Here’s how to have an adventure every week in 2023 | Travel

Adventure is a hugely subjective thing when it comes to travel. On the one hand, tour operators in a global sector worth £237 billion annually now tag bus tours as adventurous. On the other, the explorer Roald Amundsen, who knew a thing or two about extreme voyaging, believed that “adventure [was] just bad planning”.

I suspect adventure for most people represents whatever allows them to explore the limits of their comfort zone; to venture towards the edge of things, perhaps even peer over, then step back. The UK adventure travel sector — the largest in the world, incidentally — has cottoned on, which is why we have divided these trips into three categories.

Soft adventure is the baby step up from your usual fly-and-flop. No experience is required and you’ll expend little more energy than you might at a villa. Whether gliding around on e-bikes in Umbria or strolling with nomadic shepherds in Turkey, you travel for culture as much as activity — which is why we’ve included a Jordanian food tour plus guided trips to developing destinations such as Albania. Either way, these trips will be safer than a package break in Ayia Napa.

Too dull? Embrace the easy challenges of the middle ground with a whirlwind of possibilities, especially for walkers and cyclists. Stroll between the hill towns of northern Sicily or ascend to the Tiger’s Nest monastery near Paro in Bhutan. Mountain-bike along elephant trails in Botswana’s Okavango Delta or cycle backroads to prosecco vineyards. Whatever you’re doing, even if it’s self-guided, you’ll embrace a hobby you love in a beautiful destination and leave logistics to the experts.

Hardcore adventurers might argue that any gain requires, if not pain, then some discomfort. Fancy crewing a yacht from Iceland to Greenland? How about mountaineering across the roof of Europe, skiing pure powder above Norway’s fjords, exploring the jungles of Guyana or taking a 4×4 road trip into Patagonia? The adventure of a lifetime awaits you this year. All it takes is a little experience and the fortitude you never knew you possessed.

Because that’s the thing about adventure travel. If we go on holiday to escape our everyday lives, push our boundaries a little, then that’s already an adventure. We’re experiencing something extraordinary, perhaps rediscovering something important about who we are. You don’t get that on a fly-and-flop.

Rafting on the Tara River, Montenegro

Rafting on the Tara River, Montenegro


Soft adventures

1. Multi-activity Montenegro

Don’t read this entry yourself. Hand it to the children. Done? OK, kids: this summer, Mum and Dad can take you on an action-packed trip to Montenegro, a cheaper alternative to Croatia now the latter has joined the eurozone. You’ll take zip-wires and raft rapids in the 800m-deep Tara Gorge, ride 4x4s into the Durmitor mountains and stay overnight in a shepherd’s cabin. If they pull a face, tell them about Kotor, the walled coastal citadel that once rivalled Dubrovnik. Say it’ll help your schoolwork. Also that this is good value for a bespoke itinerary with activities.
Details Fourteen nights’ B&B for four from £7,500, including flights (

2. Pilgrimage on rails

We’re all for describing pilgrimages to Santiago de Compostela as journeys rather than walks, but rather less keen on the aching muscles. This week-long escapade surrenders the actual moving to trains, so you can get on with enjoying the scenery between five destinations. When walkers plod onwards, you’ll tour the Bilbao Guggenheim and then breeze sweat-free across sunbaked plains to Burgos, El Cid’s former stomping ground. In the bars of Leon you’ll drink untroubled by eFor 25 more adventures, see our pieces on the world’s most surprising wildlife holidays; trekking through tea country in Sri Lanka; Australia’s greatest road trip; and two very different types of safari in Tanzaniaarly starts and in Monforte de Lemos sleep in a parador carved from a former monastery. The finale into Santiago de Compostela is one of Spain’s great train journeys, through the canyons and river valleys of Galicia’s Ribeira Sacra.
Details Nine nights’ B&B from £1,105pp ( Fly to Bilbao

3. Umbria for foodies

What Umbria lacks in coastline it makes up for in waves of green: rippling slopes and broad grassy valleys broken only by terracotta hill towns on steep slopes. It’s utterly peaceful . . . and hilly. Book an e-bike to glide around a guided circuit from Cortona. You’ll pedal no more than about three hours a day, pootling along the Roman Via Flaminia route and marvelling at Giotto’s frescoes in Assisi. Much of the rest of the day is spent eating in a region that gives Tuscany a run for its money. Spanning five or seven nights, this trip includes private wine tours plus dinner cooked by the celebrity chef Giancarlo Polito.
Details Seven nights’ B&B from £1,495pp, including flights (

Be introduced to Jeonju, South Korea

Be introduced to Jeonju, South Korea


4. On trend in South Korea

A mainstream exhibition at the Victoria & Albert Museum, Alexander Armstrong visiting there for Channel 5, Squid Game on Netflix and K-pop hits on the radio — South Korea is totally on trend, a hit of energy and colour tempered by ancient traditions, yet bafflingly undersold in travel; it compares to Japan of 15 or 20 years ago. This private trip by a local expert gets to grips with the country’s contradictions, touring capital Seoul, overnighting in a traditional hanok guesthouse in Jeonju (a Unesco City of Gastronomy, no less) and visiting temples in the coastal cities of Busan and Gangneung. Visit in April to see (in another echo of Japan) scenery pretty in pink cherry blossom.
Details Twelve nights’ B&B from £3,348pp, including some extra meals ( Fly to Seoul

5. Gulf of Fethiye by gulet

Join this gulet trip in September to grapple with the rich history of Turkey’s Carian coast. Along isolated bays west of the Gulf of Fethiye lies the legacy of an ancient trade route that brought the riches of the Near East to the Greeks. To discover it you’ll need a comfortable boat and an expert archaeologist able to interpret sites: Greek temples and statues; Roman baths and theatres; ancient Halicarnassus, Herodotus’s home town and a wonder of the ancient world; the once formidable city of Kaunos, where tombs stud cliffs above a reedy channel. Heady stuff, all followed by a swim and then dinner aboard.
Details Fourteen nights’ full board from £4,795pp ( Fly to Dalaman

6. Jordan on a plate

Did you know Jordan is thought to have supplied the wine for the Last Supper? The wines of the Ajloun are one of the discoveries on this adventure, through the food (and sights) of a nation placed where the Levant meets Bedouin culture. After those wines as well as knafeh pastries nibbled over mint tea, you’ll dine in a crusader castle, join a ranger to discover herbs in the Dana Biosphere Reserve and feast on makloubeh, a rice dish prepared after a day trip to the Nabataean city of Petra – the ideal overture to Wadi Rum for a dinner eaten beneath star-blazed skies in a Bedouin camp.
Details Six nights’ B&B, plus three dinners and three lunches, from £876pp ( Fly to Amman

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7. Nepal in style

No headgear or safety harnesses for the Gurung people of Nepal. Each spring and autumn, the nation’s intrepid honey-hunters offer up a quiet prayer to the gods before they clamber rope ladders to harvest honeycomb from hives wedged into the crags of the Annapurna mountains. The feat is one eye-popping sight among many during a luxury 12-day swing through the mountain kingdom. Elsewhere are rhinos and tigers in Bardia National Park and five days’ light trekking in the Annapurna foothills, with porters to carry kit. Accommodation throughout involves stylish stays courtesy of Mountain Lodges of Nepal.
Eleven nights’ full board from £5,695pp ( Fly to Kathmandu

Stroll along the Cami de Cavalls coastal footpath

Stroll along the Cami de Cavalls coastal footpath


8. Ambles in Menorca

The sustainable tour operator Pura Aventura calls this a walking holiday. It isn’t really. It’s more a series of self-guided ambles into a deeply rustic island protected as a Unesco biosphere reserve. With an average of only seven miles a day to cover on the Cami de Cavalls coastal footpath, you’ll be overtaken by tortoises along a crinkle-cut coast of the Parc Natural de s’Albufera des Grau and swim off virgin beaches including Cala Pregonda. Should the mood take you, a local guide scoops you off the trail to whisk you to that night’s manor hotel. Markets and mansions in the lovely cities of Mahon and Ciutadella will also be revealed.
Details Eight nights’ B&B from £1,950pp, including some extra meals ( Fly to Mahon

9. Albanian discoveries

You may have heard Albania being touted as the next big thing of the Balkans. Undeniably it has manifold attractions and it provides a lot of holiday for your pound. Only hikers to the Accursed Mountains seem to have cottoned on. This trip, which taps into local experts, may change your mind. It’s a greatest hits tour, taking in cultural heavyweights such as the Unesco-listed Ottoman-era citadels Gjirokaster and Berat and the Roman ruins at Butrint, as well as easy walks in the dramatic Valbone Valley. You’ll return raving about stellar mountain scenery, underrated wines and a quiet coast that should count among Europe’s finest.
Details Eleven nights’ half-board from £2,295pp, including some extra meals ( Fly to Tirana

10. Walks with Turkish nomads

Every autumn the Yoruk shepherds of southern Turkey drive their goats from summer pastures of the Taurus mountains down to the Lycian coast. This group hiking trip tags along for parts of the journey. In truth walking between mountain villages comes second to cultural immersion. You’ll dine with a nomadic family, meet farmers making cheese and flatbread, perhaps help out with the olive harvest. It’s a unique insight into a lifestyle that’s as ancient as this land. That history is on show too on a boat trip to discover the sunken city of Kekova and a visit to the Unesco-listed ruins of Xanthos.
Details Nine nights’ full board from £1,855pp, including flights (

Drive from Milan to Lake Como by tuk-tuk

Drive from Milan to Lake Como by tuk-tuk


Easy challenges

11. Italy on three wheels

It’s The Italian Job on three wheels — a series of madcap holiday rallies through Italy by tuk-tuk. This being Italy, the three-wheeler is a Piaggio Ape, its 200cc engine able to buzz down back roads at a heady cruising speed of, ooh, 25mph. Expect to drive for 60 miles a day, journeying from Milan to Lake Como, through truffle and wine country in Piedmont, skirting Liguria’s coast to Genoa before the return via Emilia-Romagna. Alongside maps and a book of useful phrases (hopefully, “No, signore, I only ever had three wheels”), drivers receive a series of challenges to complete en route to claim the title of tuk-tuk champion.
Details Eight nights’ B&B from £1,500pp ( Fly to Milan

12. Okavango Delta by bike

There’s a school of thought that holds that any satisfying wildlife experience requires an element of jeopardy. Although not impossible, that’s tricky in a Jeep, so try the first private mountain-bike safari of the Okavango Delta. Led by guides, you average 30 miles a day through the Moremi Game Reserve, where trails have been made by elephants. Expect to see herds among the astounding variety of life along the River Khwai. Expect for every encounter to feel wilder and more intense than any Jeep safari. Nights are under canvas until the final two in Little Sable private camp in the delta’s beautiful north.
Details Six nights’ full board from £5,450pp ( Fly to Maun

The Tiger’s Nest Monastery in Bhutan

The Tiger’s Nest Monastery in Bhutan


13. Into the Land of the Thunder Dragon

Bhutan only emerged from lockdown in September. Over the time that we’ve been away, it has spruced up the Trans-Bhutan Trail, thereby resurrecting one of Asia’s great adventures, a Silk Road route across the Land of the Thunder Dragon via monasteries and magical mountains. You don’t have time for the full 250 miles, so choose the scenic western region east of Paro: giant Buddha statues, dzong fortified monasteries, timeless village life in valleys closed in by a Himalaya or two. This group tour avoids the steepest climbs on five day-walks and includes three days’ trekking with overnight camps. Journey’s end is at the Tiger’s Nest (Taktsang) Monastery.
Details Thirteen nights’ B&B from £5,050pp, including flights and some extra meals (

14. Conservation in the Small Isles

In his upcoming BBC series Wild Isles David Attenborough says the UK has wildlife dramas to match any he has experienced on more exotic shores. That’s especially true of Rum, an island off the west coast of Scotland and a National Nature Reserve since 1957. It’s a self-contained, car-free world on which to spend a week of discovery and conservation: climbing the summits of Hallival and Barkeval, and hiking to the white sands of Kilmory Bay, plus helping rangers to conduct beach cleans and wildlife counts. Take a day trip to explore the nearby island of Eigg, another wellspring of community. Be warned, though: this holiday may well leave you questioning your present lifestyle.
Details Five nights’ full board from £1,695pp (

15. Saddle up in Romania

In the Carpathian mountains of Transylvania counts still occupy castles and villagers still scythe meadows. It’s a world that at times seems largely unchanged since the 16th century, and a great place in which to spend four days on a private horse-riding safari. While hacks can be matched to your riding level, expect trails through forests from the last Ice Age and exhilarating high-pasture gallops between medieval villages. The price tag buys you exclusive access to local life — staying overnight with families for home-cooked meals — and gets you a bed in the home of Count Kalnoky at Miklosvar and at King Charles’s private nature retreat in the Zalan Valley.
Details Four nights’ full board from £4,000pp, including flights (

Cycle through prosecco country in Italy

Cycle through prosecco country in Italy

17. Pedalling in prosecco country

You can understand why easy riders swerve road-cycling holidays. Those grinding ascents. That Lycra. But why suffer such an ordeal when you can cycle in the Veneto? It’s not just that this self-guided loop heads from cycle-friendly Treviso via the beautiful foothills of the Pre-Alps to medieval beauties such as Asolo. It’s not even that the terrain is doable and the distances friendly at about 25 miles a day. No, it’s that said foothills produce the finest fizz in Italy’s cellar. Prosecco tastings are practically obligatory. An easy 40-mile descent to the beach at Jesolo rounds things off.
Details Seven nights’ B&B from £1,310pp ( Fly to Treviso

16. Two sides of Sicily

Along with the narcissism of its characters you may have noticed the beautiful beach in HBO series The White Lotus: the north Sicilian resort of Cefalu. On this self-guided walking trip you’ll spend a couple of days there as a foil to the eight beforehand in the Madonie Natural Park. In these inland mountains is an older, rural Sicily that appears only to those who travel on foot. Bonelli’s eagles ride thermals in flawless skies. Views stretch towards the Aeolian Islands and Mount Etna. After up to six hours of walking you’ll end days with a glass of something chilled in medieval hill towns. Your luggage has arrived before you. Magic.
Details Ten nights’ half-board from £1,355pp ( Fly to Palermo

Explore southern Iceland on foot

Explore southern Iceland on foot

18. Hike through hidden Iceland

To experience southern Iceland off Route 1 is to star in your own legend. It is hunks of ice on black beaches in the Vatnajokull National Park, waterfalls pouring from the sky, birds that materialise from misty canyons. Still smoking from the Earth’s oven, it’s a land that’s raw, elemental and surprisingly accessible on a guided hiking trip. Over five days of half-day walks it winkles out locations you’re unlikely to discover by yourself, such as Mulagljufur canyon and a natural hot pool at Brennisteinsalda volcano, and offers peace of mind on tougher routes. Bookend it with a stay in Reykjavik.
Details Five nights’ half-board from £1,742pp ( Fly to Reykjavik

See Guyana the traditional way — by paddle power

See Guyana the traditional way — by paddle power


Hardcore pursuits

19. Inside Guyana

Flights to Georgetown, the capital, from London from March put English-speaking Guyana on the radar for intrepid travellers. More accurately, it makes accessible the wildlife of its interior. No promises, but on this private tour — visiting rainforests and mountains on foot, savannahs by 4×4 and rivers by canoe — you can expect to see black caimans, giant otters, howler monkeys, giant anteaters and potentially jaguars, as well as a head-spinning array of bird species (Finsch’s euphonias, anyone?). Your guides for the fortnight are those who know the place best: conservationists in eco-lodges and indigenous villagers, the Makushi people of the remote north Rupununi region.
Details Thirteen nights’ B&B from £4,315pp ( Fly to Georgetown

Plunge into the waters around Skye

Plunge into the waters around Skye

20. Scotland swims for the brave

Here’s proof that you needn’t travel extreme distances for an extreme aquatic experience. An operator better known for its Mediterranean swimming holidays has turned its focus to the Inner Hebrides. Starting from Mallaig, based aboard a 102ft brigantine rigger (yes, you’re permitted to helm and climb the rigging), you plunge into waters around Skye, cross to the Old Forge pub on remote Knoydart then swim with seals beneath the Cuillins in Loch na Cuilce before the choppy passage across to the Small Isles. Do expect to swim alongside the grandest scenery in the UK. Don’t expect many other bathers. Breathtaking in every sense.
Details Six nights’ full board from £1,880pp (

Hiking the new Haute Route du Saint-Bernard in Europe

Hiking the new Haute Route du Saint-Bernard in Europe

21. Reaching the roof of Europe

In 1903 six Frenchmen in tweeds skied into history as the first to complete the Haute Route from Chamonix to Zermatt. Go soon if you fancy skiing it. Otherwise wait until summer to hike the new Haute Route du Saint-Bernard. Created where France, Switzerland and Italy meet, it combines sections of the traditional Haute Route with less famous ascents into six exhilarating days on the roof of Europe. You’ll need a local guide, a sleeping bag for mountain huts, and deep wells of stamina to tackle simultaneous days of 1,500m ascents. The rewards include the summit of Col du Meitin, a 3,600m saddle steeped in Alpine folklore. Tweeds are optional.
Details Five nights’ full board from £2,264pp, including guiding ( Fly to Geneva

Sail to Greenland

22. Sail into the ice

By mid June a tough 60ft yacht of the adventure sail operator Rubicon 3 will have embarked from Stornaway for Iceland, where this adventure begins. In early July it’ll sail from the Westfjords bound for east Greenland to explore one of the last frontiers of sailing, a cruising ground where ice floes sail down Nansen fjord and anchorages are walled by mountains like Thor’s anvil. This being expedition sailing, Neptune has the final say on itineraries. There will be hiking. There may be polar bears. Just be aware that creature comforts are few: bunks, a shared lavatory, a stint at the washing-up bowl. Cruising, then, but not as you know it.
Details Eighteen nights’ full board from £5,499pp ( Fly to Isafjordur

23. Hike up Turkey’s Kilimanjaro

In 2010 a team of evangelical Christians announced that they had discovered the remains of Noah’s Ark on the summit of Mount Ararat. No one believed them, but this 5,200m slab in east Turkey is catnip to dreamers. It is Turkey’s Kilimanjaro, a monumental extinct volcano that was considered unclimbable until 1829. Even today you’ll need acclimatisation days on the mountain and crampons for the final push over snowfields. Although achievable by experienced hill walkers, it is an expedition to take seriously — which is why you’re taking this guided trip. Summit made, there’s time to tour the Persian-Ottoman Ishak Pasha Palace and Akdamar Island in Lake Van.
Details Nine nights’ full board from £1,945pp, including flights (

24. Play castaway in Panama

The flaw in any plan to play castaway is that most of us could only hack it for a week. The solution is this expedition through Panama’s Guna Yala archipelago with a positive-impact operator. You kayak across open sea to wild camp beneath palms on tropical islands. It’s Robinson Crusoe-lite, with snorkels, hammocks between palms and encounters with indigenous fishermen. Later there’s rafting and jungle-trekking in the Chagres National Park before a final kayak down the Chagres River. You must enjoy “minimal home comforts”, advise the trip notes. Don’t say you weren’t warned.
Details Seven nights’ B&B from £1,911pp, including some extra meals ( Fly to Panama City

25. Top-to-toe Chile

To coincide with the inauguration of the Desierto Florido (Flowering Desert) National Park in the southern Atacama Desert comes an epic trip into the backwaters of Chile. It’s a vast land of incredible variety. Visit between September and early November to see vibrant blooms like a divine blessing and the horizon-shoving plains of the Andes’ Altiplano north of Santiago before flying south to pick up a 4×4 road trip down the Carretera Austral into Patagonia’s heart. You’re unlikely to do this again, so the three-week itinerary offers ample time to discover the mountains, icefields and people by foot, boat and eco-lodge.
Details Nineteen nights’ B&B from £7,100pp, including some extra meals ( Fly to Santiago

Hit the slopes in Norway

26. Ski touring in Norway

Did you see the recent reports about a lack of snow in the Alps? Ski operators reported a surge in bookings for high-altitude destinations as skiers sought their fix. Another option could be to look further afield to the Sunnmore Alps in Norway. From March the western fjords provide stellar ski touring for the purist. In a region with more than 100 peaks and not enough skiers to justify resort infrastructure, you do as the few locals do: Nordic ski up, alpine ski down. Empty slopes plunge into water like an adrenaline version of Disney’s Frozen. This small-group luxury trip travels by boat to guarantee pristine powder and features stylish stays in places such as the Hotel Union Oye.
Details Five nights’ full board from £6,617pp ( Fly to Alesund

27. Moroccan mountain biking with the hard man

Aldo Kane has been an elite Royal Marines sniper and is the extreme TV adventurer who abseiled into an erupting volcano. Now the world’s hardest man will guide lucky mountain bikers in the Anti-Atlas mountains south of Agadir on a one-off trip departing on March 6. Put in some training to tackle rides of up to 45 miles — rocketing downhill on rough trails and navigating free-flowing singletrack rides through palm oases. The walled city of Tiznit and Berber hospitality in the villages of Tiqqi Gorge provide singular reminders that rewarding rides are about more than the challenge. Exodus’s regular Atlas Descent trips on other dates cover the same ground — no Kane, though.
Details Seven nights’ B&B from £1,899pp, including flights and some extra meals, departing on March 6 (other departures from £1,699pp;

For 25 more adventures, see our pieces on the world’s most surprising wildlife holidays; trekking through tea country in Sri Lanka; Australia’s greatest road trip; and two very different types of safari in Tanzania

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Meet the team

Experts from the Times Travel team will be at Destinations: The Holiday and Travel Show in London in February. It takes place February 2-5 at Olympia ( Times subscribers can claim two free tickets and enter a draw to win a trip to Brazil; see for details