A jury of the UK’s top explorers, adventurers, and award-winning writers have selected the world’s greatest travel adventure as “staring down into the smouldering eyes of a tiger from the back of an elephant in India’s Kanha National Park.”
For the past two months, travel luminaries including Lonely Planet founder Tony Wheeler, explorer Benedict Allen, and broadcaster Simon Calder have been assessing the most intense adventures on the planet. And the chance of getting close to a tiger in the wild – while such a possibility exists – was judged to be even more thrilling than skiing down a live volcano on the Japanese island of Hokkaido or diving with hammerhead sharks in the Galapagos.
Simon Calder said: “Whatever tribulations the economy may deliver, the British spirit of adventure is alive and well. Travelers are turning their backs on the beach and going to extremes to satisfy a craving for adrenalin-fuelled experiences.”
TOP 10 ADVENTURES
1. Tiger tracking on elephants, Kanha National Park, India
“You’ll never get so close to a tiger in the wild.” – Bryn Thomas
2. Skiing on Asahidake, Hokkaido, Japan
“Asahidake is the island’s highest mountain and sends out a stream of smoke from its vents. Hokkaido enjoys eight meters of snow a year, and the powder is some of the most consistently excellent in the world.” – Perry Wilson
3. Diving with hammerhead sharks in the Galapagos
“With basic scuba skills you can safely dive with these fabulous, iconic sharks – in the company of so many of them that you lose count.” – Paul Rose
4. Encounter with mountain gorillas in Rwanda
“Nothing rivals a close-up with our closest relatives. It is at altitude, in a rainforest, with no paths. The trek can take five hours. Worth it – massively, emotionally – and it helps this poor, war-ravaged country.” – Paul Goldstein
5. Inca Trail to Machu Picchu in Peru
“Popular though this three-day trek is, nothing can prepare you for the awesome first sight of the ‘lost’ city of the Incas as you round the trail on the last day, seeing it perched high above the Urumaba with the mist swirling around it.” – Bryn Thomas.
6. Larapinta Trail in Australia’s Northern Territory.
“Classic outback country: dry, dramatic, lots of wildlife … the ‘dry’ component would normally make it unwalkable until the establishment of regular water tanks made it one of Australia’s best hikes.” – Tony Wheeler
7. Trans-Siberian Railway, Russia
“The greatest rail adventure of them all. I’d suggest the weekly Moscow-Mongolia-Beijing train. Its six nights and over 5,000 miles across Siberia, the Gobi Desert, and through the Great Wall for as little as GBP410. You can even start your trip at St. Pancras.” – Mark Smith
8. Hot-air ballooning over the Serengeti of Tanzania
“Even if there are no migrating herds, just to pass over the African savannah in silence is something you will never forget.” – Benedict Allen
9. Hiking the Grand Tsingy Circuit, Madagascar
“Tsingy are grotesque pinnacles and spikes of limestone creating the world’s most exotic rock garden. Rare succulents shelter in the gullies that visitors cross using boardwalks, ladders, and bridges. An extraordinary experience on an extraordinary island.” – Hilary Bradt
10. The wildlife of the Pantanal, Brazil
“Check out giant otters, caimans, jaguars, green iguanas, and more.” – Tim Fryer
The list was drawn up on behalf of Adventure Travel Live, which takes place in London from January 29-31.
The judges were: Hilary Bradt (adventure guide and publisher); Paul Goldstein (tour leader and award-winning photographer); Benedict Allen (explorer and television presenter); Tim Fryer (land product manager, STA Travel); Mark Smith (award-winning rail expert); Tony Wheeler (Lonely Planet founder); Simon Calder (travel writer and broadcaster); Paul Rose (explorer and adventurer); Perry Wilson (founder, Insure & Go); and Bryn Thomas (guidebook writer and publisher).