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Ultimate adventure travel bucket list

Jennifer Chen

Getting to the chinstrap penguin colony along the Antarctic Peninsula isn’t for the fainthearted. But the risks are worth it. Gliding through the waters of Orne Harbor, you may encounter whales and seals. And greeting you onshore? Hundreds of penguins tending their young.


Challenging experiences like Quark Expeditions’ guided trip from Argentina to Antarctica remind us that the toughest journeys are often the most memorable. And in an age where time is treated as a commodity, arriving at a destination through toil and sweat is becoming a lost art.

Of course, not every escapade requires traveling to the ends of the earth or pushing your body’s limits—easy hikes and relaxing fly-fishing also make up some of the world’s greatest adventures. Read on for more life-changing adventures and our tips on how to tackle them.
Hiking Hawaii's Na Pali Coast

Hike the green folded cliffs and secret beaches of the 11-mile Kalalau Trail on the island of Kauai.

Seeing the Northern Lights in Iceland

The northern lights are brightest on the Álftanes Peninsula, just outside Reykjavík, during the winter solstice. Marvel at the celestial display, then head back to town for local lamb at Dill restaurant.

Cruising to See Penguins in Antarctica

Visit penguin rookeries on Quark Expeditions’ 20-day voyage (from $9,495).

Sailing the Milford Sound, New Zealand

The jaw-dropping landscape—clear glacial waters; mist-shrouded peaks—is like a fantasy novel come to life. Explore it by ferry, sailing the length of the fjord to the Tasman Sea.

Fly-Fishing in Jackson Hole, Wyo.

“I love to go fly-fishing in Jackson Hole, in Wyoming. It’s where I get some of my best thinking done. WorldCast Anglers leads excellent guided trips for all levels.” — David Chang, chef

Getting Up Close to Iguazú Falls, Brazil

Have the thunderous waters all to yourself: guests of the Hotel das Cataratas, on the Brazilian side, can access the viewing platforms after the park closes—no rangers, no other people.

Living With Locals in Chyulu Hills, Kenya

“Campi Ya Kanzi, the Masai-community-owned lodge in the Chyulu Hills of eastern Kenya, achieves the perfect combination of luxury and exclusivity, with rigorous sustainability and commitment to the locals. I like to walk with Masai trackers early in the morning or hike up to the cloud forest, which is another world entirely.” — Edward Norton, actor and board member of the Maasai Wilderness Conservation Trust

Meeting Polar Bears in
Churchill, Manitoba

An Inuit guide will bring you face-to-face with migrating 10-foot polar bears in the frozen tundra of northern Canada. Book with Arctic Kingdom (five days from $7,800).

Cruising China's Yangtze River

Viking River Cruises’ 18-day trip (from $4,242) takes you from Beijing to Shanghai via the imposing Three Gorges.

Driving Through Mexican Hat
and Monument Valley, Utah

“The San Juan Inn, in Mexican Hat, Utah, is a motel, trading post, and diner on the banks of a gorgeous red river. It’s like the motel from that Humphrey Bogart movie Petrified Forest. Monument Valley is 25 minutes south, and what you see on that drive, the scale of it, is so vast and beautiful. You’re in this enormous, wondrous silence.” — Michael Tilson Thomas, conductor

See more of the world’s most amazing adventures.