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10 Big Adventures For 2014

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Photo Credit: Miguel Vieira

As 2013 begins to wind down it is time to start looking ahead to 2014 and start making our travel plans for the year ahead. The new year will be filled with all kinds of possibilities and promise in terms of places to go and things to do. For instance, you can’t beat the old classics such as a visit to Paris or Rome, and a beach escape to Hawaii will never go out of style. But for those looking to get off the beaten path, and perhaps challenge themselves a bit, there are lots of options available as well. For those adventurous travelers we have some suggestions for 10 big adventures to get your year off to a roaring start. Read on to find one that works for you. 

Travel To The Ends Of The Earth
Stretching across southern Chile and Argentina, Patagonia is one of the most stunningly beautiful locations on the planet. With snowcapped peaks, massive glaciers, wild rivers and pristine mountain lakes, it is a veritable playground for outdoor enthusiasts. At the heart of Patagonia is Chile’s Torres del Paine National Park, a destination that features the amazing Cordillera del Paine, a small mountain range with dramatic peaks, sharp edges and an array of otherworldly terrain. Hiking and camping are two popular activities within the park, as are rafting and climbing. To get the full Patagonia experience, be sure to take a tour of the popular “W” route on the Paine Circuit with Mountain Travel Sobek. It is amongst the best hikes in the world in terms of scenery. Be warned however, Patagonia has changed the lives more than a few visitors and it is likely to leave a lasting impression on you too. Price: $4595 Duration: 11 days

Climb A Mexican Volcano
Standing 18,404 feet in height, Pico de Orizaba is the highest mountain in all of Mexico, and the third highest in North America. With its numerous routes to the summit, Orizaba is a popular climbing destination for experienced alpinists and newcomers alike, and while it is mostly a non-technical climb, the high altitude can be a challenge to many. That makes an expedition up the volcano the perfect training ground for anyone with aspirations of taking on bigger peaks in the future. The team at Mountain Madness has a couple of options for climbing the Orizaba available, including one that acclimatizes on nearby Iztaccihuatl, a second volcano that stands 17,154 feet in height. Price: $2475  Duration: 9 days

Photo Credit: Nichalp via WikiMedia

Photo Credit: Nichalp via WikiMedia

Go Trekking In Bhutan
The mountain Kingdom of Bhutan is one of the most enigmatic and lesser visited countries on the entire planet. As a result of its many years of isolation, the Buddhist culture that is prevalent throughout the country has largely been untouched by outside influences. Located between India and Tibet, Bhutan rests on the southern edge of the Himalaya Mountains, which provide a dramatic backdrop for a place that is as tranquil as it is beautiful. Trekking in Bhutan deftly mixes history, culture and breathtaking landscapes into a single experience unlike any other. International Mountain Guides offers just such a trek, giving visitors the option to visit some of the more important villages in the country, while hiking past sacred mountains, ancient monasteries and high alpine passes. Price: $6300 Duration: 21 days

Go Diving In The Maldives
Located in the heart of the Indian Ocean, the Maldives are a paradise for travelers looking to relax on the beach and enjoy the amenities that come with a great resort. But for those looking for something a bit more adventurous, the island republic is also one of the best destinations on the planet for scuba diving. The 26 atolls that make up the islands attract hundreds of species of fish and provide some of the clearest waters on the planet, which are some of the qualities that divers look for when selecting a destination. Prodivers is one of the biggest dive companies in the country and offers numerous options for those looking for an aquatic adventure. Word to the wise though, if the Maldives happen to be on your bucket list, you may want to hurry up and get there. Some climatologists are predicting that as the polar ice caps melt, and ocean levels rise, most of the Maldives Islands could disappear under the water forever.  Price and Duration vary depending on trip.

Cycle The Length Of Africa
Looking for a unique way to explore the African continent? Then look no further than the Tour d’Afrique, an epic trip through nine countries that takes place completely on a bicycle. Beginning in Khartoum and ending in Cape Town, the entire ride covers more than 7265 miles, exposing participants to an array of diverse cultures and unusual landscapes long the way. This is truly the best way to experience a destination, traveling slowly through the countryside, interacting with the indigenous people, and getting fully immersed in the cultures that are found there. Cost: $14,500 Duration: 121 days (94 days riding, 27 rest days)

Follow The Silk Road Across China
The fabled Silk Road was once the longest and most successful trade route in the entire world, helping to pave the foundation for modern economies and rich cultures that sprang up along its length. At the peak of its use, it was without a doubt the most important road on the planet, and as such it is lined with historically important places even to this day. The new Silk Road tour from G Adventures takes travelers into the heart of China, where they’ll have a chance to follow the route and visit some of the more important cities and other sites that helped to define the path a thousand years ago. The trip takes travelers into the Tian Shan Mountains, through the Taklamakan Desert and to the very edge of history itself. Cost: $3499 Duration: 17 days

Photo Credit: Kurt Ackerman via WikiMedia

Photo Credit: Kurt Ackerman via WikiMedia

Go Gorilla Trekking In Uganda
Deep in the heart of the Ugandan jungle sits a national park known as the Bwindi Impenetrable Forest, remote and rugged location that happens to be home to half of the remaining mountain gorillas on the planet. Adventurous travelers are actually able to hike into that forest and spend time with those amazing creature, getting an up close and personal encounter with man’s closest relative in the animal kingdom. Better yet, these tourism efforts are actually  helping to stabilize and grow the population of the primates, helping to slowly bring them back from the brink of extinction through conservation efforts funded by permits to the park. Travel company Exodus offers some great gorilla tours, including one that visits the chimps of Uganda as well. Price: $4635 Duration: 11 days

Hike The Larapinta Trail In Australia
Stretching for nearly 140 miles through rugged Australian outback, the Larapinta Trail is one of the best kept secrets in long distance hiking. The trail, which begins in Alice Springs and terminates atop Mt. Sonder, winds its way through the spectacularly beautiful MacDonnell Range in the Northern Territory. Along the way, backpackers walk along mountain ridges, travel deep into towering gorges and wander past ancient watering holes once used by the Aboriginal tribes that still inhabit the area. Whether you hike the trail end-to-end or just walk a couple of the individual segments, Trek Larapinta are the experts you should depend on to make your adventure a reality. They can support independent trekkers or take small groups along the entire route themselves. Price: $3930 Duration: 16 days (end-to-end trek)

Ski To The South Pole
Antarctica is the highest, coldest and driest desert on the planet, making it a challenging environment to say the least. But well heeled travelers can still visit the frozen continent and even make their way to the South Pole itself. The mode of travel is by cross-country skis, but this isn’t anything like gliding along a well groomed path. The Adventure Consultants offer both “last degree” journeys to the Pole and full-distance expeditions as well. The latter starts at 89°S, while the former starts 700 miles further back along the Antarctic coast. Neither adventure is for the feint of heart, as the incredibly cold temperatures, demanding surface conditions and fierce weather will test the resolve of even the hardiest of individuals. The reward however, is a visit to a place on the planet that very few ever get the chance to see. Cost: $58,500 (last degree)/$65,500 (full distance) Duration: 16 days (last degree)/ 60 days (full distance)

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Photo Courtesy Virgin Galactic

Go To The Edge Of Space
We’ve been hearing about the promise of space tourism for years now, but if Virgin Galactic is to be believed, it will become a reality in 2014. They have spent millions of dollars developing the SpaceShipTwo aircraft and are now reportedly ready to start taking travelers to the very edge of space, 68 miles above the Earth, in 2014. Along the way, passengers will briefly experience zero gravity and receive a breathtaking view of the stars above. When the first flights eventually happens, they’ll open the door for other privately owned space programs to follow, possibly making space tourism a viable option at last. For now though, it seems Virgin Galactic is our best option, although it certainly doesn’t come cheap. Price: $250,000 Duration: 90 minutes

About the Author: Kraig Becker

Kraig Becker is a freelance outdoor and adventure travel writer who covers extreme sports, mountaineering and active travel. Based out of Austin, TX he writes about his own travels while encouraging others to seek their own opportunities for adventure where ever they go.

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