Adventure: noun – an unusual and exciting experience; a daring enterprise; a hazardous activity.
That’s what the dictionary says. But what does it mean to you? To some, it might involve pushing yourself to the physical limits: summiting a great peak – Kilimanjaro, perhaps – or tackling extreme sports. To others, it’s a destination beyond your imagination – venturing to the extremes of the Earth, enduring sub-zero climes in Antarctica or traversing the sands of Arabia’s Empty Quarter. It could see you wandering among huge predators on land or under the sea, roaming tiger territory in India or swimming with sharks in the Galápagos. You might immerse yourself in unfamiliar cultures, meeting eagle-hunting nomads in Central Asia or Indigenous Australians in the remote Outback.
The joy of travel today is that whatever your interests, fitness levels, risk (or credit) limit, there’s an adventure for you – whether you dream of playing cowboy in Idaho or hurling yourself off a cliff in the Azores. Like that dictionary definition, our selection of 50 adventures for 2018 isn’t a restrictive prescription but, rather, a sketch map outlining a handful of the possibilities.
So get out there. Test yourself. Find your own adventure.
1. Conquer Kilimanjaro
Summiting the roof of Africa – 19,340ft-high Kilimanjaro – is that bit more rewarding with a new route for the final scramble on the north face to be made in daylight. Pay-off for the challenging, but non-technical, ascent is a spectacular dawn panorama across Kenya.
Eight days, from £2,617, including accommodation (pre/post-ascent lodge, full-board tented on climb), guides and porters. Flights not included. Departures Feb 11 and July 6 2018, plus tailor-made options. Gane and Marshall (01822 600600; ganeandmarshall.com).
2. Track rhinos in Namibia
Play your part in vital conservation efforts to protect the rare, desert-adapted rhinos of Damaraland, Namibia. From a luxurious tented camp, venture out by four-wheel drive cars with the trackers of the Save the Rhino Trust, then continue on foot for a primal wildlife experience, watching for lions, cheetahs and elephants. A flight over the serrated, empty shores of the Skeleton Coast completes your wilderness epic.
Six nights tailor-made, from £5,164, including international flights, all meals and activities. Africa Odyssey (020 8704 1216; africaodyssey.com).
3. Play with primates in Rwanda
Meeting the relatives can be a chore – but doesn’t usually involve trekking steep terrain through dense undergrowth. Spending time with your close cousins in Rwanda’s Volcanoes National Park, though, provides ample rewards: first, precious personal time with a family of mountain gorillas then, next day, playful golden monkeys. Wind down after your hike by kayaking on Lake Kivu alongside local fishermen.
Eight days tailor-made, from £4,990, including flights, accommodation, meals and excursions. Audley Travel (01993 838580; audleytravel.com/rwanda).
4. See Victoria Falls
Grasp the scale of Africa’s big skies, wildlife and ancient heritage on an overland journey. In Namibia, seek San (bushmen) rock art in Damaraland, spot black rhinos in Etosha National Park and be dazzled by bee-eaters and kingfishers in the Caprivi Strip; in Botswana, meander the Chobe river; and in Zimbabwe be deafened by the roar of the “smoke that thunders”: Victoria Falls.
Eight days, from £6,075 including flights, B&B accommodation and some meals. Five departures April-October 2018. Cox & Kings (020 3642 0861; coxandkings.co.uk).
5. Meet ancient cultures in Kenya
Among the volcanic landscapes in northern Kenya and southern Ethiopia survive people whose lifestyles remain untouched by the modern world. Boarding a private Cessna Caravan plane, you’ll meet the tribes of Lake Turkana and the Omo Valley, delve into the rock-hewn churches of Lalibela and track wolves in the Simien Mountains.
Ten days tailor-made, from £13,950 including flights, accommodation, some meals, activities and private plane charter. Aardvark Safaris (01980 849160; aardvarksafaris.co.uk/destinations/ethiopia).
6. Explore Pharaoh tombs in Sudan
In the remote eastern Sahara, just east of the Nile in Sudan, dozens of pyramids loom: tombs of the ancient kings of Meroë. Roam the dunes on a four-wheel-drive expedition, camp under the stars among the sepulchres of the ‘black pharaohs’ of Kush, and meet local Nubian people.
Thirteen days, from £3,489, including flights, accommodation (hotels and camping) and most meals. Five departures February-November 2018. Exodus (020 3131 2941, exodus.co.uk).
7. Wild walks in Zimbabwe
Experience the electrifying frisson that only a really close encounter with a wild creature engenders: head out on a walking safari in little-visited Hwange National Park, Zimbabwe. Little visited by humans, that is: there are lions, leopards, rhinos and elephants aplenty. Exceptional guides lead you across plains and through forested hills in search of diverse species including wild dog and cheetah.
Six nights tailor-made, from £3,358, including flights, accommodation, meals, drinks, game drives and walking safaris. Expert Africa (020 3405 6666; expertafrica.com).
Asia & the Middle East
8. The peaks of China
Follow in the footsteps of the intrepid botanist-explorers of the early 20th century through the mountains, glaciers and lakes of Yunnan, China. Discover the extraordinary limestone formations of the “Stone Forest”, the beautifully named (and simply beautiful) Jade Dragon Mountain and Tiger Leaping Gorge, and the canals, temples and Tibetan Buddhist monasteries of fairytale cities such as Lijiang and Shangri-La (Zhongdian).
15 days, from £4,250, including flights, accommodation, meals and botanist guide. Departs June 5 2018. Brightwater Holidays (01334 657155, brightwaterholidays.com/Yunnan).
9. Lose yourself on ‘Forever Mountain’
Conquer the highest accessible peak in Laos: Phou Louey – “Forever Mountain” – in the remote north-east, clad in dense cloud forest harbouring leopards, bears and the remarkable white-cheeked crested gibbon. Meet the locals at a village homestay and help retrieve camera-trap photos to monitor wildlife populations, before relaxing amid the gilt-roofed temples and colonial charm of Luang Prabang.
Nine nights tailor-made, from £1,175, including full-board accommodation and expert guides. Not including flights. InsideAsia Tours (0117 244 3380; insideasiatours.com).
10. Cross the Gobi with nomads
Absorb the big-sky panoramas of the Gobi Desert and vast Mongolian steppe alongside nomadic herdspeople, sleeping in a traditional ger (yurt) by bottomless Lake Khovsgol. Visit in July to witness the spectacle of the Naadam games, drinking fermented mare’s milk with the triumphant wrestlers and riders.
Seventeen days, from £3,857, including ger accommodation, meals and guides. Not including international flights. Departs July 1 2018; accommodation in luxury mobile gers, and tours to other festivals, also available. Panoramic Journeys (01608 676821; panoramicjourneys.com).
11. Trek into Borneo's lost world
Join explorer Robin Hanbury-Tenison on his return to the remote Maliau Basin in Borneo 40 years after leading the first major expedition. After a four-day trek into this biodiversity hotspot, home to endangered Sumatran rhino and clouded leopard, head to the Danum Valley to search for leopard cats, and to meet scientists investigating the rainforest.
Twelve days, from £4,995, including accommodation and most meals. Not including international flights. Departs June 4 2018; tailor-made tours available. Steppes Travel (01285 601050; steppestravel.com).
12. Caves and cultural highs in Vietnam
A caving adventure for claustrophobes? Well, perhaps not, but the two-day overnight foray into Hang En Cave – reputedly the world’s third-largest – accesses the vast karst cavity via a 390ft-high entrance swarming with nesting swifts. Camp by a subterranean river, then enjoy central Vietnam’s cultural highlights in former imperial capital Hue and pretty harbour city Hoi An.
Twelve days tailor-made, from £2,095, including flights, guides, accommodation, breakfasts and some meals. Bamboo Travel (020 7720 9285; bambootravel.co.uk).
13. Roam Wadi Rum’s red rocks
T E Lawrence navigated Jordan’s sandy expanses aboard the ship of the desert, but it’s doubtful he pedalled the Middle East’s back roads or hurtled down its canyons. You can, though: join a multi-activity adventure to wade, abseil, cycle and – yes – ride camels between the country’s highlights, including hiking the back route into the rose-red city of Petra and into the dunes of Rum.
Eight days, from £1,185, including B&B accommodation, several meals, guides and activities. Not including flights. Departs March 31 and Sept 15. KE Adventure (01768 773966; keadventure.com).
14. Watch nomads slug it out in Kyrgyzstan
Kyrgyzstan, at the crossroads of the Silk Roads, is a heartland for Central Asia’s roaming communities, which gather in alternate years to compete in wrestling, eagle hunting and, um, headless goat polo. Visit mountain meadows and villages, sleep in ger (yurt) camps and watch the bi-annual nomad games at Issyk Kul Lake.
Fifteen days, from £2,985, including flights, accommodation, most meals and guide. Departs Aug 26 2018; other Kyrgyzstan tours available. Regent Holidays (020 7666 1244; regent-holidays.co.uk).
15. Explore the Arabian Peninsula
Cross the Hajjar Mountains, skirt Arabia’s Empty Quarter and camp among the great dunes of the Wahiba Sands on an overland quest to ancient, recently unearthed frankincense-trading cities in southern Oman. Today, after haggling in the labyrinthine souks of Mutrah and Nizwa, you can trek round the great canyon of Wadi Nakhr and snorkel off secluded beaches.
Fifteen days tailor-made, from £2,640, including flights, B&B accommodation, transport and guides. TransIndus (020 8566 3739; transindus.co.uk).
Australia & New Zealand
16. Swim with giants
Some of the planet’s biggest creatures fin the waters of Ningaloo Reef, a 160-mile ribbon of coral midway up the coast of Western Australia: migrating humpback whales, manta rays, and the world’s heftiest fish, whale sharks. Numbers peak June-August, when divers and snorkellers encounter these (thankfully not human-ivorous) behemoths; diverse marine life can be seen year-round.
Sixteen days tailor-made, from £3,795, including flights, B&B accommodation and 14 dives. Dive Worldwide (01962 302087, diveworldwide.com).
17. Learn to hunt with indigenous peoples
Live with the Yolngu, the indigenous inhabitants of East Arnhem Land in the Northern Territory’s remote Top End, to absorb survival skills mastered by this ancient culture over the 60 or so millennia they’ve roamed Australia. Join hunting, fishing and gathering forays, and cluster around the campfire to hear traditional stories and songs handed down through countless generations.
Seven days, from £3,585, including basic accommodation, most meals and local transport. Not including international flights. Four departures July-September 2018. Intrepid (0203 308 9753; intrepidtravel.com).
18. Be immersed in the Kimberley
Even measured against the most vast, empty, rust-red expanses of this island continent, Western Australia’s Kimberley region claims the most craggy gorges, the most tempting billabongs and waterfalls, the most daunting four-wheel-drive tracks – and some of the most diverse bird life. Join an expert naturalist to spot brolgas, rock wallabies and crocodiles, and to search for Aboriginal rock art.
Seventeen days, from £6,645, including flights, accommodation, meals and guide. Departs Sept 5 2018. The Travelling Naturalist (01305 267994; naturalist.co.uk).
19. Tackle New Zealand’s southern tough trails
Steer the coastal roads and four-wheel-drive tracks of South Island’s Catlins Coast and Stewart Island, exploring beaches on horseback or kite buggy, watching for yellow-eyed penguins and dolphins, being bewitched by the glow-worms of the Clifden Caves and roaming ancient forests where the rare southern brown kiwi snuffles.
Five days tailor-made, from £1,227, including four-wheel drive hire, B&B accommodation, some meals and local flights. Not including international flights. Discover the World (01737 214291; discover-the-world.co.uk).
20. Track wolves in Belarus
New regulations allowing visa-free visits of up to five days make Belarus a tempting short-break destination – time enough to immerse yourself in dense, wildlife-bustling Naliboki Forest. Based in a simple eco station, join local naturalist guides on a walking safari hunting for bison, beavers, eagles and – the big draw – wolves.
Five days, from £935 including flights, B&B accommodation and some meals. Four departures August-December 2018. Explore (01252 883358; explore.co.uk/holidays/wolf-watching-in-belarus).
21. Pedal to the edge of Europe
Cycle to Ireland’s windswept northernmost point – Malin Head, a location for the latest Star Wars episode The Last Jedi – on a circuit of rugged Co Donegal. Scooting through the Blue Stack Mountains, past Neolithic tombs, white-sand beaches and hidden waterfalls, you’ll top out at Slieve League cliffs, soaring 1,972ft from the Atlantic.
Seven days, from €1,895 (£1,685), including B&B accommodation, several dinners, guide and support van. Not including flights and bike hire. Five departures May-September. Wilderness Ireland (00353 91 457 898; wildernessireland.com).
22. Test your adrenalin in the Azores
Hurl yourself off cliffs, abseil sheer rock faces and swoosh down gorges on a canyoning session, swim with dolphins, and trace the calderas of extinct volcanoes on a multi-activity trip to the island of Sao Miguel in the Azores. Adventures abound on this island in the wild Atlantic; other possibilities include whale-watching, diving, cycling and rock climbing.
Eight days tailor-made, from £923, including flights, B&B accommodation, canyoning and dolphin-swim excursions and one guided walk. Sunvil (020 8758 4722; sunvil.co.uk/azores).
23. See the ‘Crown of Lakes’
Tackle a challenging 60-mile (96km) high-level Pyrenean circuit that is dubbed the Coronallacs (“Crown of Lakes”) and tipped to rival the Tour du Mont Blanc for scenic and endorphin highs. Spend a week traversing alpine meadows and lakes, open woodlands and snow-dusted peaks on little-trodden trails, then compare tales with other hikers over excellent dinners in rustic mountain refuges.
Seven days, from £1,265, including flights, accommodation, most meals and a mountain guide. Three departures in July and September. Ramblers Walking Holidays (01707 331133; ramblersholidays.co.uk).
24. Walk with bears in Slovakia
More than 1,200 European brown bears amble Slovakia’s peaks and forests, many roaming high valleys of the Western Tatras normally off-limits to tourists. Join a park ranger to track the carnivores on foot, watching for red deer and Tatra chamois as well.
Eight days, from £1,374, including flights, B&B accommodation, plus three dinners, transport and guides. Three departures in May and September. Walks Worldwide (01962 302085; walksworldwide.com).
25. Hike the Spanish ‘Coast of Death’
Follow the Camino dos Faros (Lighthouse Way) along Galicia’s dramatic Costa da Morte, the “Coast of Death” – perilous for sailors, merely breathtaking for hikers, passing historic lighthouses, shipwrecks, cliffs and coves. Fuel up on fresh seafood before reaching Cape Finisterre – as the name implies, long believed to be the end of the world.
Eleven days tailor-made, from £830, including accommodation, some meals, local transport, luggage transfers and route information. Not including flights. On Foot Holidays (01722 322652; onfootholidays.co.uk).
26. Kayak above a submarine city
Two thousand years ago, Simena was a bustling Lycian trading post – until it was destroyed by an earthquake in the second century. Its ruined remains now lie submerged off Kekova Island, Turkey, where visitors can peer down at its ancient ruins through the eastern Mediterranean’s limpid waters on a two-night guided sea-kayaking adventure, wild camping on a deserted beach.
Eight days tailor-made, from £1,000, including flights, six nights’ B&B accommodation and one night full-board wild camping. Departures May-October. Fairlight Jones (020 3875 0351; fairlightjones.com).
South Asia & Indian Ocean
27. Take the Bhutan back route
Escape the crowds on the climb to the cliff-clinging Taktsang Monastery, this Himalayan kingdom’s most photographed site, by arriving via little-known Bumdra Trek, a modest challenge for a dramatic pay-off. Immerse yourself in traditional life at farmhouse homestays, spot black-necked cranes and visit the temple of the “Divine Madman” near Punakha’s monumental dzong (fortress-monastery).
Fifteen days, from £3,500, including flights, accommodation, most meals, guides and local festivals. Departures April 14 and Nov 5. Mountain Kingdoms (01453 844400; mountainkingdoms.com).
28. Trace the Death Railway
Follow the infamous route snaking from Bangkok in Thailand via the bridge on the river Kwai at Kanchanaburi into Myanmar and the railway’s terminus at Thanbyuzayat. From here, explore Myanmar’s little-touristed south, visiting the old British colonial capital at Mawlamyine, trekking to see hundreds of Buddha carvings on Mount Zwekabin, and admiring the teetering golden rock-top pagoda at Kyaiktiyo.
Fourteen days tailor-made, from £2,820, including B&B accommodation, local transport and guides. Not including flights. Selective Asia (01273 670001; selectiveasia.com).
29. Meet Shere Khan in India
The villainous tiger prowls screens once more in 2018, growled by Benedict Cumberbatch. Track this biggest of cats in the region that inspired Kipling’s Jungle Book across three less-trodden reserves – Tadoba, Pench and Satpura, where it’s possible to take an on-foot safari. Watch out, too, for sloth bears and leopards.
Thirteen days, from £3,195, including flights, accommodation, meals and guides. Departs March 27 and Nov 13 2018. Naturetrek (01962 733051; naturetrek.co.uk).
30. Get into peak condition in Nepal
Ready for the step up to crampons and ice-axes? Join a new mountaineering skills programme in the high Himalaya in Nepal. After a scenic approach trek through pine forest, you’ll practise using knots and fixed lines, placing rock and snow anchors, belaying, rock and ice climbing against a backdrop of 23,00ft-plus peaks.
Fourteen days, from £1,995, including accommodation (hotel and camping), most meals and expert guides. Not including flights. Departs Feb 18 2018. World Expeditions, (0800 0744 135; worldexpeditions.co.uk).
31. Explore Madagascar
Discover weird wildlife and quirky landscapes unlike any other on a one-off journey with Hilary Bradt and her guidebook co-author Daniel Austin. Amid rainforest, bulbous baobabs, tsingy limestone pinnacles and bizarre spiny bush you’ll spot lemurs, chameleons and countless other odd denizens of the Red Island.
Eighteen days, from £7,950, including flights, accommodation, meals, transport and guides. Departs Sept 30 2018; tailor-made options available for other dates. Rainbow Tours (020 7666 1266; rainbowtours.co.uk).
32. Rev your hog along Route 66
Follow Steinbeck’s 2,448-mile (3,939km) “Mother Road”, the throbbing aorta of America, by motorbike on a guided ride. Kicking off with a behind-the-scenes tour of the Harley-Davidson HQ in Milwaukee, roar between Chicago’s jazz clubs, the Grand Canyon, Vegas and Los Angeles.
Seventeen days, from £7,325, including flights, bike hire, B&B accommodation and guides. Departs May 15, July 31 and Sept 11 2018. Shorter non-Harley and car packages available. Bon Voyage (0800 316 0194; bon-voyage.co.uk).
33. Kayak with killers in Canada
Listen in on a warm-blooded killer during a kayaking adventure off Vancouver Island, British Columbia. Guides drop hydrophones into the water to pick up the vocalisations of migrating orca – you’ll likely see (and possibly hear) humpback whales on your paddling expeditions, too. Push up the predator tally at Knight Inlet and the Great Bear Rainforest, spotting grizzlies and bald eagles.
Ten days tailor-made, from £3,345, including flights, B&B accommodation, activities and guides. Suggested departures July-September. Wildlife Worldwide (01962 302086; wildlifeworldwide.com).
34. Drive your steers in Idaho
Saddle up! Ride ’em out! There are still swathes of wild in the American west where you can go full Bonanza – at Silver Spur Ranch, for example, escorting herds up to 20 miles (32km) a day to summer grazing grounds. From a simple cabin, experienced horse-riders spend days with reins in hand and nights under canvas on an authentic cattle drive.
Eight days tailor-made, from £3,030, including flights, accommodation and most meals. Fifteen departures May-September. Western & Oriental (020 3588 6130; westernoriental.com).
35. Heli-hike the heights
Explore granite towers piercing the sky in the Purcell Mountains of British Columbia on a three-day heli-hiking adventure. Dropped off among the crags by helicopter, trek the snowfields, alpine valleys and snow-dusted peaks with an expert guide, bookending your mountain expedition with horseriding, rafting and hiking in Alberta’s Banff National Park.
Seven days tailor-made, from £4,140, including helicopter exploration, accommodation, most meals and guides. Not including international flights. Departs July 26, Aug 1 and 13 2018. Tauck (0800 810 8020; tauck.co.uk).
36. Turn kids into cowboys
Stetsons, spurs and chaps come in all sizes in Texas. Bring your brood to the Dixie Dude Ranch for an introduction to cowboy life, enlivened with horse-riding, fishing, hayrides and sing-songs round the campfire. On a self-drive trip through the Lone Star State, watch the pros in Dallas’s rodeos, kayak the Gulf of Texas and visit Space Center Houston.
Eleven days tailor-made, from £6,310 for a family of four, including flights, car hire, accommodation and some meals. Destinology (01204 824619; destinology.co.uk).
37. Ski with added horsepower
The latest winter adrenalin sport has arrived in the American west: skijoring – tackling jumps, gates and obstacles at high speed while towed by a horse and rider. More thrills in the powder at Paws Up Ranch in Montana include dogsled racing, cross-country skiing and snowshoeing, snowmobiling through a ghost town, and, of course, downhill skiing and snowboarding.
Six nights tailor-made, from £3,490, including international flights, all meals, drinks and activities. Departures December-March. Blue Marble Private (020 3411 2191; bluemarbleprivate.com).
38. Enthral young adventurers in Belize
The compact Central American nation of Belize is built to thrill would-be junior Indiana Joneses and Lara Crofts. Delve into the rainforest to explore ancient Maya pyramid-temples and ball courts at Xunantunich, marvel at stalactites and carvings in Actun Chapat caves, and snorkel, kayak and paddle-board above Belize’s kaleidoscopic coral reef.
Nine days, from £2,739/£2,259 per adult/child, including flights, accommodation, most meals and guided activities. Five departures in February, March and December 2018. Families Worldwide (01962 302062; familiesworldwide.co.uk).
39. Search for pink river dolphins
Venture into Yasuni National Park, Ecuador, on a four-night riverboat cruise in search of rare pink river dolphins, anaconda, monkeys and the prehistoric-looking, leaf-munching hoatzin or “stink bird”, taking to a canoe for a nocturnal torchlit hunt for black caiman. Then head to the northern highlands and the market at Otavalo.
Nine nights tailor-made, from £3,949, including flights, B&B accommodation and several meals. Sunvil Traveller (020 8758 4774; sunvil.co.uk/traveller).
40. Eye up Chile’s giant heads
Investigate the mysteries of the colossal moai – stone heads – of Easter Island with an expert archaeologist, who’ll also cast light on the many strange geoglyphs scattered along the mainland of Chile, and wander amid the bizarre, wind-sculpted rock and salt formations of the Valle de la Luna in the arid Atacama Desert.
Sixteen days, from £6,995, including flights, accommodation, all meals and expert guide. Departures March 12 and Nov 12 2018. Andante Travels (01722 713800; andantetravels.co.uk).
41. Raid ancient burial chambers in Colombia
Explore rarely visited tombs at Tierradentro, Colombia, adorned with elaborate wall paintings – just one of many out-of-the-ordinary experiences on a comprehensive exploration of Colombia, taking in the mysterious statues of San Agustin, the underground salt cathedral of Zipaquira and the jungled coastline of Tayrona National Park.
Fourteen days, from £1,699, including B&B accommodation and local travel. Not including international flights. Departs fortnightly in 2018. Tucan Travel (020 8896 1600; tucantravel.com).
42. Snorkel with sharks
On most of the “Enchanted Isles” you’ll wander among snorting sea iguanas, penguins and Sally Lightfoot crabs – but, for underwater encounters, Marchena, in the far north of the Galapagos archipelago, is the pick of the bunch. Currently only one yacht visits this island, where you can snorkel with dolphins, sea lions, turtles, rays and – most thrilling – scalloped hammerhead sharks.
Ten days tailor-made, from £3,497, including B&B accommodation, meals on cruise, snorkelling and kayaking. Not including international flights. Think Galapagos (01964 552292; thinkgalapagos.com/adventure.html).
43. Go wild in the Guianas
A bit French, a bit Dutch, a bit British, the Guianas are in an undiscovered corner of South America that’s all spectacular. Explore the three former colonies of Guyana, French Guiana and Suriname, visiting the infamous Devil’s Island penal colony, an unlikely space centre, turtle nesting beaches, thundering Kaieteur Falls and rainforest thronging with jaguar, giant river otter and bizarre orange cock-of-the-rock.
Fifteen days, £5,895 per person, including accommodation and most meals. Not including international flights. Departs March 27 2018. Wild Frontiers (020 8741 7390; wildfrontierstravel.com).
44. Traverse the high Andes
Scratch beneath the postcard-friendly Inca surface on a four-wheel drive odyssey across the world’s longest mountain chain in Peru. Spot condors, flamingos and vicuna in lofty Pampas Galeras National Park, wander the cobbled streets and colonial churches of Ayacucho, see river otters in the Amazon and, of course, take in Cusco, gateway to Machu Picchu.
Sixteen days tailor-made, from £3,870, including flights, accommodation, most meals, private four-wheel drive and driver/guide. Available April-October. Journey Latin America (020 8600 1881; journeylatinamerica.co.uk).
45. Emulate Shackleton
It’s a century since Endurance leader Ernest Shackleton undertook his heroic trek across South Georgia’s mountains. This cruise offers the chance to ski, snorkel and kayak on the Antarctic Peninsula as well as the three-day crossing from King Haakon Bay to Stromness on South Georgia.
Eighteen days, from £10,900, including on-ship accommodation and meals, guides, onshore and Zodiac excursions. Not including international flights. South Georgia crossing extra. Departs Dec 1 2018. Aurora Expeditions (020 7978 4534; auroraexpeditions.co.uk).
46. Prowl around polar bears
Baffin Island, Canada’s largest island, is a glacier-scoured open zoo, where polar bears maraud ice floes and bowhead whales – which can live for more than 200 years – come to moult. Immerse yourself in the wild Canadian Arctic on a mini expedition: kayak Coronation Fjord to the Penny Ice Cap Glacier, snorkel in the chill ocean, and watch for beluga, caribou and, of course, the world’s largest land predator: bears.
Seven days, from £6,200, including flights, accommodation, meals and expedition guides. Departs Aug 10 and 17 2018. Summit & Blue (01243 929121; summitandblue.com).
47. Hear the call of the wild in Finland
Harness your huskies and learn to sled into the white wilderness on a hotel-based sub-zero short break in Finnish Lakeland. Over three days you’ll master the skills involved in controlling your pack and steering through snow-blanketed forests – with, just possibly, the Northern Lights shimmering above on a nocturnal expedition.
Six days, from £1,465, including flights, half-board accommodation, one lunch, three guided husky safaris and cold-weather clothing. Five departures January-March 2018. Artisan Travel (01670 785085; artisantravel.co.uk).
48. Find your fjord focus
Explore Scoresby Sound, the world’s largest fjord system, on a small-ship expedition to the sparsely populated east coast of Greenland. Sailing from Iceland, you’ll dodge huge icebergs to meet local Inuit people, roam the glacier-carved shores, and explore the tundra in search of musk ox, Arctic fox and reindeer.
Eleven days, from £7,995, including accommodation and meals, shore excursions and guides. Not including international flights to Akureyri, Iceland. Departs Aug 4 2018. Natural World Safaris (01273 691642; naturalworldsafaris.com).
49. Get in pole position
Time poor? Conquer the North Pole in just three days. From Spitsbergen’s capital Longyearbyen in northern Norway, fly to Ice Camp Barneo at 89 degrees north, then board an Mi-8 helicopter for the hop to the point where all lines of longitude converge. Expensive, but epic.
Three days, from £15,817, including hotel in Longyearbyen, heated tent in Ice Camp Barneo, helicopter to North Pole. Not including flights to Spitsbergen. Departs April 13 2018. Other Svalbard and North Pole tours available. Swoop Arctic (0117 369 0296; swoop-arctic.com).
50. March to the penguins
Board renowned icebreaker Kapitan Khlebnikov to penetrate the floes of the Weddell Sea on a rare Antarctic expedition to Snow Hill Island, off which spreads a vast emperor penguin rookery. Conditions permitting, helicopter and hike to the colony where thousands of pairs of the world’s largest penguin incubate and feed their chicks.
Fourteen days, from £15,596, including accommodation and on-board meals, shore and Zodiac excursions and guides. Not including international flights to Ushuaia. Departs Oct 6 2018. Wildfoot (0800 195 3385; wildfoottravel.com)