So, you’ve always wanted to learn to surf – even if it means getting smashed in the face by waves? Maybe you’ve promised yourself to give back and do more good in the world? Or you just want to book a trip that’s life-changing, rather than just scene-changing?
Here at six-two we really believe that 2020 is the year to put your plans, dreams and goals into ACTION. So, here’s our pick of the best great adventures for 2020. It’s packed full of once-in-a-lifetime experiences, minus the crowds and clichés. All you need to do is take your pick…
Get your sweat on…
1. Learn to surf in Byron Bay
This is one of the most iconic places to learn to surf in the world, so make like a local Aussie and get out there. There’s nothing like the feeling of being lifted up by the surf and catching a wave – even better if you manage to stand up! Post-surf, don’t forget to check out the lighthouse at Cape Byron State Conservation Park aaaand from June-November you can even spot humpback whales from the headland at Captain Cook Lookout.
Make it happen: Beaches and Reefs
2. Try Muay Thai boxing in Chiang Mai
Bored of the gym? Break out of your comfort zone and head to Northern Thailand where you can try Muay Thai boxing. With countless studies proving the feel-good benefits of cardio exercise, let the endorphins soar with a boxing master class led by the experts. Then, try any of the local eats you can find in bustling Chiang Mai – the area is great for tasty and colourful vegan food.
Make it happen: Northern Thai Highlights
3. Go hiking in Plitvice National Park
Cascading turquoise-hued waters and jewel-like pools await you at Plitvice Lakes in Croatia. This is officially one of the prettiest places to find yourself in Europe, like stepping into a secret world. So, go in search of the amazing waterfalls, wander the cute wooden bridges and stop for plenty of selfies along the route. This is Mother Nature at her best.
Make it happen: Adriatic Unearthed
4. Try canyoneering in Costa Rica
If being active helps you relax, move Costa Rica to the top of your travel list NOW. With a landscape that’s all dramatic volcanoes and tumbling waterfalls, it’s the perfect place to try a new adventure sport like canyoneering. Not for the faint-hearted, this involves harnessing up and belaying your way down waterfalls, but also hiking, climbing and scrambling too. In the lush rainforests, you can also try ziplining, kayaking, horse riding and hot spring bathing. These are the kinds of memories that will last a lifetime.
Make it happen: Viva Costa Rica
5. Learn to sail and swim in the Whitsundays
If the Insta-perfect Whitsundays aren’t on the top of your adventure travel list, then we have to ask, WHY? This beautiful archipelago is made up 74 tropical islands, right next to the Great Barrier Reef. It’s where bands of pure-white sands meet turquoise shores, but this isn’t just about being horizontal on the beach.
For the ultimate adventure, you need to get sailing, on a yacht! That way you can learn to sail by helping out the crew, before snorkelling some of the the most stunning coral reefs in Australia. This is living your #bestbeachlife.
Make it happen: The Sun Seeker with Sailing
Treat your taste buds…
6. Learn pasta and pesto making in Cinque Terre
The pastel-coloured five towns of the Cinque Terre National Park are a feast for the eyes. But did you know this Italian slice of heaven is also home to some of the tastiest pesto? Take a class to learn how to make your own alongside the freshest, homemade pasta and thank us later.
Make it happen: Rome to Barcelona by Train
7. Go local wine tasting in Nice
Lined with palm trees and sun-soaked shores, this stunning French region is also where lavender honey, aioli and rosé wine are produced. Our challenge to you is to try all three in one meal! Nice has plenty of trails to hike or cycle, so you it’s basically your right to treat yourself to a French feast and wine tasting to help you refuel.
Make it happen: Mediterranean Quest
8. Tuck into a real Texan BBQ in Austin
Succulent brisket, slowly cooked ribs (falling off the bone obv) and all the authentic, smoky Texan flavours you can taste – this is the home of real BBQ. Check out cool and quirky Austin for the best bites, with plenty of food trucks and street food to sample. Want classic BBQ? May we recommend legendary joint, Iron Works?
Make it happen: Boot Scoot N Blues
9. Eat hyper local in Porto
If you love authentic foodie experiences, let us introduce you to EatWith. You can literally pull up a chair and eat with a Portuguese family in Porto; tucking into fresh sardines or making golden pastel de nata together. Plus, you’ll enjoy zingy port spritzes, ice cream and warm peaches picked straight from the garden. Gourmet bliss.
Make it happen: Portugal City & Surf
10. Make authentic sushi in Toyko
Ah, Japan – the home of bustling cities, relaxing hot springs and mouthwatering food. Adventurous foodies NEED to experience everything this country has to offer. Master the art of sushi-making with a class in Tokyo, try a traditional Sake tasting in beautiful Takayama and sample savoury pancakes – Okonomiyaki – in Hiroshima. Basically, your taste buds have been missing out. Even better, you’ll feel mega accomplished with all the new culinary skills you’ll pick up exploring the Japanese food scene.
Make it happen: Japan Unrivalled
11. Support local communities in Rajasthan
The jaw-dropping landscape of Rajasthan is perhaps one of the most uplifting spots in the world. While exploring this beautiful part of India, it’s easy to add a volunteering experience to your trip. With ME to WE (one of Contiki’s partners), you can soak up the vibrant culture while working on sustainable development projects. Start your day with sunrise yoga, then spend time in a local village helping women with their daily activities and rolling up your sleeves to support local farmers. You’ll have a positive impact and get to know the real India in one trip.
Make it happen: ME to WE India
12. Befriend elephants in need in Thailand
If supporting local wildlife is your thing, we have the ultimate, feel-good experience for you. Enter the Sai Yok Elephant Sanctuary in magical Kanchanaburi, where you’ll have the opportunity to meet these gentle creatures (and play with them in the mud!) while also learning about how the sanctuary care for and rehabilitate the resident elephants. The park provides employment opportunities for those in the local area and your visit will help fund future projects. Psssst, discover more ethical wildlife experiences in Asia with Contiki here.
Make it happen: Asian Adventure
13. Volunteer to support refugees in Calais
Even though it’s been three years since the refugee camp in Calais – home to about 6,500 refugees – was dismantled by the French authorities, the refugee crisis hasn’t gone away. Far from it. If like us, you think it’s important to keep educating yourself on the global refugee situation and supporting those in need, then a trip to Calais working with charity Care4Calais could be for you. Read one of our Contiki Trip Manager’s first-hand experiences and find out how to get involved.
14. Work on a sustainable project in the Amazon
Always wanted to combine volunteering with an adventure of your own? A trip to Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands is the perfect combo. You can get stuck into a local sustainable project in the Amazon rainforest. Spend three days in an eco lodge, where your work might be laying foundations for new classrooms or installing new water systems – all to the tunes of the musical rainforest wildlife. Then, head off in search of 100-year-old giant tortoises and blue-footed boobies (yes, you heard us right) on the infamous Galapagos Islands. Sound good?
Make it happen: Ecuador & Galapagos Island Hopper
15. Help to reduce plastic pollution on Australia's East Coast
If you care about the impact of plastic pollution, it’s time you discovered #Take3fortheSea. This movement was founded in Bondi and aims to reduce (and eventually eliminate) plastic pollution via team beach clean ups. The idea is simple – whenever you leave one of the stunning beaches, take three pieces of trash with you. If you travel on a Contiki trip along the Australian East Coast, you and your group could gather up to 450 pieces of rubbish! Plus, you get to enjoy the best sun, sea and surf that Australia has to offer.
Make it happen: Eastern Escape
Experience new cultures…
16. Explore the souks and riads in Morocco
Nothing can prepare you for the sensory overload that are the souks in Marrakech and Fez. Embellished slippers, rich spices and hand-painted ceramics – when it comes to shopping (and haggling), you’re spoilt for choice. Marrakech in particular is a city of exciting cultural contrasts – from the manicured gardens of the Royal Palace and Jardin Majorelle to the pungent leather tanneries. Experience it all before retiring to your very own local riad – a tranquil family-owned guesthouse, offering a haven of much-needed calm.
Make it happen: Iberian Peninsula and Morocco
17. Visit the Valley of the Kings in Egypt
Ever dreamed of meeting Pharaohs, seeing the Pyramids of Giza or cruising down the river Nile? Yep, Egypt has one of the world’s richest and oldest cultures and a trip there is guaranteed to blow your mind. Experiencing the captivating chaos of Cario and relaxing on the beach in Hurghada are all top must-do activities while you’re there.
Make it happen: Egypt & The Nile
18. See spiritual stupas in Nepal
Culture vultures will LOVE Nepal’s capital, Kathmandu. The intoxicating streets have plenty of spiritual history to explore. Discover majestic stupas (dome-shaped buildings that act as Buddhist shrines), adorned with pops of bright, uplifting colours by way of the prayer flags. Nearby is the Shivapuri ridge and Shivapuri National Park, offering amazing views of the green patchwork that is Kathmandu valley. It’s great if you’ve always wanted to hike the Himalayas but don’t have the budget (or the nerve) for Everest!
Make it happen: Nepal Trek & Temples
19. Experience the Cappadocia hot air balloon festival
You’ve seen it on the ‘gram, but why not make 2020 the year you see it for yourself? Cappadocia in Turkey is otherworldly, it’s no wonder these stark plains and undulating hills are a protected UNESCO World Heritage Site. The best time of year to visit is during the amazing hot air balloon festival (from 3 July this year). Just book early to avoid disappointment! Stay in a cave hotel and prepare for the pinch-me moment as hundreds of colourful balloons rise into the air together.
Make it happen: Bolt in onto Contiki’s Turkish Adventure trip
20. Get lost at the Festival de México
Nothing beats the cultural experience of Mexico’s City’s most-loved art festival. During the month of March, the city’s historic centre and downtown areas are transformed into one big cultural showcase for the the Festival de México. Think dance, traditional music, opera and theatre – there’s really no better way to sample a taste of the real Mexico.
Make it happen: Add it onto Contiki’s Mexico Grande trip