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Best adventure holidays

By Mark Hodson, Sunday Times Travel Writer and Editor of 101 Holidays

If you want to inject some excitement into your holidays, we’ve got some great ideas for adventure holidays in the UK, Europe and across the world. Whether you’re travelling alone, with teenagers or as a couple, we think you’ll find something you like amongst these adventure holiday ideas. Note: all the travel companies featured are personally recommended by our editors.

Potato CodSailing in the Greek Islands

Adventure holidays for adults

If you haven’t yet seen the Northern Lights it’s probably on your to-do list. One of the best places to witness them is Iceland where you can also explore glaciers, hot springs and geysers, volcanic craters, lava flows and waterfalls. Take a few days in Reykyavik, do a fly-drive tour or a jeep adventure.

You’ll also have a great chance of seeing the Northern Lights while staying at Sweden’s Ice Hotel. Have a few shots of vodka in ice glasses at the ice bar before wrapping up warm and sleeping on a slab of ice. In summer, Sweden is magical. Try this highlights holiday which takes in Stockholm, Lake Silja, Lake Vattern and the Tivedens National Park, with a chance to hit some spectacular walking trails.

Even wilder are the Faroe Islands, an unspoiled archipelago between Iceland and Norway, just an hour’s flight north of Edinburgh. This three-night Faroe Islands Weekender self-drive is a great introduction. You can also go in winter.

Nepal offers a stunning combination of Himalayan peaks, colourful Buddhist culture and unique wildlife experiences. Combine the temples of Kathmandu with a stay in Pokhara and an elephant-back safari in Chitwan National Park on either a private tailor-made holiday or a small group tour.

Discover The World has a great selection of wildlife holidays around the world, from Orcas in Iceland to Grizzly Bears in Canada.

For the ultimate sailing adventure, hop on board Tiger Blue, a 34-metre yacht that sails between the stunning islands of the Indonesian archipelago. The crew can arrange diving and snorkelling, picnics on deserted beaches, a visit to see the Komodo dragons and a hike up a volcano. You can charter the whole boat or just rent a cabin.

Another great adventure destination in Asia is the Philippines. Go for island hopping, superb diving and snorkelling, whale and dolphin watching and gob-smacking scenery.

Head to South America for endless adventures and heart-stopping encounters with nature. If you find the continent daunting, how about biting off a small chunk? You could take one of the new British Airways flights to Peru for a heady mix of adventure, rich culture and luxury. This 13-night Where Condors Soar adventure includes hiking to Machu Picchu, mountain biking and rafting in the Sacred Valley.

Colombia is no longer a byword for drugs and violence. This compact and friendly country is like a miniature version of South America with mountains, coffee plantations, colonial cities, Caribbean beaches, rainforest, nature reserves and Amazonian jungle. This 14-night Classic Colombia tour hits many of the high points.

You could spend a lifetime exploring the pristine landscapes of New Zealand, soaking up the world’s cleanest air and some of its best food and wine. These fly-drive itineraries run from five days up to 22 days.

Russia is a vast country of art treasures, rich culture and breathtaking scenery. Join an escorted group tour, take a river cruise, or a rail journey (perhaps to Beijing via Mongolia).

If you have lots of time on your hands – perhaps you’re retired, self-employed or looking for a career break – how about joining an overland adventure by truck. Trips last between five days and 40 weeks and cover Africa, South America, Morocco, Egypt and Jordan and Central Asia.

safari-in-kenyaBest adventure holidaysthe-galapagosAdventure holiday to Kilimanjaro

Adventure holidays with teenagers

Once your kids hit the teenage years they need something more exciting than bucket and spades on the beach. Some will want to hang out with friends, sleeping until lunchtime and playing computer games. The best way to lure them away from this is by doing something more adventurous.

We recommend this selection of teenage adventure holidays with Explore. And these trips with Activities Abroad.

If your kids are interested in wildlife, you could take them on a safari holiday in Kenya. On game drives and walking safaris they will encounter the Big Five, visit the Masai Mara and sleep in a tree top hotel. In Zambia you can combine thrilling walking safaris with a visit to Victoria Falls. Stay at a private safari villa such as Chongwe River House in the Lower Zambezi.

For the ultimate biology lesson, follow Darwin’s footsteps to the Galapagos Islands in South America. Get up close to seals, turtles, iguanas, giant tortoises and exotic birdlife. Spending time is this special place feels like a real privilege.

Australia is on every teen’s bucket list, but rather than try to cover the whole country, we suggest you stick to one region in order to cut down travel time. This 11-night Ultimate Family Adventure in Queensland is very popular.

South Africa is another destination that teenagers love, as it combines wildlife, natural beauty, culture and history. Take a self-drive tour from Cape Town to go whale watching, and take boat trips to see seals at Grootbos Nature Reserve.

There is plenty to love in America. For an adventurous road trip, rent a motor home and explore the highways and byways. Or you could saddle up for a dude ranch holiday where you can learn to ride, visit a rodeo and try whitewater rafting, fishing and camping out in the wilderness.

Iceland is ideal for short haul adventures – it’s probably the world’s most exciting geography field trip. Explore this fascinating landscape of mountains, glaciers, volcanoes and geysers. In summer you’ll see the Midnight Sun while in winter you may experience the Northern Lights. Check out these adventure tours and short breaks.

Adventure holidays for children

Asia is a great destination for children as the people are so welcoming. Try one of these family holidays in Vietnam, where you could take a junk cruise in Halong Bay, and visit the villages of the Mekong Delta. It’s just one of these family adventure holidays selected by my colleague Mark Frary.

Last updated: 13 November 2018

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