As with Europe and North and South America we reached out to our wonderful traveling friends and asked them to name just one of their favorite adventure travel destinations in Asia and Africa. As always they haven’t let us down and have come up with a list that will surprise and inspire you.
The continents of Asia and Africa are of massive scale which means that there is a ton of activities for adventure lovers of all levels. It’s true that Asia is known for exotic cultures and food and stunning, untouched beaches but it’s also a great place for rock climbing, spelunking and of course deep sea diving and fishing. Africa brings visions of wildlife safaris and ancient historical and biblical sites but there is also surfing, mountain climbing and incredible trekking. Read on to see why you should travel to Asia and Africa if adventure is your goal.
Travelers Choice for Adventure Travel Destinations in Asia and Africa
When thinking of the Philippines many people picture tropical islands, white sand beaches, world-class diving and smiling faces. Although these are enough of a reason to visit this beautiful country there is so much more, especially for the nature and adventure seekers.
The Cordillera region of the Philippines is an incredible place of outstanding natural beauty and an example of ancient man’s incredible ingenuity. First there are the remarkable rice terraces of Banaue and Batad where you will be in awe of the Ifuego people as you trek through the stunning and miraculous terraced fields of rice. The hikes range from moderate to difficult and all require a bit of focus and balance so as not to fall off the sometimes narrow ledges. Don’t worry though, it’s usually not a far drop. Be sure to stop along the way to dip in a waterfall or hot spring.
Then make the journey to the little mountain town of Sagada. This charming alpen-like town has plenty to offer the adventurous. Choose from hiking to the hanging coffins, rock climbing, horseback riding, waterfall swimming or spelunking in the incredible limestone Lumiang-Sumaguing cave system.
Besides its biblical significance, the amazing desert of Wadi Rum, and of course Petra, Jordan has plenty to offer the adventure traveller. Avid hikers visit Jordan each year to explore Petra’s hidden rose city, wade through canyons at Wadi Gweir, hike Dana Biosphere reserve, travel across the desert by camel and are now able to trek the entire length of the country thanks to the newly opened Jordan Trail.
While most people think of Jordan as a desert, it actually enjoys 3 major climates: Mediterranean, African and desert. Each region offers a different trekking experience for visitors and its landscape, which varies from over 1700m above seal level to the lowest point on earth, the Dead Sea at 416m below sea level, makes for challenging treks, many spanning multiple days. Jordan is a world leader in eco-tourism and has seven nature reserves protecting the native plants and animals and preserving the important eco-systems of its small country. While the Middle East may not be on the top of your list of places to visit, Jordan exists as a safe oasis amidst the unstable region.
From the northern Pamirs, the third highest mountain range in the world, to the famous Tien Shan mountains, the Alay Valley and many other striking places, Kyrgyzstan is, slowly, being discovered by intrepid travelers who want to experience more authentic and remote mountain adventures. More so after realizing that those Central Asian mountain ranges could easily rival the Patagonia and the Himalayas.
From 7,000-meter high snow-covered peaks, dreamy valleys covered with thousands of wild flowers, green rolling hills and high altitude alpine lakes, the mountains in Krygyzstan are not only absolutely gorgeous but also, they can offer a wide range of trekking opportunities, adaptable to any kind of trekker. Whether you are an absolute beginner who wants to chill-out around a lake or you are a serious hiker who is willing to climb the Lenin Peak (7,300m), trekking in Kyrgyzstan is an adventure for everyone.
Big Perhentian Island
The Big Perhentian Island is packed with activities for the adventure traveller in you. Though it’s a tropical paradise with unbelievable beautiful beaches it has much more to offer. Here the sea offers an array of water adventures such as snorkeling, diving and kayaking and the land provides perfect conditions for hiking through the tropical forest.
As a Marine Reserve, the Perhentian islands are one of the best places to go scuba diving and offers both experienced and newbies great conditions to dive. The Big Perhentian island is full of diving shops that offer snorkel and diving tours, or scuba diving lessons. Snorkel gear can be rented everywhere and it’s possible to snorkel right from the beach. It’s also easy to rent a kayak and paddle from one beach to the next.
The inside of the big Perhentian Islands is still quite untouched. There are no villages or even path trails but it is possible and extremely fun to hike through. You are literally walking through dense tropical forest. The land adventure will include a great 4 to 5 hours circular hike through the island with stops for a swim in some amazing beaches.
Pokhara is a unique destination that combines fantastic landscapes, trekking getaways, cultural experiences and a wide range of adventurous activities for active travelers. This includes trekking, skydiving, paragliding, bungee jumping, kayaking, and much more. The city is situated near the Annapurna Conservation area which offers a wide variety of treks and adventures of all different levels and lengths.
Despite being the second largest city in Nepal, the rhythm of life there is pretty relaxed. The overall atmosphere makes you fall in love with the place: those cute themed cafes serving cuisines from different corners of the globe, the bicycles for rent almost at every corner of the city center, the crisp air and mesmerizing nature.
In my opinion, if you like adventurous activities, but at the same time you are looking for a balanced trip, Pokhara is a right choice. You can start your day with paragliding in Sarangkot, then relax for a few hours watching a beautiful scenery at the Phewa lake. This city gives you a possibility to plan as intense or as relaxed trip as you want!
Siargao Island, Philippines
Siargao Island is the ultimate adventure island in the Philippines. First of all, it’s considered the surfing capital in the country and holds prestigious surfing competitions annually. Aside from surfing, you can also do kayaking in Sugba Lagoon and nearby Sohoton Cove; fishing; diving; island hopping in some quiet and untouristy islands in del Carmen and the popular trio Daku, Guyam and Naked islands; snorkelling and cliff diving in Magpupungko Rock pools; and kite surfing in General Luna.
More than its array of water activities, you can also explore caves and lagoons in Siargao. Even today, more caves for spelunking are being discovered by the locals. There’s also the option of hiking in the mountain in Corregidor or riding a mountain bike through villages, rice fields and across mangroves. Lastly, you can join a day or night guided tour into the jungles to see local wildlife or do bird watching.
There’s so many things to do in Siargao that it’s not uncommon for visitors to stay here for a few weeks, sometimes even months.
Visit Khao Thong in Krabi if you are into off beat destinations. This quaint little village by the sea can satiate the adventure junkie in you. Go kayaking into the open sea and discover some islands for yourself. This not a tourist destination, so there will be no speed boats or other kayaking groups in this area. So it is recommended not to go alone unless you are a good swimmer. There are many islands and clusters of limestone cliffs in this area for you to explore. You will also find many spots for rock climbing and cliff jumping here.
Also do not forget to try out the bicycle trail in this area. I came across this trail by chance when I was cycling through the village. It is not a long one but it takes you through a dense jungle full of monkeys and lizards before the dead end of the trail opens up into the sea giving you a great view of the open waters.
Please note that you will not find any tour guides operating in this region but you can get kayaks and bicycles for rent. This village is a ‘self-explore’ zone and you are pretty much on your own. Isn’t that what we call an adventure?
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While many people are aware of Japan as a winter sports destination, they may not have considered how that translates into other adventurous activities in the other seasons. We recently visited the Japanese Alps near Nagano and were delighted to explore the Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route. The Route is also known as the Roof of Japan and traverses the Japanese Alps between Toyama and Shinano Omachi. One of our highlights was visiting Murodo and doing the short hike around Mikurigaike Pond and also seeing from a distance the sulphuric smelling Jigokudani or Hell Valley volcanic area.
Along the 90km/56 mi route you use a variety of vehicles, including cable cars, ropeways and electric buses to progressively climb to the peak at Murodo which is at an elevation of 2450m/8040 ft. At each station along the route there are great opportunities to do both shorter and longer hikes, as well as mountaineering to places like Mt Tateyama at 3015m/9890 ft elevation. Oh, and make sure to stop in at Onsen hot springs along the way!
The hill country (in the center of the island) provides great opportunities for those who love hiking, trekking, and climbing. You’ll find easy hikes like the one up Sigiriya Rock, an ancient rock-fortress named a world heritage site by UNESCO. The climb takes approximately 2 hours and provides incredible views of the hill country.
If you are more experienced, Adam’s peak is not to be missed. The climb up the most sacred mountain in Sri Lanka usually starts at night. Walk up 5500 steps to the top of the mountain and you’ll make it just on time to watch sunrise.
For those in love with water activities, southern coast is great for diving. Surrounded by Indian Ocean, Sri Lanka boasts one of the best diving experiences in the world.Surfers will find paradise on the east coast, in Arugam Bay. And those looking for more exhilarating experience can try white water rafting in Kithulgala, less than a 100 km away from Colombo.
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One of our favorite places to visit is Okutama in Chichibu Tama Kai National Park, where you’re likely to completely forget you’re in the world’s largest metropolis. Within a few minutes of the station, you’re already by the river and at the head of several hiking trails taking you up and around the mountains, to hilltop shrines, across quaint bridges, and to lakes and waterfalls.
It’s an ideal place to experience kayaking and white-water rafting, especially when the water level is higher and the rapids pick up, and there are a number of camping spots for weekends away along with numerous hot springs to enjoy after a long day of activity.
Okutama is also an officially designated ‘forest therapy base’ where you can experience the Japanese art of shinrin-yoku or ‘forest bathing,’ making it a top choice for those wanting to get out of the hustle and bustle of the city, and enjoy the healing power of nature.
When most people think of the Maldives they probably envision doing nothing but sipping cocktails and lounging on the beach. Well, I am here to tell you there are many things that will keep an active traveller very happy.
Firstly, with beautiful blue hues, the water will be calling out your name. The more obvious activities are swimming and snorkelling. You certainly get a remarkable workout swimming against the tide as I experienced trying to get back to the boat on one of our many trips. We snorkelled on and off the reef, and along the sandbank areas. Unfortunately, like the rest of the world, the Maldivian coral has suffered significant coral bleaching. You can help the coral recover (and protect your skin), wear a full-body swim-suit and avoid sun cream. Our accommodation also offered night snorkelling, but after seeing that no boats used lighting, we opted out.
One physically demanding activity undertaken by my husband was deep-sea fishing. The prize was yellow-fin tuna. Not only do you have to reel in the massive fish – armed with only a pair of gloves and a hand line – you must haul the fish onto the boat then knock it on the head; not for the faint-hearted.
Other islands will offer other water-based activities like kayaking, kite-surfing and surfing, but those are location dependent. Running and walking is also an obvious activity on any Maldivian island but you need to remain well hydrated as it gets so hot. The Maldives is the perfect location for those wanting to remain active.
If you’ve heard of Sichuan, China it’s probably because of the famous pandas and the spicy food you can find in the province. But what you might not know is that this area, in the South West of the country, is considered by locals as the best place to travel to for treks and to enjoy some quality mountaineering. With snow capped mountains throughout every season, and peaks of up to 6,000m, people get to pick if they want to do a pilgrimage (the Four Sister Mountains and Qingcheng Mountain are famous treks for local buddhists and taoists) or just enjoy the amazing landscapes (Jiuzhaigou, Yading, Hailuogou are just a few examples of treks with fantastic mountain views you can do in Sichuan).
If you like to be active this might be the place for you! Enjoy long treks on the plateau leading to buddhist monasteries only reachable by foot (roads become a rarity the further West you go) or get on a horse for a few hours or days to join a Tibetan nomad family in their camp, and if that’s not enough for you, get to Dujiangyan where ziplining and rafting are some of the activities you might find. In winter skiing is also a very popular sport!
Luckily for everyone, Bali is much more than traditional temples, wild monkeys chasing visitors, touristy shows, rice paddies, pretty waterfalls, cooking classes, souvenir shopping, warm and welcoming locals; and delicious vegan food.
From surfing in some world-renowned spots as Uluwatu and Balian beach, scuba diving in the nearby island of Nusa Penida, doing yoga at any of its Eastern beaches at sunrise, snorkeling around the reef wall at Pulau Menjangan or hiking volcanoes like the nearby Rinjani (in Lombok). Bali is truly a paradise for the adventure traveler looking for active experiences, adrenaline filled sports and keeping fit while traveling. Head there for really affordable yet pretty active holidays and get ready for the many experiences that Bali and Indonesia offer its visitors. You will have a blast and, at the same time, will keep up with your daily routines in terms of active sports.
Cape Town, South Africa
Cape Town, South Africa, is the perfect destination for adventure seekers who like to pair natural surrounds with all the best that city living has to offer. It’s generally mild climate allows for outdoor
enthusiasts to enjoy nature year-round. How many places in the world can you begin the day surfing, hike a mountain and paraglide down, grab a gourmet lunch at the harbor, and then have plenty of time left over to take a drive deep into wine country.
There it is possible to taste sample gourmet food and wine, and in the same day make friends with a
colony of penguins and enjoy a game drive on a private reserve. Along the way, you can also enjoy some fantastic bike routes or take a scenic drive that has been voted as one of the best in the world. Best of all, travelling in South Africa and experiencing all it has to offer can be done at bargain prices. For outdoor enthusiasts, Cape Town, or more popularly known by locals as “The Mother City”, could easily be that one destination that has it all.
The Garden Route, South Africa
The Garden Route, extending from Mossel Bay in the Western Cape to Storms River in the Eastern Cape, is exhilarating. The scenery along the N2 highway is unparalleled in beauty and is filled with adventure at every turn. For a start, there is world class surfing at Herold’s Bay and Victoria Bay.
Lover of heights and jumping off things? Bungee jump off the internationally famous Bloukrans Bridge, the highest commercial bungee jump in the world (216 m or 709 ft). Or go paragliding at the most well-known spots in the Wilderness and Knysna areas. One more option, skydiving in Plettenberg Bay!
Treks and hiking abound from the smaller Garden of Eden forest walk to the legendary Otter Trail (41 km or 25 mi). The infrastructure-ready hike to Kaaimans Waterfall and rock pools in the Wilderness is a must. You can also rent a kayak and glide down the river before starting your journey to Kaaimans. The more intrepid adventurer will love white water rafting at Storms River.
If these things don’t excite you, why not swim with great white sharks in Mossel Bay? This is just the tip of the iceberg of adventures to be had on the Garden Route, there are also MTB trails, whale and dolphin watching in Plettenberg Bay, ziplining on a canopy tour and the list goes on.
Dahab, South Sinai, Egypt is the perfect place for active and adventure travelers. This sleepy little Egyptian town used to be a favorite destination for hippy travelers and the positive vibe can be felt even now. Dahab is located about an hour north of huge touristy Sharm-el-Sheikh. The town has grown a lot in the past decade, but thankfully it still retains its small-town feel. Positioned between the Gulf of Aqaba and the South Sinai rock desert it offers ample opportunity for sports fans. Scuba diving, free diving, wind surfing and kite surfing are very popular, as are rock climbing and desert hikes. Open air ‘Bedouin style’ camping in the desert is an amazing experience! In line with Dahab’s colorful past and pleasant vibe, it’s also a popular destination for yoga and meditation. Don’t miss out on White Canyon, Coloured Canyon and Ein Khudra oasis, some of the most scenic places in the Sinai desert!
Egypt has had very little positive news coverage in the past years, since the revolution in 2011. It’s very unfortunate that small towns that live off tourism, such as Dahab, suffer from events happing far away in the major Egyptian cities. Despite what the media are saying, Dahab is a safe and wonderful place to visit. Check your government’s travel advice for current updates.
So are you inspired for a new adventure? Is your favorite adventure travel destination in Asia or Africa listed or are we missing something? I’m sure we’ve missed many as there is so much to choose from. We’d really love to hear about your plans and experiences so please write and help us to inspire others to get out and explore this amazing world.
If you like adventure and hiking you may want to take a look at these articles:
- Best Adventure Destinations in Europe
- Best Adventure Destinations in North & South America
- Best Hikes in Asia
- Best Hikes in Europe
- Best Hikes in Australia & New Zealand
- Best Hikes in North & South America
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Born in England, Sarah developed her wanderlust at a young age as she traveled around Europe with her parents. As a young adult she spent every penny she could on experiences as opposed to possessions. Eventually she found a way to earn a living doing what she loved: traveling, writing and capturing images of the wondrous world we live in. When not on the go Sarah enjoys time in her “sometimes home” of Vancouver.