The benefits of travel are endless. Travel lets us expand our minds, understand and learn from other cultures, and see parts of the world we wouldn’t have seen otherwise. For many of us, travel is therapeutic; when we’re exploring new corners of the world, our lives get shifted back into perspective. For those of us looking to fuse that with a little adrenaline rush, adventure solo travel is just thing. In addition to shifting our viewpoints, solo holidays challenge us to go outside our comfort zones, make tough decisions, overcome fears, and push emotional and physical boundaries… all while exploring the beautiful Great Outdoors.
Here are our top 9 destinations for adventure solo travel around the world:
Ask yourself: what don’t you want to see in beautiful Peru? It has Machu Picchu, the Sacred Valley, the Amazon rainforest, the Andes, Lake Titicaca, and historic cities like Lima and Cuzco, the latter of which was once the capital of the Incan empire. The locals are friendly, the cities are vibrant and colorful, llamas and alpacas roam the streets like people, travel is cheap, and the food is delicious—it’s home to a gastronomic culture brimming with Pisco, tamales, beef anticuchos, ceviche, lomo saltado, and of course, those spiritual meat dishes called “pachamanca.” On top of that, Peru has long been a top destination for backpackers and adventure seekers because of its wealth of adrenaline-pumping hikes, treks, climbs and wildlife: like giant condors, penguins, flamingos, sea lions, goats, and of course, llamas and alpacas.
New Zealand was practically made with adventure travelers in mind. And for solo holidays, there’s no better place to be than Queenstown, a stunning lakeside town on New Zealand’s South Island, where you can do everything from white-water rafting, parasailing and bungee jumping, to horseback riding, boating, nature trails, hiking and more. Queenstown is one of the safest towns you can visit; it’s walkable and filled with friendly locals. Dubbed the “adventure capital of the world,” go here for jet boarding on Lake Wakatipu, to hike up the Tiki Trail to the famous Skyline Gondola or bungee jump off Kawarau Bridge. It’s also a major destination for snow sports in New Zealand and has four main mountain ski areas—Cardrona Alpine Resort, Coronet Peak, The Remarkables and Treble Cone—as well as cross-country skiing at Waiorau Snowfarm.
Known for its rugged coastline, mountainous national parks, distinctive Welsh language and Celtic culture, Wales is a destination unlike anywhere else on earth. Perfect for solo holidays, there’s so much to do and see! Go to Snowdonia National Park to roam around its lakes, glaciers and hiking trails, and while you’re there, make your way up to the peak of Snowdon. Head to some of Wales most charming beach towns, like Shell Island, and you can even pitch a tent and camp right on the sand. Climb the jagged rock cliffs of Presipe, go canyoning in Swansea, or try “gorge scrambling” in Brecon Beacons National Park. No matter where you go, come back and duck in a pub for a pint with the locals—they’re all so friendly, so it won’t take long to make a new best friend while you’re there.
With its beautiful temples, floating markets, cheap shopping, “anything goes” vibe, and party-all-night mantra, Thailand is a place to explore both the world and yourself. Go ziplining through the canopies of 1500-year-old Chiang Mai rainforests, go kayaking around the country’s 160+ limestone islands, deep dive around Similan and Surin Marine National Islands, repel down Thailand's powerful waterfalls at Doi Inthanon, or go caving through the ancient caverns in the Pang Mapha District of the Mae Hong Son Province. Whatever adventure you attempt, let the locals guide you. They’re friendly, they’ll take you under their wing, and they can’t wait to show you the hidden secrets of their sacred home.
Chile is one of the most unique geographic locations in the world! In fact, it’s so special that, in 2017, it was named “South America's Leading Adventure Tourism Destination 2017” by the World Travel Awards for the third year in a row. Start in Santiago, a haven for solo travelers, and head to the nearby Andes Mountains to go skiing at Valle Nevado and Portillo, two of South America’s most popular ski resorts. From there, roam through the volcanoes, lakes and rivers in the Lakes District, and make your way to Torres del Paine National Park, often considered the eighth natural wonder of the world. In Chile, the world is your oyster, so be sure to visit Tierra del Fuego on the tip of the continent; the Martian-red sands and bizarre rock formations of the Atacama Desert, the driest desert in the world; and countless mountains, lakes, glaciers and sprawling “pampas” in between.
No matter how adventurous you are, Canada has something for every level of adrenaline seeker. Go skiing down Whistler-Blackcomb (home to many of the 2010 Olympic Winter Games), take a storm-watching tour down the Wild Pacific Trail, hike the 21,500-kilometer Trans Canada Trail, hop on a raft down the Shubenacadie tidal bore, sleep in transportable ‘tundra lodges’ with polar bears wandering around you, or go to Nahanni National Park Reserve, Canada’s first World Heritage-listed site, to sail down its epic South Nahanni River. Want something that’s sure to get your blood pumping? Zipline between the Whistler and Blackcomb mountains. There’s just nothing like it.
Spanning 9,000 square miles in size, Belize is a small country that packs a punch. Filled with everything from rainforests and glittering tropical islands, to Mayan pyramids, coral reefs, wildlife, national parks, animal reserves and sinkhole scuba spots, Belize is an outdoor lover’s paradise. Sign up for a wilderness survival class and find yourself swinging from trees, living off the land, learning how to build shelters and fish traps, and spend a few weeks living and hiking with howler monkeys and jaguars in the rainforest. Ambergris Caye is one of Belize’s most popular spots for adventure solo travel right now; so go there for a mix of fun bars, beaches, ancient Mayan ruins, a spectacular barrier reef and more.
Without even trying, Brazil heightens your passion for discovery. With its jaw-dropping landscapes, abundant wildlife, extravagant festivals and vibrant rhythm, Brazil is a one-stop travel shop! Go there on your own, and you’re guaranteed to see countless backpackers doing the same. Rio de Janeiro is an obvious starting point, but from there, make sure you explore the country’s more rigorous corners; you can float down a jungle river, ride dune buggies, go bungee jumping or scuba diving, slide down 500-foot sand dunes on a sandboard, see the thundering Iguaçu Falls, explore table-top mountains in the 'Lost World' of Chapada Diamantina, or go on a safari through the Pantanal, the world's largest tropical wetland. In Brazil, “adventure” is an understatement.
Finally, everyone knows South Africa for its exotic animals—but did you know there are other activities you can do there besides safaris? For a thrilling trip with adventure solo travel in mind, join a group and go rock climbing in the mountains, explore the nature preserves in Cape Town, go hiking through the Lion’s Heart at sunrise, or even cage dive into shark-infested waters. In Johannesburg, volunteer at the wildlife sanctuary, an animal rehabilitation center, and get quality time with South Africa’s most adored creatures.
Interested in adventure solo travel, but don’t know where to begin? Contact Surtrek, a company that specializes in custom trips in South America. As you can see from our list, South America is one one of our top picks for solo travelers—so if it’s your first time venturing out on your own, it’s the perfect place to go.