Itching for an adventure, but want to set your sights on something a little out of the ordinary? Look no further. Treat yourself to a wholly unique experience with any one of these offbeat adventures.
Live Like a Bedouin in Egypt
If commonplace adventures sound too tame for you, consider immersing yourself in the life of a desert nomad in Egypt. U.K.-based Secret Compass offers a unique minimalist two-week expedition to steep travelers in Bedouin culture while leading them across the Sinai Peninsula with camels in tow.
The 143-mile route meanders past desert dunes, slot canyons, natural plunge pools, and lush desert oases, and includes scaling the country’s highest peak—Mount Catherine, at 8,625 feet. Expect to help bake bread each morning, trade camels and barter for food with Bedouin tribes, and sleep beneath a wool blanket under a black sky sprayed with twinkling stars.
Tip: As the company admits, this is a “bare bones” undertaking. If you’re looking to unplug completely and willing to soldier on with only the clothes on your back, you’ve found the adventure for you.
Climb Trees in the Amazon
To experience the Amazon rain forest from the ground is to scratch just the surface of its vast tangle of diversity. Most of the action takes place far overhead. Embrace your inner kid with Tropical Tree Climbing to get a bird’s-eye view, deep in the wilds of Amazonas, in northern Brazil.
After ascending on ropes up to 200 feet, settle into a canvas hammock for close encounters with monkeys, orchids, birds, butterflies, and other flora and fauna that thrive high in the forest canopy. Feeling especially bold? Opt to stay in the trees after dark to hear the night forest come alive as fireflies emit their magical intermittent glow.
Tip: Bring your camera, as the shots will be unforgettable from your perch among the leaves.
Raft Tidal Bore Rapids in Canada
Imagine a flat, placid river that works itself up into a raging boil of rapids. That’s just what you’ll experience in the Bay of Fundy, a giant funnel-shaped bay between Nova Scotia and New Brunswick that’s known for having the highest tidal range in the world.
Twice each day, a tidal bore temporarily reverses the flow of the Shubenacadie River. The resulting rapids form as the incoming sea wrestles with the river’s current, pushing up incredible waves that move with the tide.
Several outfitters lead Zodiac trips on the Shubenacadie at high tide. Prepare to hold on tightly, giggle uncontrollably, and get soaking wet as your boat launches over the tumultuous white water.
Tip: Full moons—especially supermoons—make for the wildest rides, with waves that can top 10 feet.
Sleep on a Cliff in Colorado
Have you ever shuddered at photographs of climbers sacked out on a portable ledge suspended from the side of a cliff, but secretly wanted to join them? Kent Mountain Adventure Center makes it possible for amateurs to experience the high-altitude thrill firsthand—in the heart of the Rockies.
The Estes Park outfitter’s cliff-camping adventure package allows travelers to get a taste of the vertical life unscathed and within cell range. Guides lead guests through climbing and safety basics, including rappelling and ascending a fixed rope using Jumar ascenders, before leading them up hundreds of feet to set up their own “wall camp” on a seven-by-four-foot portaledge.
Tip: If you’re height averse, take solace in the fact that you can bail if you get scared; it’s a quick descent if you decide you’d rather camp on terra firma. Or sign up for the “Just Lunch” package if you’d prefer a mid-day diversion 40-50 feet from the ground.
Snorkel With Sailfish off the Yucatán Peninsula
Each winter, sailfish—the world’s fastest fish, reaching speeds of more than 60 miles per hour—prowl the balmy waters off Isla Mujeres, Mexico, in search of sardines. Poetry in motion is one way to describe the graceful dance of this spear-nosed predator as it attacks a swirling school of baitfish that contracts and scatters rhythmically to evade its hungry jaws. To witness it while snorkeling is like having a courtside seat.
Reefs to Rockies offers multi-day itineraries that bring travelers in close contact with these sleek giants, which can grow to ten feet. Chances are you’ll also spot dolphins, sharks, manta rays, and a rainbow of tropical fish in this bountiful stretch of the Caribbean Sea.
Tip: The company also offers trips to swim with whale sharks—the largest fish in the world—in the region.
Go Log Driving in Sweden
How would you like to navigate a wooden raft down a meandering river for a day or even a week, camping at secluded spots along the way? Huckleberry Finn-types will delight in this one-of-a-kind adventure in the wilds of Sweden, which National Geographic Traveler named one of its “Tours of a Lifetime” in 2013.
- Nat Geo Expeditions
Vildmark I Värmland has been helping travelers experience the self-reliant life of log drivers—workers hired in the early days of the logging industry to ensure timber made it to its final destination downstream, usually a mill or factory—on the Klarälven River for 35 years.
Show up to a stack of timbers on shore and learn how to construct your own craft, then work your way down the river, stopping to take a quick hike, admire a beaver on the shoreline, or to pitch a tent for the night (the company offers timber-raft tours that range from one to eight days).
Tip: Not into roughing it? Up the comfort level with the all-inclusive package, which includes cabin stays and prepared meals throughout the tour.
Swim With Horses in Jamaica
It’s one thing to ride a horse bareback on a white-sand beach alongside a dreamy tropical blue ocean. (Cue the sweeping movie soundtrack.) But to notch it up to a surreal level, imagine venturing into the waves until your horse’s hooves can no longer touch the seafloor. Then sliding off into the water and trailing behind your steed holding on to its tail (yes, its tail. Don’t worry, it doesn’t hurt). Take my word for it: You won’t be able to contain your glee.
If this equine adventure sounds like your cup of tea, head to the Half Moon Equestrian Center in Montego Bay. The stable, associated with the adjacent Half Moon resort, takes in retired racehorses and employs them for riding lessons, strolls in the sand, and these “Surf and Turf” excursions where you and your horse move as one through the lulling ocean.
Tip: Are you a riding novice, or simply a bit rusty? Try the Rookie Round-up package for refresher lessons.