Lonely Planet’s brand new coffee table book Great Adventures is packed with awe-inspiring photography and practical information on how you can embark on some of the world’s most thrilling adventures. We have picked five exciting journeys from the book to get your adrenalin pumping…
1. White-water sledge in New Zealand
If white-water rafting has you yearning for something more individual, white-water sledging might be just the ticket. Known variously as hydrospeeding, river surfing, riverboarding or white-water sledging, it’s rafting for one, clinging to the grips of a sledge as the river tries to have its wicked way with you. The classic white-water sledging river in New Zealand is the Kawarau, which flows midway between Queenstown and Wanaka after draining out of Lake Wakatipu. This river pitches sledgers through grade III rapids with inviting names such as Man-eater, Rollercoaster and Roaring Meg, the latter named for a prostitute who once worked the nearby gold fields.
2. Dog-sled the Yukon
It’s possible to dog-sled in most Arctic countries and regions, but there’s something special about working a team of dogs in Canada’s Yukon territory. This is true canine country, where even the capital city, Whitehorse, offers doggie massage and physiotherapy services. Dog-sledding adventures can be as brief as a one-day trip, or you can stay for weeks on end, perfecting your dog handling skills, polishing your sled control and refining your dog care. You can radiate out from a home base each day, or spend nights camped out in the spruce and poplar forests, testing not just your mushing skills, but also your ability to cope with subzero nights sleeping on the snow. Learning the basics of sledding will only take a day or two, and developing an affinity with the barking bits of fur will come even easier.
3. Dive the Yucatán’s Cenotes
Cenotes played a key role in prehistoric Maya civilisation, and they remain a central part of the natural heritage of the Yucatán. Formed by the erosion of calcium-laden rock in the shallow shelf that makes up the peninsula, cenotes are sink holes. What makes them unique is that these columnar caves reach far down into the freshwater aquifer, providing water in an area that, while lush and humid, often experiences droughts. Even more interesting, thanks to centuries of cenotes being used as anything from ceremonial burial grounds to waste baskets, the silt at the bottom of these unique freshwater caves is often rich with information about the plants, animals and populations of prehistoric times. Travelling into these caverns is like diving into a museum.
4. Mountain bike Moab’s Slickrock Trail
Most people associate Utah with deserts and Mormons, but to mountain bikers the western town of Moab could be an acronym for Mother of All Biking towns. Pinched between Arches and Canyonlands national parks, Moab’s surrounds are a mat of sand and red rock – the so-called ‘slickrock’ that makes mountain biking here so magnificent. Named because its surface was so slick for horses, the ancient Navajo sandstone is more like stickrock for mountain bikes, allowing riders to almost defy gravity as their wheels grip to steeply sloped rock. But there’s no need to get fixated on the Slickrock Trail: Moab has myriad bike experiences and great natural beauty to help dilute the adrenalin rushes.
5. Sail Croatia’s Dalmatian Coast
The Dalmatian coast of Croatia is 360km long, stretching from the town of Zadar in the north to the Bay of Kotor on the border with Montenegro to the south. It takes in the dramatic and historic cities of Split and Dubrovnik, over a thousand islands, countless beautiful beaches, jewel-like coves and quiet bays. With reliable wind, abundant uncrowded anchorages and near-endless summer sun, the Dalmatian coast is one of the world’s best and most easily navigated sailing destinations. Island-hopping off Dalmatia is as much about the stopping as the time at sea. Sail to golden Zlatni Rat on the island of Braco to sunbathe on Dalmatia’s best beach, or simply see where the wind takes you; there are countless other, nameless stretches of sand and secret coves that only a sailor can reach.
This is an edited extract from Lonely Planet’s Great Adventures, showcasing some of the world’s best adventure experiences © Lonely Planet 2012. Published in October 2012. RRP £29.99.