INSPIRATION • November 2019
Once reserved for super-fit, hardy types, now it seems everyone wants an adventure. And we want it with plumped-up pillows, gourmet food and easier activities to boot. From cycling across California’s mountains on an electric bike to cooking your way through Vietnam, here is travel writer Ellie Ross’ pick of the greatest soft adventures
Explore the Zambezi River in a traditional dugout canoe. Glide past hippos, elephants and rare African skimmers. Staying in a tented suite at Nyamatusi Camp, you can end the day with a plunge in your private pool overlooking the river. Scott Dunn has an 11-night Zimbabwe itinerary, which includes three nights at the luxury camp as well as activities such as game drives, and fishing and walking safaris.
Cycling through high alpine trails is not for the faint-hearted, but electric mountain bikes, equipped with pedal-assist motors, make climbing mountains a doddle. New e-mountain bike tours offer easy uphill cycling through Squaw Valley with panoramic views of Lake Tahoe and the Sierra Nevada. Two-and-a-half-hour tours cost from $158pp (£124), including equipment.
Head into the Tuscan countryside to forage for the region’s prized white truffles. The Adler Thermae hotel offers guided hikes with their resident truffle-hunting dog during the truffle season (September to November). You’ll stop at local producers to taste cheese, olive oil, wine and, of course, truffles. Hunting is free; truffle tasting costs from €35pp (£31).
If you want to experience the thrill of scuba diving but with the ease of snorkelling, try ‘snuba’. A cross between the two, it sees you breathe up to 20ft underwater without the need for a bulky oxygen tank. St Lucia’s crystal-clear waters are rich in marine life – look out for turtles, seahorses, whales and eagle rays beneath the waves. Two-hour St Lucia Snuba Tours cost from $90pp (£70).
Floating icebergs, lava fields and cascading waterfalls... Iceland’s landscape is hard-wired for outdoor adventurers. Get your adrenaline fix from behind the lens. Wild Photography Holidays has a Midsummer Landscape Workshop starting in Reykjavik and travelling to highlights including the Golden Circle and Lake Myvatn, with photography tuition included.
Saddle up for a horseback safari through the Waterberg region. Open to novices, trips with Ranch Rider see you ride gently through the bush, looking out for the private reserve’s rhino, zebra, water buffalo and giraffe. In the evening, relax in luxury at Ant’s Nest with its four-poster beds and heated pool.
Taste your way through Vietnam on the ultimate culinary journey from Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh City. Intrepid has a 12-day tour that includes cooking classes, a teahouse visit and coffee tasting. In Hoi An, learn how to make banh xeo (crispy pancakes, a central Vietnamese speciality).
With low crime levels and efficient public transport, Japan is excellent for a soft adventure. And a guided tour offers extra reassurance. InsideJapan’s Japan Unmasked trip takes up to 14 people from Tokyo to destinations including Kyoto and Hiroshima. Guides explain etiquette for staying in traditional ryokan guest houses, how to eat certain dishes and reveal their favourite backstreet bars.
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