Whether you’re a seasoned traveller or a novice adventurer, there’s something undeniably exhilarating about taking to the open road with nothing but a backpack and a sense of curiosity. The world is a vast and diverse playground, so an adventure trip offers an incredible chance to make lifelong memories. If you’re partial to active travel adventures, there are endless opportunities out there to explore, challenge yourself, and experience the wonders of the planet.
Whether you’re drawn to adrenaline-pumping activities like skydiving and whitewater rafting or prefer more contemplative experiences such as hot air ballooning or cultural immersion, there are backpacking travel ideas for everyone. From the remote corners of Asia to the rugged landscapes of South America, the rolling hills of England to the rugged wilderness of Scotland, the possibilities for exploration and diverse fun are limitless with adventure travel.
In this article, we’ll explore an exciting array of adventure travel activities to embark on during your next backpacking trip, from scaling cliffs to exploring hidden caves, horse riding to sandboarding.
Hiking and trekking
Hiking and trekking are essential adventure travel activities for backpackers. There’s no shortage of iconic trails to discover across the world. From the Inca Trail in Peru to the Annapurna Circuit in Nepal, you can explore breathtaking landscapes while getting closer to nature and local cultures.
The UK boasts an extensive network of trails and paths that cater to hikers of all levels, from leisurely walkers to seasoned trekkers. Some of the most renowned routes include the West Highland Way in Scotland, the South West Coast Path in England, and the Mourne Mountains in Northern Ireland. These trails lead you through rugged coastlines and lush woodlands, serene moors and towering mountain ranges.
For cycling enthusiasts, biking is an excellent way to explore foreign lands. Whether you’re pedalling through the scenic countryside of France, tackling the rugged mountain trails of New Zealand, or navigating the bustling streets of Southeast Asia, cycling offers a unique perspective on your journey.
If you’re staying on local soil, the UK offers a fantastic variety of trails and routes, both on and off-road. The Lake District, Scottish Highlands, and Welsh Valleys provide a spectacular backdrop for cycling. You can choose between easygoing rides along picturesque country lanes or opt for the thrill of downhill mountain biking in purpose-built parks, like Coed-y-Brenin in Wales. For the more daring cyclists, there’s the challenging terrain of the Isle of Skye or the Grampian Mountains in Scotland.
Many places worldwide offer outstanding rock climbing opportunities, to take your expedition to new heights. Take a look at Krabi in Thailand, Kalymnos in Greece, or the iconic cliffs of Meteora.
The UK itself is a haven for rock climbers, with its diverse range of crags and cliffs. The Peak District is a hotspot for climbers. Stanage Edge, Burbage Rocks, and Froggatt Edge are just a few of the famous locations where you can test your climbing skills. For those looking for something more remote and dramatic, the sea stacks of the Scottish Highlands provide an unbeatable thrill.
Whether it’s surfing in Bali, snorkelling in the Great Barrier Reef, or kayaking in the Norwegian fjords, watersports provide a refreshing way to explore the world’s oceans, rivers, and lakes.
The UK’s coastlines also offer an array of watersports opportunities. Certain areas are renowned for great surfing, such as Cornwall and the North Coast of Northern Ireland, which are excellent destinations for catching waves. Additionally, kayaking and paddleboarding provide a serene way to explore the UK’s beautiful rivers, lakes, and estuaries. Try paddling along the Norfolk Broads or navigating the lochs of the Scottish Highlands for a watersports adventure to remember.
Caving and spelunking
Venture underground to explore stunning cave systems and witness the remarkable subterranean world. From the Waitomo Caves in New Zealand to the cave temples of Ellora in India, there’s an entire universe waiting beneath the Earth’s surface.
The UK is home to a wealth of caves, many of which are found in the limestone regions of the Yorkshire Dales and the Mendip Hills in England. Some of them offer guided tours, while others are better suited to experienced cavers. Exploring the caves’ intricate formations and unique ecosystems is well worth a day out.
Experience the ultimate adrenaline rush by leaping from a plane while taking in breathtaking aerial views. Places like Interlaken in Switzerland and Queenstown in New Zealand offer stunning landscapes to enjoy during your freefall.
Embracing the spirit of backpacking means leaving behind the comforts of hotels and campsites. Wild camping is a thrilling way to connect with nature, provided you follow Leave No Trace principles and adhere to local regulations.
The UK offers numerous opportunities for wild camping, whether it’s in the rugged Scottish Highlands, the enchanting forests of Snowdonia in Wales, or the serene Dartmoor National Park in England.
Coasteering combines the best of rock climbing, swimming, and cliff jumping. The UK’s dramatic coastline, with its towering cliffs and hidden coves, provides an ideal backdrop for this exciting activity. The Pembrokeshire Coast in Wales is a prime coasteering destination, as are the rugged shores of Scotland’s Western Isles.
Paragliding and hang gliding
Take to the skies and experience the world’s beauty from a unique perspective. Paragliding and hang gliding let you soar like a bird above stunning panoramas. Popular spots include Queenstown in New Zealand, Pokhara in Nepal, and the Swiss Alps.
The Brecon Beacons in Wales and the Derbyshire Dales in England are popular UK destinations for these activities. You’ll be treated to striking panoramic views of the British countryside.
Backpacking trips provide the perfect opportunity to go on wildlife safaris. Discover the rich biodiversity of Africa in countries like Kenya and South Africa, or explore the rainforests of Borneo for a chance to spot orangutans in their own habitat.
The UK also offers fantastic opportunities for wildlife enthusiasts. The Scottish Highlands are known for their diverse ecosystems, including red deer, eagles, and otters. The Isle of Mull in Scotland is famous for its seabird colonies and the chance to spot the elusive white-tailed sea eagle. The Farne Islands in Northumberland, England, are home to thousands of seabirds and a thriving grey seal population. Wildlife safaris are truly special for backpackers who appreciate the natural world.
Swap your snowboard for a sandboard and hit the desert dunes. Similar to snowboarding, this exhilarating sport provides an adrenaline rush, except it’s set against sand rather than snow. Destinations like Huacachina in Peru and Swakopmund in Namibia offer thrilling sandboarding experiences.
Get your adrenaline pumping with whitewater rafting. The Zambezi River in Zambia, the Colorado River in the USA, and the Rio Futaleufu in Chile offer thrilling opportunities for rafting enthusiasts.
The UK has several rivers suitable for this activity, including the River Tay in Scotland and the Tryweryn River in Wales. Experienced guides will lead you through exhilarating rapids, making it a memorable addition to your journey.
The exhilaration of leaping from a towering platform at dizzying heights, experiencing a freefall and rebounding in mid-air, is a heart-pounding rush like no other. The intense adrenaline surge triggers an immediate sense of euphoria and an unparalleled feeling of conquering fear. The scenery often serves as an awe-inspiring backdrop, adding to the overall excitement. Queenstown in New Zealand and Victoria Falls on the border of Zimbabwe and Zambia are renowned for their exhilarating jumps.
Hot air ballooning
For a more serene adventure, take to the skies in a hot air balloon. Witness stunning sunrises and sunsets over picturesque locations like Cappadocia in Turkey, Bagan in Myanmar, and the Serengeti in Tanzania.
Explore diverse landscapes on horseback, from the Andes Mountains in Argentina to the steppes of Mongolia. Riding offers a unique perspective on the world’s natural beauty, while bonding with the animal world.
Discover the charm of the British countryside on horseback. Riding through the picturesque Cotswolds in England or exploring the wilds of the Scottish Borders on horseback allows you to appreciate the beauty of the UK in a highly relaxing way. Many stables offer guided tours for riders of all levels.
If your adventure takes you to snowy regions, don’t miss the chance to ski or snowboard. The Alps in Europe, the Rockies in the USA, and Hakuba in Japan are just a few options for winter sports enthusiasts.
Ziplining provides a thrilling adventure with an unmatched perspective on the environment. Experience the rush while flying through the jungle canopies of Costa Rica, the forests of Alaska, or the vibrant cityscapes of Dubai.
For an exhilarating way to explore foreign lands, adventure motorcycling won’t let you down. Ride the legendary Route 66 in the US, traverse the Ho Chi Minh Trail in Vietnam, or journey through the dramatic terrain of Patagonia in Argentina and Chile.
Kitesurfing and windsurfing
Seek the thrill of gliding on water by learning to kitesurf or windsurf. Spots like Maui in Hawaii, Tarifa in Spain, and Jericoacoara in Brazil are renowned for their strong winds and ideal conditions.
Reserved for the most daring, base jumping involves leaping from fixed objects, such as cliffs or bridges, with a parachute. Norway’s Kjerag Mountain and Switzerland’s Lauterbrunnen Valley are popular destinations for base jumping.
Experience the raw power of nature by exploring active and dormant volcanoes. From the lava fields of Iceland to the volcanic landscapes of Hawaii, volcano tourism offers fascinating otherworldly adventures.
Cultural immersion and learning
While adventure activities are exhilarating, don’t forget the cultural aspect of your worldwide backpacking journey. Learn local traditions and languages. Participate in festivals, visit historical sites, and engage with the local population for a more well-rounded travel experience.
Cooking classes provide a multifaceted experience that enriches your trip. They allow you to immerse yourself in the local culture, connecting with people and traditions through food. Learning to prepare regional dishes offers insight into ingredients, techniques, and culinary history. It’s a practical skill that can be used throughout your travels and back home. These classes often take place in charming settings, such as family homes or local markets, creating unique memories. Of course, the joy of savouring your self-prepared meal is an added reward at the end.
Thailand’s vibrant street food culture and distinctive cuisine make it an ideal place to learn the art of Thai cooking. Destinations like Chiang Mai, Bangkok, and Phuket offer a wide range of cooking schools. Alternatively, In Peru’s Cusco, you can discover the secrets of cuisine like ceviche and pisco sour, while surrounded by Incan history.
Get Adventure Travel Insurance with SportsCover Direct
While adventure travel may bring a sense of freedom, it’s worth preparing for the unexpected. Accidents and unexpected events can disrupt even the most carefully planned trips. Adventure travel insurance provides peace of mind, ensuring that you can enjoy your journey with confidence, knowing that you’re financially safeguarded against potential setbacks.
SportsCover Direct’s Adventure Travel Insurance offers single and annual multi-trip Travel Insurance, designed to give you financial protection for medical costs or in the event of cancellation. You can select our bolt-on if you already have insurance with an existing provider. Then there’s our Sports Accident Insurance, to give you personal liability and income protection in the event of any backpacking adventure travel incidents.
Read more and get an instant quote tailored to your needs. If you need any help, our team are on hand to provide assistance.