Adventurous pursuits abound in unlikely destinations

Beach holidays are amazing but there’s nothing that quite gets the blood pumping like a vacation steeped in action. From places on the rebound to countries where events and political changes are making it more accessible to visit, these are the 10 stops that should be on intrepid explorers’ bucket lists.

1 Japan

Already embracing its moment in the sun, Japan will play host to the Rugby World Cup in 2019 and the Olympics in 2020. Yet, the country has so much more to offer than judo, sushi and Hello Kitty. Travel off the tourist trail to Tottori for sandboarding and the Sand Museum that displays large sand sculptures from global artists, or to Hagi, where Akiyoshidai Quasi-National Park and Mount Kasayama offer hiking trails and a look inside a small volcano.

2 Uzbekistan

With relaxed visa entry requirements for 51 countries, Uzbekistan has seen a 72% increase in travellers over the past five years. Revel in the diverse culture of ancient Bukhara, stay over in a desert yurt and ride camels in Samarkand.

3 Senegal

West Africa is slowly recovering from a lapse in tourism and Senegal offers stunning landscapes that are seldom explored. At Djoudj National Bird Sanctuary, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, there are more than 400 species of birds to keep bird lovers on their toes. A visit to the local Wolof village in Kaolack, the busy commercial centre for trade, also provides insight into the daily lives of the Sengalese tribes.

4 Taiwan

Asia’s popularity continues its ascent, however, avoid the crowds by heading to the lesser-visited and underrated Taiwan. Experience the country’s wildlife on a night hike, jump off a cliff in Taroko or get to know the culture. Travelling foodies will be especially enamoured as the New York Times’ recent proclamation of Taiwan as ‘Asia’s most food-obsessed country’ is right on the mark.

5 Northern Sri Lanka

Often associated to the sport of cricket due to its excellent team and cricket-loving nation, Sri Lanka is an adventurer’s dream destination. Offering everything from cycling and surfing to caving and sailing, visitors to its shores are encouraged to trek to its lesser-travelled north coast, a region that was cut off from tourism for decades due to civil war. 

6 Jordan

With its neighbor Egypt’s return to stability, Jordan is an adventure waiting to happen. Archeological treasures abound but its standout moments include a 4×4 drive in Wadi Rum, hiking in Dana Nature Reserve and floating in the Dead Sea.

7 Iceland

The final season of Game of Thrones will once again throw Iceland into the spotlight. Ditch the main tourist sites, however, and explore Reykjavik on bicycle, practice yoga in Þingvellir National Park or visit the natural pools and hot springs at the Geysir Hot Springs and Gullfoss Waterfall.

8 Ethiopia

Travel on the African continent is becoming more prevalent and Ethiopia will soon lead the way. With its new peace accord with neighbour Eritrea and a cabinet comprising 50 percent females, Ethiopia is more than visits to local villages and fishing tours – but it’s a good place to start!

9 Italy

Although Italy is often on must-visit lists for travellers, 2019 marks the 500th anniversary of artist Leonardo da Vinci, which means celebrations throughout the country shaped like a boot. Skip the hot spots and head for coastal Tuscany where bike rides, snorkelling and cooking classes are the order of the day.

10 Patagonia

South American travel has long been helmed for its adventure and Patagonia, Argentina, is made for outdoor devotees. Embark on the 130-kilometre Torres del Paine circuit, known as the O Circuit, where overnight stays at the Grey Lake and Grey Glacier, treks through tall forests and swims in the river leading to Lake Dickson will get pulses racing.

For more information and packages on these destinations, visit G Adventures or call the South African G Adventures representative, Development Promotions, on 011 463 1147.