January 5th, 2015
This is the definitive list of activities to do while travelling. Each of the below are inspiring activities which will leave you with a sense of achievement or general amazement. It may not be possible to find a route around the world which will allow you to try your hand at all 5 of the activities below, but you should be able to get an opportunity to do at least two on any serious backpacking trip. I managed to fit in three but ran out of funds for diving, and the mountain climb was snowed off in New Zealand.
If your travels take you down under you are in the home of adrenaline sports. You will get plenty of opportunities to pluck up the courage and bottle out before you finally take the leap of faith. New Zealand has at least 6 bungee opportunities, many providing a decent location to give a spectacular video recording for your friends at home. The highest bungee in New Zealand is in Queenstown at 134 meters ranging to 42 meters in Taupo. It is one of the biggest thrills you can get as it is a total free fall from a height you can actually comprehend. For first timers the adrenaline rush is immense and will leave you wanting to go and again and again. The jump itself is smooth with no whip if you dive out head first but watch out for the boats below if jumping off the Auckland Harbour Bridge. Other locations include Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe (166m), Ticino, Switzerland (220m) and The Macau Tower, China (233m).
These gentle giants are an uncomfortable ride it must be said but travelling by elephant is quite an experience. In Asia there are plenty of opportunities to jump on board an elephant and ride through the jungle. I managed this in the Khao Sok National Park in Thailand. The elephants were led through dense jungle, through rivers and deep mud. Luckily, they are extremely good on their feet and I now consider them as the ultimate off road vehicle. Normally you will be able to ride in pairs in a double seat specially designed to go across the elephant's back. If you are lucky and skilful you may be allowed to straddle the neck, but hold on tight to something going down hill. Getting up close, riding or feeding elephants is a remarkable thing to do and an activity I would recommend. You may be able to see locals in Asia walking elephants if you leave the cities or even in the cities around Thailand, Vietnam, and Cambodia for some good photos.
Undoubtedly the best place to get beneath the waves is the Great Barrier Reef because of the variety of fish and the beautiful reefs. If you have passed a basic diving course you I encourage you to get in the water and experience the corals and wildlife. If you swim near to a drop off hug tight to the coral as the darker depths below can be quite haunting as silhouettes of bigger fish and reef sharks are sometimes visible. You are encouraged not to touch or break the corals as research shows they are diminishing slowly, and if you accidentally kick the reef, tell the instructor as the harmful bacteria can get inside the wound. Snorkelling can be just as good if you cannot afford the diving course as you can see just as much only you cannot swim down and explore the corals. There are good diving areas in the Red Sea, Thailand, Fiji, Australia, and California to name a few. A quick Google search will give you hundreds of ideas.
White Water Rafting
One of the most exhilarating activities to do while travelling is white water rafting. You hang on for your life as you descend waterfalls and frantically navigate your way through rapids. This social adrenaline sport keeps you focused the entire time you are in the water and provides great stories and photos when back home. Rotorua in New Zealand has a course of 14 rapid and 3 waterfalls with the largest being 7 meters. It is certain the raft will take the drop in one piece but it is up to your determination to hang on and stay in the boat. Rafting has a great sense of team spirit and accomplishment and was the best activity I did while travelling. There are opportunities for white water rafting all over the USA including on the Colorado River. Other locations are Chile, Morocco, Peru and Switzerland.
Okay, so you will not be scaling Everest as your first mountain but there are plenty you can realistically conquer. You need to decide on where your limitations lie before marking a mountain to climb. The attraction of mountain climbing is the sense of accomplishment when you reach the summit but this is always plagued by the thought of the decent afterwards. Once at the peak, you really do feel untouchable and that you are on top of the world. You will have to go as a group for safety reasons and may need specialist equipment but this is typically included if you go as part of a tour. You need to be fit and determined to be a mountain climber and be prepared for all weathers as it can turn instantly but this keeps the climb interesting. There are good climbing opportunities in Chile, the Philippines, New Zealand, Nepal, and near any of the great mountain ranges in the world. Remember, every climb is different and it is a very social activity to be a part of.