5. South Africa
With spectacular coastlines and majestic mountains, South Africa attracts adventure travelers from across the globe. They boast both the highest abseil (112 meters high on Table Mountain) and the highest commercial bungee jump in the world (an exhilarating 216 meter drop off of Bloukrans Bridge). Other alpine excursions include rock climbing, sand boarding, hang gliding, mountain biking, horseback riding and hiking. If you prefer spending your time in the water, try white water rafting, scuba diving, shark diving, snorkeling, fishing, water skiing, surfing and sailing. Besides South Africa’s national parks, private reserves offer excellent opportunities to view elephants, lions, zebras, African penguins, rhinos, leopards, hyenas, giraffes, hippos and cheetahs, as well as boat tours to see right whales and great white sharks.
4. British Columbia, Canada
With mountain ranges and lakes a plenty and the Pacific coast, the province of British Columbia (B.C.) is a year round adventurer’s Eden, with spectacular views and a multicultural charm that is influenced by its colorful past. Winter sports like skiing, snowboarding, heli-skiing, snowmobiling and snowshoeing are available in most of the mountains in British Columbia; however, the most famous ski resort is Whistler Blackcomb, which will host the 2010 Olympics along with Vancouver. In the summer, backpacking, mountain biking, hiking, horseback riding, climbing, mountaineering, white water rafting, camping, fishing and heli-tours are popular choices. Along the coast and in the lakes of the Shuswap, kayaking, canoeing, fly fishing, sailing, whale watching, diving and surfing are all available. Photo: whistlermountainbike.com.
Known for its jungles, beaches and the Amazon River, Brazil is the perfect place to lose yourself in the beauty of the rainforest. A jungle tour is a must, whether you hire a guide and trek in on foot or take a boat or canoe to the “wedding of the waters,” where the Rio Negro runs into the Amazon. Besides the Amazon, the Pantanal Matogrossense National Park is one of the best places for wildlife watching, and you just might catch a glimpse of jaguars, capybaras, caimans, iguanas and more than 1000 different types of birds. In the southern mountains, repelling, rafting, hiking, climbing, horseback riding, hang gliding and mountain biking to God’s Finger, Bell’s Rock or to Iguassu Falls are great ways to take in Brazil. As for water sports, surfing and diving are the most popular but you can also find kayaking, sailing, fishing, snorkeling, windsurfing, kite surfing and jet skiing. Photo: glissers.com.
Australia’s varied terrain makes it an adventurer’s paradise. Water sports are king in Australia, with everything from surfing, kayaking, windsurfing and white water rafting to jet skiing, speed boating and sailing. Of course no trip is complete without scuba diving the Great Barrier Reef. If you choose to venture away from the stunning beaches there are many inland things to do, such as overlanding the Outback, biking, hiking, spelunking and climbing at Ayers Rock and the Blue Mountain. You can even find adventures in the city in Australia, like climbing the Sydney Harbor Bridge. To experience aboriginal culture, be sure to take in Tjapukai Aboriginal Cultural Park. Australia also boasts a rich natural diversity and they like to show it off at the Australian Zoo, Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary, Cairns Wildlife Dome and Cairns Night Zoo. There are also whale-watching tours between July and October. Photo: bridgeclimb.com.
1. New Zealand
Also one of the most beautiful countries in the world, New Zealand is an adventure lover’s dream. Despite its small size, it has mountains, volcanoes, rivers and coastlines that could only be described as magical. Most known for its majestic mountains, trekking, climbing, white water rafting, and in their summer, skiing, snowboarding, heli-skiing, snowmobiling and ice climbing are all popular. Spelunking and blackwater rafting gives you the opportunity to see the glowworm-lit caverns and explore the underground rivers of the Waitomo Caves. The New Zealand coast is a great place to partake in surfing, water skiing, sea kayaking and sailing. Considered one of the best diving destinations in the world, some of the must-dive spots are The Poor Knights, Bay of Islands, Fiordland and Stewart Island.