Behind every great adventure lies a smaller challenge; something that whets your appetite and builds your stamina for the challenges that lie ahead.
Rather than jump right into a major feat (say, climbing Rainbow Mountain in Peru), you might prefer to first test the sponge-like walls of your comfort zone.
Courage is an elastic quality, you see, and the more you stretch it, the more you become capable of. It’s a step-by-step process; a slow gradation of skills and emotional grit.
With that in mind, here are six small-scale trips to introduce you to various elements of adventure travel, from altitude trekking to intrepid bar crawls. Test your limits and set your curiosity alight before moving onto their bigger, bolder siblings – also listed below…
1. The warm-up: Canoeing Diable River, Quebec
Want to flex your paddling skills? Start with a gentle meander down Diable River in Mont-Tremblant National Park, Quebec. This serene route snakes its way through the heart of the park, which stretches across 500 square miles of forestland framed by the Laurentian peaks. Canoe past secluded beaches and swathes of silver maple forest as you get a feel for this quintessentially Canadian activity on the sun-dappled waterways.
The ultimate challenge: White water rafting in Thailand
Amp things up a level with an afternoon white water rafting on the churning rapids of Thailand’s Mae Taeng River. Prepare to put your team skills to the fore, as you and your Flash Pack group tackle a series of churning rapids on the 10-kilometre adventure. Summon your daredevil within for a whirlwind ride.
2. The warm-up: A beer crawl in Slovenia
Beer just tastes better on holiday and no more so than on the evening bar crawl that kicks off our Slovenian getaway. Slovenia’s impossibly scenic capital, Ljubljana, stands apart from the tourist clusters found in other European cities. Yet, it’s still lively, and a beer safari is one of the best ways to appreciate its maze of charming, traffic-free streets. Get the rounds of hearty local glug in and raise a toast to your fellow Flashpackers.
The ultimate challenge: Tequila tasting and wrestling in Mexico
Game for a greater challenge? Step forward tequila-tasting in Mexico City. This notorious party spirit comes with a rich and nuanced history, something you’ll learn all about in a dedicated session with a tequila master and tastings marinated in mini sandwiches (yes that’s a thing). Then, just to keep the excitement sky-high, we’ll head to a Lucha Libre wrestling show, where you can cheer on your favourite champion with some tequila-fuelled support.
3. The warm-up: Climb Mount Toubkal, Morocco
Don’t get us wrong, the hike to the top of Mount Toubkal – Morocco’s highest mountain at 4,167 metres – is no mean feat. You’ll be hiking for seven hours or so per day over two days, including a series of steep mule trails and craggy screes. But this is a challenge for the newbie mountaineers among you; those who want to get a flavour of altitude hiking without the call for dedicated training. It’s achievable with no experience, as long as you’re relatively fit.
Read more: Forget dating and just connect with people
The ultimate challenge: Hiking the Everest foothills, Nepal
Ready for a dose of hardcore altitude hiking? Our escape to the foothills of Nepal spreads over nine days of trekking in remote rhododendron forest and snow-capped slopes. This thrilling expedition culminates at 5,000 metres, with a spectacular window over the Khumbu Valley and Everest and Lhotse peaks at Farak Ri viewpoint. Get those calves revved up for upto eight hours hiking a day, often over steep and far-flung (yet spectacularly beautiful) terrain.
4. The warm-up: Body rafting in Sicily
For a flavour of canyoning without the dizzying abseils, try body-rafting in the Alcantara Gorges of Sicily. Without any need for specific equipment, body-rafting is one of the most sustainable ways to explore the cobalt blue rock pools and gullies here, without disturbing the local ecosystem. Swim and dive your way through waterfalls, and clamber over craggy cliff-side canyons, surrounded by tranquil cascades of wild flowers and sun-soaked foliage.
Read more: Six of the best hotels with statement pools
The ultimate challenge: Canyoning the Wadi Mujib, Jordan
Day two of our Jordan adventure sees us plunge head-first into a hefty challenge, with a day’s canyoning in the Wadi Mujib. Haul one another over giant boulders and navigate towering sandstone canyons, as you put your inner grit to the test in a string of daring feats. Don’t worry, though, your guide and fellow Flashpackers will urge you on every step of the way – and an evening’s float in the glorious Dead Sea lingers as your reward.
5. The warm-up: Forage a feast, Cornwall
If you like the idea of cooking but don’t want to majorly commit, take a gander at this weekend by the Cornish coast. First up, you’ll join wilderness chef Kieran Creevy in learning how to forage natural bounty in the wild valley hills. Then, once you’ve gathered a harvest of king ferns, wood violets, honeysuckle and more, he’ll do the hard work for you by cooking up an al fresco feast. Settle in by the glow of the campfire with smoked aubergine tagine, gorse flower gin cocktails and a ream of other delights. Happy days.
Read more: 5 of the best beaches for solo travellers
The ultimate challenge: Cook a five-course banquet, Vietnam
Want to tap your inner Masterchef? Vietnam is the place for you. Vietnamese cuisine is all the rage right now, so head to the coastal town of Hoi An to see what all the fuss is about. Roll up your sleeves for an immersive cooking class, in the company of local experts. From grilled pork noodles to chilli egg baguette, learn all about the secrets of Vietnam’s best-loved dishes and let loose with your culinary prowess.
6. The warm-up: A sunrise climb up Batur volcano, Bali
A trek in that strange, enchanting stillness of a pre-dawn morning is an experience all wannabe adventurists should add to their repertoire. Start small with a ramble up Mount Batur, a live volcano in the tropical hills of northern Bali. This sunrise hike is a delight for the senses, with starlight skies and the rustle of the jungle all around. If you start at around 2am, you’ll hit the 1,700 metre summit in two hours or so: just in time to see the sky fragment in pink and lavender streaks.
The ultimate challenge: Climbing Rainbow Mountain, Peru
The 5,200-metre peak of Rainbow Mountain in Peru is best tackled with an overnight camp at altitude, just below the summit. Settle into tents perched onto the mountain slopes (Flash Pack’s trip comes with a few personal chefs in the mix) before arising at the crack of dawn to make your final ascent. This sunrise trek is well worth the night outdoors, as you hit the maroon, turquoise and golden summit – looming at 5,200 metres – well ahead of the crowds.
Images: Shutterstock and Flash Pack