Kayaking in Antarctica from Top Adventure Travel Trips 2014

Top Adventure Travel Trips 2014

Full Story

Kayaking in Antarctica

Venture to the most pristine and exotic location on earth, mingling with penguins, seals, and whales on the last continent of Antarctica. Quark Expeditions’ “Antarctic Express” package flies you from Chile, over the Drake Passage, to the Antarctic Peninsula. Accomplish a feat few humans have achieved as you enter the Antarctic Circle by ship to round Adelaide Island. Adventure options include polar camping, kayaking over quiet waters and through icebergs, or snowshoeing over fresh snow to places otherwise inaccessible.
—Lesli Peterson

Sublime Pub

Beer Cycling Tour in Belgium

Cycling is Belgium’s national sport and as a country it brews more than 1,130 beers, so it’s safe to say that Belgians know a few things about bikes and beers. New in 2014, adventurous, lager-loving bikers are invited to experience the historic area’s two favorite pastimes with a nine-day “Bike Across Belgium” tour, featuring what tour provider Ciclismo Classico calls some of “the most scenic cycling in Europe.” This trip will take you through the cobbled streets of Luxemburg, past the Venice-like vistas of Bruges, and into the historic Orval Abbey—home to one of the few remaining Trappist breweries in the country. Plus, the tour offers access to more boutique breweries than any other European bike tour, making it the ultimate active adventure for bike- and beer-lovers alike.
—Katie Rosenbrock


Sand Boarding & Windsurfing in Jericoacoara, Brazil

Also known as Jeri, Jericoacoara is a relatively undiscovered coastal village in northwestern Brazil. Half the fun of visiting Jeri is getting there (think 4x4s), but the other half is getting to snowboard at the beach. Adventure Life now offers sand boarding—a sport similar to snowboarding, except on sand dunes instead of slopes—as a part of their trips, which also include more traditional activities like horseback riding, windsurfing and yoga.
—Katie Jackson

Tucan Travel

Transylvania Tale Tour in Hungary

If your idea of adventure involves exploring Meieval castles, age-old Byzantine churches, and ancient Ottoman Mosques, then book your flight to Budpest where you can join Tucan Travel for their Transylvania Tale tour. Not only does this package include access to Dracula’s castle, but you’ll also embark on excursions to destinations like Plovdic—one of Eurpopes oldest cities where you can visit the Roman Amphitheatre—and the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul—the largest and oldest in the entire world. All in all you’ll cover over 800 miles from Hungary to Turkey, all the while experiencing the mystifying and intriguing history of the Dark Ages.
—Katie Rosenbrock

Intrepid Travel

Island Excursions in Burma

Travel via catamaran yacht around Burma’s untouched Myeik island chain. Yes, Burma’s tourism numbers have soared recently, but the waters remain relatively untouched because they are difficult to reach and off the typical tourist paths. There are few organized itineraries through this area; Intrepid Travel is one of the only to offer sail power with a boat equipped to be self-sustaining. Island excursions include snorkeling among the coral reef and myriad marine life, jungle hiking in the hilly forest, or kayaking on the turquoise sea.
—Lesli Peterson

Maple Leaf Adventures

Great Bear Rainforest in Canada

The Royal Canadian Geographical Society and Maple Leaf Adventures escort you into North America’s last rainforest by classic tall ship. Explore fjords, grizzly bear havens, and the rainforest inlets in the heart of Canada’s west coast wilderness. Anchor in a cove or bay to see the evidence of several northwest First Nations, and nose through modern villages practicing ancient art traditions. Want to up the ante? Travel in the spring for the opportunity to explore Kitlope Valley, which preserves the largest continuous tract of coastal temperate rainforest in the world. A September journey promises predators of the fall salmon run, including grizzly, spirit, and black bears, killer whales, sea lions and wolves.
—Lesli Peterson

Tierra Patagonia

Wildlife Photography Tour in Chile

A unique opportunity for photographers to experience wildlife up close, surrounded by stunning Chilean Patagonian scenery, launches at Tierra Patagonia. Chilean flora and fauna expert, Pia Vergara, and a team of wildlife trackers lead you on the hunt for the perfect shot of the elusive native puma. The big cat is only one of the South American “big five” you will photograph among the backdrop of the Torres del Paine National Park. See camelid, huemules, condor, and native fox among stately mountains and clear blue water of Lake Sarmiento.
—Lesli Peterson

Witches Rock Surf Camp

Surfing in Papagayo, Costa Rica

The Andaz Peninsula Papagayo hotel opened in December and is the first Andaz property in Latin America. While the hotel’s accommodations and amenities are noteworthy, their most action-packed offering is the Witches Rock surf package that provides guests with airport pickup in a surfer’s VW bus, a surf-specific goodie bag, and for guests who want to ride the waves and remember them for years to come, a professional photographer to document the day. Located in Santa Rosa National Park, Witches Rock is a world-class surfing destination that brings both amateurs and the boldest surfers to Costa Rica.
—Katie Jackson


Agony and Ecstasy Bike Tour in The Dolomites

July 2014 marks the 100th anniversary of the start of WWI—a war in which many brutal battles were fought in the Italian Alps. July 2014 is also when Italiaoutdoors Food and Wine sets off on their most extreme cycling tour—a seven-day adventure known as the Agony and Ecstasy Tour. With a hardcore itinerary including the toughest climbs in the Dolomites, the Agony and Ecstasy Tour is designed for serious cyclists who aren’t afraid to tackle challenging terrain. It’s also designed for those who appreciate stunning scenery, homemade meals, and a glass or two of local wine.
—Katie Jackson

KE Adventure Travel

Totally Tropical Trekking in Dominica

With the newly opened Waitukubuli National trail, adventure lovers are welcomed to experience the natural beauty of Dominica’s quiet, uncrowded beaches and jungle-cloaked, rugged terrain. On this six-day walking tour with KE Adventure Travel, beginning at the island’s southern most tip you’ll cover 115 miles of rainforest hiking through the island’s inner-most areas and along both coasts until you reach your final destination in Portsmouth at the island's north end. The tour offers everything from a Caribbean culture cooking class and breathtaking waterfall views, to family-run guesthouse lodging and exciting interactions with the island’s natives. The package includes an English-speaking guide, most meals, and all park entry fees. Just bring a comfy pair of hiking boots, a wide-brimmed hat, and your ambition for adventure.
—Katie Rosenbrock

Infinite Safari Adventures

The Unexplored Coast in Tanzania

Tanzania’s Mount Kilimanjaro, Serengeti National Park and Lake Tanganyika make it one of the most visited countries in Africa, but with hundreds of miles of coastline on the Indian Ocean—not even counting the island paradise of Zanzibar—there’s plenty more wild to explore. The coast north of the capital, Dar es Salaam—farther north, even, than the historic port town Tanga—is virtually unvisited when compared to the country’s southern shores, and yet features mangrove swamps, untouched beaches and fleeting sand islands that disappear at high tide. Infinite Safari Adventures is the only operator offering kayaking tours of the area. Paddle trips are based out of remote Fish Eagle Lodge and use handmade fiberglass boats. “If you kayak there you will be one of less than a 1000 [people] who has ever had the opportunity to kayak in this area,” says the company’s owner Alan Feldstein.
—Mark Lebetkin

Gondwana Ecotours

Yoga Ecotour in Ecuador

Travel to Ecuador and embark on a yoga ecotour like no other. Begin in the Andes Mountains, gilded with waterfalls and rainforests. Sample local cuisine and breathe-in the native culture. Continue to Banos, filled with even more historied waterfalls and scenery. Finally, end at the Kapawi Ecolodge, owned by the indigenous Achuar Nation.  This tour offered exclusively by Gondwana Ecotours includes the daily practice of yoga, as well as hiking, kayaking, small plane adventures, and spa indulgences. The founder, Jared Sternberg, was selected as a finalist for the People and Planet Green Business Award for his devotion to sustainable adventure travel.
—Lesli Peterson

Experience Plus

Alps to the Adriatic Bike Tour in Italy

ExperiencePlus!, Europe’s premiere cycling company, launches four new and exclusive tours for 2014 for riders with varying expertise. The most daring is the company’s second trek into Italy. “The first was in honor of its 150th anniversary as a unified country and followed the west coast from Sicily northward to Turin.  “[…] we decided to create this follow-up expedition traveling southward from Austria along the Adriatic coast to complete the circular route around Italy,” says co-owner Maria Elena Price. This 27-day ride, traversing 1155 miles, immerses cyclists in the history and architecture of the region, and provides opportunities to savor culinary treats and local wines.
—Lesli Peterson


Scuba Diving in Fiji

Whether you are learning SCUBA for the first time, or you are an old pro, a dive at Jean-Michel Cousteau Resort in Fiji is a must for 2014. It was John-Michael’s father, Jacques-Yves, who pioneered SCUBA gear during World War II. This resort is only 10 minutes from the world-class Namena reefs. If you are new to diving, you’ll enjoy learning from the expert staff touting cutting-edge equipment and technique. Additional adventures include Reef Walking, Medicine Walks, snorkeling, hiking, kayaking, and more. The resort encompasses 25 freestanding thatched-roof huts, each made of local timber and representing the commitment to sustainability embraced by the resort.
—Lesli Peterson


Yoga in the Galapagos

Ecuador’s historically rich Galapagos Islands have been a pillar of adventure and discovery since Darwin’s visit nearly 200 years ago. Inspired by the array and diversity of wildlife, Galakiwi is offering a 12-day yoga and adventure tour. The yoga portion will focus primarily on physical and mental strength building exercises and meditation. Days are reserved for exploring the four islands. Swim and snorkel with sea lions, hike up an active volcano, bike the islands, you’ll have the opportunity to experience the Galapagos and its inhabitants in a way others only dream about.
—Diana Gerstacker

Sublime Pub

Forbidden Travel by Train in Iran

The destination is the adventure on the new “Jewels of Persia” private train tour by MIR Corporation. Beginning in Budapest, the well-appointed Golden Eagle Danube Express—the first-ever private European train allowed to enter Iran, the company claims—passes through thousands of years of history as it winds through Romania, Bulgaria and Turkey on its way to the Islamic Republic. Highlights include stops in the ancient Iranian city of Shiraz and the nearby ruins of Persepolis, as well as a final stop in Tehran. Before you book—per-person cost starts at $13,000—remember that you are responsible for obtaining your own visa: an adventure in its own right.
—Mark Lebetkin

Explore Worldwide

Kyoto and Beyond by Bike in Japan

This scenic bike tour begins and ends in the ancient city of Kyoto, but between you’ll cover more than 330 miles by bike. With a small group, you’ll cycle along quite country roads and visit notable Japanese destinations like the gardens of Kenrokuen in Kanazawa and the World Hertiage farmhouses in Shirakawa-go. Aside from opening traveler’s eyes to some of Japan’s most famous landmarks and landscapes, Explore Worldwide boasts the “off the beaten path” aspect of their tour which also offers a glimpse of the rural and rustic side of the island.
—Katie Rosenbrock


Diving in the Maldives

With a peak elevation of eight feet above sea level, scientists predict that the string of 10,000 beaches and atolls will sink under the Indian Ocean by the end of the century, making the Maldives a must-add dive site to see now. Scuba divers enjoy technicolor coral, soft sponges, mantas, whale sharks and pelagic fish that are regularly seen during any given dive. Certified wreck divers also enjoy exploring the British Loyalty, a 450-foot tanker covered in coral reef. Visit PADI.com to schedule a trip with Ocean Dimensions, a PADI dive center located on Laamu Atoll.
—Lesli Peterson

Jose Pedraza/ Red Travel Mexico

Gray Whale & Sea Turtle Adventure in Mexico

Every year schools of gray whales take a south-bound trek to the warm waters of Baja, Mexico where they mate and give birth before returning to the Nothern waters of the Bering sea. During this time (peak season takes place in February and March) Red Travel Mexico takes eco-interested travelers on a five-day camping adventure that offers once-in-a-lifetime, up-close views of the mysterious ocean mammals. With camp headquarters located in Magdalena Bay other opportunities for adventure include kayaking through mangrove channels, sand dune hiking, and sea turtle conservation activities. A highlight of the trip includes working with local ecology teams to capture, measure, tag, and release sea turtles (an endangred species) back into what Red calls “one of the world’s last truly wild places.”
—Katie Rosenbrock

Nomadic Expeditions

Quest for the Snow Leopard in Mongolia

The snow leopard is one of the rarest, most elusive cats on the planet. Tracking this solitary animal involves heading into some of the remotest regions on Earth, including the rugged Altai mountain range of western Mongolia. Nomadic Expeditions in partnership with the World Wildlife Fund is offering a two-week trek to this land of 8,000-foot peaks and huge alpine lakes in which participants will hike up to six hours a day through snow leopard habitat in search of the animal. Trekkers will stay with nomadic Mongolian host families in their traditional ger dwellings. The price tag—$15,900, single supplement $2,000—reflects the once-in-a-lifetime nature of the trip.
—Mark Lebetkin

Namibia Horse Safari Co.

Namib Desert Safari in South Africa

Push your personal boundaries to the limits as you embark on an authentic, one-with-nature wilderness experience. An all-encompassing and extremely challenging adventure ride, this trek through the Namib Desert offers close encounters with big game and beautiful scenery, while providing luxury camping accommodations including hot-water showers, fine dining, and even a few nights of guest house lodging. This tour is not for un-fit riders or faint of heart travelers, though. Covering over 180 miles of rugged terrain in 11 days and with daily wildlife encounters, the trek through South Africa with  the Namibia Horse Safari Company is often called one of the most difficult adventure excursions in the entire world. But anyone whose ever taken on the challenge will tell you it’s also “undeniably the ride of a lifetime.”
—Katie Rosenbrock

Above the Clouds

Hike Ama Dablam in Nepal

Avoid scores of typical tourists and, more importantly, avoid becoming one yourself. Visit the Everest region in a way few others ever will: with two of the best guides and a helicopter. The trek is co-led by Jamling Tenzing Norgay and Above the Clouds founder Steve Conlon, guides who have ample experience hiking in Nepal. Norgay climbed Everest in 1996 and his father was among the first to make the climb. Following the capable lead of these guides, you will trek the unspoiled, clandestine Himalayan paths. You will meet and learn about the Sherpa people, hear about Norgay’s Everest experience and finally take a helicopter ride through the Himalayan peaks.
—Diana Gerstacker

Culture Xplorers

Active, Uncorked, and Around the Table Tour in Portugal

Active, Uncorked, and Around the Table is the name of the newest trip from the crew at Culture Xplorers. Highlighting the best of northern Portugal, the trip begins in the historically significant city of Porto before detouring to the scenic Douro Valley where travelers embark on a canoe excursion and a “heavenly hike.” As the name of the trip implies, the days are also filled with plenty of wining and dining with locals like Jose Paulo Mesquita who welcomes visitors onto his country estate, which his family has owned since 1376.
—Katie Jackson

Crooked Trails

Volunteer Service Journey in Africa

Sandwiched between Nigeria and the Congo, The Republic of Cameroon is known as “Africa in Miniature,” for its extraordinary diversity. The wide array of wildlife, stretches of natural rainforest and more than 230 unique cultural and linguistic groups throughout the country mean exploration opportunities are endless. As if you needed another reason to visit, the non-profit organization Crooked Trails is hosting a volunteer program. The goal of the trip will be successful development of a coffee house that is beneficial for the community and more specifically, the women in the community. Once built, the coffee house will serve as a safe haven for learning, growth and a symbol of a brighter future.
—Diana Gerstacker

Myths and Mountains Inc.

Veins of the Dragon Tour in Vietnam and Cambodia

The Mekong River is one of Asia’s largest rivers; spanning six countries, flowing more than 2,700 miles and providing sustenance to the surrounding communities. The Vietnamese refer to their rivers as “veins of the dragon,” and they believe the strength and condition of the rivers is symbolic. The Mekong is currently plagued by pollution and is being exploited for hydropower. Myths and Mountains has arranged a 15-day adventure with the purpose of examining the conditions of the river, the people who rely on it, and the ways they produce food along the river. You will have the opportunity to explore caves, islands and canals, in addition to hiking, biking and navigating the river.
—Diana Gerstacker


Kayaking in Sweden

For the second-straight year Sweden made our list, and for good reason: called “Europe’s last wilderness,” this Scandinavian country’s arctic and subarctic north is a wonderland of sparsely populated forest, lakes, rivers and mountains. But it’s Sweden’s Bohuslän coast, with thousands of sea islands waiting to be explored by kayak, that got our attention this year. From Kosterhavet Marine National Park near the border with Norway down to the remote Weather Islands and sheltered Fjällbacka archipelago, there’s a lifetime’s worth of sea kayaking, island-hopping and even rock climbing and mountain biking to be done here. (Those endless summer days help, too.)

Local eco-tour operator Upplevelsebolaget has been organizing guided and unguided single- and multi-day paddle trips to the islands since 1994. One highlight is a 3-day tour to Havstenssund on the less-visited northern part of the coast.

Other operators include UK-based Nature Travels, with 3-day camping and kayaking tours in Koster, Fjällbacka and Weather Islands, and Swedish company Nautopp, which features a luxe 5-day cabin-to-cabin paddle tour.
—Mark Lebetkin


Fishing in Tasmania

Set off Southern Australia’s mainland, the untainted island of Tasmania is home to abundance of wild trout. The healthy trout population, pristine shallow waters and remarkable scenic views make Tasmania the best kept secret in trout fishing. Frontiers Travel is featuring a journey to Tasmania’s Central Highland, which is crisscrossed by rivers and spoiled with crystal-clear lakes. Avid anglers will find Tasmania is a great catch.
—Diana Gerstacker


Rock Climbing in Thailand

Climb Crazy Horse Buttress is an international destination for climbing and a model for climbing development. Along the climbing trail you’ll find shade huts, lunch shacks, sustainable water management, and myriad other signs of an active local climbing community. The only crew that can get you here is the Chiang Mai Climbing Center. Your day will start before the sun is up, so grab a bite at Mickey’s Café, the single restaurant in the Old City open early enough for climbers. The Climbing Center handles your gear, water, protein-rich Thai lunches, and transport to the crag. Craving more adventure? Stay the night in the district of Mae On at the base of the buttress. This undeveloped city embodies undeveloped Thailand with local fare, hot springs, waterfalls, and caving.
—Lesli Peterson


Hiking Mt. Minya Gangkar in China

Located in the Sichuan province of China, Mt. Minya Gangkar was once thought to be the highest peak on earth. With an elevation of 24,790 feet, the mountain provides hikers with an unrivaled experience. The trek, hosted by Tibetan Trekking, can be customized. Depending on your interests, you can immerse yourself in the richness of Sichuan culture or focus primarily on an unforgettable hiking expedition. Whatever your preference, you’ll be talking about the trip long after you’ve left; so don’t forget a camera—you won’t be able to describe these views.
—Diana Gerstacker

Brianna Leary

Guided Running Tours in St. Thomas

Segway tours are so 2013. But for the traveler in search of a tropical island tour that can also be considered cardio, guided running tours on St. Thomas are so 2014. Active Island Tours & Events offers fun and informative tours that allow participants to experience the island at a faster pace than most fanny-pack wielding tourists can take. Power-walking is an option, but participants will want to take advantage of the high performance moisture wicking t-shirt that comes with the tour by working up a sweat. Of course, no trip to the Caribbean is complete without a fruity tropical beverage, so a complimentary Cruzan Rum cocktail is also included. A run and rum—what more could you need?
—Katie Jackson

Explore Worldwide

Sea Trek in Venezuela

Explore the Venezuela Caribbean by air, sea, and land on Explore Worldwide’s new Venezuela Sea Trek. This adventure includes hiking the coastal rainforests of the Paria mountain range and sailing the Testigos Islands. Stay in small local communities, and camp on Playa Real Beach surrounded by the most colorful coral reefs in the Caribbean. Venture March through June for a chance to see the leather turtles lay their eggs in Querepare, an unforgettable site in the evenings. You’ll also see loons, wild goats, iguanas, sea turtles, bromeliads, and orchids in the coastal shoreline rich with flora and fauna.
—Lesli Peterson

Pure Adventures

The Untapped Alps in Slovenia

When most people think of the Alps, they think Switzerland, Austria, Italy and France. But head a little further east, and you’ll find an unspoiled corner still mostly undiscovered by tourists and overflowing with the same stunning views, deep cultural history and unlimited outdoor opportunities. Slovenia, until 1991 a part of Yugoslavia, is a cheaper—but still well-developed—alternative to neighboring Austria and Italy, and is host to Adriatic beaches, the 9,000-foot Julian Alps, castles and alpine lakes, tons of skiing, and thousands of miles of trails and low-traffic roads perfect for mountain biking and bicycle touring.

Pure Adventures offers 8-day self-guided cycling tours that begin and end in Slovenia’s hip capital, Ljubljana, and circles through the tiny country, passing through the Alps and along the coast.

More expensive guided options are available through Austin Adventures, and for the singletrack enthusiasts out there, Sacred Rides offers 8-day mountain biking adventures.
—Mark Lebetkin

PNG Tourism Mr

Stand-Up Paddleboarding in Papua New Guinea

Stand-up paddle boarding is the newest adventure in Papua New Guinea, with only a few people having tasted the excitement of this expedition. The PNG Surf Association collaborates with natives of the Sepik River regions to allow travelers into the untouched corners of the country. These draw you in with museum-level carvings and a people who live subsistence lifestyles of fishing, gardening, and farming. 2014 will open additional areas of the country to paddle boarders hoping to stay in remote villages, wine and dine with the locals, and perhaps happen upon a sacred ceremony or celebration. Papua New Guinea also beckons adventure-seekers with hiking on remote jungle trails, surfing the waves of New Ireland, fishing, and SCUBA diving among reefs, wrecks, and caves.
—Lesli Peterrson

The Best Quest

Escape From Siberia Tour in Russia

The Best Quest offers a new concept: Travel encounters that reach beyond a typical “trip” to become a “journey.” Escape from Siberia follows the footsteps of the purported escape of Siberian gulag prisoners during World War II, documented in the movie The Way Back. Stay in gers with Mongolians and ride camels into the dunes of the Chinese Gobi desert, camping under the stars. Hike a portion of the Everest Base Camp, river raft through the foothills of the Himalayas in Nepal, and stay in a Bhutanese monastery where Buddha is said to have found Nirvana. Take in this 45-day historic trek from Moscow to Kolkata at once, or in three parts.
—Lesli Peterson

Top Adventure Travel Trips 2014