The Afar Guide to
Adventure Travel

What's Your Adventure?

Whether your idea of adventure is paragliding the Swiss Alps, bathing rescued elephants in the rivers of Thailand, cycling through vineyards in France, or taking a self-guided walking tour through a national park in full spring bloom, there's an adventure travel trip out there for you.

Trends in Adventure Travel
Adventure travel is on the rise worldwide, as more people seek to integrate exciting nature-based experiences with authentic cultural exploration for a vacation that is not just memorable but transformative. Whether you’re up for abseiling through frosty Canadian river canyons, or a trek through the wildflowers of Denali National Park is more your speed—the endless combinations of itineraries means there is an adventure to suit everyone’s taste.
Adventures on (and in) Water
From the jewel-toned beaches lining the soft-sanded Indies islands, to the stark ice formations of the Antarctic, explore the waterways of adventure. Admire wildlife like penguins and polar bears from the helm of your kayak, raft down the green waters and cliffs of Bali, or explore a hidden underground river glowing with iridescent worms in New Zealand. Or maybe you thirst to see the unseen world below, diving along sunken vessels and dramatic coral reefs. Or, for the landlubbers: treks deep in the jungles and woods, discovering tranquil bays and picnic under the spray of waterfalls.
Farflung Adventures
While the much loved and lauded adventures in familiar places still hold their charm, the world continues to open up and become accessible to wanderers who could once only read and dream about far flung people and places. Have your skin painted ocher with clay by a Himba child while you share experiences with her mother by the tribal family fire, and stroll down the surreal Avenue of the Baobabs. Keep your camera lens clear and extra battery to document this indescribable vistas.
Top Ten Adventure Travel Tips
Try something new, whether it’s ice sledging in Interlaken, having a meal in a local Jordanian home, sleeping in a remote Indian village homestay, or ladder-climbing into waterfalls in Ecuador. Get out of your comfort zone and off-the-beaten path. The first step is identifying a region, climate, or activity that you'd prefer, and assessing the activity level you're comfortable with.
Consider using an agent or tour guide for specialized or more complex trips (multiple international flights, technical activities). Travel specialists are there to curate high-quality itineraries based on the type of experiences you’re seeking, and can make sure you get the most out of a tight schedule.
Be a Good Ambassador. Be respectful of local people and make an effort to embrace some of their customs. Learn a few phrases in the local language, like “Please,” “Thank you,” “I’m sorry/excuse me,” and “Where is the bathroom?” Smile.
Pack far less than you want to. Adept adventure travelers can make do with a week’s worth of clothes for a multi-month trip. Must have items: first aid kit, multi-use tool/knife, headlamp, and high-quality, comfortable shoes.
Be prepared. Have paper and digital copies of all reservations, insurance and passport info, emergency contacts, and other important details. Research the customs and culture of your destinations, so you’re prepared for everything from tipping and electrical outlets to major cultural faux pas.
To be a responsible traveler follow the “Leave No Trace” Principles, which can be summarized by “Take Only Photos, and Leave Only Footprints.” You may think that straying from a marked trail or removing one shell or artifact from a site won’t matter, but if millions of other tourists each year think the same way, the destination becomes damaged and degraded.
Engage with the real local culture. Stay at a local hotel or guesthouse (or rent an apartment or home) and get out of the main tourist areas. Eat at locally owned restaurants and try the preferred regional dishes (even if it’s barbequed grasshoppers). Attend events and shows designed for the locals. Shop where they shop. Talk to people—taxi drivers, waiters, people on trains; ask questions. These conversations often offer you more insight into what life is really like in a new place than anything you can observe or read on your own.
Embrace the unexpected. A good attitude and humor go a long way. Things will go wrong, there will be delays and challenges with transport, communication, weather and your expectations. Find beauty and adventure in those unexpected moments—they are usually your best stories and most vivid memories.
Record your story. This is more than taking photos. Adventure travel often provides a lot of time for thinking (multiple days on a trail will do that). Even if you don’t normally write in a journal, jot down the particulars of what you did and saw, and write down new thoughts or goals. Later on, having a window into what you were thinking and feeling on your adventure will be the best souvenir.
Bring it home with you. One of my favorite things about traveling is bringing home a new recipe, habit, friendship or even a way of thinking. Let the thoughts, revelations and gratitude you find while traveling change and inform your daily life at home.
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Nicole Petrak, Adventure Travel Curator

Nicole spent the last five years working at the Adventure Travel Trade Association (ATTA), a professional membership organization which serves the growing adventure tourism industry. Her projects include digital media, content management, trend tracking, and research. She helped the ATTA launch AdventureEDU, the only UNWTO-backed training program for adventure tourism professionals. Nicole is currently on sabbatical, and resides in San Francisco, CA, when she’s not traveling.
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Joss Kent, Adventure Travel Curator

Joss Kent has adventure travel in his blood. Son of the co-founder of travel company Abercrombie & Kent, he has led safari expeditions for clients including Bill Gates and Jimmy Carter. Now, as CEO of luxury experiential travel company andBeyond, he focuses on the relationship among unique guest experiences, conservation, and communities