Thought 2022 was the Year of the Tiger? Wrong. While Chinese astrology might suggest that the big cat is in the spotlight right now, when it comes to the world of travel, it is undeniably the year of the GOAT: the “greatest of all trips”.
Tigers, say the Chinese, are energetic and fearless, hungry for excitement, the king of the beasts. Well, the GOAT is the king of the holiday. Similarly magnificent and thrill-seeking, GOATs are those once-in-a-lifetime adventures; the big, bold escapades into a reopening world; the passion projects that simply cannot – will not – be put off any longer. GOATs even have an undercurrent of the tiger’s fierce bravado: after two years of restricted movement playing into our deepest fears of missing out, of not having much time on Earth and of wasting what time we have left, many travellers are feeling frustrated, fully fired up and ready to pounce.
“We are certainly seeing clients wanting to take ‘revenge’ on the pandemic and wanting to make their next holiday really count,” says Kerry Golds, managing director of Abercrombie & Kent. This shaking of the fists at Covid is manifesting as a desire to travel soon and to travel well, says Golds, with bucket-list experiences like gorilla-trekking in Uganda and luxury cruises down the Nile proving popular.
Indeed, GOATs come in many forms. They’re not reserved for Bear Grylls types. Adventure travel is for all sorts and all ages. Here, we’ve selected a delicious array of incredible trips to suit active explorers but also inquisitive families, solo sightseers and those of a certain age who like their travel discoveries with a good dollop of comfort. These range from paddling Canada’s Desolation Sound to sailing into a barely-visited Indian Ocean paradise, and playing cowboys with the kids in Montana to trekking the mountains of Nepal (in style).
Sounds appealing, right? Many people – especially those who retired in the last couple of years – are desperate to play catch-up while they’re fit and healthy enough to actively explore the world. This is compounded by a back-of-brain whisper: what if another pandemic happens and we’re locked in again? The time is now. And that is why adventure travel – particularly the glorious GOATs, packed with new experiences, physical challenges and eye-opening encounters – is likely to bounce back more quickly than simple sun-seeking jollies abroad. Those infected with an innate wanderlust don’t just enjoy travel, they need it; even see it as part of their sense of self.
We’ve become used to a broader array of options. When the Queen took to the throne in 1952, travelling abroad was a privilege for the few – in that decade, only 1 per cent of Britons had ever holidayed overseas. For most, “adventure” constituted a whizz on the Blackpool Big Dipper. Seventy years on, following two years that felt like holidaying in the 1950s, our brains are recalibrating back to the future and craving the full gamut of experiences to which we’d become accustomed. And we are ravenous.
“Early on in the pandemic, we saw a spike in searches for big, adventure trips such as trekking to Everest Base Camp and climbing Kilimanjaro,” says Brian Young, MD EMEA of G Adventures. “As travel reopened, this interest turned into sales, with what we’re calling the ‘carpe diem’ effect – travellers who would have put off these trips in the past are looking to seize the day. January was the biggest booking month for G Adventures since the pandemic began, and we saw our Active travel style, which includes our big, physically demanding trips, rising to our third most popular style among British travellers.”
Another great way to do it is to splash the cash. “We’ve noticed average spend has increased by as much as 50 per cent as travellers seek not only to do longer trips, but to do them in more style,” says Jim Louth, director of Undiscovered Destinations, which specialises in excellently out-there places. “For many customers the experience is more important than ever. After such a horrible time, and having spent very little on travel over the last couple of years, the budget for some is much higher than normal.”
We’re not quite out of the woods yet; there are still fluctuating rules and lingering uncertainties. Which is an exceptionally good reason for putting your travels in the hands of an expert – the security of booking with a knowledgeable tour operator has never been more important. But the year is beginning to feel largely positive, and as adventure travel experiences a resurgence, we reveal how to have your greatest adventure ever with the biggest trips for 2022. It’s time to get your GOAT.
Best trips for active adventurers
Paddle into the wilderness
Finally play out that Crusoe fantasy (albeit in less tropical climes) at Cabana Desolation. This “kayak-in” wilderness resort comprises just six sustainably-built cabins, outdoor showers and an open-air café on an otherwise uninhabited island on British Columbia’s Sunshine Coast. The paddle there is half the fun; then spend days exploring the inlets, waterfalls, wildlife-filled bays and mountainous backdrops of Desolation Sound. You can also snorkel with starfish, hike into the rainforest, swim with bioluminescence and generally detox from the world.
Book it: A five-day tailor-made Guided Kayak Tour (00 1 866 617 4444; cabanadesolation.com) costs from £1,192pp including accommodation and meals, excluding flights.
Covid rules: Proof of at least two doses of approved vaccine, and a negative Covid test within 72 hours of departure or a positive test result taken between 10 and 180 days before departure.
Swim around Arabia
You may not know that Oman’s Musandam Peninsula gets called the “Norway of Arabia”. Here, the red-raw Hajar Mountains plummet into the sparkling-blue Arabian Gulf, creating a network of mighty khors (fjords) and dramatic wild swimming spots. Board a dhow to access nooks and crannies, swimming between bays, around islands, beneath towering cliffs and into remote fishing villages, looking for dolphins as you go.
Book it: A six-day Oman Fjords small-group trip with Swim Trek (01273 739713; swimtrek.com) costs from £1,420pp. Includes accommodation and most meals, excluding flights. Departs Oct 29, Nov 22, 28.
Covid rules: Proof of full vaccination (under 18 exempt). All must download and complete a passenger health form before flying and have proof of travel/health insurance, which covers at least 30 days of Covid treatment.
Trek the Tour de Mont Blanc
France, Italy & Switzerland
Taking on the Tour de Mont Blanc – the classic hiking circuit of the Alps’ massive massif – is a definite GOAT, and a real finger up to two years of confinement: you’ll tick off three countries in one go. On Ramblers Walking Holidays’ trip you’ll experience the mountain highs with the security of a guide, someone else carrying your bags and a comfy, characterful hotel each night.
Book it: A 14-night small-group Mont Blanc Hotel Trek (01707 331133; ramblersholidays.co.uk) costs from £2,549pp including flights, accommodation and most meals. Departs Jun 23, Jul 7 & 21, Sep 1.
Covid rules: France: Arrivals over 12 must be fully vaccinated and provide a sworn statement self-certifying they are not suffering from Covid symptoms and have not been in contact with confirmed cases in the 14 days prior to travel. Italy: Arrivals must show proof of vaccination, evidence of a negative PCR test taken within 72 hours before arrival, a negative rapid lateral flow test taken within the 48 hours before arrival, or a Covid recovery certificate. Switzerland: Vaccinated travellers can enter without testing. Unvaccinated only permitted under limited circumstances (under-18s exempt if accompanied by adult).
Voyage more vigorously
KE Adventure calls its Antarctic Hike and Sail Expedition “polar cruising for the restless”. You’ll voyage to the White Continent for a once-in-a-lifetime chance to admire its pristine landscapes and encounter its incredible wildlife. Extra activities include mountaineering on Antarctic slopes, climbing to glaciers, hiking and snowshoeing, kayaking between bays and bergs, photography workshops and camping overnight on the ice.
Book it: A 14-day Antarctic Hike and Sail Expedition (01768 773966; keadventure.com) costs from £8,825pp . Flights, meals and accommodation included. Departs Ushuia, Argentina, Nov 2022-Mar 2023.
Covid rules: Argentina: Proof of full vaccination, an electronic “sworn statement” form, Covid medical insurance, and a negative PCR taken within 72 hours of departing UK, or antigen test taken within 48 hours. Unvaccinated non-citizens may not enter.
Best trips for multi-gen journeyers
Go dude with the brood
Round up your family for a proper wilderness adventure in the American West. Spend time on a Montana ranch, where budding cowboys and girls of all ages can learn everything from lassoing and corralling to country dancing; the non-horsey can try fishing, canoeing, mountain biking and stagecoach riding too. Combine this with time in Grand Teton National Park and the bison, bears and geysers of Yellowstone, which celebrates its 150th anniversary in 2022.
Book it: A 14-day tailor-made Family Ranching trip with Original Travel (020 3582 4990; originaltravel.co.uk) costs from £3,365pp including flights, accommodation and some meals.
Covid rules: Proof of full vaccination, plus negative PCR or lateral flow test taken no more than 24 hours before travel (all travellers aged two and over).
Holiday like royalty
Since the Cambridges holidayed here in 2021, Jordan has earned a royal seal of approval for trips en famille. Families Worldwide’s new tour combines plenty of kid-friendly highlights – camel trekking in Wadi Rum, chariot-racing amid Jerash’s Roman ruins, floating in the Dead Sea, exploring rock-hewn Petra, Bedouin-style camping in the desert – with tropical fish-filled relaxation on the Red Sea coast.
Book it: A seven-night Arabian Adventures small-group trip (01962 302062; familiesworldwide.co.uk) costs from £2,395 adult; £2,145 child, including flights, accommodation and some meals. Departs Apr 2, May 28, Oct 22.
Covid rules: As of March 1, Jordan has no entry restrictions. Pre-departure and arrival PCR tests have been dropped.
Enjoy full-on family fun
This Indian Ocean isle is one of the greatest. It has it all, for all ages: sublime beaches; colourful sightseeing; exciting activities. Stubborn Mule’s trips package it all up to suit, sprinkling in cooking classes, train rides and leopard-spotting; new for 2022 is the Nine Skies tea bungalow, where everyone will feel at home, whether they want to swim in waterfalls, hit the new adventure centre nearby or sit on the terrace with a G&T.
Book it: A 14-night tailor-made Sri Lanka trip (01728 752751; stubbornmuletravel.com) costs from £18,680 for a family of six including flights, accommodation and some meals.
Covid rules: All arrivals must complete a pre-travel health registration form online. On 27 February, the Government of Sri Lanka announced that fully vaccinated travellers are no longer required to take a pre-departure Covid test before arrival. Covid travel insurance is mandatory. Accommodation restrictions apply for the unvaccinated.
Best trips for wish-list seekers
Go slow around the globe
Bored with being stuck at home? Then, as soon as possible, go everywhere – while minding your carbon footprint. Undiscovered Destinations’ epic Phileas Fogg-y journey uses trains and cargo ships to circumnavigate the globe in 80 action-packed days. Travel east across Europe to Tbilisi, hop between the cities of the Silk Road, traverse China, set sail over the Pacific for Los Angeles, cross Canada from coast to coast and, finally, hit the Atlantic to return home.
Book it: An Around the World in 80 Days trip (0191 296 2674; undiscovered-destinations.com) costs from £17,950pp including transport and accommodation.
Covid rules: For details of entry requirements to countries mentioned here, check with your tour operator or see telegraph.co.uk/tt-travelrules. Refer to gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice for further travel information.
Roam Japan by rail
Japan is a proper dream destination – it will be the first choice for many as soon as we’re allowed back in. And as the country’s extensive and enviable rail network celebrates its 150th anniversary in 2022, what better way to explore than by train? Use shinkansen, express, local and funicular railways to link the highlights, including Tokyo’s urban energy, Kyoto’s temples, Takayama’s artisans, Hakone’s hot springs and Hiroshima’s moving history.
Book it: A 15-day tailor-made Best of Japan self-guided trip with Inside Japan (0117 244 3380; insidejapantours.com) costs from £1,950pp. Accommodation and breakfasts included. Excludes flights.
Covid rules: Japan’s borders are currently closed to foreign nationals.
Perambulate to Paris, Channel Islands & France
Prefer to stay closer to home? You can still have a grand adventure. Pimp your Paris mini break by going the long way round – that is, via the Channel Islands. Sail from the south coast to Guernsey, where you will stay for four nights, taking in World War history and the beautiful rugged coastline. Then catch a high-speed-ferry across to the walled city of St Malo for an insight into the city’s seafaring past. From here, the timeless French capital is an easy train ride away. You’ll have two days to explore before boarding the Eurostar.
Book it: A 10-night tailor-made Paris the Long Way Round trip with Discover the World (01737 214250; discover-the-world.com) costs from £1,482pp including transport, accommodation and breakfasts.
Covid rules: France: Arrivals over 12 must be fully vaccinated and provide a sworn statement self-certifying they are not suffering from Covid symptoms and have not been in contact with confirmed cases in the 14 days prior to travel. Channel Islands: No rules apply for travel.
Best trips for blow-the-budget-ers
Find first-class conservation
Arcadia Expedition’s 4WD safari – led by African rock art expert David Coulson and award-winning anthropologist Dr Margaret Jacobsohn – delves deeply into Namibia’s north-west. Stay at exclusive camps, luxe lodges and a private ranch dedicated to protecting rhino as well as kayaking with seals, climbing dunes and learning from Himba herders.
Book it: A 24-day Guardians of the Game small group trip (00 61 28319 8762; arcadiaexpeditions.com) costs from £17,9505pp. Includes accommodation and meals. Excludes flights. Departs Oct 2.
Covid rules: All arrivals, regardless of vaccination status, need proof of a negative PCR test taken within 72 hours of entry.
Go really wild
Argentina & Chile
Rainbow Tours’ new luxe journey combines stays at Explora’s eco-conscious lodges in Chilean Patagonia – in Torres del Paine and Patagonia National Park – as well as Explora El Chalten lodge, which, opening this winter, promises an ideal base for the Argentine side. Venture out on foot or horseback, relax in spas, dine in five-star style and feel the balm of Mother Nature.
Book it: A 14-night tailor-made Patagonia trip (020 7666 1260; rainbowtours.co.uk) costs from £13,995pp including flights, accommodation and most meals.
Covid rules: Argentina: Proof of full vaccination, an electronic “sworn statement” form, Covid medical insurance, and a negative PCR taken within 72 hours of departing UK, or antigen test taken within 48 hours. Unvaccinated non-citizens may not enter. Chile: Proof of full vaccination validated by the Chilean authorities prior to travel (under-6s exempt). Negative PCR test within 72 hours of travel (under-2s exempt). You must also have proof of travel insurance and complete an affidavit up to 48 hours before boarding.
Sail to paradise
Tanzania & the Seychelles
Aboard the good ship Silver Explorer you’ll find plush cabins, butler service and very fine dining. But the real luxury is the destination: new for 2022, she’ll sail from Zanzibar to the Aldabra atoll, an uninhabited, quasi-mythical haven of biodiversity that’s near impossible to reach. Passengers will get to walk and snorkel its biodiverse reef and lagoon.
Book it: An 11-day Tanzania and the Seychelles cruise with Silversea (020 7340 0700; silversea.com) costs from £10,400pp including flights, accommodation and meals. Departs Apr 16.
Covid rules: Tanzania: All arrivals need proof of a negative PCR test taken within 96 hours of entry, and must complete an online pre-travel health registration form (under-5s exempt). Seychelles: All arrivals need proof of a negative PCR test taken within 72 hours of entry, must complete an online pre-travel health registration form and must stay in approved accommodation.
Best trips for solo fun-seekers
Bike and boat
Some of the greatest trips explore mainstream destinations in new ways – and Sail Croatia’s cycle cruise does exactly that. Board a comfy yacht (solos can save by sharing cabins) and drift along the Dalmatian coast, disembarking to pedal routes around the Croatian mainland and islands.
Book it: A seven-day Cycling Croatia Cruise (0204525 7534; sail-croatia.com) costs from £639pp including most meals, excluding flights. Departs Apr-Oct.
Covid rules: Entry via full vaccination, a PCR or antigen test, or proof of recovery. Under-12s are exempt. Online health form (entercroatia.mup.hr) for all.
Save as you solo
Explore's Classic Peru trip packs everything in, from a homestay on Lake Titicaca to condor-watching over Colca Canyon, and pisco sours in Cusco to riding the train to Machu Picchu.
Book it: A 14-day Classic Peru small-group trip (01252 884709; explore.co.uk) costs from £1,699pp including accommodation and some meals, excluding flights. Departs May-Oct.
Covid rules: Arrivals must either prove they are fully vaccinated or provide a negative PCR test taken within 48 hours of departure (under-12 exempt). Passengers must wear two face masks on flights and complete a travel form.
Join the crew
Faroe Islands & Norway
No previous sailing experience is required to join Rubicon 3’s expedition from the Faroe Islands to Norway. Nor are companions. You’ll be assigned your own bunk and given hands-on tuition as you help cook, steer, trim sails and navigate the yacht through the volcanic archipelago, into the open ocean, across the Arctic Circle and into the midnight sun.
Book it: A 12-day Faroes-Arctic Norway expedition (020 3086 7245; rubicon3adventure.com) costs from £2,399pp including accommodation and meals, excluding flights. Departs Jun 13, 27.
Covid rules: Denmark: Fully vaccinated travellers or those with proof of recovery (less than 180 days) can enter without a test or isolation. Unvaccinated travellers must take a test within 24 hours of arrival and self-isolate for 10 days. Norway: You do not need to provide your vaccination status for entry to Norway. Entry requirements for Norway are the same for all travellers, regardless of vaccination status.
Best trips for creature-comfort crusaders
Make a privileged pilgrimage
With 2022 set to be a Holy Year for the Camino de Santiago, do it differently on Inntravel’s new Old Way. Using quiet trails, it wends across Galicia from the Portuguese border, following the world’s only waterborne pilgrim route, along which St James’s body was carried by boat. Nights are spent in characterful rural guesthouses, boutique hotels or atmospheric paradors.
Book it: A 10-night tailor-made Camino The Old Way self-guided trip (01653 617000; inntravel.co.uk) costs from £1,190pp including accommodation and some meals, excluding flights.
Covid rules: An online health form (spth.gob.es) must be submitted for all passengers prior to departure. Fully vaccinated tourists and under-12s can enter without testing. Unvaccinated tourists are not permitted to visit.
Go stylishly green
Costa Rica is a beacon of ecotourism and a real wish list destination. Reef & Rainforest’s new off-the-beaten-track trip celebrates and supports the country’s green credentials without sacrificing any style. You’ll explore the country’s lesser-trodden areas – from the Nicaraguan border to the Osa Peninsula – on rainforest treks, kayak trips, horse rides and waterfall swims, staying at sustainable lodges.
Book it: A 12-day tailor-made Off The Beaten Track In Costa Rica trip (01803 866965; reefandrainforest.co.uk) costs from £3,598pp including accommodation and most meals, excluding flights.
Covid rules: Unvaccinated travellers must provide proof of specified medical insurance (double-vaccinated travellers and under-18s exempt).
Reach new highs
Cram two of the world’s finest trekking regions into one well-paced trip. Mountain Kingdoms’ combo includes two spectacular treks – one in the shadow of Mount Everest, the other amid the lush forests, terraced slopes and mountainous villages of the Annapurnas. The very best lodges are used throughout, and five-star stays in Kathmandu bookend the trip.
Book it: A 17-day Annapurna & Everest in Style small-group trip (01453 844400; mountainkingdoms.com) costs from £3,730pp. Accommodation, flights and meals included. Departs Mar 25, Oct 28.
Covid rules: All visitors (under-5s exempt) must present a negative PCR test on arrival, taken within 72 hours of departure and complete a Traveller Health Declaration form and show proof of insurance. Unvaccinated travellers must obtain a visa before travel.
Are you on trend?
What’s big in the world of adventure this year – and tips on how to snag the adventure of a lifetime
The guiding principle of the GOAT is that, if there was ever a time to plan a trip of a lifetime, it’s when we’re aware just how short life is. Big ticket destinations and experiences – Australia, Japan, the Inca Trail – will be more popular than ever in 2022.
When we do finally get away we’ll want to stay away as long as possible. So if there is still testing faff to be endured, we’re going to make it worthwhile. Greater concern for our environmental impact is also feeding the idea of travelling less but staying longer, thus reducing the number of flights taken and encouraging a deeper immersion in a destination.
The greatest, most memorable trips are often those with a sense of challenge, so a quest for this type of fulfilment, added to the lockdown boom in walking and cycling, will see an increase in demand for trips with a physical aspect. Explore has seen a huge surge in popularity of walking trips. “In the past three months, 31 per cent of all bookings have been walking holidays compared with less than 20 per cent in 2019.”
Many people are ravenous for travel. “Our booking data is showing that 40 per cent of British travellers have booked to travel before the end of April, showing the desire to get back on the road and adventure as soon as possible,” says Brian Young of G Adventures.
Book with an expert
In a world where rules can change by the hour, placing your precious holiday plans in secure, knowledgeable hands has never been more important. According to the latest AITO Travel Intentions study, 61 per cent of those keen to travel would organise their next trip with a travel company.
This article is kept updated with the latest information.