What makes an adventure destination suitably ‘epic’? For starters, it helps if it’s a long way away. People automatically associate distance with daring, and if you casually drop ‘Oh yeah, I’m hitting up the Peruvian Amazon for my vacation this year, how about you?’ into the conversation, the adventure cred will come rolling in. Next you need a good culture shock. It has to push you out of your comfort zone. Bonus points are also awarded for hand-sized tarantulas, sailing on traditional Filipino paraw boats and navigating solo through countries that don’t speak much English…on a tuk tuk. Those are the basic ingredients. Of course it helps if you go with an overseas adventure company that knows their stuff (that’s us, by the way). Ready for a proper adventure? These are the epic adventure destinations you need to check out.
The word ‘epic’ gets thrown around a lot these days. But no-one that’s stood beneath the ancient rock fortress of Sigiriya in Sri Lanka would hesitate to use the E word. Epic doesn’t do this country justice. It’s a tiny spice island off the southern coast of India, and at one time or another it’s played host to nearly every seafaring culture on earth. The Dutch, the English, the Moors, the Portuguese – they’ve all left their mark on the island. This makes the food incredible, and the culture shock unique. India may still hold the title of the world’s craziest country, but Sri Lanka has diversity on its side. Highland tea plantations in Kandy, fiery Tamil curries up north, the quiet fishing villages of the southern coast. As epic destinations go, this one takes the chili crab.
The island archipelagos of the Pacific are inherently adventurous, if only because there’s so much ocean between each one. The Pacific is a lazy 63 million square miles at last count, which is probably why the 7000 islands of The Philippines tend to get overlooked. They shouldn’t be. While the majority of travellers gravitate to Vietnam across the South China Sea, the Philippines are a remarkably unspoiled collection of sandy beaches, coral atolls and world class dive sites. There’s sprawling islands like Luzon and Mindanao, but for us the magic happens on the hundreds of uninhabited fringe islands, particularly between Tablas Island and Visayas. That’s where a local paraw craft comes in handy….
Peru may not seem particularly adventurous at first glance, but that’s only because 90% of travelers beat a well-worn path to Machu Picchu. We’re talking about the other Peru, the Amazon, especially the waterways and jungles around Leticia, right on the Colombian border. Seriously, your friends at Cuzco will be so jealous when they see pics of you canoeing your way up the Amazon River, dodging caimans, fishing for piranhas, practicing your blowpipe skills with local tribesmen and sleeping in homestays among the trees. For the more adventurous eaters out there, we can also arrange a meal of cuy – that’s guinea pig, a local specialty. If epic overseas adventure travel means leaving your comfort zone, it doesn’t get much more epic than this.
Cambodia is gathering steam as an adventure travel destination. After suffering through decades of civil war and military rule toward the end of the 20th century, tourism is offering the country and lifeline, and it’s grabbing it with both hands.
So why travel here over say Thailand or Vietnam? For one thing, the history. The Khmer’s stamped their mark on Cambodia (along with a lot of South East Asia) and nowhere is that more apparent than at Angkor Wat, one of the biggest temple complexes in the world. Tomb Raider fans should also check out the little temple of Ta Prohm – a jungle-covered ruin inside the Angkor complex. The recent history under the Khmer Rouge, while tragic, is equally fascinating, and a sobering reminder of how far this little country has come in the last few decades. Our favourite way to explore Cambodia? Tuk tuk. It’s fast, fun, and a pretty unique solo adventure.