The 15 best adventures for Australians in 2017

New Year's resolutions? We've got you covered.
Where will 2017 take you? © Unsplash
By Oliver Pelling

If there’s one thing about 2017 we can be sure of, it’s that there are going to be a whole 12 months in it. That’s a good amount of time, and it should follow that we, as a nation full of adventurous types, should be striving to fill it with a good amount of adventures.

To help you on your way, we've spent hours researching the best trips you can possibly take next year. All you have to do is take them.

1. The Amazon Challenge

The adventure of a lifetime © Unsplash

From the team that brought you the Philippines (also on this list), Lanka and Cambo Challenges comes The Amazon Challenge – an Amazing Race-style trip that’ll put your resourcefulness to the test in one of the harshest (and most beautiful) environments in the world. In teams of two or three, you’ll complete daily challenges and reach checkpoints to accrue points and camp, stay with local communities and post up at some unique jungle accommodation along the way.

There’ll be canoeing, Indigenous Olympics, piranha fishing and more besides. If it sounds too intense, fret not, you’ll be travelling with a crew who have been running these types of trips without a hitch for years. The first ever Amazon Challenge flags off in March 2017. This is what people talk about when they talk about those ‘once in a lifetime’ experiences, you know. Do it.

2. Raft the Zambezi

White-knuckle has a whole new meaning © Water by Nature

If just going to Africa isn’t enough of an adventure for you, you could always spend eight days rafting along the Zambezi River. You’ll tackle “the biggest and best” rapids the river has to offer and even find time for some wildlife-spotting in Chobe National Park. You’ll sleep in beach campsites and even get to take a helicopter flight over the epic Victoria Falls. How’s that sound? The next departure leaves the shore in July. Claim your spot now.

3. Searching for snow leopards in Ladakh

Is it me you're looking for? © Rob Oo, Flickr

Sounds like the adventure of a lifetime; is the adventure of a lifetime. How many times have you been out looking for snow leopards? Not that many times, right? Intrepid Travel - a small group tour operator specialising in adventures led by locals - would like to change that by taking you on a two-week expedition (this is a brand new trip for 2017) into the high mountain passes of Ladakh. There are only 200 of these cats living out there, so eagle eyes and binoculars are essential.

4. Husky sledding in Norway


Join the pack in 2017 © Unsplash

Bucket lists were invented so you could write ‘husky sledding’ on them. Head into the Norwegian wilderness, get trained up on the art of mushing, and join your pack as you embark on one of the most unique experiences imaginable. There’s even an option to spend a day with a reindeer herding family, if that’s your thing. And that should definitely be your thing.

5. The Trans-Mongolian railway

Postcard-perfect © Oliver Pelling

Three incredibly diverse countries, one incredible trip. The Trans-Mongolian is an adventure that never gets old. You can book though a tour operator or go it alone (which is easy enough – it just requires a bit of research) – either way, you’re in for an adventure. You can get to know the locals aboard the train and hop off at will to explore some of the lesser-visited spots along the way. From Moscow and St. Petersburg, hiking in the Siberian wilderness, sleeping in Mongolian ger tents and exploring the back streets of Beijing – the amount of memories to be forged on this trip is limited only by your imagination.

6. Iran

Craftsman in Hamadan's bazaar, Iran © Christiaan Triebert

Iran is currently one of the safest places to travel in the Middle East. The locals are friendly, the culture and history world beating, the architecture second-to-none and the landscapes other worldly.

“Our Iran departures frequently sell out,” confirms James Thornton, managing director of Intrepid Travel. “We’ve even increased the amount of departures this year to meet the demand. The improving relations between Iran and the US and the subsequent lifting of sanctions means it’s probably one of the Middle East’s most stable destinations for travellers.” On top of all that, you’re unlikely to see many other tourists kicking around. Bliss.

7. The Philippines Sailing Challenge

© Adventure In You

The Philippines Sailing Challenge is an adventure we can get behind. Taking place over nine days in April and November, the challenge will see teams of two or three people race their way around some of the country’s most pristine and untouched beaches, all whilst aboard a locally-made (and thankfully, locally-skippered) paraw boat.

The company behind the trip, Large Minority, mix it up by introducing challenges (climbing trees for coconuts, fishing for your dinner) along the way, through which teams earn points. The team with the most points at the end, wins. The best part? The whole thing is geared to benefit the local communities the participants pass through, so you can have the time of your life whilst helping improve the lives of others. There’s surely going to be no better way to experience the Philippines in 2017.

8. Roadtripping Tasmania

The Neck, Bruny Island, Tasmania © Adam Selwood

Yes, that little speck of land off Australia’s southeastern coast really is spectacular enough to compete with the rest of the exotic destinations on this list. Boasting some of the world’s most spectacular scenery, wide open roads, world-class food and more stunning coastline than you can shake a digital camera at, there's no good reason not to go here in 2017. We recommend hiring a camper van (a Hippie camper should do the trick) and hitting the road. With beauty around every turn and plenty of spots to pitch up for the night, you can’t go too far wrong.

9. Sri Lanka

Wild leopard, Sr Lanka © Kosala Bandara

The Pearl of the Indian Ocean, as it’s affectionately known, offers up a perfect slice of sub-sub-continental adventure for the Australian traveller. Whilst India lends itself to longer trips, Sri Lanka is small enough to get around in just a couple of weeks. From the southern beaches of Galle and Arugam Bay to the hill country of Nuwara Eliya and Kandy, the tea plantations, national parks and everything else in between – every turn reveals a new landscape.

On top of all that, the food is some of the world’s most delicious and the people some of the world’s friendliest. Even the northern town of Jaffna – one of the worst affected areas during the civil war - is gradually opening up to tourists (the bombed-out and bullet-riddled buildings line the roads approaching the town). You can hire a driver to be your chauffeur for cheap, but the more adventurous may prefer to spend a couple of weeks driving around in a tuk-tuk. YOLO, etc.

10. Cuba

Havana, Cuba © Bryan Ledgard

Improving relations between Cuba and the US, whilst good for Cuba in the long run, means that the postcard image of Cuba may well slowly begin to dissolve.

The good news for non-US travellers amongst all this is that rather than being restricted to the usual government-run hotels, visitors are now able to spend their nights in guesthouses, homestays and more boutique-style accommodation. So if you’d like to get to one of the world’s few remaining communist open-air museums before it changes too much, we recommend getting there sooner rather than later.

11. Trekking in Nepal

Nepal © Marina & Enrique

The knock-on effect of last year’s earthquake was a devastating blow to Nepal’s tourism industry. But now, with both the Annapurna and Everest trekking routes declared safe, there’s no good reason for travellers to avoid the country. In fact, if there’s one thing Nepal needs right now, it’s for their tourism industry to get back on track.

And if you go now, before tourists start flooding back (which they will) you’ll likely have most of the trekking routes all to yourself. It's worth doing some research before you book your trip too to make sure your visit will have the maximum positive impact on the country.

12. Lofoten, Norway

Heaven IS a place on earth © Unsplash

Just watch this video. No explanation necessary.

13. A bush survival course

Bush survival course © Grace Wye

There’s taking an adventure away from your current geographic location, and then there’s taking an adventure away from your current way of life entirely. The Adventure Merchants’ bush survival courses fall into the latter category. Whether you want to undertake a one, three or seven-day course, you’ll learn enough about bush survival to rival Bear Grylls himself – no urine drinking required. Whilst this style of trip won’t be for every traveller, for those who want to get back to basics and become equipped with the skills to survive, this is most certainly the ticket.

14. Cycling through Tanzania

Can you keep up? © Lucy Piper

Spending two weeks cycling through one of the world’s most wildlife-rich and expansive landscapes sound like the kind of thing you might like to do? Good. Because now you can. You’ll complete a loop taking in some of the area’s most renowned spots, including the Serengeti and the Ngorongoro Crater, and you’ll be camping and sleeping in guesthouses along the way. How many of your friends can say they’ve ridden their bike through the real-life set of the Lion King? None, I bet. 2017 sorted.

15. Survive on a Tongan desert island

Could you survive? © Unsplash

Once you’ve tackled the bush survival course, you might want to step it up a notch by trying to survive on a Tongan island. Over almost two weeks, you’ll spend your time…um…surviving, mainly. We figure that’ll take up a fair amount of time. At times you'll be thirsty, hungry and uncomfortable and it’ll probably be pretty, all told. But you don’t sign up for a desert island survival situation if any of those things are likely to bother you, do you? Go on. Give it a nudge.

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