A JURY of the UK’s top explorers, adventurers, and award-winning writers have selected the world’s greatest travel adventure as “staring down into the smouldering eyes of a tiger from the back of an elephant in India’s Kanha National Park.”
For the past two months, travel luminaries including Lonely Planet founder Tony Wheeler, explorer Benedict Allen, and broadcaster Simon Calder have been assessing the most intense adventures on the planet.
And the chance of getting close to a tiger in the wild — while such a possibility exists — was judged to be even more thrilling than skiing down a live volcano on the Japanese island of Hokkaido or diving with hammerhead sharks in the Galapagos.
Simon Calder said: “Whatever tribulations the economy may deliver, the British spirit of adventure is alive and well. Travellers are turning their backs on the beach and going to extremes to satisfy a craving for adrenalin-fuelled experiences.”
The list was drawn up on behalf of Adventure Travel Live, which takes place in London from 29 to 31 January.
Another wildlife experience – an encounter with mountain gorillas in Rwanda – took fourth place, just ahead of two great hikes that shared fifth spot: the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu in Peru, and the Larrapinta Trail in Australia’s Northern Territory.
“The ultimate railway adventure”, Russia’s Trans-Siberian, took seventh place, just ahead of hot-air ballooning over Tanzania’s Serengeti. A hike through the Indian Ocean island of Madagascar took ninth position, while South America’s third appearance completed the top 10: exploring the wildlife of Brazil’s Pantanal.
“Staring down into the smouldering eyes of a tiger from the back of an elephant in India’s Kanha National Park”: that has been selected as the world’s greatest travel adventure by a jury of the UK’s top explorers, adventurers and award-winning writers.
Top 10 adventures:
1 Tiger tracking on elephants, Kanha National Park, India
“You’ll never get so close to a tiger in the wild.” – Bryn Thomas
2 Skiing on Asahidake, Hokkaido, Japan
“Asahidake is the island’s highest mountain and sends out a stream of smoke from its vents. Hokkaido enjoys eight metres of snow a year, and the powder is some of the most consistently excellent in the world.” — Perry Wilson
3 Diving with hammerhead sharks in the Galapagos
“With basic scuba skills you can safely dive with these fabulous, iconic sharks – in the company of so many of them that you lose count.” – Paul Rose
4 Encounter with mountain gorillas in Rwanda
“Nothing rivals a close-up with our closest relatives. It is at altitude, in a rainforest, with no paths. The trek can take five hours. Worth it – massively, emotionally – and it helps this poor, war-ravaged country.” – Paul Goldstein
5 Inca Trail to Machu Picchu in Peru
“Popular though this three-day trek is, nothing can prepare you for the awesome first sight of the ‘lost’ city of the Incas as you round the trail on the last day, seeing it perched high above the Urumaba with the mist swirling around it.” – Bryn Thomas.
6 Larapinta Trail in Australia’s Northern Territory
“Classic Outback country: dry, dramatic, lots of wildlife … the ‘dry’ component would normally make it unwalkable, until the establishment of regular water tanks made it one of Australia’s best hikes.” – Tony Wheeler
7 Trans-Siberian Railway, Russia.
“The greatest rail adventure of them all. I’d suggest the weekly Moscow-Mongolia-Beijing train. It’s six nights and over 5,000 miles across Siberia, the Gobi Desert and through the Great Wall for as little as £410. You can even start your trip at St Pancras.” – Mark Smith
8 Hot-air ballooning over the Serengeti of Tanzania.
“Even if there are no migrating herds, just to pass over the African savannah in silence is something you will never forget.” – Benedict Allen
9 Hiking the Grand Tsingy Circuit, Madagascar
“Tsingy are grotesque pinnacles and spikes of limestone creating the world’s most exotic rock garden. Rare succulents shelter in the gullies that visitors cross using boardwalks, ladders and bridges. An extraordinary experience on an extraordinary island.” – Hilary Bradt
10 The wildlife of the Pantanal, Brazil
“Check out giant otters, caimans, jaguars, green iguanas and more.” – Tim Fryer
So if you want to do something more adventurous than sunbathing on the beach this year, blaze a trail to Adventure Travel Live to learn about some of the most inspiring adventures on the planet.
Adventure Travel Live takes place at the Royal Horticultural Halls, London SW1 on 29, 30 and 31 January 2010.
For tickets call 0871 2307159 or visit www.adventuretravellive.com to find out more.
Advance: £6 / (£15 for the evening with Simon Calder)
On door: £10 / (£18 for the evening with Simon Calder)
Under 16s free