Where to go on an extreme
adventure vacation

You don't have to go across the world to have an extreme adventure although Ecuador in South America and Indonesia's Komodo National Park are pretty cool places for an extended vacation. Northern Europe also offers ample excuses to expand an extreme itinerary with frozen taiga forests in Finland and Norway's fjord crinkled coastline both awesome environments for winter adventures. From rock climbing in the mountains of Morocco to exploring ancient sites of Iraqi Kurdistan; extreme adventures come in all shapes and sizes, where you choose to go is up to you.

1. Ecuador

Ecuador is a land of extremes with the Pacific coast, Andean mountains and the Amazon rainforest all offering adventurers ample opportunities to fill their boots with awesomeness. Cycle down Cotopaxi Volcano on a mountain bike; raft the rapids on the Quijos and Upper Napo rivers; cool off in the Cascada de Latas waterfall; and wake up to toucans, parrots and monkeys after a night in the jungle.

2. Finland

When the pine forests of Oulanka National Park are covered in snow and the huge lakes are frozen solid there's only one way to get around, and that's by bike. Say what? Fat bike, that is. Super chunky tyres make fat bikes more than a match for snow and ice with some of Finland's finest wild taiga landscapes, on the Russian border, providing extreme adventures close to the Arctic Circle.
Iraqi Kurdistan

3. Iraqi Kurdistan

Despite the devastation caused by war and years of oppression, the Kurdish people living in Northern Iraq are still smiling and more than happy to welcome responsible travelers into their towns and villages. From the ancient capital of Erbil to the monasteries, mosques and mountains surrounding Suleimaniyah, extreme adventures in Iraq unveil the truth behind the headlines.

4. Indonesia

As if kayaking around some of Indonesia's most remote islands and snorkelling over its untouched coral reefs wasn't extreme enough, chuck a couple of Komodo dragons in and you've got all the makings of an unforgettable adventure. Camp out on deserted beaches in safari tents and dare to dream about dragons, manta rays, stalactites, stalagmites and mangrove-fringed islands inhabited by bats.

5. Madagascar

Set sail on the Benahy and Onilahy rivers in Madagascar and you can paddle all the way to Saint Augustin and the Indian Ocean. Paddle, trek and camp through breathtaking canyons on early stretches of a two week tour before negotiating rowdy class III-IV rapids en route to Benenitra and the beautiful beaches around Anakao. Just don't mention Deliverance.

6. Norway

Norway’s fabulous fjords are absolutely breathtaking and swimming with killer whales off Tromsø always adds depth to an already outstanding adventure. No experience is necessary and certified guides are on hand to help you learn the most responsible and safest way to get in and out of the water in a dry suit. Live on board a boat with orca experts and a handful of other excited adventurers.
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 adventure vacations advice

Find out about fat biking

Tom Wilkinson is Senior Product & Commercial Manager at vacation company Exodus:
“Fat biking attracts its fair share of off road cycling enthusiasts, but also those curious to try something new. Though the remote Finnish location and the winter weather can look extreme, when you’ve got the right kit and the right leader, it’s fairly accessible. Fat biking guides and instructors won't push you to your limits. The idea is to experience the outdoors, the extremes of temperature and the dramatically different terrain, but not to exhaust you physically. Fat bikes have low gearing and wide tyres that are only inflated to low pressure. So you have to work fairly hard as you get little freewheeling and speeds are low. However, the rewards at the end of each day are incredibly high.”

Dabbling with dragons

Laurenne Mansbridge at our adventure tour specialists, Pioneer Expeditions, on kayaking within the realm of dragons: “You don’t have to be an experienced kayaker but we recommend you at least try kayaking and enjoy it before you come on a trip. Also we advise you do some upper body fitness training to make the experience more enjoyable. However, we always have a support boat and if the kayaking is too much, at any point, or you want to just take a break, you can continue to enjoy the journey on the boat instead.”

Mind control

Omar Camarero, from Rug&Rock Adventures, on fitness and technique on rock climbing adventures in Morocco: “In terms of physicality, it helps if you’re fairly fit, of course, but it's surprising just how much ‘technique’ plays a role in climbing. You can see people who might not be able to do more than a couple of pull ups successfully climbing 6+ routes. A huge proportion of climbing consists of training the mind rather than just the body. This is the reason why we’ve recently started yoga and climbing tours – the perfect match for mind control and body fitness.”

Cultured climbers

Omar Camarero, from Rug&Rock Adventures, on cultural immersion while rock climbing in Morocco: “I think it's important for a vacation to not only be about the climbing but also about many of the other things that a location has to offer. Meeting the people who live there, for instance, and finding out more about their relationship with the rock formations. Is climbing an imported activity or does it have an existing connection with local people? It's interesting to find out if this connection has been built and what the international or local climbers are doing to create structures in the sites.”

Making the most of Madagascar

Laurenne Mansbridge at Pioneer Expeditions, shares an extreme first-hand experience: “On my first trip to Madagascar I travelled by road and then on foot to a river canyon. The sun had started to set and we had to cross the river in the dark to get to our camp. Whilst the guides and porters knew that the river was low and that we were safe, the feeling of not being able to see, and hearing the roar of the river, was definitely not for the fainthearted. Your mind can definitely play with your fears and the trepidation was definitely there the next morning. However, as I opened my tent to a lovingly prepared breakfast, the river looked much more welcoming in daylight. The feeling of our first rest stop on the river, after we had all ‘survived’ was total euphoria – a real sense that the team had made it. We had really got out of our comfort zones and we were much better for it. The whole trip was one of the most amazing and extreme experiences I have ever had or have had since.”

Tips from our vacation reviews

At Responsible Travel, we think the best people to advise our travelers are often... other travelers. They always return from our tours with packing tips, weather reports, ideas about what to do – and opinions about what not to.

We have selected some of the most useful extreme adventure vacation tips that our guests have provided over the years to help you make the very most of your vacation – and the space inside your suitcase.
The cabin at the Russian end was an amazing experience. Rustic, lovely to unwind without electricity and technology. Be prepared for a lot of pushing your bike. Check for tips on how to operate devices in cold weather.
– Liezl-Mia Ludick fat biking in Finland
“Pack light, you need virtually nothing. Make sure your hands are used to rowing or bring gloves. If you are female make sure you are not menstruating otherwise you won't be allowed to visit the Komodo dragons which would be terribly disappointing.” – Sally Jackson kayaking in Komodo National Park

“We canoed for two days, negotiated rapids and camped at night on the sandy banks beside the river. The locals were intrigued by these strange foreigners who chose to sleep in tents rather than a hotel but readily came to our rescue when our cooking pots sank to the bottom of the river! Take waterproof bags to put all your clothes and equipment into for the canoe trip. No need to take pillows or sleeping mats as these are provided by the local company. Make sure you have a good torch as electricity supplies in hotels are unpredictable.” – Rosemary Llewellin trekking and rafting in Madagascar

“The visit to the battlefield of 331BC Guagemela where Alexander the Great defeated Darius III was particularly good because of the excellent talk on the history and strategy employed. However the scenery in the mountains, the Kurdish people and the many historic and cultural sites were all interesting and memorable. The more you have read about the area first the more I think you get from the trip. Be prepared to be flexible and enjoy it as it comes.” – Jenny Maddick in Iraqi Kurdistan
Honestly everything was amazing! Being completely immersed in nature. Monkeys, dolphins, turtles, manta rays, bats and of course Komodo dragons... oh and some spectacular sunsets!
– Jodie Cummings kayaking in Komodo National Park
Written by Chris Owen
Photo credits: [Page banner: Vixit] [Ecuador: amalavida.tv] [Finland: Visit Lakeland] [Iraqi Kurdistan: jamesdale10] [Indonesia: jon hanson] [Madagascar: Andrea Schieber] [Norway: jobhaug] [Find out about fat biking: Visit Lakeland] [Cultured climbers: Robbie Shade] [Liezl-Mia Ludick quote: Paul Esch-Laurent] [Jodie Cummings quote: dimitrisvetsikas1969]