Want to boost your fitness levels this year? Join the queue. But getting a sweat on doesn’t have to mean pounding muddy pavements in the unflinching chill of a winter’s evening. Why not conquer a mountain in the Andes, or canyon through a Middle Eastern gorge instead?
Travel challenges have a way of stretching your physical stamina without the residue pain/boredom of your average cardio workout. You’re so absorbed by what you’re doing, and where you are, you barely notice that you’re undergoing a major workout at the same time.
With that in mind, we’ve picked out five epic challenges to get your heart racing and your adrenaline levels pumping in 2019. Ramp your willpower and say hello to a fitter, bolder you with these rides of a lifetime:
Climb Rainbow Mountain in Peru
It might look pretty, but a trek to the summit of Rainbow Mountain is no mean feat. You’ll need the support of fellow Flashpackers every step of the way, as you tackle the 5,035-metre ascent up through the breath-taking Cusco region of the Peruvian Andes. You and your crew will camp overnight at 4,000 metres, but don’t expect to get much sleep; the altitude makes everything harder. Make an early start for the final summit push, and watch in awe as the extraordinary dome of “Winicunca” comes into sight. You’ll never look at a stairmaster in the same way again.
Go canyoning in Jordan’s Wadi Mujib
Flashpackers are thrown right into the deep end on our Jordan trip, with an exhilarating climb through the gorges of the Wadi Mujib. You’ll need your wits about you as you navigate river crevices and giant slippery rocks that lie in the shadow of towering sandstone canyons. “It was kind of quite dangerous and we were all helping each other,” says Victoria, who recently signed on for the challenge. “And it was our first day, so we were all thrown into this environment where we were hauling each other up rocks and stuff like that.”
Trek through the Himalayan foothills
Your average walk pales in comparison to this spectacular and demanding hike in the foothills of the Himalayas in Nepal. Granted, you won’t be climbing Everest – quite – but at 1750 metres above sea level, the air will feel noticeably thinner, and the three-hour trek will get your heart pumping big-time. You’ll be rewarded for your efforts by 360-degree views of the Annapurna Mountain Range, with tiny hamlets nestled between rhododendron forest and gently undulating hills along the way. It sure beats tussling over a free treadmill at the gym…
Try white water rafting in Chile
If you’ve never tried white water rafting before, you’re in for a spin like no other. Our Chilean expedition unfolds on the wild waterways of Petrohué River, in the south of the country. Hold on tight, as you and your fellow gang of Flashpackers face off against class II and IV rapids. This adrenaline-fuelled mission takes place against the backdrop of the mighty Osorno volcano, and the volcanic landscape means the water isn’t as cold as you might think. To amp things up a level, you could even make like Bear Grylls and jump off cliffs into the river (y’know, if the prospect of churning rapids isn’t taxing enough for you).
Abseil down Cape Town’s Table Mountain
If inching your way off a precipice 1,086 metres above sea level shouts BRILLIANT EXPERIENCE to you, look no further. Our Cape Town stint at abseiling is not for the fainthearted but boy, does it deliver in the thrill stakes. One of the world’s highest commercial abseils was tackled by none other than Flash Pack co-founder Radha Vyas recently. “I was scared to death,” she recalls. “And I’m sure if I’d been with my mates, I would have chickened out. But because I was with a group of people I didn’t really know, I didn’t want to be seen as a wuss. I did it, and I’m so glad I did, because it was the most amazing experience of my life. I’ll never forget it.”
Images: Flash Pack and Shutterstock