Top adventure and eco experiences for 2017
For adrenaline and adventure junkies, there are so many special locations to choose for your next travel destination for 2017. I’ve asked some of the top travel bloggers in the industry to share some of their favorite adventure and eco travel experience worth doing for the upcoming year and they have delivered some of the ultimate in adventure thrills for you to consider. Whether diving in some exotic local or climbing an active volcano, below are some of the most exceptional adventure and eco places to explore around the world. Get ready for some thrilling experiences below and hopefully this will be inspired you to try some and have an adventure filled time for 2017.
The Big Island of Hawaii is a top diving destination, especially on the calm Kona side with sites such as Two Steps in Honaunau Bay, where we saw pods of dolphins and black-tipped reef sharks. The highlight of our trip was night diving with the manta rays at the Manta Village spot, close to the Sheraton Keauhou Bay Resort in Kona. Soon after our divemaster set the night lights, several large manta rays came over one about 12 feet (4 meters) large. I was not expecting the rays to get so close and was surprised when the giant but gentle beasts touched my shoulder or my head as they passed by. The thrill reached another high when I turned my face and saw the mouth of the manta wide open just a few inches away. I thought I was going to be swallowed whole! Watching the mantas dancing around us as they searched for the plankton and the close encounter with the huge rays are must-see experiences for any diver!
Dive log & Tips: We spent about one-hour bottom time and 40 minutes at 30 feet (10 meters) with the manta rays. The best season is spring to fall, due to the lower surf conditions. The surf was quite strong when we dove in November, and we had difficulties staying put on the given spot without grabbing coral or sitting on urchins. The water temperatures were about 65-70°F (18-21°C), but we wore 3/2 mn wetsuit and booties since we were shore-diving from a rocky entrance.
Check out Patricia Pagenel Ze Wandering Frogs – adventure travel blog on diving with Manta Rays in Hawaii
An eco luxury stay in Bastimentos, Panama
Hiking the Camino de Santiago
As a well-known long-distance trek, the Camino de Santiago is a network of pilgrimage routes running across Europe, all leading to the city of Santiago de Compostela in northwestern Spain. Retracing its origins to the 9th century, Camino de Santiago, also known as “The Way of Saint James”, was an important pilgrimage route for the Christians. The Christian apostle Saint James was beheaded in Jerusalem in 42 AD and his remains were buried in Santiago de Compostela. When his tomb was discovered, Christians across Europe began to travel to see it. This journey became one of the most important pilgrimages in the world.
These days, the Camino de Santiago is more of a personal journey than a religious pilgrimage. Millions walk it each year in search of direction and deeper meaning in life. For many of us, the Camino has the power to change your life and give you new perspectives. I walked the Camino de Santiago in 2014 and it taught me how to appreciate life in small ways.
Biking the death road in Bolivia
If you are with a tour group, the route is always downhill (with a few separate 3-min uphills) and the guides will always tell you to stay in one line. The bikes used by tour companies are very professional and guaranteed safe so you don’t have to worry! Roads can get really narrow but the trick is to always be on the side of the mountain (not the cliff) and never look down. The Death Road is a normal transport route for trucks so when you come across one, don’t panic! Just stay in your lane and you will be fine.
Some groups have faster riders they tend to pressure you with your speed but take your time. You don’t have to be as fast as the others as long as you are safe. I did the biking tour at the beginning of South America’s summer (December) but we were wearing jackets during the ride because it can get really cold up there! Basically, Bolivia can be visited all year despite its extreme weather.
By Trisha Velarmino with PS I’m on My Way
Volcano boarding at Cerro Negro
Fancy hiking up an active volcano, jumping on a sledge and boarding down it? Well, this year you can. Take a flight to the beautiful Central American country, Nicaragua and head to Leòn which is the closest city to the land of lakes and volcanoes’ youngest volcano, Cerro Negro. After a relatively easy hour hike up Cerro Negro, crossing the Ring of Fire you suit up in a sexy jumpsuit, goggles and gloves then it is showtime! Sit back and enjoy the 55 mph ride down. Watch out for the volcanic rock, you’ll be pulling it out of your teeth! See the expedition in action here.
Gemma and Craig with Two Scots Abroad
Diving Raja Ampat in Indonesia
If you love marine life, you need to visit Raja Ampat. This small archipelago off the coast of West Papua, Indonesia, is one of the best places in the world in terms of marine biodiversity, making it a wonderful place to dive. In just one dive, I saw sharks, barracudas, turtles, manta rays and lots and lots of fish – more in one dive than in all the other dives of my life all together! The coral reef is in great conditions, thanks to the area which sees very little boat traffic. If you don’t dive, you can still travel to Raja Ampat to swim, snorkel, go bird watching or simply enjoy pristine nature.
By Margherita Ragg of The Crowded Planet
Sea Kayaking Off the Grid in Baja Mexico
As our paddles dip into the glass like water of the Sea of Cortez, the glimmering backs of dolphins appear beside our double kayak. The Mobula rays, cousins of the stingray, leap skyward from the water as though an underwater giant has taken up juggling of sea creatures. So much action off Mexico’s Baja coast and yet such calm.
Launching the kayaks near the quaint Mexican Baja town of Loreto and paddling southward, one greets an almost untouched wilderness. Completely off the grid, the lack of cellular coverage, internet and power balances with pristine, endless beaches and dazzling star filled nights. Snorkeling with wild sea lion pups who know no fear of humans, their curious eyes lock with ours as they tilt their heads in puppy like expressions.
The guided adventure thrills even the most experienced adventurers of the group. Island hopping through the Sea of Cortez the kayaks are small enough to explore hidden sea caves and mangrove swamps. When the paddling finishes for the day the beach camp provides a home base for hiking, swimming, fishing or relaxing and soaking up the peacefulness of this paradise. With the guides providing everything from happy hour to delicious meals for the week all one needs to do is breath in the fresh air and smile into the sunshine.
When is the best time to kayak the Sea of Cortez? During the months of October and November the waters are bath tub warm and the day time temperatures less sizzling than those of the summer months. Should you want to witness the migration of the Pacific Gray whales on the Pacific Ocean side of the Baja peninsula then late January to mid March are best.
More information about kayaking in the Sea of Cortez can be found here.
By Sue & Dave Slaght at Travel Tails of Life
Dog sledding in Canada
There’s no more unique way to explore Canada’s backcountry than through dog sledding. You can find dog sledding tours all around Canada, from British Columbia and the Yukon to Alberta and Ontario.I booked a trip just outside Whistler, where we took the winding paths through the old-growth forest of the Callaghan Valley. Upon arriving at the camp, my guide gave me a brief introduction to dog sledding, and introduced me to the dogs on our team.
The dogs barked in excitement, but once the sled pulled away, all was quiet apart from the crackling snow underneath the sled. I relaxed, wrapped in a cosy blanket, while the eager dogs pulled the sled forward. After a short break, I could mush my own dog team. The main tasks consisted of slowing down the sled when the dogs were running too fast, and helping them reach the top of small hills when they were struggling. As I settled back under my comfy blanket, I marvelled at the winter wonderland around me, as we made our way through the scenic forest trails back to the camp.
You can book dog sledding tours from December to March. I recommend wearing base layers to keep warm. If you want to mush, wear high snow boots or snow gaiters to keep the snow out of your shoes… and above all, don’t forget to bring your camera!
By Lies Veldeman at http://www.nonstopdestination.com
Kayaking at Milford Sound, New Zealand
‘Kayaking, Milford Sound is one of those experiences you will never forget. Paddling in water so deep it is black, snuggled up against cliffs 2000 metres high, how could you not forget such beauty! While visiting Milford Sound within Fiordland, New Zealand, there are a variety of options to explore its awe. You can either kayak, take a large boat or fly over the sound. My preference was naturally kayaking for a variety of reasons. Kayaking is an experience, and a 6 hour one at that, while a boat and plane are much much shorter, which let’s be honest doesn’t take in the sounds full beauty. Also, the small personalised tour that is kayaking is just what is required when trying to take in your surroundings. Finally, it is also the most eco-friendly option and the one where you are closest to nature. To paddle and get up close and personal with seals and edge your way into a waterfall is undoubtedly something special! I conquered the kayaking trip in the Summer month of January in New Zealand and was lucky enough to witness the sound in full sun. A rarity in New Zealand and I highly suggest experiencing this tour during the summer months for the best views, experiences and enjoyment that Milford Sound has to offer.’
The Traveller’s Guide By #ljojlo – http://www.hashtagljojlo.com/category/oceania/new-Zealand
Hiking the Andean Highlands
Ecuador may best be known for the Galapagos and the Amazon but any adventure traveler also needs to put the Andean Highlands on their list. Located about an hour south of the the colonial capital of Quito, Cotopaxi National Park with an elevation of 19,000 feet is a popular destination for both daytrippers and hardcore mountaineers alike. If summiting the snow capped semi-dormant volcano is a bit too technical there are hikes of varying difficulties among the regions seven dormant volcanoes. While here make sure to don a pair of llama chaps and explore the Paramo grasslands on horseback with a chagra,one of Ecuador’s storied highland cowboys.
By Brianna Simmons at http://casualtravelist.com
Mountain Biking in Bulgaria
Bulgaria is full of beautiful mountains giving travellers many opportunities for hiking, trekking, climbing or… mountain biking. There is the Balkan mountain, which gave the name of the peninsula, and Rila, which is the highest one on the Balkans in Bulgaria.
But Rhodope mountains are especially generous on gorgeous views, admirable landscapes and adventure opportunities. Our 2-day mountain biking trip was all we needed to realize how fascinating the Bulgarian nature is.
We had the chance to ride by several unspoiled villages and even to reach the highest one in the country – Ortsevo. But the best thing about going in the Bulgarian Rhodope mountains is that you can stumble upon a hot mineral spring in almost every corner. A perfect ending of every adventure! The best time to go on a mountain biking trip in Bulgaria is in May or September. I recommend hiring a local guide who is familiar with these parts of the country.
Mountain biking is good not only for sightseeing and exploring nature but is also good for the body. Moreover, when you ride down some hills you get the adrenaline going on so fast, it makes you wonder how you’re not doing this every day.
By Maria Stoyanova with www.travellingbuzz.com
Hiking through the Old Man of Storr in Scotland
The Old Man of Storr on the Isle of Skye is one of the most beautiful and rewarding hiking tracks in Scotland. Skye is known for its rugged beauty and the Old Man of Storr is the perfect example. The Old Man is in the north of Skye and sits out on the edge of the Trotternish Ridge. The Old Man can be seen from miles around; this beautiful pinnacle that was created by an ancient landslide.
This hike can be completed at all times of the year but it can get quite muddy at the bottom and at the very top. Also, remember this is Scotland- it rains a lot! This means that the very top section can also be very slippery. This hike is 7 out of 10 in the difficulty scale with an average of 1 hour and 15 minutes (with no breaks) to complete. I took a bit longer but it was totally worth it.
The hike is a 3.8km with a start and return point at the same spot. There is a slight walk up hill before you get to the hike itself which has four different stages. The foot of the Old Man is covered in big rocks and it is often a scramble to get to the top (sometimes hands are required!). The Old Man of Storr is one of the most breathtaking hikes I have ever been on and I highly recommend for anyone to give it a go!
By Helena with Through an Aussies Eyes http://www.throughanaussieseyes.com/searching-skye/
Wild camping in the Amazon Rainforest
The Amazon is a dream destination for many travelers. The size and diversity of this enormous jungle appears as an almost mythical image in people’s minds. Nevertheless, visiting the Amazon Rainforest often turns out to be a disappointment for many who expect to see wildlife on every corner. Instead, one should focus on listening to the sound and breathing in the smell of the dense jungle.
For ourselves the best way to absorb the feeling of the Amazon was to go deep into the jungle and spend a night there camping in the open. We did that close to Santarém in the Tapajós National Forest, and it was one of the most memorable experiences we have ever had. We hired a guide (Gil Serique) in the nearby city of Santarém, and we walked with him for a few hours in the jungle, built a shelter for ourselves and hanged our hammocks between trees to spend the night in the rainforest. When the night came and our fire burned out, the jungle seemed to wake up and we were listening to the sounds of it for hours. It was both scary (especially when howler monkeys started hurling like crazy) and absolutely amazing. The best time of the year for this adventure is in May-June, the final months of the rainy season, when it does not rain too much, but the water level is the highest, and part of the forest is flooded. Hence, after spending a night in the jungle you can take a boat with a guide, who will take you to spot wildlife in the flooded forest, where chances of seeing lots of animals is higher than in the dry season.
Check out Gabor Kovac’s experience of the Amazon http://www.surfingtheplanet.com/en/tour-in-the-amazon-rainforest-in-santarem/
Hiking the Everest Trails in Nepal
Hiking along Nepal’s Everest Trails to Everest Base Camp and having the opportunity to see the World’s tallest mountain up close is at the top of many adventurers’ bucket lists. This trip of a lifetime not only rewards you with some of the World’s most spectacular mountain scenery, but also provides a fascinating glimpse into Sherpa life and culture. The trails take you past prayer wheels and prayer flags, and you have the opportunity to call in at monasteries and admire stupas along the trail. But these rewards come at a price and the hike to Everest Base Camp (at an altitude of 5,545m) is a strenuous adventure. There are long days trekking at high altitude, and the trail takes you over high passes and along precarious rope bridges, so make sure you are in good health and well prepared.
The best time to hike to Everest Base Camp is from March to May and from September to November, when the weather is warmer and you have a good chance of clear vistas. The return trek from Lukla (where you fly in from Kathmandu) to Everest Base Camp takes 12-13 days return, including acclimatization days. If you don’t have time to do the full Everest Base Camp trek, a shorter trek to Ama Dablam Base Camp, at an altitude of 4,570m is possible as a 9-day trek. This still gives you the incredible mountain views, but makes it possible as a 2-week holiday from work, including transfers through Kathmandu.
By Marianne Rogerson at http://www.mumonthemove.com/
Kayaking Expedition from Coron to El Nido, Philippines
Hiking up an active Volcano at Stromboli in Italy
“While Italy is synonymous with pizza, pasta and Prosecco, it’s also home to three active volcanoes. Mt. Etna and Stromboli has been in continuous states of eruption and Stromboli has been in continuous eruption for over 2000 years. There aren’t many places in the world that you can get up close to spewing molten lava, but Stromboli is one of them. Park rangers ensure safety and take groups of adventurous hikers up the volcano for a nighttime show unlike any other on earth. It’s a fairly challenging trek that does require a pretty good fitness level, but you’ll definitely forget that your legs feel like jello as you watch red hot magma shoot out of the cone of Stromboli like fireworks on the Fourth of July. Just don’t forget to carry a tripod because it’s nearly impossible to capture the action with a camera on manual settings and with a tripod.”
Check out Jennifer Dombrowski’s Stromboli post here http://luxeadventuretraveler.com/hiking-stromboli/
Bungee jumping at Bloukrans bridge, South Africa
Cycling from Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
Vietnam is the perfect country for a cycling adventure. With two main cities sitting on either end of the country, Hanoi in the north and Ho Chi Minh City in the south, you can easily ride between the two, taking in the main sights as you go, and leaving you with just one big decision – which route to take. For that decision, there’s only two main roads that run the length of the country, each providing a different kind of adventure and challenge. The Ho Chi Minh Highway is physically more difficult with many a hill and a greater distance between possible places to rest, but it does provide some of the best views you’ll see in the country. Alternatively, Highway One runs along the coast, passing through the majority of the main destinations and generally providing for an easier ride but proving more of a challenge when you fight for space among the other vehicles.
With either route, a cyclist will cover about 2,000km, with the best time to take it on being between February to May, when the country as a whole sees good weather. All you’ll need to take with you will be your bike (you can buy one there if necessary), a phone to navigate and minimal clothing (it’s almost always hot). You’ll have no troubles cycling this country!
Swimming above Victoria Falls
A drop of water splashes into my eyes, and I wipe it away with a shaking hand. Stepping into the churning water at the top of Victoria Falls is one of the toughest challenges I’ve faced, not because it’s difficult but because it’s terrifying. Finally I put a leg in then slide in all the way and swim my way to very edge of the falls. Looking down is heart-stopping but exhilarating. At twice the height of Niagara Falls, the magnificent Victoria Falls pours over the border of Zambia and must be every bit as awe-inspiring as it was when David Livingstone first gazed upon it in 1855. Taking a trip to Devil’s Pool is as close as you’ll get to becoming one with the falls. A submerged rock ledge keeps adventurous travelers from catapulting over the top, while a guide is there to hang onto for the most fearful. (That would be me.) A Devil’s Pool dip can only be done during dry season, usually from late August to early January, and must only be done with a guide. I went with Tongabezi Tours, which does 5 trips to Livingstone Island every day, and combined it with a visit to Livingstone Island.
Check out WanderingCarol.com and her post – A Dip in Devil’s Pool here http://wanderingcarol. com/victoria-falls-devils- pool-extreme-adventure- vacations
Horseback riding in Lake Louise, Alberta
A trip to Lake Louise in Alberta, Canada is always a wonderful experience but seeing the area on horseback will make your visit even more memorable. The horseback ride to the Plain of Six Glaciers Tea House has been named a Canadian Signature Experience and will have you trotting past rocky mountains, multiple glaciers, piles of moraine and a glistening turquoise lake. The intended destination is a tea house at 7000 ft, built by Swiss mountain guides in 1924. It’s the perfect place to stretch your legs, enjoy a homemade snack or small meal and savour the view.
The guided trail rides run from mid/late June until mid-October (weather dependent). Plan to spend about four hours riding to the tea house and back again to the stables near the parking lot at Lake Louise. If you’ve never ridden a horse before no worries! You’ll be given some instructions on how to use the reigns and direct the horse where you want it to go. The horse I rode was well trained, following the guide was no problem. We recommend doing the trail ride in September when there are fewer tourists, generally mild weather and golden fall foliage.
By Rhonda Krause with Travel Yes Please, read more about her glacier horse adventure post:
Rafting the San Juan river in Utah
One of the most memorable experiences we’ve ever had was rafting the San Juan River out of Bluff, Utah with Wild River Expeditions. Southern Utah delivers one stunning landscape after another. The stretch of river we covered in our eight-hour journey took us through rock canyon walls over 300 million years old. We made two stops at ancestral Pueblo Indian sites: Butler Wash, where we viewed petroglyphs (rock art) carved by Basket Maker II people over 1,500 hundred years ago, and River House, with cliff dwellings dating to 900AD. It was the end of October and we had the river to ourselves except for a lone man in a canoe and some wildlife including a golden eagle and a great blue heron. The water, though rated Class 2 and Class 3 was fairly smooth and we motored most of the way. The beauty of the river, combined with the archeological sites, the geology and a fun and knowledgeable guide made our eight hours on the river fly by. There wasn’t a boring moment. Want fast rapids? Go in May when the water is at its fastest. You’ll be rowing and not motoring. For more adventurous folks Wild Rivers offers multi-day excursions. The season on the river runs from April through October.
Billie Frank with Santa Fe Travelers
While the experience is up there in expense, expeditions are available to the average person seeking an exceptional adventure, and travel here is something that only a select few can say they have achieved.
100 years ago no more than a handful of people had journeyed to Antarctica, however today around 30,000 travelers visit Antarctica every year. Cruises leave from Punta Arenas in Chile or Ushuaia in Argentina and set off for the South Shetland Islands, stopping at several research stations while sailing along the Antarctic Peninsular. You will experience spectacular glacial lagoons, dramatic icebergs, and incredible wildlife like breaching whales, penguin colonies, and deep-diving seals.
Tip: Make sure you book a cruise which includes land based excursions. International regulations limit the number of people allowed on land at any one time, so large cruise ships with 500 passengers generally offer a “look but not touch” experience. Booking with a cruise company who limits their passengers to around the 110 mark (we booked with Chimu Adventures) means the opportunity to step out off the boat for hikes through ice fields, kayaking adventures, and camping overnight on the most remote continent in the world!
By: Megan and Mike Jerrard from Mapping Megan
Sailing a small cruise ship through Alaska
Hiking and canyoning in Austria
Hiking through Zion National Park
Zion National Park always seems to inspire me any time of the year. I tend to go back in spring and late fall when the crush of visiters tend to be not as busy as the peak seasons and you can have more access to some of the popular to not so busy trails throughout the park. You can lose with any of the trails you choose to go on, they are all spectacular and range from flat and easy to more challenging and all day trips. For a quick overview of the park and some of the more popular trails in the canyon, check out my recent post here covering the hiking trails of Zion National Park.
By Noel Morata of Travel Photo Discovery
Arkaroola Adventure in Australia
If you’re up for a uniquely Australian experience head right off the tourist trail and into the remote Outback wilderness with some of the most spectacular scenery – and adventure – you’ll find down under! Arkaroola Wilderness Resort, 725 km (450 miles) north of South Australia’s capital city Adelaide, is an adult adventure-land. Start your adventure with an 8 hour plus road trip from Adelaide to Arkaroola – the last 125 km (77 miles) from Copley, the nearest town to Arkaroola, leaves the bitumen behind. Hire a 4WD from the Copley Caravan Park if you don’t have one – you’ll need it for the next stage of your adventure!
Test your skills on one (or more) of the several challenging 4WD tracks through largely unexplored mountain ranges that leave from the Arkaroola Tourist Village – where mending flat tyres is a specialty! You’ll find steep and winding tracks plunging down sheer mountainsides into deep gorges and chasms, with multiple creek crossings and rugged rocks.
Or take a hike through the amazing ancient landscapes of the Flinders Ranges – with geological oddities, wildlife and stunning vistas – into wilderness saved from mining by Arkaroola’s dedicated owners and staff. But for the best adventure of all, outsource the driving and take Arkaroola’s signature Ridge-top Tour. It’s a bone-shaking, teeth-rattling four hour return trip over roads so rugged, steep and winding it takes all the driver’s skill to keep on the track through some of the most remote and spectacular Outback country in OZ. It’s not just a tour – it’s a workout too because it’s not always easy to keep your seat in the purpose built 4WD tour vehicle – so you’ll get to know your travelling companions REALLY well!
The panoramic view from Sillers lookout is wild Australia at its absolute best – an outstanding outback ecotourism experience of unspoiled wilderness, geological fantasy and heart-stopping adventure rolled into one amazing package. Don’t miss it!
By Marion Halliday with www.redzaustralia.com
Trekking the Simien Mountains National Park
The Simien mountains, also known as the roof top of Africa is one of the most scenic regions of Ethiopia. The region is so unique that this UNESCO World Heritage Site was one of the first sites in the world to be inscribed with this distinction. The park includes Ras Dashen the highest peak in Ethiopia at 4,550 m (14,930 ft). Independent travel is possible although all hikers are required to have an armed scout as part of their group. Although these days you are not going to encounter anything that would require his services. Hikers can also hire cooks, mules, guides, and other support staff for their treks as well. Throughout the park there is wonderful flora and fauna many of which can be found nowhere else in the world. Among endemic wildlife are the Gelada Baboons, Walia Ibex, and the elusive Ethiopian Wolf. Trekking is available all year but the best times to go are from October through December after the rainy season for good weather and green landscapes. Of note is that while the days are warm, nights on the mountains are very cold. The majority of the campsites on the mountains are also about 3000m so hikers should be prepared in case of altitude sickness.
By Anwar of BeyondMyFrontDoor.com
I hope that these adventure and eco experiences are whetting your appetite to do more traveling in 2017 and to explore the world. If you enjoyed this post on Adventure and Eco travel for 2017, could you please share it with any of the social media buttons located around the post.