20 must-try-at-least-once adventures

It’s time to dust off that wanderlist and prioritise those adventures you’ve always dreamed of…

The concept of revenge travel is slowly picking up steam, as global travellers collectively start to regain their travel confidence. Delayed or not, revenge is definitely on the mind, and on the cards, for most travel-deprived adventure seekers.

Where will you go first? How will you reclaim your freedom? Some are opting for guilt-free R&R on remote tropical islands, while others are wasting no time and returning to travel with an adrenaline-filled, bucket-list bang. From lifelong dreams of going on safari or trekking through the Amazon, to exploring Machu Picchu or stepping off the front steps of a Maldivian overwater bungalow into the deep blue, travel addicts are planning grand, over-the-top escapes from reality to make up for lost (travel) time.

Whether you’re already happily vaccicationing or you’re still waiting things out, it’s time to dust off that wanderlist and prioritise those once in a lifetime (or more than once) adventures you’ve always longed to experience. Dream big, you’ve certainly earned it.

1. Climb a giant sand dune

The towering dunes of the ethereal Namib Desert are world-famous for climbing. The ascent, though not as easy as it looks, is immensely rewarding, and the descent, whether you’re young or young at heart, is always met with childlike enthusiasm.

A word to the wise for those opting to climb the ever-popular Big Daddy and descend into the haunting Deadvlei below. Although it does mean an extra early, pre-sunrise start, be sure to get there right as the park opens to (1) avoid the crowds and (2) avoid the midday heat. You won’t regret it … and, you’ll return to the lodge just in time for a leisurely lunch and an indulgent afternoon by your private pool.

Travel tip: for &Beyond Sossusvlei Desert Lodge guests seeking a quieter, more exclusive climb at their own pace, and on their own schedule, can avoid the crowds and have a mighty star dune entirely to themselves. Pacing steadily along the undulating crest of this lesser-known (but equally picturesque) dune, all the way to the top without another person in sight, is a bucket list moment in itself.

2. Cruise the Amazon

Imagine floating peacefully, binoculars in hand, along the world’s largest river by volume, as it slowly winds its way through the world’s largest tropical rainforest. Wildlife and nature enthusiasts can explore the breathtaking biodiversity of the Peruvian Amazon, in style and luxury, aboard the Aqua Nera rainforest cruise.

4. Glide in a mokoro

The Okavango Delta is an enchanting maze of sparkling lagoons, meandering waterways and overgrown islands teeming with wildlife. The best and most peaceful—not to mention memorable—way to experience it is by mokoro (dugout canoe). Gently glide past delicate waterlilies, colourful reed frogs and other curious creatures as the evocative cries of the fish eagle echo in the distance.

5. Glimpse a snow leopard

Whether you’re lucky enough to spot the mysterious mountain ghost or not, therein lies the great adventure. Ascend into the lofty, snow-capped reaches of the Himalayas for a blissfully remote and culturally soulful step back in time with the gentle-natured Ladakhi people.

6. Go heli-skiing or boarding

Combine the excitement of a scenic helicopter flip with the sheer thrill of skiing (or snowboarding) down the slopes of an active volcano in Chile. The skiing can be replaced with heli-biking or heli-fishing—all three adventures guarantee adrenaline and jaw-dropping views.

7. Hop on a dogsled

Throw on some warm winter woollies, sit back and enjoy the ride as an energetic pack of hefty huskies whisks you through the snowy, forested trails of an active volcano. This is a truly unique and adventurous way to explore the crisp beauty of Chile’s winter wonderland.

 

8. Indulge in a rose petal dinner and bubblebath

Romance is not dead and &Beyond Ngorongoro Crater Lodge is living proof. Dramatically perched on the very edge of the world’s largest intact caldera, the views from this ultra-romantic, ‘Maasai meets Versailles’ lodge are spellbinding.

From the luxury suites to the quirky guest areas, there are long-stemmed roses everywhere, but the real pièce de résistance is the rose petal dinner (and bath). A carpet of velvety petals surround an elegant, candlelit table-for-two in the privacy of one’s own suite. This silky trail of petals also leads to an indulgent rose-petalled bubblebath, complete with sparkling champagne. The perfect nightcap.

9. Jump with Maasai warriors

Certainly not to be out-jumped, Kenya and Tanzania’s shukka-clad Maasai warriors put on a mesmerising display of dominance with their world-famous adumu or traditional jumping dance. Amidst haunting chants and (depending on the location and time of day) blazing torches, the warriors encourage onlookers to join in and test their jumping skills.

10. Mingle with meerkats

Mingle with the world-famous meerkats of the Kalahari, in both Botswana and South Africa. Observe habituated gangs of these curious and often comical creatures as they forage, play and forever keep a watchful eye on their surroundings. Definitely one for the bucket list.

11. Ride horses into the ocean

Just off the tropical shores of Mozambique is the laidback beach paradise of &Beyond Benguerra Island, where horse-lovers can ride bareback into the ocean. Enjoy a quick swim or combine it with a longer, more energetic trail ride around the island. Either way, while the horses conclude their swim with a frolic on the sand, riders, too, can celebrate with cocktails at the beachfront dhow bar.

12. Sail in a traditional dhow

Toast the end of a perfect beach day in paradise with a sunset cruise aboard a traditional dhow in Zanzibar or Mozambique (complete with delicious canapés and sparkling wine, of course).

13. Set foot on a floating island

High in the Andean reaches of Peru’s Lake Titicaca are the famous floating islands of Uros. Drift in a balsa (traditional handmade reed boat) to one of the fascinating floating islands.

14. Spend a night in a treehouse

Nostalgic and undeniably romantic, an unforgettable night in a treehouse is a bucket list must. Even more exhilarating, experience a sleepout under the stars in a Big Five reserve.

16. Swim with dolphins

Cast away on &Beyond Mnemba Island, an exclusive private island and barefoot beach paradise off the shores of Zanzibar, and delve into its kaleidoscopic coral atoll. Enjoy world-class diving, leisurely snorkelling, peaceful SUPing or sea kayaking, and—a definite highlight—an unforgettable swim in the crystal clear water amidst a circling pod of curious dolphins.

18. Waddle with penguins

The loveable penguins of Cape Town’s Boulders Beach are so popular they even have their own series on Netflix (Penguin Town). This secluded, hidden gem of a beach, which is sheltered by huge granite rocks, provides the ideal nesting site for these flightless birds. An absolute must for the bucket list, this is one of the only places in the world where nature lovers can get up close and personal with the endangered African penguin.

19. Walk alongside an endangered pangolin

The pangolin conservation experience belongs—hand down—at the top of the wanderlist. Even some of the most experienced guides and seasoned safari-goers have never laid eyes on a pangolin (the world’s most trafficked mammal). This is a once in a lifetime opportunity to witness this endangered creature, in the wild, in all of its scaled glory.

20. Watch turtle hatchlings brave it to sea

From birth right through to adulthood, the endangered green sea turtle is faced with constant adversity. Watching these giants lay their eggs under the moonlight and seeing hatchlings emerge from their nests are both wow moments that can be experienced on &Beyond Mnemba Island and at Sodwana Bay (just outside Phinda Private Game Reserve).

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