Sponsored: It’s January, which can mean only one thing. You’re back at work, fantasizing about your next holiday and wondering: ‘How can I make 2017 my best year yet?’
Now’s the time to create your own definitive travel bucket list – a list of experiences you have to try. From seeing the Northern Lights to climbing a mountain, the options are endless.
To get you started, here are 20 adventure holiday ideas from Exodus Travels, who offer trips with set departure dates and trips which can be tailored to suit your needs…
1 Meet the wildlife of the Galapagos Islands
There are so many animals to meet in the stunning, otherworldly Galapagos Islands. The blue-footed boobie, frigatebird and Galapagos land iguana to name but a few.
Get up close and personal with all of them – plus seals! – on Exodus’ two-week Galapagos Wildlife Cruise.
2 Journey to the North Pole
It’s one of the most extreme environments on earth and, until recently, nothing but a pipe dream for everyone but the most fearless and intrepid explorers. But now, travel to the North Pole in the Arctic is easier than ever.
You can reach the top of the world aboard epic ice breaker ’50 Years of Victory’, on Exodus’ Journey the the North Pole trip.
3 Climb the tallest mountain in Northern Africa
Last month, we spoke to gay guy James Silverstone about his experience conquering the mighty Mt Toubkal – at 4,167m, Northern Africa’s highest peak. He was invited along by a friend to join a group with 22 others. Despite some reservations about Morocco’s political climate (it criminalizes homosexuality), James said he couldn’t have felt safer. You can read about his experience in full here.
On Exodus’ Mt Toubkal Climb, you’ll also get to spend some time in the bustling city of Marrakech.
4 Check out volcanoes in Ecuador
Back to Ecuador in South America, and the 4,690m tall Cayambe volcano – one of approximately 50 in the country. You’ll find this dormant natural wonder nestled among the Ecuadorian Andes. What’s more, this is the only point on the Equator where you’ll find snow!
Visit Cayambe on Exodus’ Ecuador: Avenue of the Volcanoes, which also includes ice-climbing.
5 See the Grand Canyon
It’s one of the Seven Wonders of the Natural World with good reason. The gigantic red rock gorge covers 4,926 km2, and is up to 6,000 feet deep. That’s over a mile. Much of it is found in the Grand Canyon National Park in Arizona.
On Exodus’ National Parks Walk, you’ll hike the Canyon, as well as majestic trails in four other National Parks.
6 Go whale-watching in British Columbia
Canada’s Vancouver Island is known for its rugged scenery. It’s also a perfect base for magical whale-watching expeditions. Orca, humpback, grey and minke whales are all common in the waters around the Island, as are dolphins and seals. And back on land, you may see grizzly bears!
For more close encounters with Canadian wildlife, try Exodus’ Whales and Bears of British Columbia trip…
7 Ski among stunning natural beauty in Iceland
The Land of Fire and Ice is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful countries on Earth, boasting some of the most unique landscapes you’ll ever see. And what better way to take it all in than gliding effortlessly on a pair of skis?
Exodus’ eight-day cross-country skiing in Iceland tour includes five-and-a-half days guided cross country skiing. It’s open to skiers of all levels, including beginners.
8 See gorillas in Central Africa
The only place on Earth you’ll find gorillas in the wild is tropical Africa. Both the Grauer and the mountain subspecies are indescribably magical – as well as critically endangered.
You’ll see the latter in Rwanda’s Parc National des Volcanson, on Exodus’ Gorillas and Masai Mara adventure, also covering Kenya and Uganda. The cost of the trip includes a special gorilla permit, used to keep visitor numbers down and ensure sustainability of the activity.
9 Stay at a hotel made of ice in Sweden
Sweden is known for being one of the most LGBTI-friendly nations in the world. It’s also known for being a winter wonderland – in Swedish Lapland, the season lasts up to seven months. The region’s crowning glory, though, is the amazing ICE HOTEL: a chilly stopover made entirely of ice.
You’ll stay here for one night on Exodus’ five-day Arctic Sweden and the Ice Hotel trip.
10 See the Northern Lights in Finland
Sweden might be an LGBTI mecca, but close behind is Finland – the legalization of same-sex marriage comes into effect in March.
Exodus is giving one GSN reader and a guest the chance to win a trip of a lifetime to the region, on its Finnish Wilderness Week. The experience includes dogsledding, snowshoeing and going in search of the ever-elusive Northern Lights. Click here to enter, or scroll down to the form at the bottom of this page.
11 Snorkel in the Great Barrier Reef
The world’s largest coral reef system is found off the coast of Queensland, Australia. The vibrant underwater world is also the world’s largest living structure, and where the action begins in Finding Nemo – and Dory!
The Australia’s Reef & Rainforest trip from Exodus includes one day of snorkelling in the reef, as well as sailing around the Whitsunday Islands, visits to Daintree and Cape Tribulation National Parks, and more.
12 See the colonial towns of Cuba
Tourism is booming in Cuba – especially since Obama eased US travel restrictions to the Caribbean land nation last year. Homosexuality is legal in the island nation, although discretion and prior research is advised.
Cuba is dotted with charming colonial towns and cities that have barely changed in decades. One way to explore them is by bicycle – like on Exodus’ Cuban Highlights Ride, which visits Havana and Trinidad.
13 Go cycling in South Africa
For a more strenuous two-wheel adventure, head to South Africa and the Cape Argus Cycle Tour. With over 35,000 cycling enthusiasts taking part last year, the 109km route begins in Cape Town – one of the country’s three capital cities. It’s worth mentioning that South Africa is easily the most LGBTI-friendly country in Africa.
Exodus’ 11-day Cape Argus Tour includes eight days of cycling on tarmac roads.
14 Make it to Everest Base Camp
Another of the Seven Wonders of the Natural World, Mount Everest is also, of course, the highest mountain on Earth (8,848m). Conquering the Himalayan peak is expensive and dangerous, but trekking to Base Camp is more manageable.
Still, the Everest Base Camp Trek from Exodus, spanning 17 days, is not for the faint of heart. The activity is described as ‘challenging’ on the official website.
15 Drink Prosecco in the Prosecco Hills
And now to something scored as ‘leisurely/moderate’! Everyone should go on at least one wine-tasting trip in their lifetime. And where better than this beautiful wine region in Susegana, Italy? It’s a land of rolling hills, gentle sunsets and unforgettable flavors.
Exodus’ week-long Walking in the Prosecco Hills trip goes off the beaten track, and includes accommodation in an elegant four-star villa.
16 See Peru’s ancient Machu Picchu
A selfie before this humbling and mysterious 15th century Inca citadel, found 2,430m in the air, is a rite of passage for every traveler. It’s the most-visited tourist attraction in Peru.
Exodus’ A Taste of Peru lasts a week, traveling from Lima to Cuzco.
17 Conquer Tanzania’s Mount Kilimanjaro
Officially Africa’s highest mountain, Kilimanjaro stands at 5985m. The climb is tough, and requires good levels of fitness, but it’s worth it – its peak is one of the few places where you can see the curvature of the Earth.
18 Eat delicious street food in Vietnam
The Southeast Asian country of Vietnam boasts cuisine of surprising simplicity, delicate flavors and impeccable presentation.
The 12-day Vietnam Food Adventure includes a candlelit dinner while cruising Halong Bay, a bike ride through there herb gardens of Tra Que village and street snacks in Hoi An.
19 Experience the natural beauty of Costa Rica
The unique wildlife and tropical landscapes of this Central American country will stay with you forever. Expect howler monkeys, sloths, macaws and tree frogs, plus some of the most explosively colourful fauna on earth.
The nine-day Natural Highlights of Costa Rica tour with Exodus includes a visit to the beaches and waterways of Tortuguero – an important nesting site for green sea turtles. (Nesting season is from July to September).
20 Go hiking in the Alps
We’ve reached dizzying heights in Morocco, Tanzania and Nepal, but the Alps in Europe are just as beautiful. The highest peak of the Julian region, Mt Triglav in Slovenia, is an underrated travel gem. It’s 2,864m tall, and from its summit you can see Austria, Croatia and Italy.
Exodus’ Slovenia: Julian Alps Traverse spans seven nights.
For general information, visit Exodus.co.uk.
Gay Star News encourages anyone considering a trip to a country where homosexuality is illegal to do their research and exercise caution. Remember the local LGBTI population doesn’t have the chance to come and go like you can, so try to support them when you can. You may want to consider donations to LGBTI organizations in the country you visit.
Clam picture by Pixabay