Life can be a very restricting thing if you choose to play by unwritten rules.
If you push the boundaries, however – well, that’s a different matter.
Here are 18 bracing moments of travel adventure that will light up your horizons.
Forget bland old routine and familiar comforts. These experiences are about stretching your limits with action drama and a dose of derring-do.
Get stuck in to change up your life, and see this handsome planet of ours in a whole new light:
1 – Abseil Table Mountain, Cape Town
Trust us, nothing turns your stomach like staring down the barrel of the world’s highest commercial abseil. But eek your jelly legs over the precipice of this momentous rappel, and you can take on the world. Plus, the views are *unbeatable*.
2 – Sleep out on Rainbow Mountain, Peru
When you’re 4,000 metres up in the Andean peaks, the stars take on an entirely different quality. Bask in their glow over a meal with a private chef before camping out in thin air, and tackling the summit of Rainbow Mountain early the next day.
3 – Snowmobile the Arctic outback, Finland
Rev your engines for the ultimate cruise over the Arctic back country of Finland. Be master of your own destiny as you navigate the Game of Thrones-style horizon, cutting through the icy chill of the wind on your slicked-up snowmobile. Vroom vroom.
4 – Canyon the Wadi Mujib, Jordan
Following a riverbed through Jordan’s Wadi Mujib – sounds simple enough. But don’t be fooled, this is one exhilarating challenge. Haul yourself over giant boulders and leap from natural waterfalls in the shadow of looming ravines.
5 – Swim with nurse sharks in Belize
The Belize Barrier Reef teems with marine life, including these curious nurse sharks. They prefer eating shrimp to humans, but that doesn’t stop it feeling slightly unnerving to swim alongside them. At the same time, we defy you not to feel like you’ve won the lottery: it’s that good.
6 – Sand-bike the desert dunes, Australia
Stockton Sand Dunes are the largest moving drifts in the Southern Hemisphere, and the best way to familiarise yourself with them is via sand-board or buggy. Throw yourself down the russet mounds, some of which tower up to 40 metres high, and know what it is to feel alive.
7 – Learn how to surf in Morocco
Surfing is a far trickier skill than Point Break would lead you to believe. Even so, nothing beats that feeling of flying through the air on a white crest swell; even if it’s only for a moment or two. Morocco’s Taghazout beach, with its churning Atlantic waves, is one of the finest places to get started.
8 – Take a walking safari in Tanzania
For a wildlife encounter you’ll never forget, don’t miss a dawn walking safari on the Serengeti plains. The animal kingdom is just waking up, allowing you unprecedented access to the likes of zebras, flamingos, elephants, lions and more: all in the intimacy of their natural habitat.
9 – Quad bike the Chocolate Hills in the Philippines
Hit full throttle for this exultant foray through the tropical interior of Bohol Island. A quad bike is the best way to explore the legendary Chocolate Hills, allowing you to head right off-radar into the jungle terrain. The best part? Panoramic views of the island which you can cut through to here and there.
10 – Twilight snowshoes and s’mores, Canada
If you’re the kid who grew on Narnia books, you will love this ethereal trek through the forests of Sun Peaks, Canada. The sky is ablaze in a thousand stars, the moonlight casts a sheen over the snowy trees and just when you think you’re too cold to move: hey presto, a campfire with hot apple cider and s’mores.
11 – Hike Europe’s largest glacier, Norway
Jostedalsbreen glacier is the largest of its kind in mainland Europe, and navigating the ice towers and deep blue crevasses here is a true Bear Grylls experience. Crampon up and have your ice picks handy as you clamber along naturally formed ice steps, with the occasional cave en-route.
12 – Wild swim the Omani wadis on the Arabian Peninsula
Fringed by palm trees and pink-tinted cliffs, Oman’s emerald wadis offer the world’s best swimming pools. They’re remarkably uncrowded (especially compared to your local leisure centre), the water is oh-so clear and there’s even the odd waterfall to jump from along the way.
13 – Play tejo in Bogotá, Colombia
How best to pay homage to the delights of Bogotá, Colombia’s eclectic capital? Why, with a game of tejo, of course. This explosive sport is a Colombian favourite, and involves throwing a metal disc called a “tejo” towards a gunpowder-lined target: with plenty of beers in the mix. What could possibly go wrong?
14 – Rally drive an ice race course in Sweden
Jump into the driving seat for this giant of adventures, as you floor across a glistening ice course in a rally driving car. Send your pulse racing with twisting corners and terrific straights, the ice spraying behind you and your engine charging full pelt. It’s bucket-list stuff.
15 – Camp out on a secret beach, the Philippines
For all you Robinson Crusoes out there, look no further than our two-day private boat trip around Bacuit Archipelago. Jet between a dreamy landscape of limestone karsts and hidden beaches, before finding a secret bay to rock up on for the night, complete with a chef, beach BBQ and luxury mesh tents.
16 – Tick off the 5,000 metres mark in Nepal
Most hikers in the Himalayas hit the Everest Trail but those in the know veer off-track on the route up to Kongde. This lovely trail will take you through rhododendron-covered slopes and dramatic gullies, with barely another soul around. The climax is the 5,000-metres badge of honour at Farak Ri viewpoint, with the whole of Khumbu Valley spreading out before you.
17 – Help bathe rescued elephants, Myanmar
Trek through the remote jungle tapestry of the Shan Hills in rural Myanmar to access a hidden wonder: the Green Hill Valley Elephant Camp. This sanctuary looks after rescued logging elephants, and you can get up close with the gentle giants by helping to bathe them, as they mooch about in the muddy shallows. Just. so. great.
18 – Trek the rainforest at night, Malaysia
The jungle takes on a new dimension at night. The nocturnal wildlife comes out to play, and your senses are heightened by the darkness. An evening trek through Belum rainforest, a 300,000-hectare tropical wilderness on the Thai-Malay border, promises to surprise and delight. Immerse yourself into the chorus of chirruping insects and frogs, and keep a lookout for the shiny saucer eyes of the slow loris.
This article is part of a series called ‘Don’t Believe The Narrative’ – we’re rewriting the script for the over thirties; turning the spotlight on those who CHOOSE a different path; celebrating the adventurers and won’t settle-downers. Because this life stage doesn’t have to be all about babies, weddings and work promotions, just because the script says it should. You write your script, you choose your best moments – from epic travel tales to dinners with travel buddies. Share them with us on Instagram using #DontBelieveTheNarrative.
Images: Flash Pack, Tony Stevens, Sylvia Stojilkovic