If there’s one thing about 2016 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.
The trouble is, with so much of the world so easily accessible to Australians now, it can be difficult to know where to start planning aforementioned adventures. To help you on your way, we conducted a bit of research and found what we think are 2016’s best adventures and destinations for the adventure-prone Australian traveller. This is by no means a comprehensive list, but it’s a good start. Get a load of this little lot:
1. The Philippines Sailing Challenge
Described by its creators as “a bit like The Amazing Race, minus the TV cameras and annoying presenters” the Philippines Sailing Challenge is an adventure we can get behind. Taking place over nine days in October, the challenge will see teams of 2-3 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 2016.
Despite a fair amount of bad press surrounding the country in recent months, 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 – a small group tour operator specialising in adventures led by locals. “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. Take a peek at Intrepid’s trips through the country.
3. Roadtripping Tasmania
Yes, that little speck of land off Australia’s southeastern coast really is spectacular enough to compete with 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 should be no excuse for every single Australian inhabitant to have visited at least once. 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.
4. Sri Lanka
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.
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.
6. Trekking in Nepal
The knock-on effect of last year’s earthquake was a devastating blow to Nepal’s tourism industry. With fears of another quake and hesitation as to whether or not the country was able to receive tourists rife among travellers, the tourism industry all but came to a complete standstill for a while.
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. Intrepid Travel, for example, have promised to donate 100% of profits from their 2016 Nepal trips to the rebuild and relief effort.
7. A bush survival course
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 1, 3 or 7-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.