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25 Best Adventure Vacations Around the World in 2023

man bungee jumping off suspension bridge

Routine got you down? Feeling a little restless? Life can be a tedious machine at times, luckily there’s an easy fix. As the experts in all matters fun, exciting, and exhilarating, we recommend you book as many adventure vacations and active trips as you can! 

Because think about it, there’s a whole-wide world of adrenaline pumping experiences waiting for you, and a whole club of similar thrill-seekers ready to take the plunge with you! Want to know what’s better than scaling Machu Picchu and casting your eyes on the spell-binding view? Doing it with a friend who can help carry your backpack along the way.

Here’s our list of the 25 best and most happy-scream-inducing adventure vacations ever!

1 – Adventure Horseback Safari

We ride at dawn. Literally. This horseback safari in Botswana is the best thing to happen for animal lovers since puppuccinos and cat memes. Atop of your trusted steed you’ll ride like the wind through the land of giants accompanied by well-weathered guides, zooming past massive baobab trees and elephants, the earth’s gentle giants. 

At night you’ll camp in the wilderness, and during the day you’ll catch glimpses of safari OGs like lions, cheetahs, zebras and antelopes lazing in the brush. Do it all in the style of Africa’s original pioneers. One for nature and animals lovers, this is an adventure that’ll help you rekindle your connection with the natural world.

2 – Dive down to the Coral Reefs

Let us pitch this to you. 3 days in Australia spending time on a boat with sandy-white beaches, an all engulfing sun, glittering night life. Add to that daily plunges into the ocean to get face to face with the Great Barrier Reef. This activity is on anyone’s bucket list.

These clear waters are home to 1,500 species of fish and 134 species of sharks and rays, not to mention the plethora of soft coral. Just remember to be mindful of this space, this is an essential ecosystem to both Cairn and global oceans. Scared of the depths or want to pair some learning with your snorkelling? We’ve got you, book onto our Dive to Adventure trip with friends, and become experts in no time at all.

Two women in wetsuits are enjoying an adventurous boat trip in the water.

Image source:Contiki

3 – Paraglide over Blue Lagoon in Turkey

We’ve told you about land-based and water-based adventure activities so far, but how about taking to the skies? You may know Turkey for another sky-based experience, the Cappadocia hot air balloon rides, and while those are Stunning with a capital S, have you ever seen the Blue Lagoon?

Well, you’ll get to know it pretty well as you launch from Babadag and paraglide over a gorgeous panoramic view of pebble beaches, deep green hills, and the most drinkable aquamarine water ever. The weather is stable, making Oludeniz one of the best places to paraglide in Turkey. It’ll be a breeze.

4 – Boat Under Iguazu Falls

Iguazu Falls puts the rest of the world’s water falls to shame. This aquatic paradise on the border of Argentina and Brazil is world class in terms of views, wow-factor, and experiences. Comprising 200 falls, the beauty of Iguazu Falls can be admired from walk-ways all around the horse-shoe perimeter, but a much closer vantage point sounds more enticing, no?

Hop aboard an inflatable raft and set course on a high-speed tour in the basin of the falls, flying past the high pressure cascades. The splash of water on your face is guaranteed to make you feel more alive than you’ve ever been! Just remember to hold on.

5 – Camp in Antarctica

When it comes to adventure travel this is one for the truly committed and die hard fans. Camping in Antarctica. The continent is virtually untouched and has so much raw beauty to explore, not to mention the unique wildlife populating the area. 

There’s surprisingly a lot to do in Antarctica, from glacier hunting on cruises, caving through true-blue ice tunnels, and taking a soak in thermal springs. You can even set up a tent for the night for those warm-blooded enough to stand the cold.

What to expect from a trip to Antarctica

What to expect from a trip to Antarctica

by Janette Aracely Sep 25, 2019

6 – Volcano Boarding in Nicaragua

Now THIS is an adventure. Volcano boarding! Have you ever heard of such a thing? Nicaragua is a great vacation destination for all things adventure travel: you can do everything from kayaking, surfing, ziplining, etc. But sledding down the side of an active volcano really takes the cake. No competition to be had.

If you can manage a 2,338 foot hike up Cerro Negro, an active volcano in Nicaragua, then you will be rewarded with the most epic slope-slide ever. Seriously, how many people do you know who have done this before? It’ll be your favourite dinner-party story for years and you’ll even be able to brag about how fast you went (that’s right, they measure your speed)!

7 – Sea Kayak in Croatia

Fancy a spot of sea kayaking outside the walls of beautiful Dubrovnik (it’s one of Game of Thrones’ main filming locations, don’t you know)? You’re in luck because it’s one of our favourite activities as well, and it’s a major part of our Croatia Island Hopping itinerary! You’ll be taken out to paddle through crystal waves to the island of Lokrum and we’ll provide snacks, wet-bags, and laughs all the way!

Sea kayaking a little too intimidating? Check out our river kayak in South Africa on the Addo & Garden Route trip. 

8 – Mountain Biking in the Austrian Tyrol

Nothing quite beats day trips out in the Alps: fresh air, rolling hills, and scenery that speaks to the yodeler in all of us. Mountain biking through the Tyrol region of the Austrian Alps sounds like pure bliss. Our expert guides will take you through it all, one peddle and bite of fondue at a time. And if you want to be extra active, book yourself onto our epic Hike, Bike & Raft in Austria trip!

And of course, when the seasons change and the snow starts to fall, pack your bike away and whip out your skis for a 2 week Austria Ski Trip to shred down the mountains you once rode up before. Even adventure activities come full circle. 

group of happy skiers in hopfgarten, austria

Image source:Contiki

9 – Zipline over Niagara Falls

A gem of North America, did you know that over 8 million people visit Niagara Falls State Park every year? You can be one of them and you can make your vacation that much better by viewing it from above. (Psst, you can come with us…)

The zipline at Niagara Falls starts at the top of the gorge and ends very close to the bottom, and as you and three other people soar over the basin at the same time, you’ll get extraordinary views of the misty cascades that you wouldn’t get simply walking by. The high-life is the best life. 

10 – Bungee jump above the Kawarau River, New Zealand

A true test for the adrenaline junkies and thrill-seekers out there. Do you think you could stomach the drop from Kawarau River’s steel-framed bridge, face first? If you think you’ve got the gall for it then welcome to New Zealand, the land of adventure vacations. Honestly, a trip here just might be the adrenaline detox some of you are in need of… 

You’ll be dropping from 140-feet in the air above a river cradled by sheer cliffs on either side. Travel to (Active) New Zealand with Contiki and your new BFFs will cheer you on every step of the way.

New Zealand Cliff Jumping

Image source:Contiki

11 – Dive Belize’s Great Blue Hole

Seems we’ve made a mistake, bungee jumping from Kawarau Bridge isn’t the real test, this is: a dive inside the Great Blue Hole, a 1,000 mile sinkhole in the middle of Belize’s coral reefs. 

Rock formations from the ice age, stalactites and stalagmites, inky black darkness, underwater cave systems, exotic species of coral and marine life. The Great Blue Hole is perhaps one of the most unique locations in the world and strikes fear in the hearts of many. The satellite pictures certainly don’t help ease the nausea either! But for a select brave few, you’ll witness mystical things we mere mortals can only dream of. 

11 of the best adventure experiences you can do in Latin America with Contiki

11 of the best adventure experiences you can do in Latin America with Contiki

by Jaye Hannah Mar 30, 2019

12 – Swim Through Mexico’s Cenotes

Cenote: a natural underground reservoir of water. Aka, some of the most scenic diving spots on earth, and they’re all over Mexico! These cenotes range from deep pools fenced in by lush groves and thick vines, to cavernous tunnels filled with stalactites that make the place look ancient and gothic. These are found all across the Yucatán Peninsula and speak to Mexico’s vast natural beauty. Pro tip: road trip along the peninsula with Mexico Grande to catch them all!

13 – Wildlife Safari and Hike in Yellowstone National Park

The United States is a spectacular playground when it comes to adventure vacations, and the 9,000kms of Yellowstone National Park are certainly in no shortage of adventure. The park is home to the largest concentration of mammals anywhere in North America, and these include bears, wolves, moose, bison, elk, and mountain lions. No petting these furry critters I’m afraid, no matter how much you want to, they’re all equipped with teeth, hooves, and horns that’ll do you various harm.

Drive and hike through the open plains and tall trees for your chance to spot some of these impressive beasts and tick a few sightings off your bucket list. If you like this National Park, guess what, America has many more National Parks that you can explore with us!

14 – Soar over the Grand Canyon

Standing on the edge of Grand Canyon National Park is already pretty nail-biting, and if that’s enough for you then maybe a simple panoramic tour of our Grand Southern trip is all you need. But if you’re truly after some excitement then hop on a helicopter and get flying! A bird’s eye view of the Grand Canyon is the best way to observe all its copper intricacies and grooves.

best solo trips in the us Grand Canyon

15 – Sand Surfing in the Sahara

I mean, what else is there to do in the Sahara besides surf? All that untouched land, those golden crescent-shaped dunes, imagine watching the sand tumble right under the weight of you. It’s the perfect playground. Dreamy and magical, and it offers a softer fall than smacking in the ocean. 

Many resorts on the border of these deserts offer sand-surfing as a must-do activity, in addition to other desert fun like camel riding and quad biking. 

16 – Salmon White Water Rafting in Idaho

‘River of No Return Wilderness’, that sounds promising right? Located in Idaho, this 100 mile white water rafting trail journey’s through a remote and spectacular area of the state, one of the largest wilderness areas in America. 

Flanked by thick pines, greenery on every side, you’ll float down a steep river, past deep and shallow ends, and boulder-choked rapids. Definitely not one for beginners, but a guide will tag along for the ride so you won’t be alone. 

17 – Island Hop in British Columbia

Two phrases you may not have expected to see side by side like that but yes, you can island hop in British Columbia, though perhaps not in exactly the same sense… Less relaxing and more sweating; sound good? Visit Vancouver Island and get your blood pumping on lush nature hikes and bike rides around the most gorgeous and wild landscapes in North America.  

18 – Mongolia Horse Trekking Expedition

Experience a unique holiday in the vast plains of Mongolia, accompanied by a crew of trained horsemen and other curious travellers. You’ll be fitted with a sturdy steed, a Przewalski to be exact, and ride through grass fields, catch falcons and eagles on your arm, and return to a rugged way of life.

There’ll be galloping and racing against the wind, chatting with your new friends at a brisk canter, and walking, bobbing side to side on your horse’s back, while you admire the striking views.

19 – Quad Bike through Cambodia

Hop on this epic 16 day adventure through Asia and we’ll reward you with some seriously sick quad biking at sunset. Some people end their day with a nice glass of wine, maybe a movie, or even reading a book tucked in bed. All find endeavours, but you’ll never be able to go back to your mundane routine when you’ve hurdled over hills and through paddy fields atop a hefty quad bike while the sun slinks below the horizon. This is the epitome of adventure vacations.

20 – Driving the Ring Road in Iceland

The Ring Road is a 1,322km road in Iceland which connects most of its towns and cities and takes you through the most gorgeous scenery. Most of Iceland is still wild and untouched: there’s forests, rock faces, snow, and many, many waterfalls, which you’ll pass on your drive. Stop at any destination you like, take some photos, take a swim, take it all in – this is true nature!

blue lagoon in Iceland

Image source:Contiki

21 – Hike in Patagonia

How many people can say they’ve hiked in Patagonia? How many people can even say they’ve heard of Patagonia? It’s a shame it isn’t that many because this place, on the very end of Chile, is magical, especially in the middle of a biting winter. Snow-capped mountains meet icebergs, meet turquoise (but freezing) waters, meet alpacas and humans.

Surrounded by ice fields and three oceans, Patagonia is basically the edge of the world. If ancient magic exists, it’s here. If ancient gods exist, it’s here. If adventure exists, it’s here, and we want you to come along with us on our Patagonia Trail! 

The road tripper’s guide to travelling through Patagonia

The road tripper’s guide to travelling through Patagonia

by Irina Gorskaia Mar 25, 2019

22 – Gorilla Trekking in Uganda

It’s a little scary the thought of coming face to face with a gorilla, feeling its warm animal breath on your skin (okay, you probably won’t get that close). But for those who can bear it, and those who may even invite the thrill, then Gorilla Trekking in the lush Ugandan rainforest is most definitely, 100% for you!

Local guides will take you in small groups to the heart of the jungle where you’ll encounter gorillas, but also other primate species, as well as many forms of rare and exotic plantlife that you probably won’t be seeing back home. Prepare for rain, as this habitat likes to stay quite moist, and pack your best hiking shoes.

gorilla trekking in rwanda

Image source:Contiki

23 – Snorkel between continents at Thingvellir National Park

You read that right. Between. Continents. Europe and North America to be exact. Thingvellir National Park, in Iceland (because that’s where all the world’s whimsy and mystery is stored), is home to the Silfra fissure, a rift valley between two tectonic plates that slowly pulls apart 2cm per year.

The water here is the deepest of blues and you can snorkel down to the bottom where a photo of you touching two continents will be taken! Follow the path into the abyss, if you dare…

24 – Camp and Safari in the Australian Outback

Red dust, red sand, red rocks, red sky. The outback is very red, and it’s also very vast and barren, with many secrets scattered around. Head out with your pack of besties for some camping under the stars and do your best imitation of your favourite survivalist youtubers. Just make sure not to leave any scraps out, or the dingos will get ya!

australia-outback-experience

Image source:Contiki

25 – Hang glide over Rio de Janeiro

Last but not least, let’s hit you with a breathtaking view: the city of Rio, the bay and the beach, the verdant hill, and of course the looming statue of Christ the Redeemer. You can hang glide in many places, but none quite like this. You can say you flew over the son of God, and that’s pretty damn cool in our opinion. 

Grab a mate and fly together in a tandem setup, or go at it solo and contemplate your new world view from this vantage point. Either way, your Trip Manager will want to hear all about it when your feet are safely back on the ground.

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