How to pick your next adventure

No matter your ability, there are intrepid experiences to be had across the world, whether it’s making a splash on home shores or fending for yourself in the jungles of South America.Tuesday, 10 September 2019

Hiking in Corsica.
Hiking in Corsica.
photo by Getty

Beginner? 

On home turf: Join chef and forager Fraser Christian on one of his courses with Coastal Survival, and you’ll learn how to find tasty morsels on both land and sea. Each course is season-dependent: you could be gathering seaweed and shellfish from rockpools or staying inland in search of edible flowers, seeds and mushrooms. Next up: follow Fraser’s lead as he puts a sophisticated spin on your foraged ingredients, creating restaurant-worthy dishes. From £84. 

A short hop: No matter how much you’ve read about Cappadocia — the other-worldly landscape in central Turkey — nothing really prepares you for the sheer size and complexity of its rust-coloured geological wonders. For the full-blown experience, there’s only one way to truly appreciate this fantastical landscape and that’s from above. Take a thrilling hot air balloon ride, soaring above the fairy tale turrets in the honeyed morning light. From €300 (£268). 

Far-flung: In Myanmar, Bagan’s temples often steal the show here, but the remote islands of the Mergui Archipelago are every bit as enthralling. Far off the tourist trail, these pristine specks of land have all the beauty of the neighbouring Thai islands, but none of the crowds, thanks to strict regulations. Many are wild and unnamed, and sailing trips offer an easy adventure, visiting desolate beaches, coral reefs and the villages of the elusive Moken people. From £1,545. 

Ballooning over Cappadocia.
Ballooning over Cappadocia.
photo by Getty

Intermediate?

On home turf: This narrow island of Lundy off the North Devon coast is all looming cliffs and wildflower-strewn hillsides. Scores of wildlife can be found on the island, from Lundy ponies to the cliff’s huddling seabirds including its resident puffins, but it’s in the sea you’ll find some of the most exciting action. Dive in and you could be metres from a basking shark — the world’s second-largest after the whale shark — or the island’s curious and inquisitive grey seals. From £75. 

A short hop: Beyond its glittering shoreline, chic harbours and Franco-Italian culture, Corsica’s interior is full of high-tempo adventures. There are deep valleys, tangled forests, and hulking mountains to climb, but canyoning is also a big deal here, too. Set off on a multiday route through remote sections of this rugged isle and you’ll abseil down rock faces, jump into pools and scramble down rivers, bedding down in tents or hotels along the way. A seven-day adventure costs from €750 (£671). 

Far-flung: One of Africa’s most fabled waterways promises a real sense of discovery. On a kayaking adventure on the Zambezi, you’ll encounter sedate pools and thundering rapids, glimpse the likes of crocs and hippos, and pass villages on the river’s banks. As darkness falls, you’ll be back on land, huddled around a campfire, then dozing off in a tent to the sounds of Africa. It’s physically demanding, but you’ll be hard pushed to find a more intrepid adventure. From £2,295. 

Rafting along the Zambezi River.
Rafting along the Zambezi River.
photo by Getty

Advanced?

On home turf: Cliff camping on a portaledge is an extraordinary — albeit hair-raising — way to connect with nature. Bolted to a cliff edge and dangling above the void, portaledges were designed for free climbers attempting multiday ascents of sheer rock faces, which is why a night spent sleeping on one of these fabric shelves isn’t for the faint-hearted. Anglesey is the place to try it: abseil down to your portaledge, bed down for the night, and wake to a view like no other. From £200. 

A short hop: Where else can you be dropped into a magma chamber of a dormant volcano? Iceland offers rich pickings when it comes to adventure, but for an experience to top any diver’s wishlist, look to the Thingvellir National Park and Silfra — a fissure in the earth between the North American and Eurasian tectonic plates. It’s technical, and you need a dry suit certification, but these are some of the clearest, most pristine glacial waters you’ll ever get to glide through. From £190.

Far-flung: Venture deep into the untamed jungle of Guyana — home to anacondas, caiman and jaguar — and learn the basics of survival training on Bushmasters’ Jungle Survival expeditions, such as finding fresh water and fishing for piranha. After five days, the expedition leaders bid their goodbyes, leaving you and your teammates to fend for yourselves with just a machete, bow and arrow, sat nav and little else. From $2,600 (£2,326).

Follow @mrsblondealmond

Published in the Adventure guide, distributed with the October 2019 issue of National Geographic Traveller (UK)

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