Not everyone’s idea of a great holiday involves sitting on a beach with a good book. In fact, for some it’s not a real break unless you’ve put yourself to the test and got out of your comfort zone. That’s why we divide our adventures into four categories: easy, moderate, challenging and tough. You don't have to push yourself to the limits, but adventure activities are a great way to shake things up a bit.
Of these outdoor adventures, the challenging category contains some of our favourites. They’ll get you unplugged and out into wild and remote places few others get to experience. You’ll have to step up, and you’ll probably wish you’d trained a little more than you did, but they’re all within reach of anyone with a good fitness, the right attitude, and a taste for adventure.
So if you’re looking for a real challenge to get your teeth into, here are twelve adventures that have got us dreaming at HQ.
1. Self-Powered 100km Kayaking Adventure in Greenland
‘One of the Top Life-Changing Adventures for 2019’ according to the Telegraph, this adventure will be one to tell your grandkids. Travel under your own speed, kayaking across one of the most remote and beautiful landscapes on earth, witnessing the Qaleralig Fjord and the coastline of the Nuulussuaq Peninsula along the way. You’ll explore dramatic fjords and icebergs, paddle up to towering glaciers, hike on an ancient ice cap and camp in possibly the most remote place you’ll ever get to lay your head.
Fitness Level: Testing – you might want to work on your upper body strength and people with back problems should give it a miss. You’ll be kayaking for up to 3 – 5 hours per day and covering distances of up to 20 km, so it’s a good idea to do some cardio and upper body exercise in the run-up to the trip. However, you do not need any prior kayaking experience for this one.
2. Trek from Croatia to Bosnia
See Bosnia and Croatia like few others do on this eight-day trek along the remote and untouched Via Dinarica trail. You’ll go from the the brilliant blues of the Adriatic Sea, through the dramatic limestone peaks, forested valleys and blue glacial lakes of the Dinaric Alps, stopping at the ancient crossroad civilisations of Mostar and Sarajevo.
Fitness Level: You’ll want good fitness and some previous hiking experience to enjoy six to seven hours hiking a day, and summiting a few peaks along the way.
3. Trek Untouched Corners of Torres Del Paine, Patagonia
Follow winding tracks to mountain miradors, take a boat to the face of the mighty Glacier Grey, explore the remote and insanely beautiful Bader valley, then camp on the shore of lovely Lake Pehoe – all in one of the world’s most spectacular National Parks.
Fitness Level: You’re out in the wild and far from civilisation, and while the trekking is not technically difficult, you are off the beaten track for 7 days and covering a good distance each day with some steep and uneven sections.
4. Kayak Norway’s Great Fjords
Unplug for a week and paddle and hike your way through some of the most scenic Norwegian fjords. At night you’ll camp near the shore or stay at a historic farm converted into a boutique hotel. The literal high point of this adventure is a hike up majestic the Galdhøpiggen (2469m), a snow-capped summit that requires the use of crampons and ropes.
Fitness Level: This is a multi-day trip with some longer days and shorter days of kayaking and hiking. Depending on the circumstances you will be paddling up to 6 hours on the longer days and with headwinds, which asks for sporty arms and a sporty mind. You do not need much experience since it is not a technically difficult trip - you will be shown how to use crampons - but you should have a good level and fitness and be sure you can sit in a kayak for quite a few hours.
5. Complete the Annapurna Sanctuary Trek, Nepal
Cross an endlessly changing Nepalese landscape of mountains, rhododendron forest, remote villages and Hindu temples, then unwind in a natural hot spring, finishing at the 4,130-metre-high Annapurna Base Camp.
Fitness Level: It wouldn’t be the Himalayas if it didn’t push you. You’ll hike between 4 to 6 hours a day, averaging around 10km per day and gradually ascend from 1050m to 4130m. While the trail is generally good, there are some more challenging uphill sections.
6. Join a 250km Expedition Through the Heart of Costa Rica
Hike and bike through cloud forest, mountain villages and virgin rainforest teeming with wildlife, before heading up and over the Continental Divide. You'll then embark on a white water rafting expedition down the Pacuare River, towards the pristine Costa Rican coast for a rest day.
Fitness Level: Let’s just say a healthy dose of determination is a must. For nine days on the trot you'll be hiking, biking or rafting. One day, you'll cycle 49 kilometres - on another you'll be rafting for 20 kilometres on a fast-flowing river. You’ll need stamina and your wits about you.
7. Summit Mount Kilimanjaro, Then Go on Safari
Spend eight days trekking through some of the most beautiful scenery on the continent, then face-off against the 5,895-metre summit of Africa’s highest mountain, Mount Kilimanjaro via the Northern Circuit. Job done, its time to relax on a 3-day safari, spotting elephants, lions and rhinos along the way.
Fitness Level: It will certainly test you, but anyone with a reasonable level of fitness should be able to claim the summit. Mount Kili is not a technical mountain, you just need to be prepared and determined. Just be wary of the high altitude, slow and steady is the name of game.
8. Salkantay Trek to Machu Picchu, Peru
Lay claim to one of National Geographic magazine’s 25 best treks in the world, as you cross cloud forest, glacial moraine, high mountain passes and mist-shrouded peaks on the way to the ultimate bucket list destination – Machu Picchu. This is the most popular alternative to the over-trodden Inca trail and widely regarded to be way more impressive.
Fitness Level: The high altitude and steep terrain can be hard going at times, but anyone with pretty good fitness and a can-do attitude shouldn’t have any problems. Expect to trek between 5 and 10 hours a day, covering more than 51km on your journey.
9. Circumnavigate Menorca by Sea Kayak
Bivouac on deserted beaches, explore hidden coves and kayak alongside white calcareous cliffs on this epic sea-kayaking adventure. You’ll navigate 210 km of Menorca’s spectacular and varying coastlines, stopping to swim in turquoise waters and rest on pristine beaches. Eight days adventuring, five days off work.
Fitness Level: You’ll need good physical fitness to be able to paddle for long distances each day. Your guide will offer paddling and safety instruction though, so while some sea kayaking experience is definitely preferred it is not essential.
10. Summit Yala Peak (5,500m) in Nepal
Climb one of the few non-technical peaks in Nepal and experience the mighty Himalaya away from the crowds. You’ll trek through the Langtang Valley, close to the Tibetan border, dodging yaks and bedding down in remote teahouses. Get up close to towering peaks and tumbling glaciers with panoramic views of Mt Shishapangma (8,027m) and Mt Gangchempo (6,387m) and grab your ropes and crampons for a torchlight push to the top.
Fitness Level: You'll need to be fit and an experienced trekker for this one. Being at altitudes above 3000m/10,000ft is more demanding on the body than walking at low elevations, so you should pack in some training beforehand. The guide will set the pace and as with all altitude treks, the theme is ‘slowly slowly’ to ensure you adjust to the altitude. So although this trek is rated ‘challenging’ there are plenty of hours factored into each day to ensure it is completed by all.
11. Trek the Laugavegur Trail in Iceland
Tackle Iceland's classic hut-to-hut trek - 55km of multi-coloured mountains, gorges, glaciers and the Eyjafjallajökull volcano. You’ll trek through one of the world’s most iconic landscapes, including the otherworldly Landmannalaugar mountains, a geological wonder, and stay in atmospheric mountain huts along the way. The trip ends in the beautiful valley of Þórsmörk - 'The Valley of Thor' - beneath the active volcano Eyjafjallajökull and is included in National Geographic's '20 Best Hikes in the World’.
Fitness Level: You'll need to have good fitness levels for this trek. You'll be hiking for 5-7 hours each day on 4 consecutive days of hiking. The route isn’t overly technical and doesn’t reach high altitudes, so beginner hikers will be fine - providing you're already pretty active and a pair of broken in hiking boots.
12. An Expedition Through the Canadian Wilderness
Get dropped off by a float plane in the middle of nowhere, and then raft, hike and wild camp your way back to civilisation. Gaze down over boreal forest as you fly into the wilds for a week of true Canadian backcountry adventure. You’ll take on exhilarating white-water rapids, stand-up paddle board along the remote Magpie River, wild camp on riverbanks, islands and gorges and swim in lakes and rivers before catching your own trout for dinner.
Fitness Level: Days on the expedition are long and action-packed and you'll be exposed to the elements on a week in true wilderness, so a love for adventure and the great outdoors is a must. The rafting and hikes are easily manageable by anyone with decent fitness levels. There is one big day where you'll have to muck in to portage with the group, however, there are plenty of moments to rest and swim in the lake, so it's easily doable for everyone with a good team spirit.
If you want to push yourself harder, check out our range of challenging adventures, for small groups in remote places.