Outdoors + Adventure

The 7 Adventure Vacations You Need to Take in Your Lifetime

If beach vacations no longer hold any allure, consider hair-raising adventure vacations: outdoorsy trips so eye-popping you’ll be thinking about them for years to come. These seven adventures are what dreams are made of—and since many are run by luxury tour operators, you don’t have to be a daredevil to go.

See recent posts by Kathryn O'Shea-Evans

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Spot Gorillas in Uganda

It’s very possible to get a smidge of primatologist Jane Goodall’s experience without making gorillas your life’s work. On Abercrombie & Kent’s 5-day Tailor-Made Uganda: Bwindi Impenetrable Forest journey, you’ll pick your adventure pleasure, whether you want to penetrate the lush-beyond-belief Bwindi “Impenetrable” Forest National Park in search of its resident tribes of gorillas, or tour the children’s wing at the local community hospital with A&K Philanthropy. When you see your first gorilla, remember it’s not King Kong: gorillas are typically sweet-tempered, even a bit bashful.

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Courtesy of Cox & Kings


Explore the Egyptian Pyramids

A bucket list mainstay for good reason, Egypt’s pyramids are an awe-inspiring sight—all 118 (and counting) of them. But how do you know which ones are truly worth your precious vacation time? Book an expertly curated tour—they’ve done the homework for you. Our pick: Cox & Kings’ 9-day Egypt: Past & Present, which combines antiquarian must-sees (trekking through Luxor Temple—built in 1400 BCE) and comparatively modern thrills, like flexing your shopping muscle within the teeming courtyards of Khan el-Khalili in Cairo.

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Rooms Hotel Kazbegi by Design Hotels


Ski in Georgia (the Country, not the State)

Eastern Europe’s relatively undiscovered answer to Colorado is an insider-favorite with professional skiers who are willing to tote their gear all the way there for its jagged mountain peaks, idyllic medieval towns. and cave monastery. Its hair-raising ski slopes recently went viral when a lift went haywire (no one was seriously injured), but Gudauri ski resort is still a major lure, thanks to its sky-high lifts (more than 10,000 feet). A bonus you won’t find in the states: you can have a nearly Aman-like hotel stay for much, much less ($185 a night) at Rooms Hotel Kazbegi, where floor-to-ceiling glass walls peep out on Georgia’s jagged mountain peaks.

RELATED: JS Editors’ Favorite Hotel Deals of the Week

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Three Camel Lodge


Sleep in a Ger in Mongolia

Genghis Khan was here. That’s the feeling you get when you’re bounding over the Mongolian steppe on horseback with Nomadic Expeditions’ 12-day Classic Mongolian Odyssey. Among the only-in-Mongolia exploits you’ll have here is hiking in search of endangered musk deer in Gun Galuut Nature Reserve, riding Bactrian camels over Moltsog Els sand dunes, and sleeping under a blanket of twinkling stars in a latticed wood, felt and canvas ger (yurt) at Three Camel Lodge.

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Courtesy of Lisbet S. Norris


Go Mushing in Alaska

You could train for years and years to attempt to race in the Iditarod, the most famous dog mushing challenge on Earth. But we recommend you simply book a tour with Arctic Dog Adventure Co., which allows you to mush with purebred Siberian Huskies by night, while chasing the otherworldly glow of aurora borealis. Many opt for a quick four to six hour tour, but we recommend the 6-day Denali Dream Expedition: you can’t travel all the way to America’s largest state without seeing America’s largest mountain (a whopping 20,310 feet high).

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Foot Trails, courtesy of Alison Howell


Hike Across England

If your favorite part of Downton Abbey wasn’t the dramatic, Edwardian cliffhangers, but rather the walks over lush green fields, a trip across England on foot is the adventure for you. Foot Trails’ English Country Houses and Gardens tour will have you meandering leafy paths to Somerset estates (stopping frequently for shortbread and tea, obviously, and to overnight at their cherry-picked B&Bs). Their other new itinerary—Stonehenge, Bath & Wiltshire—will have you tip-toeing up to two iconic UNESCO World Heritage sites (Bath and Stonehenge) as people did centuries ago—albeit with better footwear.

RELATED: 8 Romantic Weekend Breaks to Take in the U.K.

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Lindblad Expeditions, courtesy of Sven-Olof Lindblad

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Lindblad Expeditions, courtesy of Ralph Lee Hopkins / Michael S. Nolan


Cruise for Boobies in the Galapagos

Of the multitude of Galapagan cruise options, National Geographic Expeditions may be the most academic—but it may also be the most fun. Yes, you’ll undoubtedly spot blue footed boobies, but you’ll also likely kayak alongside tortoises older than you are, snorkel with penguins and sea lions, and hike across volcanoes on a myriad of atolls. Oh, and did we mention expert nature photographers are aboard to give shutterbugs advice? Book now, before our entire staff beats you to it.

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