Everyone has a different idea about the perfect holiday. For some, it involves little more than lying on a beach, sipping a cocktail and reading a good book. For others, it involves challenging themselves, seeking the next adrenaline rush and exploring the ultimate adventure. Sport and adventure holidays are growing in popularity and therefore it would make sense to find the best sport and adventure holidays available around the world.
According to Forbes Magazine, the Adventure Travel Development Index (ATDI) defines adventure travel as “interaction with nature, interaction with culture and physical activity – at least two and preferably all three of these in the same trip.” After researching 315 tour operators, travel writers, tourism officials and hospitality industry experts and ranking countries on 10 factors, including sustainable development, safety and security, natural resources and infrastructure, they came up with the following list:
#10 – Latvia
This tiny country has made it onto the list thanks to its 350 miles of coastline, dense forests and the Latvian Open-Air Ethnographic museum in Riga – one of Europe’s oldest and largest museums.
#9 – Romania
Sport and adventure tourism is giving Romania a much needed economic injection. Visitors come to camp and hike in the Carpathian Mountains, seek solace in the Painted Monasteries of northern Moldovia and explore the Danube delta with its 2 200 square miles of canals, marshes, lakes and islands.
#8 – Jordan
Undoubtedly the main reason for visiting Jordan would be the city of Petra, carved entirely out of a stone canyon in the southern desert. It is estimated to have been built in the 6th century BC by an ancient Arab civilization. Nature lovers can explore the reserves comprised of gorges and desert lowlands, including the world’s lowest reserve at Mujib (410 meters below sea level).
#7 – Slovenia
Formerly part of Yugoslavia, Slovenia stretches from the Alps to the Mediterranean. It is a Mecca for lovers of sport and adventure, with hiking, cycling and various water sports on offer. The country also sits atop some 8 000 caves, which is best explored by hiring a guide.
#6 – Bulgaria
Snow-skiing, hiking and climbing … mountainous Bulgaria has it all. The country also hosts a 1 200 km endurance bike race through the mountains. Tourists seeking a little bit of culture will no doubt lose themselves in historical artifacts from as far back as the Thracians and Romans.
#5 – Czech Republic
The Czech capital, Prague, has long been a favourite of travellers the world over. However, there is much more to this beautiful country than its sophisticated capital. Highlights include downhill and cross-country skiing, nature reserves and wineries in the Moravian region. Cesky Krumlov in South Bohemia is a UNESCO World Heritage site and is famous for its architecture and castle.
#4 – Estonia
Estonia is a tiny, low-lying country on the Baltic Sea. Nearly 50% of the country is forested with gorgeous hiking trails, marshes, lakes and rivers in national parks and campsites. Along the coast are many secluded beaches, limestone cliffs and more than 1 500 islands. Truly a nature-lover’s paradise.
#3 – Chile
A long, narrow country, Chile is abundant in natural resources and features a variety of landscapes; from the high Atacama desert to the famous fjords, mountains and lakes of Patagonia, home of the Torres del Paine National Park.
#2 – Slovakia
Slovakia, the other half of the former Czechoslovakia, scores high in tourism infrastructure, health and hygiene. It’s tourism slogan – Little Big Country – refers to the Carpathian Mountains in the country’s north.
#1 – Israel
It might not be the first country that comes to mind when planning a sport and adventure holiday, but Israel is a top destination for adventure travelers. Outdoor activities include hiking Masada and the Galilee, floating on the salt water of the Dead Sea and water sports on the beaches of Tel Aviv.
Next time you are planning a holiday, break out of your comfort zone and explore the many options that sport and adventure travel offers.