcore deal.
I would request you refrain from climbing Everest though, in case you hadn’t already figured out that I was going to do that – responsible tourism and all that jazz. We’ll cover the impacts of adventure tourism later on.
Nepal is also a trekkers’ heaven. Disappear (safely) into the Annapurna range which strikes a nice balance between both culturally authentic and tourist accessible. But pick your timing right: outside peak season but close to the cusp for the best of both worlds.
Alternatively, just pick a direction and start walking. The further out you get to where the whiteys don’t go, the more spectacular and strange Nepal becomes. The chaos of India slowed down by the pace of mountain life.
I’ve even heard whispers of a pristine ancient lake too; they say… Rara.
And then there’s Pokhara. I have to talk about Pokhara because it may just be my backpacking Mecca: my bubble town. Pokhara, in many ways, is like Queenstown. Only it’s slower, it’s more chill, and you smoke hash instead of greenery.
There’s a lot of adventure tourism activities around Pokhara now (as the industry has grown). Paragliding, (more) trekking, and there’s some dope rafting around too. I smoked up with a couple of the guys who were working the rafting tours. There’s even a cheaps-as-chips bouldering gym in town to counter all the joints and cheap cake!
Honestly, it’s easy for me to spin Pokhara as one of the best adventure holiday destinations for singles and solo travelers. It is so chill with so much to do, it’s so cheap, and there are tonnes of new faces and solo adventurers filtering in every day! There’s a distinct quality to be found in many of the travelers that are attracted to Nepal.
Also read our article on 10 Unique Islands To Visit In 2020
4. Pura Vida Costa Rica: The Birthplace of the Zipline
Yup, that’s right. The birthplace of the zipline. So, now you know number one on your list of adventure activities to do in Costa Rica.
Costa Rica has got a lot to offer the adventure traveler: jungles, beaches, volcanoes. The nature in Costa Rica is stunning and one of the main draws for travelers there. It’s also one of the reasons that Costa Rica has remained one of the world’s best places for adventure travel for so long.
It’s natural magnetism to travelers and ex-pats alike has made Costa Rica both a fantastic and varied place to travel. It’s also caused its prices to rise and become one of the more expensive choices for adventure holidays in Central America.
The trade-off? It’s the goddamn birthplace of the zipline, remember?
Picture this: you’re cruising along at a cool 70km/hr. Beneath you, the rippling greens of the jungle canopy blur together. At the end of the line, a crew of trained squirrel monkeys awaits your arrival, a chilled alfresco and caramel flan in hand. Ok, I made that last bit up.
La Fortuna is your best destination for adventure tourism in Costa Rica. It’s a small town close to the piercing Arenal Volcano (who is an absolutely magnificent creature). In the area, you’ll find hiking, canyoning, rafting, and of course, the jungle zipline!
And, if you’re more of a beach person, head towards Costa Rica’s coast for snorkeling and scuba diving action.
But do so simply; it is Costa Rica.
5. USA Adventure Travel: The United States of Awesome
Heading north from Central America takes us to… North America. Yeah, that makes sense.
What will you find in the US? Holy shit, dude, so so much! The US is incredible: it’s big, it’s beautiful, and it’s chock full of travel adventure destinations. There are so many adventurous places in the USA to visit.
The world-famous mountain biking of Moab, Utah.
So, where to travel for adventures in the USA? God, what do you like? Canyons, mountains, coasts, great lakes, rivers, prairies… it’s all there.
- Moab (Utah) takes the top pick as one of the best places for an adventure vacation in the USA. It is the go-to for mountain biking with courses ranging from the beginner all the way up to the ‘holy shit, I might die’. You’ll also find heaps of sweet rafting, ATV driving, horseback riding… it’s an adrenaline junkie’s desert playground!
- Yellowstone National Park (Wyoming) has hiking and hot springs. That’s a no brainer! Anywhere that has hot springs (Best Adventure Holidays Honourable Mentions: Japan) is going to make for a top trip.
- Colorado: home of the Rocky Mountains! What do you get there? Mate, were you not listening; I just told you – the Rocky Mountains! Hikes, rock climbing, and legal bud; it may just be heaven-on-earth. Oh, and another zipline!
- Yosemite National Park (Cally) is the impossible-to-not-mention choice. The undisputed king of the USA’s national parks featuring the truly staggering peaks of free-soloing ‘What’s a rope?’ Alex Honnold fame.
Staying Safe – Get Insured Before You Visit the Best Places for Adventure Travel Holidays
Also, you need damn travel insurance! If you’re going to be a thrill-seeking adventure traveler, you need insurance. Evel Knievel didn’t and look how that ended up for him! Oh, he died at the age of 69 from natural causes… that ruins that joke.
Still, get insurance!
Shoutout from Will – The OG Broke Backpacker: Have fun on your backpacking adventure, but please do get insurance – take it from someone who has racked up tens of thousands of bucks on an insurance claim before, you need it.
Yeah, and on that note, it’s still a matter of respect. Let’s say you know you’re going off to fight bears. Well, you know the inherent risk of fighting bears! You may very well end up getting injured fighting bears!