Freediving in Indonesia, rafting down the Amazon and a remote Tibetan pilgrimage are just some of the travel experiences that will change your life, according to the adventure experts at Lonely Planet.
They’ve included them in a recently published book called Travel Goals: Inspiring Experiences To Transform Your Life – ‘a modern bucket list for responsible, healthy feel-good travel’. Mountain Shepherd Courses in Virginia and horseback riding across Australia’s High Country also make the list.
Here’s our pick of the bunch – 20 experiences and the Lonely Planet travel goals that accompany them.
Travel goal: Conquer nature
Rock climbing in Yosemite National Park and free diving in Gili Trawangan, Indonesia
Rock climbing is gaining popularity, no doubt boosted by last year’s Academy Award-winning documentary Free Solo, which followed professional climber Alex Honnold’s death-defying attempt to scale El Capitan’s 900-metre (2,950ft) vertical rock face in Yosemite National Park.
Test your own limits by trying your hand at rock climbing, which Lonely Planet describes as ‘one terrifying yet empowering obstacle course of danger and fun’.
The book suggests booking into Yosemite Mountaineering School & Guide Service, which offers lessons, equipment and guided climbs within Yosemite National Park.
Meanwhile, for divers, freediving is often thought to be the most natural way of exploring the sea’s depths – freed of any scuba apparatus, and armed with just a single breath of air. And what better place to try it than off the palm-fringed islands of Gili Trawangan, Indonesia?
According to Lonely Planet, ‘instructors at Freedive Gili will have you holding your breath for three minutes and help you swim down to 100ft (30m) on just one breath during the three-day intermediate training course’.
Courses run year-round on Gili Trawangan, ‘but crowds thin and visibility peaks in September and October’.
Travel goal: Find yourself
Extreme pilgrimage in Tibet
Mt Kailash, in remote western Tibet, is one of the most revered, and inhospitable mountains in the world.
Just a few thousand pilgrims visit each year.
Lonely Planet says: ‘Its remote location requires weeks of difficult travel, and around it are 32 miles (52km) of path to circumambulate.’
Lonely Planet suggests booking a 15-day tour from Lhasa with Tibet Travel.
And why do it? Because it could be a catalyst for an inner journey too, the book says.
Travel goal: Make an epic overland journey
Drive from Cairo to Cape Town
They say life is the journey, not the destination.
And that’s certainly the case with overland travel.
Forget planes and take an epic road trip from Egypt to South Africa, suggests Lonely Planet.
‘You’ll take in the pyramids, dive the Red Sea, hike the cloudy foothills of Mt Kilimanjaro, hear the thunder of Victoria Falls and spot basking lion prides in South African wildlife reserves,’ the book says. Try Dragoman Overland, which offers guided tours.
Travel goal: Fly
Try wingwalking in Cirencester and go zip-lining in Toro Verde, Puerto Rico
Forget the plane seat – try the wing instead for a ‘literal blast’.
Wingwalking involves standing atop a biplane in flight while it hurtles around.
‘You’ll feel the onrushing wind as you soar high, skim low, bank and barrel,’ says the book, which suggests flying above the Cotswolds with British aerobatics and wingwalking team Aerosuperbatics.
Also exhilarating, zip-lining sees you soar across valleys via a wire and pulley system slung between treetops.
For the ultimate thrill ride, the book suggests zip-lining across Puerto Rico’s spectacular Toro Verde valley on the Monster, ‘one of the world’s highest, longest and fastest zip-lines’.
Lonely Planet says: ‘It takes about 150 seconds to careen for 1.57 miles (2.5km) at 1,250ft (380m) above the valley, reaching speeds of up to 95mph (153km/h).’
Travel goal: Pull together for the team
Build a raft and race it, Peru
The River Amazon International Raft Race has been taking place in Iquitos, Peru, for 20 years.
The race is the brainchild of British-born Mike Collis as a way of bringing tourism to the area, and holds the title of the Guinness Book of Records’ Longest distance raft race competition.
It involves ‘four-person teams taking on 118 miles (190km) of the Amazon River over three days in self-made rafts,’ says Lonely Planet.
Travel goal: Test your mettle
Yukon river quest, Canada, and the Comrades Marathon, South Africa
The Yukon River Quest, or The Race to the Midnight Sun, as it’s better known, is the world’s longest paddling race.
It runs from Whitehorse to Dawson City in Yukon, Canada, and is held annually in June.
‘The… river race sees canoeists and kayakers paddle 444 miles (715km) along the Yukon River under the midnight sun, as prospectors did during the Klondike Gold Rush in the 1980s,’ explains Lonely Planet.
To test your mettle on dry land, try the Comrades Marathon, an ultramarathon that spans 55-miles (89km) from Durban to Pietermaritzburg in South Africa each June.
The book explains: ‘There’s a strict cut-off time (11 or 12 hours) and a spirit of ubuntu (a Nguni Bantu term meaning ‘humanity’) prevails.’
Travel goal: Survive in the wilderness
Mountain Shepherd Adventure School, U.S
When you’re alone in the wilderness, worst-case scenarios can happen.
And being prepared for an emergency and knowing how to survive in the wild is key.
‘Mountain Shepherd offers Survival 101 courses run by US Air Force SERE instructors, who teach you the seven priorities of survival, from injuries to finding and purifying water and improvising shelters,’ the book says.
Travel goal: Take a leap of faith
Skydiving, New Zealand, and deep water soloing, Spain
Queenstown in New Zealand is known as ‘the adventure capital of the world’.
And when it comes to parachuting headfirst out of an airplane, there’s no better place to do it.
Lonely Planet suggests you ‘plummet from up to 15,000ft (4,500m), trying your best to take in the snowy peaks and jade lakes of the Wakatipu Basin as you fall’. Try Nzone Skydive, which offers tandem jumps.
Another extreme head rush can be had by flinging yourself into the sea from on high with gay abandon.
It’s known as deep water soloing, and involves rock climbing without a rope before jumping into the sea.
According to Lonely Planet, studies have shown that ‘adventurous physical activities are linked to enhanced well-being’.
The book suggests trying it in Mallorca. Visit http://www.rockandwatermallorca.com.
Travel goal: Descend into the abyss
Lost World Cave, New Zealand
Best known for its thundering waterfalls, jagged limestone formations and multi-coloured glow worms, the Waitomo Caves in New Zealand is unlike any cave system in the world.
And intrepid travellers can see them up close by abseiling ‘into the abyss… through a narrow crack in the earth’s surface’.
‘At the bottom, explore caverns, gaze at glow-worms and admire the planet’s incredible architecture at its extreme and remote best,’ says Lonely Planet. Abseiling tours can be booked through Waitomo Adventures.
Travel Goal: Look into the eyes of a predator
See Komodo dragons, Indonesia
Get the adrenaline pumping by journeying into the jungle and coming face to face with the world’s largest, most venomous lizard – aka the Komodo dragon – on the Komodo and Rica islands, Indonesia.
‘A journey to look into the eyes of a predator isn’t just about fear,’ says Lonely Planet. ‘It’s also about discovery, learning how endangered these incredible creatures are, due to hunting, destruction of their habitat or their active extermination.’
Once there, be sure to ‘heed the warnings from rangers and don’t straggle: tourists have been killed by these incredible predators’, warns Lonely Planet. Try Flores XP Adventure.
Travel goal: Watch and wait
Go on a Jaguar safari in Pantanal, Brazil
Southwestern Brazil’s Pantanal wetlands is known as one of the best places in the world to spot the ever-elusive jaguar.
‘Even so much as a fleeting glimpse of the world’s third-largest cat at close range is a heart-pounding experience,’ writes Lonely Planet.
For the best chance to see jaguars, book your trip between June and October when, according to Lonely Planet, the dry season forces the jaguars to head for the riverbanks. Try Pantanal Jaguar Safaris.
Travel goal: Get out of your comfort zone
Crater-gaze in Russia’s Kamchatka, go ice swimming in Finland, and ride through the High Country in Victoria, Australia
Pushing through your personal boundaries can open up endless new opportunities.
One way to do that is to book onto a three-week hiking expedition in Kamchatka, Russia, described by Lonely Planet as ‘an ancient version of earth’.
This is a place ‘populated by bears, moose, and wolves, and crowded with about 300 volcanoes, 30 of which are still active’, adds Lonely Planet. Try Volcano Adventures, which organises three-week expeditions.
Alternatively, join locals by going ice swimming in Finland, where minus-30-degree water is said to invigorate you, rather than freeze you.
‘In Finland, many people start the day with an ice swim to benefit from the resulting energy boost,’ writes Lonely Planet.
The book suggests experiencing this local tradition in Rovaniemi in the country’s north between November and March.
Or push beyond your boundaries by going on a horseback-riding trip through Australia’s Alps, known as the High Country.
‘High Country rides start at 5,000ft (1,500m) above sea level on the Bennison Plains at a mountain hut,’ writes Lonely Planet.
Horseriders can ‘follow the scenery of the classic Aussie film The Man From Snowy River’. Try http://www.snowyrivertours.com.
Travel goal: Come home fitter
Learn to surf in Australia
‘Mixing fitness with travel, or focusing your travel around it entirely, can be truly rewarding. You might even find a new passion that you can build into future holidays,’ says Lonely Planet.
By learning to surf in Australia, ‘your shoulders will scream, your abs will strengthen and your smile will grow,’ adds Lonely Planet. Try http://www.australiansurftours.com.au.
Travel goal: Cross a remote border
Khunjerab Pass, China – Pakistan
Those wanting a travel buzz like no other can cross the world’s highest border along the Karakoram Highway between China and Pakistan.
Reaching heights of 15,500ft, sights include ‘spiky mountains, herdsmen with yaks and ever-falling snow’, writes Lonely Planet.
The book suggests going between May and December, and organising visas for China and Pakistan in your home country.
Travel goal: Meet the planet’s giants
Snorkel with whale sharks in Tanzania
Whale sharks are the biggest fish in the ocean, with hundreds residing in the waters of Tanzania.
‘You can snorkel with these beautiful cetaceans during the annual whale shark gathering (from October to February) near Mafia off the coast of Tanzania,’ says Lonely Planet.
It adds: ‘Swimmers can see pods of male juveniles gather to feed, just a few metres from shore.’ Visit http://www.diveworldwide.com.
Travel Goals: Inspiring Experiences to Transform Your Life, published by Lonely Planet , is available from bookshops and online booksellers (RR £19.99)