Do you consider yourself a bit of an adventure traveller? By adventure traveller, I don’t mean bungee jumping over active volcanoes or base jumping in Norway, but a traveller who really like to get off the beaten track, discover the lesser known, embrace local communities and customs and eat like a local, with the locals. In other words, are you a traveller that embraces experiences?
We have compiled a list of the top 10 experiences that we believe every adventurer should have. Which of these will you do?
1. Stoke Baby Californian Grey Whales
Animal encounters are high on many peoples lists and having the opportunity to be in such close proximity to whale calves in the wild is a thrill on its own. What about if you could pat them? Scratch them under the chin and rub their bellies? This whale watching experience in Baja California is like nowhere else in the world. Curious calves, encouraged by their gentle mothers, take interest in the skiffs and zodiacs, making for a breathtaking experience as they pop their heads out to investigate, and allow you to stroke them.
2. Stay with Shahsavan Nomads in remote Iran
Beyond the Alborz Mountains on the outskirts of Tehran and continuing into the Talesh Highlands live the Shahsavan Nomads. With very little influence or encounters with foreign travellers, these pastoralists spend their summers in their high pastures, tending to their herds as they have for thousands of years. Families will welcome you to stay with them, sharing their culture and simple yet delicious local cuisines.
3. Cross the Empty Quarter
The Empty Quarter is the vast expanse of desert between Oman and Saudi Arabia. First mapped by western man only 85 years ago, this spectacular and desolate region is still very much untrodden. Explore the always changing and seemingly never ending sand dunes where you will encounter bedouins still living in these harsh climates with their camel caravans. Camp under the stars and cook your food under the sand from the heat of the day.
4. Experience the Hornbill Festival
The Hornbill Festival is a warrior festival that takes place in Nagaland in North Eastern India. Witness warrior tribes dressed in their traditional battle-gear bring alive age-old traditions. This festive frenzy takes place at the heritage village of Kisama, which is decorated in delicately carved hutments displaying remarkable cultural dances, indigenous sports, paintings and sculptures expressing headhunting, as well as the decoration of Morungs – the communal houses of unmarried men.
5. Live with African hunter-gatherer tribes
Fancy sleeping on a cow hide bed in an authentic manyatta? Forget the touristy Masai tribes, go a bit deeper and live life with the hunter-gatherer tribes of Tanzania. Learn their secrets and appreciate their hunting skills and ability to read the wildlife. Soak up stories told under the Tanzanian night skies. Prepare traps, understand poisoned arrows and learn to live from the land as these tribes people have done for over 10,000 years.
6. Hike the Rainbow Mountains
Hidden deep in the Andes are the remarkable Rainbow Mountains. Trekking to this spectacle, you will be treading through one of the wildest and rarely visited regions of Peru, and the crown jewel of the Andes. The landscape looks like it has been painted with a brush. Red, orange, ochre, turquoise and blue create an unforgettable sight.
7. Track Snow Leopards
Tracking Snow Leopards is not for the faint hearted. You are facing the elements of ice and snow, as well as camping in the middle of nowhere! Sounds exciting right? Add in a few elusive snow leopards and you have yourself a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Searching for Snow Leopards is all about the journey and understanding the conservation practices behind protecting these beautiful animals. Expert trackers search for markings, scratchings and droppings as you edge ever closer to these ‘ghosts of the mountains’.
8. Explore an Island that no-one has ever heard of!
Known as the Galapagos of Arabia, the island of Socotra is not somewhere that easily rolls of ones tongue, but the beauty and secrecy of this little gem is what puts it on our list of places for the adventurous traveller to visit. A Jurassic island so isolated that a third of its plant life is found nowhere else on the planet. Home to the unique dragon’s blood trees that look like flying saucers perched on trunks and the unusual desert rose trees which look like elephants’ legs with pink flowers on top. Rolling white sand dunes, dotted with camels, crumbling stone villages and turquoise lagoons brimming with an abundance of marine life, all make up this Arabian jewel.
9. Bike and Hike Madagascar
Madagascar is already off the beaten track for some but to get even more off the beaten track, the best way to explore is on foot or on bicycle – or why not a combination of both? Venture into the wilderness to marvel at the country’s biodiversity which cannot be matched by any other on our planet. Spot unique plants and animals whilst exploring stunning landscapes with sharp cliffs and bizarre rock formations, resulting from volcanic activity and wind. Tackle dirt roads and hike through the prairies and hills of Madagascar’s massifs to discover a whole new world this country has hidden from the rest of the planet.
10. Venture off road to Mingle with the Tattooed Ladies of the Chin Tribe
The Chin tribes of remote north-western Burma consider tattoos a sign of beauty. Their faces covered in elaborate black patterns and, in some cases, totally dark with ink, these smiling villagers are some of Burma’s last surviving tattooed women. The practice is now discontinued and could disappear withing a generation, only a few women now have the markings, with the majority of those who do living hidden away in the mountainous Chin region which was, until recently, closed to foreigners.
Looking for more unique experiences? Check out our Crooked Compass small group tours!
This category of tours involves light trekking, walking, cycling, rafting or kayaking for a few hours each day with a small amount of inclines and declines. You will require a reasonable level of fitness and good health to participate. It is important to note that due to the nature of some of our trips, they may take place in remote areas (with basic facilities) and can involve long travelling days on various modes of transport.
Suggested preparation : At least 3 months prior to departure, it is recommended that you undertake aerobic exercise (this may include jogging, cycling or fast walking) for 30 minutes, three times a week. It is also advised to walk on variable terrain and in variable weather conditions. For a cycling adventure, road cycling twice a week is recommended and for adventures which involve paddling and kayaking, it is important to gain confidence and rhythm rather than speed prior to departure.
This category of tours involve trekking, kayaking and cycling for period of 6 to 8 hours a day at a fairly consistent pace. Ideal for people looking to slightly increase the heart rate. For our moderately rated tours, you must have a good level of fitness and also be in good health. It is also important to be prepared for variable weather conditions. Altitude may also come into play. This category of tours may involve visiting remote areas where facilities can be quite basic. Accommodation may also involve camping, homestays or basic accommodation where facilities may not be considered of western standards. To enjoy this style of travel, it is suggested for travellers to have a reasonable level of fitness and health, a positive attitude, as well as a fairly active lifestyle. An open mind is also required.
Suggested preparation: At least 3 months prior to departure, it is recommended that you undertake 45mins – 1 hour of aerobic exercise, three to four times a week. Some potential exercises that could be beneficial include hill walking with a backpack on over variable terrain and weather conditions, as well as running and cycling dependent on the activity you plan on undertaking.
This category of tours involves trekking, kayaking, cycling or other adventure activities in remote areas for up to 8 to 10 hours a day. It is important to note that with the remoteness of some regions comes a variety of other challenges such as variable weather conditions, accommodation as well as facilities. You must have an excellent level of fitness and good health to be able to partake in this category of tour. You must have confidence in your own ability and be in good physical condition. Includes extended periods of endurance.
Suggested preparation: At least 3 to 4 months of strenuous exercise, four times a week. When preparing for treks it would be beneficial to participate in hill walks with a weighted day pack (approximately 5-8 kg) once a week for aerobic fitness and strengthening of leg muscles. It is also important to do this on variable terrain to prepare for challenging adventures. When preparing for cycling adventures, regular bike riding (at least 4 to 5 times a week for 1-4 hours is essential). It is also important to cycle on uneven surfaces or even participate in other aerobic exercises such as running or swimming to build up strength and stamina. Altitude may also be a factor in these tours.
This category of tour often involves extreme trekking, cycling or other extreme adventure activities. It is important to expect remote and poorly defined tracks and to be prepared for variable weather conditions for 10 to 12 hours per day (may sometimes be more depending on weather and altitude). These adventures are suitable for travellers who have prior experience in strenuous travel and activities, are extremely fit and have excellent health. It is also important to note that some of the terrain on these adventures will involve trekking in snow, at high attitude levels and may require technical equipment.
Suggested preparation: It is important to note that physical fitness should be an ongoing activity, commencing around 5-6 months prior to departure, or even before if you have no prior fitness. Exercise should focus on building maximum endurance and stamina. Four to five hard sessions of 40-60 mins per week should be completed and can include exercises such as going to the gym, running, swimming or cycling to focus on building aerobic stamina. It could also be beneficial to prepare by hiking on rough terrain, in extreme weather conditions or partake in altitude training.