If you're looking to push the boundaries on your next holiday, try one of these wild adventures…
Cliff camp in Colorado, USA
Think camping in Yorkshire’s an adventure? Pah! Colorado’s where it’s at, and it’s the first US destination to offer cliff-camping – aka casually dangling from a mountain in a make-shift tent. No climbing experience is necessary: a guide will set you up and explain the basics of not having a massive freak-out, before you’re left hanging around on your own overnight. Tents are suitable for one to three people. Three? Bit awkward…
Wild swim in Italy
We don’t need to tell you that Italy’s northern lakes make nice skinny dipping spots, but no one wants a pale nudey flasher in their Lake Como wedding snaps. For prime wild swimming, head south of Naples to the Sorgenti del Sammaro, or ‘Great Cave’. Hidden near the entrance of the narrow gorge you’ll find deep, blue-coloured water rising from underground springs. Dive in – it’s nippy – before finding a shaded spot on the banks of the River Sammaro for a picnic. Pick up a copy of Wild Swimming Italy by Michele Tameni (Wild Things, £16.99) for more ideas.
Open canoe in the Scottish Highlands
We tried canoeing once and we kept going round in circles (the person at the back obviously wasn’t pulling their weight). Once you master it, though, it’s the best way to explore the eerily peaceful lochs of the Scottish highlands. With Wilderness Scotland you’ll wild camp each night on an isolated island, and canoe through the glacial lochs for seven hours the next day. The trip is graded as ‘difficult’, and we can see why – pitching a tent on the windy bank of a loch is near impossible.
How: Wilderness Scotland offers six-night open canoe trips from £795 per person. Price includes food, transport and accommodation (aka tent). wildernessscotland.com
Ride a rickshaw through India
According to the Adventurists, “Proper adventure only happens when you do a follow-through fart right in the face of the tourist-trail.” Apt, then, that their latest adventure is through India, where the threat of Delhi belly looms large (sorry). Anyway, you might as well have a laugh while you’re at it, and the Rickshaw Run is just the ticket: for two weeks you can pootle along 3,500km of country roads in India, with just a three-wheeled rickshaw, a map and your mates to help you reach the finish line.
How: Prices start from £1,595 per rickshaw, including insurance, rickshaw driving lessons and pre and post-adventure parties. STA Travel can arrange flights and trip extensions. statravel.co.uk
Set sail in Croatia
Some places are best discovered by water. Croatia’s coastline is one of those places, and with MedSailors you’re guaranteed fun, discovering the Adriatic’s remote coves by day and dropping anchor in Hvar for nightlife after dark. The yachts come with a pro skipper, but if you fancy yourself as more of a sailor than a sunbather, they’ll happily show you the ropes (quite literally).
How: MedSailors offers week long trips from £423 per person including skipper, breakfast and lunch (and the price drops to £411pp if you book the whole boat for you and your friends – bonus). medsailors.com
Cycle and kayak in the Ardeche, France
We often get called a legend, but it doesn’t really count when it’s our nan telling us, does it? This new trip from Legends Tours is a way to really earn the title. Clip in and take on the vertiginous road bike climb of Mount Ventoux, before shifting the effort to your arms with a 45km jaunt by kayak on the Ardeche river the next day. There’s a surprise at every meander, and participants are warned to prepare for the unexpected…
How: The next five-night trip departs 28 May, costing £750 per person including accommodation, meals and equipment; excluding flights. legendstours.net
Raft the Franklin river in Tasmania
Adrenaline junkies are always seeking out their next white-knuckle experience. A day-long rafting trip is all fine and dandy, but for serious adventure, how about a ten-day white-water rafting trip along Tasmania’s Franklin river? Put yourselves in the hands of capable guides, and prepare to be hurled around rapids like Nasty Notch. Nasty’s an understatement, this is treacherous stuff, so take the advice on the signs: “Do not exceed your paddling ability; be honest with yourself.” Crikey – sounds serious.
How: Ten-day tours cost from £1,510 per person, including equipment, food and camping accommodation. franklinriverrafting.com; Qantas offers return flights to Melbourne for £950. Onward returns to Hobart, £120. qantas.com
Cycle in the Bolivian mountains
On Bolivia’s ‘Camino de la Muerte’, which, reassuringly, translates as ‘death road’, you’ll share the downhill route with chicken-stuffed lorries intent on scaring the bejesus out of you as they emerge from the fog, honking a "hello" or "get the F out of my way". It’s treacherous stuff for both cyclists and drivers – gravel tracks wind through the mountains, with a sheer drop on the side. You’ll emerge dusty and claw-handed at the end, thinking the worst is over. Nope. You have to travel back up the narrow route by bus, the road scattered with lorries vying for space. It’s great fun, though. Honest.
Clamber along Russian rooftops in Saint Petersburg
Cities don’t often lend themselves to adventures (unless you count trying to cross the road in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam), but BeAbo’s Saint Petersburg’s rooftop tours are an urban challenge like no other.
Tapping into the trend of youths loitering on roofs drinking, this urban circuit has you shuffling past chimney pots and sliding along narrow tiled ‘paths’ to see the city skyline
Tapping into the trend of youths loitering on roofs drinking, this urban circuit has you shuffling past chimney pots and sliding along narrow tiled ‘paths’ to see the city skyline. Those suffering from vertigo or poor balance should probably stick to terra firma.
Saddle up in Texas, USA
If you’ve always fancied yourself as a cowboy, then you might as well give it a go in proper cowboy territory. Horseback rides with Big Bend Adventures take in the staggering, multi-coloured landscapes of the Chihuahuan Desert. And it’s a legitimate opportunity to wear that check shirt, of course. Yeeha!
Ride a toboggan in Switzerland
Big Pintenfritz may sound like the stage name of an Austrian porn star, but it’s actually a 15km-long toboggan run, so high and steep that rules forbid you to ‘drink and slide’. Drag your chariot up to the 2,681m peak (it’s worth every drip of sweat), before you snake way your way back down the mountain, crisp Swiss wind in your hair.
Surf and drive through Mozambique
Where’s the surf at? Not in Australia, but on the isolated white-sand beaches of south-east Africa. Ticket To Ride’s trip to the azure waters of Mozambique is a dream for the more adventurous surfer, plus it’s cheaper than the US and Oz. Paddle through clear lagoons, ride world-class breaks, then travel by 4x4 up the breathtaking coast to catch your next big wave.
How: Surfing adventure specialist Ticket To Ride offers three-week trips from £1,850 per person, including accommodation, surf coaching, yoga and whale shark diving. ttride.co.uk
Chase a storm in Oklahoma, USA
Oklahoma boasts tonnes of outdoor adventure opportunities, but they’re nothing compared to storm chasing in Tornado Alley. This isn’t an alley to loiter in: the folk at Storm Chasing Adventure Tours are experts at identifying severe weather patterns, teaching you to look for clues in the sky, analyse weather data and get chasing. Forget those dry geography lessons from school: meteorological patterns finally got interesting.
Trek the ‘roof of Africa’ in Ethiopia
Ethiopia may not be the most obvious choice for hiking, but the country has the largest tract of high-altitude land in the continent. A ten-day hike along the Roof of Africa involves trekking through the dramatic landscape of Simien Mountains National Park, before scaling all 4,620 metres of Ethiopia’s highest mountain. Troops of gelada baboons (only found in the Ethiopian Highlands) are just one part of the epic wildlife and scenery.
How: A ten-day trip with Discover Adventure costs from £1,999 per person, including return flights, accommodation, meals, support team and entry fees. discoveradventure.com
Heli bike in Iceland
The problem with cycling is all those hills. Sure, avid cyclists will disagree, but not everyone gets off on the pain of throbbing quads. Luckily you can remove all that uphill faff with a heli-biking expedition in Iceland.
A chopper deposits you at the top of a mountain, and you make your own way back down, discovering uncharted territory on two sturdy wheels
A chopper deposits you at the top of a mountain, and you make your own way back down, discovering uncharted territory on two sturdy wheels. Day trips are available, along with overnight expeditions that allow you to venture even further off the beaten track.
Track pumas in Chile
If elusive cougars are your thing (not older women, although they’re great too), then you might like tracking big cats in remote South American territory. In Chile’s Torres del Paine National Park you’ll explore the ancient paintings and head-spinning landscapes of the country’s deep south, while keeping an eye out for the region’s most famous animal. Don’t worry, if the pumas are playing hard to get, – the park is also famous for geese and ducks…
How: Natural World Safaris offers an Ultimate Patagonia Puma Tracking tour from £5,700 per person, including flights, meals and lux accommodation. naturalworldsafaris.com
Desert Camp in Egypt
The goal of this 220km camel-supported expedition is to get back to basics. That means minimalist desert camping and the chance to see jaw-dropping canyons and dunes, while also experiencing the solitude of the Sinai. It’s a one-off adventure from Secret Compass, and only two crossings of this region have ever been recorded.
How: Secret Compass is offers 15-night expedition from £1,999pp, excluding flights. secretcompass.com