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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

    Although it’s a small country, Jordan is packed with astonishing sights from the Dead Sea and the empty desert wastelands of Wadi Rum to the magical ancient city of Petra.

    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.

    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.

    One of the best ways to see Africa is one a trekking holiday. Take a short break in the Atlas Mountains of Morocco or – if you want a real challenge – how about an ascent of Kilimanjaro?

    One of Africa’s most exciting and fast-emerging destinations is Ethiopia where you can take a private tour or join a group trip to see highlights such as the remote churches of Tigray and the island monasteries of Lake Tana, the towering stelae of Axum and the ancient walled city of Harer. You can join a community walk or embark on some road cycling or mountain trekking in Ethiopia’s national parks.

    For some cultural adventure, the fascinating – and emphatically friendly – country of Iran is now firmly back on the tourist map. Highlights include exquisite palaces, mosques and madrasas, the ancient capital of Pasargadae, the Zoroastrian fire temples of Yazd and the magnificent ruins of Persepolis. Join a Treasures of Persia group tour or take a private tour by rail which visits seven Unesco World Heritage Sites. Check the dates of Ramadan – it’s best to avoid this time of year.

    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? There are few better than Colombia which combines mountains, Caribbean beaches, colonial treasures, rainforest, jungle and coffee estates all in a manageable country that is both friendly and fascinating. This 10-night Signature Colombia tour is a great introduction, and you can even try a self-drive holiday.

    The best way to see Australia is on a fly-drive holiday. The specialist operator Trailfinders recommends a two-week Legendary Pacific Coast tour, or the Western Shores & Whale Sharks itinerary from Perth to Exmouth.

    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. We recommend this Galapagos on Land and by Sea land-sea combo for families.

    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

    Tourdust has an inspiring selection of family adventure holidays with a particular emphasis on teenagers. Its tour of Morocco includes a two-day trek in the Atlas Mountains, two nights in a Marrakech riad and three nights on the Atlantic Coast with surf lessons. Peru’s Inca Trail is a fantastic challenge and works well in the Easter or summer holidays.

    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.

    Last updated: 3 November 2017

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