Some people aren’t content with spending their holidays lying by the pool – they want to see the world at its wettest, wildest and most wonderful best. Whether that’s from 15,000 feet above ground or speeding past geological wonders on a mountain bike – our top 5 adventure capitals of the world aren’t for the faint hearted.
1. Queenstown, New Zealand
Few will disagree that Queenstown is the world’s ultimate adventure capital. At first sight, this small and endearing town in the south island of New Zealand seems more like a place that you’d head off on a romantic getaway for two – but hidden in the canyons, mountain tops and waterways of this beautiful town are some of the world’s most exhilarating adventure activities.
It’s in Queenstown that you can visit the world’s first commercial bungy jump at Kawarau Bridge then experience the thrilling Shotover Jet Boat, that takes you through narrow canyons at death-defying speeds.
If you want to explore Queenstown at a slightly slower pace, then hire a mountain bike and head off on a guided tour of the famous Otago Rail Trail between September and May or hit the ski slopes during the winter months in one of the regions four world-class ski fields.
2. Victoria Falls, Southern Africa
Described by David Livingstone in 1855 as ‘scenes so wonderful must have been gazed upon by Angels in their flight’, a trip to Victoria Falls is so much more than just ticking off one of the world’s most amazing waterfalls from your bucket list – it’s an adventurer’s dream come true. Situated along the Zambezi river on the border of Zimbabwe and Zambia, Victoria Falls is twice the height of Niagara Falls and several times longer.
Many visitors to Victoria Falls stay in the town of the same name in the western corner of Zimbabwe. From here you have easy access to some of the many adventure activities and tours.
Ride the wild waterways of the Zambezi River during a day of whitewater rafting or get spectacular views of the region during a 111 metre bungy jump.
When the water levels are right, get the ultimate adrenalin rush as you jump into a deep natural pool overlooking the falls at ‘The Devils Pool’.
3. Interlaken, Switzerland
Considered to be the adventure capital of Europe, Interlaken in Switzerland is sure to quench your thirst for adventure.
From river rafting and canyoning to bungy jumps and skydiving – there’s no time to sleep on a trip to Interlaken.
Freefall jump from a plane or helicopter from over 4,000 feet or bungy jump over the breathtaking Swiss Alps or a glacial gorge – your choice!
Explore the natural wonders of glacier canyons on a guided ice climbing tour, then enjoy the thrilling rush of river rafting at a choice of locations – depending on the difficulty level you require.
If you’ve still got some steam left, then grab your hiking boots and head off on a guided alpine trekking tour, where you’ll have the chance to go caving and climbing as well as get unrivalled views over the beautiful Alpine landscape.
4. Moab, USA
The USA is not known for doing things in small sizes – and they certainly don’t disappoint when it comes to offering some of the best locations for adventure activities.
The ultimate place to experience the best that the States has to offer is at Moab in the south-west state of Utah. Once you arrive in Moab you’ll feel like you’ve landed in the middle of a wild west movie set – with dusty red terrain, long straight roads leading into the sunset, tumbleweed rolling across the paths… you get the picture.
While the town used to be reserved for cattle farming and forestry, the rise of recreational activities has lead to it become the region’s hub for thrill seeking tourists.
Situated on the Colorado River, river rafting is one of the most popular activities in Moab. The perfect way to escape the desert heat, there are a range of river rafting options to suit different abilities and ages.
Just 6km away from the town centre is the stunning Arches National Park – perfect for exploring on mountain bike or horseback. If you prefer a higher-powered vehicle, jump aboard a jeep tour that will take you along rugged tracks on an adrenalin-fuelled adventure.
5. Chiang Mai, Thailand
Although many think of Chiang Mai as Thailand’s cultural and relaxation hub, hidden beneath its serene tropical exterior are world-class adventure activities just waiting to be explored.
Channel your inner Tarzan as you soar above the treetops on a zipline canopy tour or hire mountain bikes and explore the dense jungles of northern Thailand.
A favourite activity amongst travellers to Chiang Mai is white water rafting through the spectacular Mai Tang River Valley. Rock climbing and caving is also very popular in the region.
Article by Jennifer Kellet a freelance travel writer and keen thrill seeker. Jenny has recently been to New Zealand and based herself at a Queenstown hotel called Peppers Beacon. Victoria Falls is next on her list to explore.