The adventure travel bucket list

Drop everything! These 10 experiences are game-changers

Ever thought about jacking it all in and setting yourself a globetrotting series of adventure challenges? Us too, so we’ve compiled a list of 10 things that need to go right to the top of your list.

From jumping out of helicopters and cycling down mountains, to paddling through frozen waters, this is the only bucket list you need – just make sure you leave your fear and inhibitions at home…

Cross the Darien Gap (Panama)

Not so long ago, if you’d told someone you were thinking of crossing the fearsome Darién Gap – the harsh, swampy region in Panama that lies between Central and South America – they’d have laughed their heads off. Until 1960, no one had done it at all, and even now it’s largely uncharted territory. If you’re adventurous enough, though, you can do it – thrill-seeking outfit Secret Compass will take you right into the centre of this dense, unforgiving jungle. And hopefully not leave you there to fend for yourself…

Summit a Himalayan mountain (Mera, Nepal)

Want to tell everyone you know that you’ve summitted a Himalayan peak? Well, there’s an obvious barrier to that – unless you’re happy to lie (and have Photoshop skills to back it up) you’ll have to actually climb one. In which case, let us introduce you to Mera – a 6,476m-high proper Nepalese mountain that you can climb without technical expertise. So you can hit the top, grab a selfie with Everest and Lhotse in the background and return a Himalayan hero.

Eat your heart out Sir Edmund Hillary!

Sail around the world

Surely you need to be the the kind of person who practically grew up in the water and has barnacle-encrusted skin to sail around the world, don’t you? Nope. The Clipper Round The World Race enables total novices (with the help of seasoned skippers, of course) to crew aboard a 70ft racing yacht, all the way around the world. The next edition sets off for London later this year, and you can stick along for the whole trip or take the ‘easy’ route and hop off when the first leg finishes in Rio de Janeiro, 40,000 nautical miles later.

Walk from coast to coast (UK)

If even the idea of walking to the shops instead of driving makes you sweat, look away now. First described by the legendary Alfred Wainwright, the classic 192-mile trek from the northwest coast to the northeast coast of England, via the Lake District, Yorkshire Dales and North York Moors, is as brutally tough as it is rewarding. Unless it rains, in which case your ‘reward’ will be soaking clothes, seriously dampened spirits and probably a cold – but at least you’ll be able to say you’ve done it.

Ski the world’s maddest downhill race (Murren, Switzerland)

Created by a bunch of English headcases in 1928, the Inferno, in the Swiss ski resort of Murren, is the biggest and baddest amateur ski race in the world. You and 1,799 other idiots take on a perilously fast and steep 14.9km course that will sap your legs, test your skills (or lack thereof) and, if you’re half-decent, take you about 45 minutes. It’ll take the winner more like 15 – if that happens to be you, put the kettle on and have a cuppa ready for when we limp over the line, will you?

Heli bike in New Zealand (Queenstown)

We’re so over jumping out of a helicopter on skis – these days, it’s all about heli-biking, and there are few places on earth that beat New Zealand for doing just that. From Queenstown you can take a chopper to several spectacular peaks, where you’ll have wild descents that feel like they go on for days all to yourself, along with views of Wanaka and Queenstown that will blow your mind. It’s not being lazy, by the way – it’s being smart. That’s what we’re going with, anyway.

Climb a volcano (Eyjafjallajökull, Iceland)

It’s hard to beat Iceland for adventure, thanks to a potent combination of mountains, ice-blue lagoons, bubbling hot springs and a general air of craziness. Plus, there are volcanoes, and better still you can hike up them. On foot, you can skirt around the craters of Eyjafjallajökull (yep, that’s the volcano that erupted in 2010 and caused worldwide air traffic mayhem), spotting lava streams as you go. If you hear a bang, run for it…

Dive in a cave (Yucatán peninsula, Mexico)

If the idea of diving in a cave sounds sends shivers down your spine, Mexico’s spectacular cenotes might change your mind. These natural sinkholes – you’ll find plenty on Mexico’s Yucatán peninsula – are often filled with crystal-clear water and otherworldly rock formations, which is why scuba divers love to explore caves so deep and mysterious that the Mayans believed they were the entrance to the underworld.

It was a bigger puddle than Dave had originally anticipated...

Kayak in Antarctica

As selfies go, one of you kicking back in a kayak with a massive iceberg behind you has got to be tough to beat, and nowhere do bergs and boats come together as photogenically as in Antarctica. Look for an expedition with guaranteed kayaking, dress up in your warmest waterproofs, and pray really hard that a giant whale doesn’t decide to breach in the exact place you’re currently paddling. Because that would ruin the selfie, obviously.

Climb a frozen waterfall (Whistler, Canada)

Unless you happen to be a salmon, the only way you’re going to be going up a waterfall any time soon is if it’s frozen – which itself isn’t exactly a walk in the park. The Canadian winter resort of Whistler is one of the best places in the world to have a go at ice-climbing your way up a frozen waterfall, and incredibly they’ll even let you go if you’re a total novice. We’ll stick to putting ice in our G&Ts rather than climbing it, thanks.

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