Take a trip outside of your comfort zone with an adventure holiday
Time Out Dubai staff
Kenya and Tanzania: on safari and up Kilimanjaro
See the ‘Big Five’ and climb up the highest mountain in Africa. This 16-day trip is pretty full on. You visit national parks: Lake Nakuru, to see the teeming flamingo population and rare white rhinos; and Masai Mara, to witness wildebeest and zebra skipping from lions and hyenas. You meet the Maasai warriors and get the opportunity to take a dawn balloon ride over the African plains. The tour then crosses the Tanzanian border to begin the ascent up Mount Kilimanjaro; be prepared for six days of strenuous walking, with full porterage, to reach the summit, but you will be rewarded with breathtaking views. Fitness level Tough, involving several days at high altitude. Duration 16 days. Group size 4-12. When to go Dec-Feb. DIY? Both the safari and the climb would be impossible without a local guide. A safari could be arranged on arrival in Kenya, but slots for Kilimanjaro climbs get booked up quickly.
Kayaking in Iceland
Adventure combined with peace and quiet. In Iceland, you can kayak past icebergs miles away from anybody and with only the silence of the wilderness and the cracking of brash ice and glaciers calving into the sea. Three national parks can be visited, including Europe’s largest, Vatnajokul, to see eerie landscapes of grey desert and ice caps. Fitness level Previous kayaking experience required. Duration 10 days. Group size 10. When to go May-Sept. DIY? You can easily make your way out there but kayaking in the remote wilderness is dangerous without supervision.
A hill tribe trek in Thailand
Experience a tribal adventure in Northern Thailand, trekking through lush jungle terrain and visiting local villages to see the brightly woven crafts and handmade silver jewellery. You stay in local village huts where a warm welcome and copious amounts of rice wine await you every evening. You get to rest your limbs when you climb aboard a wooden raft to float down the river in Erawan National Park; here you can see the famous Bridge on the River Kwai and spend the night on a floating raft house. Malaria pills are strongly recommended for this trek. Fitness level Easy. Duration 15 days. Group size 10-15. When to go Jan-Mar to avoid the rainy season. DIY? Straightforward. Fly to Bangkok and head to Chiang Mai by bus; hill treks can be booked from there.
A great American bike ride
If you are a two-wheeled adventurer, why not take part in one of the great American cycle rides? Every year thousands of cyclists travel across America taking in all the pleasures of the open road but also experiencing the outdoors free of the confines of a car. The RAGBRAI (Register’s Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa) starts in July, BRAN (Bike Ride Across Nebraska) pedals off in May and BRAG (Bike Ride Across Georgia) begins in June. All are non-profit bike rides. Fitness level Moderate; some training is required. Duration Around one week. Group size Hundreds, if not thousands, of people take part. When to go May-July. DIY? Easy. You can hire a bike and ride the routes yourself any time of the year, but you will miss the group atmosphere.
Glacier hiking in New Zealand
Want to feel like an explorer? Scale the ice and climb the famous South Island Fox Glacier, walking through ice tunnels, deep into caves and up sheer walls of electric blue mountain ice – always with pickaxe in hand and crampons on foot. Learn about the formation of the glacier from tour guides who offer half- and full-day hikes. Get there by flying to Queenstown then driving five hours to reach the glacier. Fitness level Easy to moderate; no training is required but you should be relatively fit. Duration 6-7hrs. Group size 5-10. When to go Nov-Apr. Who goes there? Fox Glacier Guiding (+64 3 751 0825/www.foxguides.co.nz). DIY? Not without previous ice-climbing experience and the right gear.
Rafting in North Wales, UK
The Tryweryn is the perfect river for year-round adrenaline junkies. The white water, controlled by a dam near Bala, is flowing when other British rivers are dry. The national whitewater centre, Canolfan Tryweryn, developed the first commercial whitewater rafting operation in the UK. Fitness level Anyone can do it, but there are some Grade III sections, so you have to be brave! Duration You’ll get four runs down the Tryweryn so allow a full day. Group size Up to 7. When to go All year round, but May-Aug are best for water conditions. DIY? Are you serious? Go only with a qualified tillerman. Places can be limited so book early.
An Antarctic cruise
Adventure? Exercise? Well, you might stretch your jaw muscles gawping at the wonders on parade in this most pristine of continents. You kick off with a crossing of the Drake Passage, the tempestuous sea between Argentina and the Ice. Then the islands and bays of the Antarctica peninsula gather round your ship and you enter a world of cute penguins, surreal icebergs, magnificent humpback whales, evil leopard seals and awesome albatrosses. Cruises are expensive, but all your food and excursions are included. You will take many, many photographs and you will never forget your voyage into this unique environment. Fitness level Anyone can do this. Duration 10-20 days. Group size 90-100 on the smaller, expedition cruises. When to go Nov-Mar. DIY? Tricky. You can fly down to Ushuaia and haggle for a ride on an outgoing cruise with empty cabins. If the ships are full, bad luck.
Walking China’s Great Wall
Why not meander along the bricks of one of the most famous structures on earth? Enjoy the beauty of the Badaling section of the Great Wall, by far the most photographed; travel to the Mutianyu section, even more beautiful and with fewer tourists; work out on the Huanghuacheng and Jiankou section, where there are steep peaks and broken bricks. Mountaineering gear, food and water is needed, as water is unavailable on the wild sections. Tours start in Beijing and end in Shanghai with visits en-route to the Terracotta Warriors in Xi’an. Fitness level Moderate – the wall is challenging and steep in parts. Duration 9 days. Group size 6+ with a tour leader. When to go? Sep-Oct to avoid the peak season. DIY? Fairly easy. Some sections of the wall are free to visit, and taxis and accommodation can be booked from Beijing.
Torres del Paine trek, Chilean Patagonia
Escape to Chile’s most spectacular national park, Torres Del Paine, on the southern edge of the Patagonian ice cap. The park is a wonderland of snow-capped mountains, granite peaks, beautiful waterfalls, glacier-fed lakes, virgin forests and open pampas. The tour begins with a drive from El Calafate in Argentina across the frontier to Chile to trek to the base of the mighty Torres, to the stunning Grey Glacier and between the impressive granite walls of the French Valley. Fitness level Moderate; no specialist skills required but the trek is strenuous in parts. Duration 7 days. Group size 2+ When to go Oct-Apr. DIY? Yes, but solo trekking in the park is not allowed. There is an entrance fee into the park and camping charges range from free to the equivalent (in pesos) of a few pounds.
Go cycling in India
Discover the back roads of Kerala on a cycling holiday along the north coast, and experience village life through homestays. You pedal under canopies of coconut trees, through tea and spice plantations, past waterfalls, down into valleys and along crescent-shaped beaches. Out of the saddle you can trek through the stunning Periyar National Park to see herds of elephant, sambar deer and myriad bird species. Fitness level Moderate. There is an average of 26 kilometres of cycling a day – 240 kilometres over nine days, in hot conditions. Duration 15 days. Group size 12 to 16. When to go Oct-Dec. DIY? Bikes can be hired in Kerala but the homestays could prove more difficult to arrange.