New year, new travel challenge
Hands up if this year you just want to have a quiet one, do nothing much and spend most of your time on the couch? Not likely, right!
This isn’t the time to plan a mundane existence. Now is when you want to work out how to make this year even better than your last, so we’ve come up with a list of 8 travel challenges to help make 2014 your best year yet…
Challenge your mind:
Discover the history of Petra in Jordan
An ancient city carved into rose coloured rock with cooling caves, impressive tombs, an amphitheatre and monastery, Petra is laden with a rich history that will boggle the mind. Learn why it’s a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the new Seven Wonders of the World and be blown away by its beauty.
Learn a language
Salut, jambo, guten tag, konichiwa, bonjour and namaste will probably get you a smile from locals, but having a conversation with someone in their language is sure to make a real impact. Knowing more than the pleasantries is a win-win for everyone and will earn you new friends plus a whole lot of laughs!
Challenge your body:
What better way to ease into the laid-back pace of Cuba than on a cycling trip around this captivating island. Cycle past coffee and cocoa plantations, stay with local families, enjoy the azure waters of the Caribbean and get an in-depth taste of one of the world’s more unique cultures. You’ll be thrilled at how good the view looks from handlebar height.
Trek to Mount Toubkal
If you’ve already ticked off Kinabalu, Kilimanjaro or K2, then it’s time to take on North Africa’s highest peak. At 4,167m this tough 2-day trek in Morocco is no walk in the park. The track takes you through gorgeous valleys, zigzagging up mountainsides and scrambling over rocks to reach your reward, stunning views of the entire Atlas range. On a clear day you’ll be able to see the hazy outline of the Atlantic coast to the west and all the way to the sands of the Sahara Desert in the east.
Challenge your senses:
Colour yourself at the Holi Festival in India
Probably one of the most famous places on our planet for extraordinary festivals, India’s Holi or Festival of Colour is when you’ll see the country at its multicoloured best. Be prepared to become a human rainbow when you, and everyone around you, is painted and splashed from head to toe during the enormous celebration of goodness that marks the start of spring in March.
Smell and taste Cambodia
If you’re expecting Cambodian cuisine to be the same at Thai or Vietnamese, think again! Using pepper rather than chilli to give it a zing and adding handfuls of fresh herbs, Cambodia’s unpretentious food has a distinct local flavour. While there are influences from French and Thai cooking, Cambodia has a proud and ancient food culture that will give you a delicious insight into this remarkable country.
Challenge your comfort zone:
Get up close to mountain gorillas in Rwanda
Few face-to-face encounters will ever be as thrilling as meeting the eyes of a mountain gorilla. It’s a challenging trek through rugged terrain to reach the gorilla’s sheltered home in Rwanda’s dense jungle, but standing meters away from this endangered species is immensely rewarding.
Visit a cloud forest in Costa Rica
The lush cloud forests of Monteverde get water from the semi-permanent cloud that covers the region. Set atop the spine of Costa Rica’s continental divide and at 1,440 metres above sea level, it’s the perfect place to go for a thrilling ride over the rainforest canopy on a zipline. Plus for those faint-of-hearts, the Sky Walk at canopy height will really push you out of your comfort zone but leave a great lasting memory!
All of these challenges and many more can be enjoyed with Intrepid Travel in 2014 – the world is within reach, so set your goals high and don’t settle for run-of-the-mill adventures this year!
Photo: India Holi festival by Sudipto Das