From Laos to Colorado, Hawaii to Ghana, and the Poconos to outer space (or close enough), here are a dozen amazing reasons to skip the summer staycation. Sunscreen not included.
YOU KNOW THAT LAWN CHAIR IN YOUR BACKYARD- the one with the drink holder built into the armrest? Kiss it goodbye this summer. Same with that favorite patch of sand at your local beach or water park. These are the totems of the staycation, and although they can be relaxing, they can also be a little…dull. Sort of “been there, done that.” Occasionally, something with a touch more oomph is called for. You don’t just want a break, you need an experience—going someplace you’ve never been and trying something completely new.
But how? Start by isolating your comfort zone. Then take one step beyond it. Ever imagine hiking to the rim of a volcano in the Chilean desert, or trekking to temples in the Laotian jungle? Now’s the time. How about zipping through whitewater in Colorado, finding a perfect trout stream in Slovenia or charging down the Baja peninsula in a dune buggy? The following pages showcase a dozen adventures rated for difficulty, along with outfitters who can help with the planning. The rest is up to you. The point is to get out and do something. Your lawn chair will be there when you get back.
Few things get the heart racing like stepping off a perfectly good piece of earth and riding a raft through raging class III whitewater. The Yampa River in late spring is tough enough to make your brown eyes blue, and few meals taste as good as one cooked on a sandbar after shooting a rapid.
OUTFITTER: O.A.R.S. COLORADO RAFTING www.oars.com/colorado
Chile’s high desert, the Atacama, hosts cacti, foxes, storied native tribes and a trio of soaring volcanos. Start out at the Tierra Atacama, a brand new luxury resort and the perfect launch pad to gather the courage—and hire a guide—to get you up one of three (hopefully) dormant domes: Lascar, San Pedro or Guallatiri.
OUTFITTER: TIERRA ATACAMA www.tierraatacama.com
There are cycling enthusiasts, and then there are cycling enthusiasts who eschew late-model bikes and fancy energy drinks in favor of vintage models and wine. The Eroica race—open to amateurs—is not easy: It includes 30,000 feet of elevation change and crosses mostly gravel roads. But the views are fantastic, and so is the prize for finishing: a nice bottle of Chianti.
OUTFITTER: L’EROICA www.eroica-ciclismo.it
Skip the crowds at Angkor Wat by trekking into what may be the wildest jungle in Southeast Asia. Traverse lush green rice paddies, tour coffee and tea plantations, cool off under surging waterfalls and arrive at nearly pristine pre-Angkoran temples, which you’ll likely have all to yourself.
OUTFITTER: GEOGRAPHIC EXPEDITIONS www.geoex.com
You’ll spend very little time on pavement during this ultimate off-road trip down the Baja peninsula, and by the time you reach Cabo San Lucas, you’ll be hot, tired and coated in dust— and more than ready for a dip in the azure waters of the Pacific.
OUTFITTER: WIDE OPEN ADVENTURES www.wideopenbaja.com
Sometimes gravity can be a real drag. Zero G offers suborbital flights aboard a specially outfitted 727—complete with padded walls— that lets participants learn what it feels like to experience zero Gs. It’s the ultimate diet.
OUTFITTER: ZERO G www.gozerog.com
ITALIAN / SLOVENIAN BORDER
They say the waters of the winding Soca river are as blue as the Caribbean—and they’re right. They also say the trout here are tougher, more beautiful and tastier than just about anywhere else in the world. They’re right about that, too. The best part? After a couple days of fishing, you’re a quick drive from Milan, Munich, Ljubljana or Vienna.
OUTFITTER: LUSTRIK FISHING ADVENTURES www.lustrik.com
BRITISH COLUMBIA, CANADA
Hop in a chopper at the base of Mount Nimbus, just north of Vancouver, and ride to a spot halfway up, where you can navigate a labyrinth of narrow rope bridges and iron traverses. Believe it or not, it’s a lot safer than rock climbing. Just don’t look down.
OUTFITTER: CANADIAN MOUNTAIN HOLIDAYS www.canadianmountainholidays.com
You don’t have to travel all that far north of Sydney to find some of the most captivating underwater features on the planet. At the Solitary Islands Marine Park, you’ll discover vast coral reefs, otherworldy fish, crystalline water and, yes, the occasional hammerhead shark.
OUTFITTER: JETTY DIVE www.jettydive.com.au
This latest It sport—popularized by superhuman surfer Laird Hamilton— combines the frothy gnarliness of surfing with the cardio workout of kayaking. Hawaii’s Big Island is the perfect place to learn—and to get your butt kicked.
OUTFITTER: KONA BOYS www.konaboys.com
There are plenty of driving schools out there that let you zip around in a fast car, but very few that let you wheel the real deal. At the Pocono Raceway in rural Pennsylvania, you’ll pilot a 600-horsepower stock car that was used in the NASCAR circuit. From the moment you start your engine, you’ll realize there’s much more to circling a track at 170 mph than turning left.
OUTFITTER: STOCK CAR RACING EXPERIENCE www.877stockcar.com
When President Obama visited Ghana last year, the country was hailed as the “African miracle.” Find out why on a bus from Accra to Kokum National Forest, a nearly untouched preserve offering bird-watching safaris. While you’re looking for beasts that fly, you’ll probably get some four-legged bonuses such as elephants, leopards, baboons and more.
OUTFITTER: ALL AFRICA EXPEDITIONS www.allafricaexpeditions.com
WE HEARTILY ADVOCATE ADVENTURE, BUT THIS STUFF IS JUST PLAIN RIDICULOUS.
1 SKATEBOARDING A MEGARAMP
VISTA, CALIFORNIA Bob Burnquist’s MegaRamp is longer than a football field and nearly eight stories tall. Should you find yourself about to ride it, please reconsider.
2 CLIMBING AN ICEBERG
ALASKA Climbing an iceberg is the sort of thing that seems like a good idea after you’ve run out of other activities in the dark of a sub-Arctic winter. It’s not.
3 B.A.S.E. JUMPING IN A WINGSUIT
NEW ZEALAND B.A.S.E. jumping—parachuting off fixed objects such as buildings and cliffs—is dangerous. Donning a wingsuit and “flying” just above the ground? Madness.