If, like me, you’re into the Great Outdoors, there’s no better holiday than breathing in potent fresh air on the top of a snow-topped mountain, swooshing down a mountain side on skis or spotting mini-beasts in the wild. If jaw-dropping landscapes and outdoor adventures are top of the agenda for your next holiday, try one of these six destinations for size.
Larger than Europe, Australia is practically a continent unto itself, with wide-ranging landscapes ranging from tropical rainforests in the north to rugged coastline in the west and the famous deep-red dust of the Red Centre. The major cities lie around the coastline, and Real Adventure is signposted inland. Try trekking King’s Canyon to escape the crowds at Uluru, discover crocodile waterholes in Kakadu National Park, spot fascinating wildlife on Kangaroo Island and go on a bug hunt in the wild forests of Tasmania.
New Zealand is a country that wreaks havoc on the senses. From windy Wellington to sulphur-smelling Rotorua, eye-popping scenery to the inimitable call of the Kiwi bird, this is a destination that has the curious effect of feeling like home, yet also like you’ve stepped into fairytale. Embrace the great outdoors and trek the Tongariro Crossing, discover the wilderness and last home of the shy Kiwi on Stewart Island, admire the views from Mount Cook and try a DIY triathlon in Wanaka, said by many to be the world’s most picturesque Ironman triathlon event.
With the planet’s largest peak – Everest – lying in its borders, Nepal means adventure with a capital A. A trekking trip to Everest Base Camp, which takes you up to a lofty 5,000m (Everest is 8,000m), promises staggering scenery and takes you through Sherpa villages where local people will be often only too happy to show you the place they call home. You’ll need to go on an organised tour to trek in many of the mountains in the area – look out for travel companies which run eco tourist projects in the local area as a way of reducing your carbon footprint and giving back to local Himalayan communities.
Peru is famous for the Inca Trail and Machu Picchu (which are deserved bucket list favourites), yet it’s also a country of incredible landscapes elsewhere. The Pacific coastline is made for surfing, particularly in Máncora in the north west, while the Andes mountains dominate the map and make brilliant terrain for trekking and mountain biking. There’s also a section of the world’s largest rainforest to explore here in Peru, the Amazon.
You’re in for a treat in North America. Canada holidays hold the promise of vast open spaces, spectacular lakes, magnificent mountains, plus a menagerie of some of the planet’s largest mammals including grizzly bears, polar bears, moose and whales. Top of the activity tick list goes to snowboarding in Whistler, river rafting in the Canadian Rockies, catching a rainbow at Niagara Falls and whale-watching in Pacific Rim National Park.
It’s said that roughly four per cent of the planet’s species cosy up in Costa Rica so it’s a perfect location for wildlife fans and nature nuts. Wandering through misty cloud forests in search of volcanoes and coffee bean plantations may seem strictly confined to your TV screen and David Attenborough documentaries, yet it’s very possible on a holiday here. And when you’re done with rainforests, adventure calls from the country’s spectacular Pacific and Caribbean coastlines.
Biog: Katie is a freelance writer and a big fan of exploring the world on foot.