Extreme adventures travel guide

Although our extreme adventures don’t require years of experience, technical expertise or the fitness levels of an Olympian they might challenge you physically and mentally, and in some of the world’s most exciting locations. Trust plays a huge part in getting the most out of a trip. Safety equipment, expert instruction and guidance, the knowledge that extends from living in an area for a lifetime; these are factors that you need to trust have been taken into account. Don't worry, they have been.
Training your mind can be equally as important as training your body. Be prepared to be challenged, to get out of your comfort zone, to be scared. Trust your instructor, and yourself. You've got this.
You could be kayaking to see dragons in Indonesia, sightseeing amongst the scarred cities of Iraqi Kurdistan, white water rafting, trekking and camping down a river in Madagascar – whatever you’ve always fancied or never thought possible. Our extreme vacations travel guide allows you to tear down your cultural, physical and mental barriers and have a darn good time in the process.

What do extreme adventure
vacations entail?

First things first, our extreme adventure vacations aren't for über experienced experts who are only interested in upping their adrenaline levels to TOTALLY AWESOME! There may well be a high five or two at some points or even a fist pump, where appropriate, however, in the main, our recommended tours are designed to encourage travelers to experience something new, something out of the ordinary, in locations that look like they've leapt out of a National Geographic double page spread.
Depending on your own frame of reference, an extreme adventure might put you out of your comfort zone or provide just the right level of activity or experience to peak your interest levels. Basically, you're not going to be lolling by a pool or beach all day, but you will be doing something a bit special, something worthwhile, something that you'll remember long after a tan has faded.

Laurenne Mansbridge from our adventure travel experts, Pioneer Expeditions:
“An extreme adventure vacation is where you are taken away from your comfort zone, which in turn means the experience is so much more invigorating. There’s a great mix of fun, challenge and relaxation. Everyone’s ‘extreme’ is very different – a marathon to some, or an ultimate marathon, for others. The balance is therefore dictated by what you're looking for. On all trips, safety is paramount and we have a rigorous safety manual that we and our partners follow. Every activity has a risk associated with it but a well planned trip will minimise this.”

The majority of extreme activities are accessible to beginners, however, the fitter you are the better. Although full instruction will be given you might be spending entire days being active outdoors. In addition, clambering out of kayaks, Zodiacs and river rafts, for instance, requires a certain level of agility. Be honest with yourself and don’t be afraid to ask lots of questions and read reviews before you sign up.

Our top trip

Cycle the whole of New Zealand

Cycle the whole of New Zealand

Cycle New Zealand North to South fully supported

From NZ $18600 6 weeks ex flights
Small group travel:
2024: 7 Jan
2025: 6 Feb
Travel Team
If you'd like to chat about Extreme adventure or need help finding a vacation to suit you we're very happy to help.

Extreme activities

Fat biking: Super chunky tyres make short shrift of snow covered trails which is why fat bikes are the best way to pedal past pine forests and over thick frozen lakes in the winter. As easy as riding the proverbial and offering minimal disruption to nature, fat biking is an extreme activity that will having you whizzing through the frozen Finnish wilderness in no time at all.

Kayaking: Not all kayaking would be classed as extreme; depends on the locatation. Indonesia’s Komodo National Park is remote and absolutely stunning and there’s no better way to sneak into the realm of dragons other than by kayak. Find out more about sea kayaking in Komodo National Park.

Rock climbing: Morocco’s High Atlas Mountains are a must for rock climbers looking for a variety of bolted routes up natural walls stretching to 300m. Top grade climbing gear, expert instruction and the highest safety standards give climbers confidence to exceed extreme expectations. Find out more about rock climbing.

Swimming with whales: For the uninitiated, the thought of swimming with whales, let alone huge humpback or stealthy killer whales, may be an extreme adventure too far. However, once you’ve taken the plunge with an expert guide into the warm waters around Tonga and Tahiti or even the Arctic around Norway in November – dry suits are a must, obvs – you’ll, no doubt, be singing the song of the sea.

River rafting: This is is an outdoor activity to really get the heart pumping as well as providing plenty of peaceful moments as you simply go with the flow. Madagascar and Ecuador have more than their fair share of high walled river canyons and white water rapids for you to get to grips with on an extreme adventure vacation.

Extreme culture shocks

If you find an overdose of adrenaline brought on by an extreme activity a little hard to stomach, especially in a wet suit, then why not consider a cultural alternative that’s every bit as extreme but not quite so physically demanding.

Traveling through the Kurdistan region of northern Iraq, for example, or exploring in Algeria’s Sahara Desert. These are areas of the world that many people wouldn’t be tempted to visit, while others would be eagerly rubbing their hands together at the prospect of all those ancient treasures. Safety is always paramount on these sorts of trips and we simply would not recommend them if we thought that travelers would be putting themselves at risk. We trust our vacation suppliers and their local guides implicitly, and certainly much more so than sensationalist newspaper headlines.

Small groups

Perfect for a group of friends after an adventure, small group vacations also give solo travelers a chance to take part in something that their friends or family don’t fancy doing. There might also be a chance to pay a single supplement and have your own room. Alternatively, you might be invited to bunk with another group member of the same sex in a twin room. Maximum group sizes are deliberately kept small – between 12 to 16 people – which allows for minimal disruption to the natural environment and also encourages use of smaller B&Bs, guesthouses and locally owned accommodation.

Being part of a group helps to create a sense of camaraderie. You can share experiences and overcome challenges as part of a team. No one will be encouraged to rush to the top of a mountain or keep up a fast pace in a kayak. That's not what this sort of trip is all about. Achievements are magnified as part of a group; bonds form quicker; friendships are forged over beers and camp fires. It's a vacation, after all.

Tailor made

A tailor-made adventure allows you to decide exactly how ‘extreme’ you want an experience to be. You can work out an activity itinerary in Ecuador that gives you a mix of mountain biking down volcanoes one day and watching wildlife in the Amazon the next. You might like to conclude a couple of weeks of white water rafting and trekking in Madagascar with beach time in Anakao on the Indian Ocean or opt for more time on the Onilahy River. It's your call. You're in control.

You can even cut short an activity if it's proving to be much more extreme than you'd expected or, on the flip side, you might choose to up the ante if everything's too easy going. You also get to decide when you start and complete your trip rather than slotting in with allotted tour dates as per a small group tour.
Written by Chris Owen
Photo credits: [Page banner: Vixit] [What do extreme adventure vacations entail?: Robbie Shade] [Extreme activities: Visit Lakeland] [Extreme culture shocks: raandree] [Tailor made : Larry Lamb]