If you consider yourself an adrenaline junky, you probably already know the best mountain climbs and backroads.
Your Patagonias. Your British Columbias. Your Interlakens.
But since one of the best parts of a proper adventure is not swimming through a river of other tourists to get there, we’ve compiled four under-the-radar destinations for feeding your adrenaline fix.
San Luis Potosi, Mexico
There’s more to vacationing in Mexico than beaches and tequila. We say, head to the interior. There, hook up with Huaxteca: a female-led adventure company that’ll show you the lay of the local land by rafting the Tampaon’s Class III rapids. After, head out to the Micos River for a series of seven waterfall jumps. Yes, series: you jump off one, clearing the fall, then float downriver to the next. Curb your confidence, because the final is a nearly 50-foot drop into rip-roaring waters.
St. David’s, Wales
If you’re looking for the ride of your life, head to the Pembrokeshire Coast. Local tour operators TYF will warm you up with a bit of sea kayaking in the icy Irish Sea. We suggest at least one day of rock-hopping, where you ride a wave in a tight crevice between two big rocks. The centrifugal force between the rocks causes a washing machine effect. So, prepare to eat it.
Finish off the day with some “coasteering,” an activity favored by locals that involves jumping into the sea, swimming, cliff diving, spelunking and scrambling up wet mossy promontories up to 100 feet high. It’s climb, jump, swim, rinse, repeat.
Livingstone Island, Zambia
Victoria Falls is far from under the radar, but all of the adventure options surrounding it might be. Here, you can bungee jump directly into a whitewater rafting excursion at the base of the fall.
Your best bet is to park it at Tongabezi, a good place to take in the laid-back allure of the local culture at your own personal villa. Then fire up your adrenaline with a canoe safari around hippo pods and crocodiles. (Disclaimer: your guide will let you know that if anything jumps on your boat, you’re on your own.)
Then make a day of it at Livingstone Island, where the Tongabezi crew will put you in something called “Devil’s Pool.” Here, you swim against a raging current and rest on a rock lip as water careens over a giant waterfall just a few feet away.
When you think of Ireland, you probably think of sticky-floored pubs, spirited music, great golf courses and rolling green fields, which is spot on. But it’s also an endless landscape for adventure, so much so that Adventure Travel Trade Association held its world summit there in 2014.
Head to the unspoiled landscape of Donegal to get your climb on. There is more climbable rock in Donegal than the rest of Ireland. Follow local guide and climbing icon Iain Miller, proprietor of Unique Ascent. After a seven-hour hike around and out of Glenlough Bay, Iain will have you climbing a series of 100+ sea stacks that dot Ireland’s coast.