Adventure hot spots of the new decade

/ New Delhi
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Looking for some new adventures in 2020? Considering that it’s not just a new year but also a new decade, it’s time you chose the big and the best. To help spark off your wanderlust, here’s a list of a few destinations for the ultimate adventure lover who is not just an adrenaline junkie but someone who wants to go out and discover new things.

Boisterous Bays of Brazil

When it comes to tourists, Brazil welcomes you with open arms just like the iconic statue of Christ the Redeemer. And travelling to Brazil can be considered a bonus for Indian travellers as the country has eased visa requirements for them. Adventure activities in Brazil are as enormous as the country itself. The amazing natural diversity lends itself obediently to thrill-seekers and the beautiful scenery acts as a perfect backdrop.

Head to Rio where beaches are synonymous with the city and its life. No doubt about it, as the megapolis is arguably the most spectacular location with breathtaking beaches, constant carnivals, magnificent architecture, dense forests that are waiting to be explored. Rio is a place where tourists can interact with nature, whether it’s hiking, climbing, zip lining in Tijuca Forest or hang gliding. The best way to appreciate the natural splendour of the beautiful city is with a bird’s eye view. Tandem hang gliding from the neighbourhood of Sao Conrado is quite a popular activity and can be one of most exciting experiences of your life. Another destination is Brotas, located in the centre of the state of Sao Paulo and is fast becoming known as one of Brazil’s adventure hotspots. This is mainly because of the raging torrents of the Jacare Pepira River, which is almost a mandatory activity for those who love an adrenaline rush. There are numerous options of rapids, with different levels of difficulty.

Located in the far east of Brazil, near the Paraguayan and Bolivian borders, is Pantanal, a UNESCO World Nature Heritage Site and one of the world’s largest tropical wetlands. Home to an extraordinary diversity of flora and fauna, particularly birdlife, and one of the most exciting ways to explore it is by kayaking or canoeing. And if you want to have the best underwater experience then head to Fernando de Noronha, a volcanic archipelago sprinkled some 370 km off the coast of Brazil. Apart from being spectacularly scenic and a designated World Heritage site, the islands are famous as one of the best scuba diving and snorkelling sites on the planet. What’s amazing is the fact that not only is this island teeming with dolphins and turtles but it is said that every type of shark common to the area is, in fact, friendly.

The Zeal of New Zealand

Adventure tourism is a key part of New Zealand’s international appeal because of its action packed, fast paced activities that are bound to push the limits of all thrill seekers. The adventurous activities offered here will take you by the sea, sky and land and let you discover the adventure that gets you going.

Hold your breath and spread out your wings for the most famous adventure activity, sky diving, for a heart-stopping adrenaline experience. The magnificent landscapes of New Zealand take on an extra dimension when you are 3,500 m in the air. There are many places that offer the perfect skydiving opportunity like the ones in Lake Wanaka or Queenstown where you can witness the vastness of the nature. ‘‘We went to New Zealand for our honeymoon and were in no mood to just explore the markets and eat at high end restaurants. We wanted to explore the city in a different way and what better way is there to take in the amazing views than from thousands of feet above? The skydiving experience with NZone Skydive in Queenstown was an exhilarating experience. Initially there is a free fall for about 60 seconds from 12,000 feet (3,500 m) where one can barely breathe. But the stunning view of mountain which extends to the turquoise water of Lake Wakatipu, makes you forget everything. It was certainly the best decision and a must once in a lifetime experience,’’ Swati Agarwal, a working professional from Bengaluru tells India Outbound.

If you are in Auckland don’t forget to experience the SkyJump and SkyWalk that will test even the bravest person’s nerves. SkyJump is the highest jump and only Base Jump by wire in the country. You’ll plummet 192 metres off the Sky Tower at 85 km an hour. The Skywalk on the other hand takes you along a narrow walkway around the outside of the Sky Tower that has no handrails but just the wind brushing through your face and the city 192 metres below you. Now just imagine closing your eyes and walking on the SkyWalk. Stupefying, isn’t it? And lastly another activity for the height lovers is bungy jumping. Home to the world’s first commercial bungy jump operation, New Zealand is at the forefront of bungy tourism. If heights are not your thing, then hit the waters. And there is no better way than experiencing it through the Legendary Black Water Rafting Company, New Zealand’s first black water cave rafting adventure operator. You can experience the stunning underworld of Ruakuri Cave. Another quintessential adventure activity is jet boating where jets wind through spectacular rocky canyons and take full 360 degree spins and tight turns, letting you have the adventure of your lifetime.

Checking Out Czechia

Mountains check. Forests check. Historical sites check. The Czech Republic or Czechia is a natural wonder with gorgeous landscapes that are not only perfect for nature lovers but a paradise for the adventure enthusiasts. The country is growing in popularity as a destination for robust outdoor adventure travel because of the range of activities it offers. From hiking in the mountains to cycling to castles, the country offers a perfect getaway for adrenaline seekers and cyclists especially who will love the trail that links castles through the ancient forests. There are numerous ways in which active travellers, as well as history buffs, can explore the city.

To explore beautiful natural landscapes, a visit to the Bohemian Switzerland Park, in the north and almost on the border with Germany, is a must as the national park is home to breathtaking ravines, deep valleys, unusual rock labyrinths and steep footbridges. Once you are done exploring the park on foot you can also jump into a small boat that will take you to the other side where you can carry on with your quest. The park’s Pravčická brána (a stone arch) was used for essential scenes in the film Chronicles of Narnia.

Head, about 150 km northeast of the capital Prague to the Krkonoše Mountains, near the Polish border, for a thrilling outdoor adventure. With its numerous waterfalls and incredible glacial formations, stunning views lie around every corner in this area. The unique feature of the mountain range is a series of natural indentations, formed over time by the sheer force of the Pančavskeý Waterfall. In winters, this place is extremely popular for snow sports.

Czechia not only offers beauty above the ground but is stunning below the ground as well because of its cave landscapes. One of the top attractions is the Macocha Abyss, a sinkhole in the Moravian Karst cave, about 240 km south-east of the capital city. This impressive gorge is 138 metres deep – and hiking through provides unbelievable views. Adventurous cavers also love the experience of exploring Punkva Cave, which is entered via water, by way of a dark mouth on the Punkva River. The Czech Republic has the most castles per capita, compared to anywhere in the world. To explore them one can also cycle around visiting some of the impressive castles.

“I had an exhilarating experience in the Czech Republic. The country is unique in its own way. As much as this place is famous for its castles, it also offers scenic beauty. My journey in Czechia began with an adventurous and fun- filled hiking at the Krkonoše Mountains which is special for its numerous waterfalls and incredible glacier formations. After hiking for four hours, I made it to the top of the mountain and the entire experience was magical. I also did a castle tour at one of the hidden gems of Czechia, Cesky Krumlov. The large rococo garden and the extensive bridge made the castle exploration so worthy. I ended my trip with a cruise ride by the Vltava River! I would like to recommend this place to every millennial looking for adventures and new experiences in life,” Ayantika Halder a PR executive from New Delhi tells India Outbound.

Romping in Rwanda

Looking for a destination for next year that will take you out of your comfort zone but will give you an experience of a lifetime? Head to Rwanda, a country right in the heart of nature. What makes it so unique for an adventurous destination, you may ask? Well it’s here where gorilla tourism is still alive and remains the biggest draw for visitors to the region. The pleasure of hiking through the thick forests on the side of an extinct volcano and suddenly coming across a family of endangered mountain gorillas is inconceivable.

Rwanda is already popular as a luxury safari destination but it also has a lot to offer for the adventure intrepid travellers. Kayaking in the Rwanda’s pristine Lake Kivu is one of the most calming yet adventurous early morning activities. One can also cover the same trail of Lake Kivu through cycling. The trail takes travellers through terraced farms, bright green tea fields, lakeside viewpoints, and small towns. Another famous activity that one can experience is that of hiking in Nyungwe National Park that is not only home to the country’s primate and bird population, but is also Africa’s largest montane rainforest. Around 13 primate species of Africa live right here in the park, including chimpanzees, colobus monkeys, owl-faced monkeys, red-tailed monkeys, blue and silver monkeys, L’Hoest’s mountain monkeys, Dent’s mona monkeys and olive baboons among others, many of which exist in few other places around Africa.

There are also nearly 300 bird species to be spotted along with 1,000-plus species of plants and 140 varieties of orchids. Also, while in the park don’t forget to visit Rwanda’s most unique visitor attractions, the Canopy Walkway, where Park rangers lead guided nature walks several times in a day. The walkway is a three-section hanging footbridge suspended 75 m above the forest floor and running a total length of 160 m.

A very unique activity that you can be a part of in Rwanda is that of taking part in a marathon. The Nyungwe Marathon and the Kigali Peace Marathon take participants through the lush forests of Nyungwe and the gleaming streets of the capital Kigali.

Lastly, don’t forget to go on a safari in search of Africa’s big five—the elephant, rhino, lion, buffalo, and leopard. Travellers can search around for these impressive creatures, taking safari rides around the northern plains and southern marshes and can also take help of community guides and park rangers who are excellent trackers. Not only is the country famous for its gorilla treks but is also quite popular for its offbeat activity—learning to track lions.

Not many know about the Akagera National Park, Rwanda’s last protected savannah ecosystem that now sports healthy populations of re-introduced lions and threatened eastern black rhinos, along with some 500 bird species, including the rare shoebill stork. One can also trek the stunning Bisoke Volcano, where you may be lucky enough to spot a silverback gorilla in the wild. The summit of Mount Bisoke, at 3,711 m, has a beautiful crater lake that makes it a major attraction for mountain climbers.

Published in India Outbound, January 2020

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