Make 2020 your most adventurous year yet by signing up for one of these trips of a lifetime. Hike on drift ice in Japan, sail to one of the world’s most remote and beautiful UNESCO sites, cycle through the best of Jordan on your way to Petra: These journeys are unlike any trip you’ve ever taken before.
Ultimate Seychelles with Aldabra Atoll: Exodus Travels
Picture yourself winding your way through the exotic alleyways of Zanzibar’s Stone Town before boarding a small luxury cruise ship and sailing through the tropical archipelago of the Seychelles. Exodus Travels’ Ultimate Seychelles tour takes place aboard Ponant’s brand-new Le Bougainville ship, a gorgeous vessel with unique features such as the “Blue Eye,” an underwater lounge that allows you to see the wildlife that lives below.
This once-in-a-lifetime journey visits Aldabra Atoll, one of the most remote UNESCO World Heritage sites on the planet. Hidden away from the impact of humans, Aldabra has managed to sustain a population of 152,000 giant tortoises. This is the trip for wildlife enthusiasts: The clear waters of the Seychelles are home to 850 species of brilliantly colored fish that you’ll visit on snorkel and dive excursions.
East Greenland Arctic Safari: Natural Habitat Adventures
Most tours of Greenland barely scratch the surface of this remote country, shuttling passengers on and off of cruise ships for limited excursions. To really immerse yourself in Greenland, join Natural Habitat Adventure’s East Greenland Arctic Safari, a nine-day adventure centered around Natural Habitat’s unique luxury base camp near the edge of the Greenland ice sheet. You’ll be in one of the world’s most remote locations (with a maximum of only 11 other travelers in your group), but still have access to hot showers and gourmet meals. You’ll spend your days exploring the surrounding water, meeting the local Inuit villagers, kayaking, and more.
Highlights of the Frozen Continent: Chimu Adventures
Will 2020 be the year you finally check off your seventh continent? Chimu Adventures makes Antarctica more accessible with its surprisingly affordable Highlights of the Frozen Continent Cruise. On this 12-day trip you’ll set foot on the peninsula, delight in the company of hundreds of penguins, spot whales, and enjoy exploring relatively untouched territory.
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Galapagos Multisport with Quito: G Adventures
Kayaking, snorkeling, biking, and surfing—you won’t be bored on G Adventures’ Galapagos Multisport trip (but you will have plenty of time to lounge on the beach if you choose). This adventure hits the highlights of Quito and the Galapagos, starting in Ecuador’s fun-filled capital before cruising between the islands of Santa Cruz, Floreana, and Isabela. You’ll make friends with giant tortoises, pay a visit to the Charles Darwin Research Station, and hike up a volcano to the world’s second-largest crater.
Jordan Cycling Holiday: Saddle Skedaddle
Slow down and see the best of Jordan on Saddle Skeddaddle’s eight-day cycling trip. You’ll ride to popular spots such as Wadi Rum, Amman, and Petra, while also exploring secret spots like the Ajloun Forest Reserve and the Madaba Plateau. Your reward for all that riding? Soaks in the Dead Sea and traditional Bedouin feasts.
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A Food and Wine Adventure Through Tuscany and Piedmont with America’s Test Kitchen: EF Go Ahead Tours
Foodies, this is the tour that you’ve been waiting for. EF Go Ahead Tours has teamed up with America’s Test Kitchen for a one-of-a-kind, food- and wine-fueled adventure through Italy’s best culinary regions. You’ll sample truffles at the Alba White Truffle Fair, taste wines from local vineyards, learn how to make pasta from a Bolognian chef, and get a true sample of Italian culture. We’re already salivating.
Druk Path Trek, Bhutan: Exodus Travels
The tiny country of Bhutan has exploded in popularity recently, but fortunately, the nation’s strict restrictions on tourism mean you’ll still have an authentic visit if you go. For a real adventure, sign on to Exodus Travels’ Druk Path Trek Tour, which combines an incredibly scenic multi-day hike from Paro to Thimpu with time spent exploring the culture of Bhutan’s cities and villages. Pick one of the departures that coincides with Bhutan’s festivals for an unforgettably colorful and fun experience.
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Kazakhstan Adventure: Intrepid Travel
Kazakhstan might just be the most unfamiliar place you’ve ever been. This far-flung country is home to a unique culture and landscape you won’t find anywhere else. Intrepid Travel’s Kazakhstan Adventure takes you to the former Soviet space port of Baikonur, along the Silk Road ruins of Sayram and Otrar, on hikes through Altyn-Emel National Park, and definitely out of your comfortable routine.
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Hokkaido Winter Tour: Oku Japan
The crowds will descend on Tokyo for the 2020 Summer Olympics. Get off the tourist pack by visiting in winter, for Oku Japan’s Hokkaido Winter Tour. This self-guided adventure lets you set your own pace as you explore Hokkaido, Japan’s second-largest island. You’ll visit national parks, trek on drift ice, and snowshoe through UNESCO World Heritage nature reserves before unwinding in the country’s famous onsen hot springs at the end of each day.
Egypt Adventure: Intrepid Travel
For less than $900 you could spend a week cruising the Nile on a traditional felucca, exploring the ancient pyramids, and tasting everything in sight at Cairo’s bazaars. Intrepid Travel’s Egypt Adventure tour is light on cost but heavy on action. You’ll travel by train, boat, and bus through Cairo, Luxor, and Aswan, experiencing Egypt’s famous hospitality.
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Sailing Croatia: Dubrovnik to Split: G Adventures
Croatia’s coast is one of Europe’s most stunning. Explore it at a leisurely pace, sailing on a small yacht from Dubrovnik to Split, on G Adventures’ Croatia sailing tour. You’ll spend eight days aboard a small ship with just seven other travelers. When you’re not on the boat, you’ll be taking excursions to Mljet National Park, exploring Korcula (Marco Polo’s birthplace), tasting wine at local vineyards, and much more.
Canadian Rockies Hiking Plus: REI Adventures
The Canadian Rockies were practically designed for adventure. REI Adventures’ Canadian Rockies Hiking Plus action-packed trip begins in tourist hotspot Lake Louise but quickly gets you away from the crowd, as experienced guides lead you up hidden hiking trails. Each day will bring a new, exhilarating activity—like whitewater rafting in Yoho or hiking on the Columbia Icefield.
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Cuba Multi-Adventure Tour: Backroads
You can still visit Cuba legally, despite new restrictions. (Backroads’ Cuba Multi-Adventure Tour falls under the “Support for the Cuban People” category.) This trip offers a much deeper look at the country, getting you outside the main cities and into less touristy areas via bike rides and hikes. This tour is designed to help you connect with locals in a meaningful fashion, giving you the chance to take salsa classes, share meals, and engage with Cubans.
New Zealand: South Island Adventure: National Geographic Expeditions
New Zealand is famed for its Great Walks, a collection of stunning trails around the country. Hike three of them on National Geographic Expeditions’ South Island Adventure, a 12-day trip that showcases the highlights of the South Island. In addition to some epic trekking, you’ll get to sea kayak in Abel Tasman National Park, helicopter into Mount Aspiring National Park, and cruise around Milford Sound.
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Georgia: Walking in the Svaneti Mountains: Wild Frontiers Adventure Travel
Georgia is one of Europe’s trendiest destinations right now. This undiscovered gem has remained off of most tourists’ itineraries until recently, so you can still avoid the crowds and have an authentic adventure. Wild Frontiers Adventure Travel’s Georgia Walking Tour showcases the country’s wild side, with plenty of hikes in the Svaneti Mountains mixed with cultural experiences like a visit to the remote village of Adishi, home to just 12 families.
Alaska Rafting on the Tatshenshini River: OARS
Grizzlies, wolves, and eagles are waiting to greet you (from a respectful distance) on OARS’ Alaska Rafting Tour. This incredible adventure traverses the Tatshenshini River through the Tatshenshini-Alsek Wilderness Park. You’ll paddle past icebergs, frozen waterfalls, and amazing scenery on this 13-day journey.
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Rwanda Primate Adventure: Mountain Travel Sobek
Seeing mountain gorillas in the wild is a trip of a lifetime that you can make happen on Mountain Travel Sobek’s Rwanda Primate Adventure. With the guidance of expert rangers, you’ll track gorillas through Rwanda’s Volcanoes National Park, getting a rare chance to see these majestic creatures up close. You’ll also focus your search on another rare creature—the golden monkey.
Epic Outdoor Adventures in Slovenia: Exodus Travels
The title of the trip says it all: This vacation is all about epic outdoor adventures. Exodus Travels’ Slovenia adventure showcases this country’s extreme sports scene. You’ll paddleboard on Lake Bohinj, rappel down waterfalls in the Soca Valley, and zip-line over the Isonzo River, against the backdrop of some of the most beautiful scenery in Europe. There will also be plenty of time to bring your heart rate back down to normal, with more sedate adventures like dinner at a castle, a chocolate tasting, and a scenic train ride.
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Bike Tour: Connemara and the Aran Islands: Wilderness Ireland
Get all the benefits of a bike tour (a relaxed pace, exercise, and access to off-the-beaten-path scenery) without all the downsides (having to carry all your luggage, worries about bicycle breakdowns) on Wilderness Ireland’s Connemara and the Aran Islands bike tour. On two wheels, you’ll ride around the Aran Islands, through the Burren, and along the Wild Atlantic Way. Wilderness Ireland will guide you every pedal of the way (and transport all your stuff between each stop, so you can ride light).
Chile and Argentina: Solar Eclipse Adventure: Boundless Journeys
Can you imagine anything more magical than witnessing a rare solar eclipse from the prime vantage point of Argentina’s Piedra del Aguila? On Boundless Journeys’ Chile and Argentina tour you’ll witness that phenomenon and much more. Think hiking through Patagonia, beer tasting at a local microbrewery, and dancing in Buenos Aires.
For more ideas, see The Top Travel Destinations for 2020.
More from SmarterTravel:
- 9 Epic Hut-to-Hut Hiking Trips
- What to Pack for Hiking: 38 Essentials
- 7 Adventure Tours You’ll Need a Doctor’s Note For
Caroline Morse Teel is a Senior Editor at SmarterTravel. Follow her on Instagram @travelwithcaroline.