The best adventures are experiences travelers hold dear for a lifetime and recount with reverence. They are trips you never forget and that become the standard by which all other adventures are measured.
Epic adventures change you in some way, but life-list trips don’t require you to spend months traveling or mean you have to quit your job. Take these big-impact, worldview-changing adventures: they all have elements of the unexpected, they all take you deep into the culture and nature of the places they go, and they’re all trips we promise you’ll never forget. But the longest trip is just 14 days.
Namibia safari by bike
On H&I Adventures Namibian Bike Safari, you pedal within spitting distance of megafauna and visit the iconic ochre-painted indigenous Himba. However, the best part – experiencing the Namibian landscape from the saddle of a bicycle – makes you part of the landscape as well as an observer. As you cycle from Namibia’s stark, sandy Skeleton Coast to the Huab River, you’ll pedal singletrack stamped in by wildlife, and lunar-looking farm and jeep track.
Along the way, you’ll spot a dazzle of zebra, a herd of oryx, leaping springbok, gentle giraffe and you may sight a rare rhino. A dawn scramble up the highest sand dune in the world lets you peer out over southern Africa before you step into a Land Rover in Etosha National Park with an expert guide to spot lion, cheetah and more. You don’t need to be an expert rider for this adventure, just comfortable on a bike, fit, and game to camp under the stars.
Duration: 12 days
Make it happen: H&I Adventures
Long Trail Thru-Hike
Most thru hikes take months, and a leave of absence from work and family, to complete. Vermont’s Long Trail, in the Northeastern United States, is different. The original thru-hike was completed in 1930 and served as the inspiration for the much longer Appalachian Trail. Winding a rugged 272 miles along the spine of the Green Mountains from Massachusetts to Canada, it is remote, immersive and challenging – and doable in 14 days.
Start at the Massachusetts border, where the trail shares the same corridor with the Appalachian Trail for about 100 miles. Then the oldest long-distance backpacking trail in the United States splits off to scramble through hardwood forests and over mountaintops. The trail hits nearly every Green Mountain summit before you reach its terminus. Train up and pack light – the Long Trail sounds short, but it's steep in sections and challenging.
Cost: under $500, including provisions, and a shuttle to and from start to finish
Duration: Approximately 14 days
Make it happen: Green Mountain Club
Sail through the Norwegian Fjords to a music festival
The best way to see northern Norway’s archipelagos is from a boat, and this eclectic excursion is a sampler platter of the best the region has to offer, including what’s been called one of the best music festivals in the world, which is only accessible by sea. Seil Norge sets sail for the Træna Music Festival with a fleet from quaint and cozy brightly painted Brønnøysund. The boats tack through thousands of islands, islets, and reefs. Along the way, aspiring captains can learn to sail. You’ll also fish for dinner, kayak, row, hike and even bag seven summits in a day if you’re game.
You’ll come to shore to feast on the days catch, and then re-board your ship to sail under the midnight sun. Other optional excursions include landing to learn about sustainable agriculture from local eider farmers, and an eagle safari. And if you prefer to read a book or do nothing but take in the sights and smell the salty ocean breezes from the deck, that’s fine too. The fleet races Træna’s annual regatta, the Træna Ocean Race, then the three-day music festival begins.
Duration: 10 days
Make it happen: Sail Norway
Motorcycle through Ecuador from the Andes to the Amazon
Ride 1000 miles along Ecuador’s Pacific Coast, through the Andes Mountains, and into the Amazon jungle basin cruising cloud forests, coastal savannah, beach, desert, and rainforests and crossing the equator. On Freedom Bike Rental’s Andes to Amazon motorcycle tour, you’ll motor uncrowded backroads, including hand-maintained cobblestone streets. The curated route crosses through the most bio-diverse regions in the world in the shadow of Ecuador’s highest peaks, Cotopaxi and Chimborazo, where rare vicuña graze roadside.
Off the bike, you’ll splash in waterfalls and crater lakes, paddle and hike the rainforest with a local guide who is an expert in the region’s flora and fauna, and sample freshly made chocolate at a cacao farm. Make a stop to meet an indigenous community, and you’ll learn to hunt with a blowgun and pan for gold. You’ll stay in inns and boutique hotels, including a world-famous bird lodge in the Nono Biological Reserve. Add a session with a shamanistic healer, or adrenaline sports like parasailing and bungee jumping if that’s more your speed.
Duration: 9 days
Make it happen: Freedom Bike Rental
Local's tour of Philippines' Coron Island
Hidden beaches and coves, private lakes and emerald lagoons, fresh native cuisine and rustic and comfortable cabins, cottages and camping are Dream Boat Man’s signature experiences. Travel with this small, locally owned guide service on their Coron Island Life Expedition in the Philippines, and you’ll get to know the region's hidden gems.
The crew, who are all from the Palawan Islands, prepare indigenous specialties and share island lore before seaside camping under the stars, or spending the night in a thatched roof cottages. Campfires and quiet nights are complemented by live music and a private island party to finish off the trip. And because you’re staying, eating and traveling locally, your trip bolsters the local economy directly.
Duration: 4 days
Make it happen: Dream Big Boat Man