The 2018 Adventure Bucket List
To help you create the ultimate outdoor agenda, we asked our travel experts where they’re dying to go this year
As the country begins to reopen, we'll keep publishing news to help you navigate the state of travel today (like whether travel insurance covers the coronavirus), as well as stories about places for you to put on your bucket list once it's safe to start going more far-flung.
Stay in a PurePod in New Zealand
Expert: Contributor Jen Murphy
The Draw: These eco-friendly one-bedroom structures with glass walls are plunked down in some of the most stunning, off-the-grid woodlands the Kiwi kingdom has to offer. It’s like bivying, but with a flush toilet and a hot shower. There are five locations scattered throughout the country. One property, in Kahutara, a town 2.5 hours north of Christchurch, overlooks the Kahutara River and the Seaward Kaikoura Mountain Range. Guests can hike the nearby Kaikoura Peninsula or just enjoy the view from the deck while sipping a local sauvignon blanc. The solar- and biofuel-powered cabin, reached via a 15-minute walk through a Manuka grove, is equipped with an outdoor barbecue, a two-burner stovetop, a Bluetooth speaker, and a mini fridge to keep beers cold.
How to Do It: From $490; purepods.com
See Gorillas in Uganda
Expert: Outside GO Co-Founder Sandy Cunningham
The Draw: There are only 880 mountain gorillas left on the planet, and I’ve always wanted to take my daughters to see them. About 36 gorilla groups live in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, in southwestern Uganda. Accessing their habitat requires a lengthy permit process and a hike through dense rainforest, but the payoff is worth it: meeting a gorilla is like visiting a distant relative who refuses to come to the U.S.
How to Do It: Outside GO offers an eight-day itinerary through Uganda, with wildlife viewing near Kampala, Kyambura Gorge, and Bwindi. From $5,875; outsidego.com
Float Idaho’s Selway River
Expert: Novelist and Contributor Peter Heller
The Draw: The 47-mile journey from Paradise to Selway Falls is a classic, running Class IV rapids in some of the prettiest wilderness on earth.
How to Do It: Book a five-day ride with the American River Touring Association, which will pick you up in Missoula, Montana—about 80 miles from the put-in—with rafts, camping gear, guides, and chefs to prepare meals such as fish tacos. Bring your own beer and a fly rod. Fishing is best in July. From $2,349; arta.org/selway
Mountain Bike Through Southern Chile
Expert: Contributing Editor Stephanie Pearson
The Draw: Author Bruce Chatwin, the late conservationist Doug Tompkins, and climber Alex Honnold are just a few of the luminaries whose lives have been transformed by their travels through Chilean Patagonia. Everyone should see this land of pampas and peaks, and one of the best ways is on a mountain bike. The terrain spans thousands of miles north to south, taking you over the lava fields of active volcanoes, through araucaria and bamboo forests, and into the shadow of the legendary Torres del Paine massif, which is best enjoyed at sunset.
How to Do It: H+I Adventures leads a 12-day, 1,200-mile trip from the Lake District to Torres del Paine National Park. Along the way, you’ll be immersed in the Patagonian gaucho way of life, stay in local estancias, sip mate tea, and eat locally sourced lamb, boar, and venison. From $4,875; mountainbikeworldwide.com
Fish the Everglades
Expert: Contributor Jen Murphy
The Draw: Happy fish—fish that are healthy and stress-free—are a true angler’s nirvana. It makes sense that you’d find them in the Everglades, an International Biosphere Reserve and World Heritage Site. After battling a monster tarpon in these remote wetlands, you may never want to fish anywhere else. Step up your game aboard the Mothership, a 74-foot Hatteras yacht that explores hard-to-reach corners of the region. The tricked-out three-cabin vessel is equipped with top-of-the-line gear for finding redfish, “ole linesides” (snook), and 150-pound tarpon, with a chef on hand to prepare meals of stone crab and apple-smoked pork belly.
How to Do It: Departure points for the Mothership are Flamingo, Chokoloskee, and Islamorada, Florida. Prime fishing can be had in March through May and October through December. From $5,000, all-inclusive, for four days; elevenexperience.com
Eat at the Lost Kitchen
Expert: Contributor Ian Aldrich
The Draw: Housed in a renovated 19th-century gristmill in the small town of Freedom, Maine, the Lost Kitchen feels less like a 40-seat restaurant and more like a memorable dinner party, relying heavily on local flavors and DIY pride. There’s no detail that celebrated chef-owner Erin French hasn’t had a hand in, from the flatware to the candles on the tables, the latter of which are made from reclaimed barn siding. The cuisine is just as thoughtful, with weather, season, and availability all driving her creations. Seared tuna might play a starring role one night and basil-brined chicken the next. If you happen to snag yourself a reservation, consider yourself lucky.
How to Do It: Annual bookings begin April 1 for a season that runs from early May to New Year’s, and they go in just a matter of hours. The eight-course, prix fixe dinners typically last more than three hours. From $105 per person; findthelostkitchen.com
Find Your Own Private Baja
Expert: Correspondent Wes Siler
The Draw: Want to experience true freedom? Head south to Mexico’s Pacific peninsula. Surfers can have the breaks to themselves, catch whatever fish they need, and camp where they choose. But be warned: on much of the peninsula, if something goes wrong, you are truly on your own.
How to Do It: Fire up Google Earth and choose a beach that looks good. The Sea of Cortez is warm, placid, and full of marine life. The Pacific is cold, but the waves are epic. Be sure to travel in a four-wheel-drive vehicle and release some tire pressure when you hit the sand.
Raft Alaska’s Kongakut River
Expert: Contributing Editor Stephanie Pearson
The Draw: Introverts, get this—fewer than 200 people per year are lucky enough to visit the Kongakut, in the state’s northeastern corner, where Class I–III rapids are surrounded by nearly 20 million acres of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Paddlers can fish for arctic char, scope out peregrine falcons and tundra swan, and watch as caribou are stalked by grizzly bears and wolves. Hike Whale Mountain on a clear day and you can see the Arctic Ocean, 30 miles away. You’ll take a bush flight over the Brooks Range to get there, then raft through canyons flanked by 9,000-foot peaks and expanses of tundra carpeted in cream-colored Dryas octopetala flowers.
How to Do It: The 11-day journey, offered by Arctic Wild in June, leaves from Fairbanks. $5,000; arcticwild.com
Hike California’s Lost Coast Trail
Expert: Assistant Social Media Editor Svati Kirsten Narula
The Draw: Starting 160 miles north of San Francisco, this remote section of wild shoreline is one of the few parts of coastal California untouched by Highway 1. Hiking on a popular 25-mile route from south to north, you’ll have the pounding Pacific on your left, the soaring King Range on your right, and a choice of campsites along beautiful empty beaches and coves. Expect to encounter fog, bears, elephant seals, and dramatic creek crossings, and don’t forget to pack a tide table—parts of the trail are impassable when it’s high. Binoculars are also a must: Shelter Cove, at the southern terminus of the trail, is a great place to spot seals, ospreys, and whales.
How to Do It: The trail is navigable year-round. REI Adventures offers five-day guided trips ($1,299; rei.com/adventures). Or grab a permit and do it yourself (recreation.gov). Take Highway 101 north from San Francisco to Redway, then drive 22 winding miles west on Briceland Thorn and Shelter Cove roads to the ocean. Grab last-minute supplies (including bear canisters, which are mandatory) from the Shelter Cove General Store. When you’ve reached the northern end of the trail, at Mattole River Beach, hop on the Lost Coast Adventure Tours shuttle for a ride back to Shelter Cove ($85; lostcoastadventures.com).
Lounge on Lake Powell
Expert: Editor at Large Hampton Sides
The Draw: It’s true—it shouldn’t be there, sparkling in the desert sun, a many-fingered sheen of blue against the orange sandstone. Yes, it’s the bête noire of American environmentalism, a flooded cathedral, an abomination: Lake Foul. But I’d always wanted to experience the place. It turns out that a friend has a family houseboat there, an ugly-ass, 55-foot, aluminum-hulled monstrosity tricked out with a waterslide, a spiral staircase, a huge grill, a fully equipped kitchen, and—very important—a mighty stereo system. I read and loved Ed Abbey’s screeds, and I have plenty of friends who I imagine would give me the evil eye for even entertaining this notion. But that was before I swam for a mile through a deep-flooded slot canyon—its sinuous walls no wider than my shoulders—or sipped home-brewed ale on the houseboat deck, surrounded by opiates of ancient rock. If you do it right, at the right time of year, with the right kind of people, Powell is an unforgettable adventure. The lake won’t be there forever. But while it is, I highly recommend giving it a concerted try. Best I recall, I had the time of my life.
How to Do It: Rent a 59-foot houseboat with a kitchen and full bar, two upstairs bedrooms, and a lower berth at Antelope Point Marina. From $1,170; lakepowellhouseboating.com
Get Lost in the Wild
Expert: Contributing Editor Stephanie Pearson
The Draw: There may be no better way to sharpen your edge than to sign up for an expedition where the destination is a complete surprise. That’s the premise behind Black Tomato’s new Get Lost trips: tell its experts your budget, guiding needs, and, if you have one, ecological preference—jungle, coast, desert, mountain, or polar—and they’ll take it from there, right down to the clothes and gear you’ll need. All you do is show up at the airport with an open mind. Past trips have been as far north as Iceland and as far south as Namibia’s Skeleton Coast. Phone use is discouraged and likely impossible, anyway. (Black Tomato does, however, have a fine-tuned navigational system in place and provides a satellite phone in case of emergency.)
How to Do It: Black Tomato requires at least six months advance notice. Price depends on itinerary; blacktomato.com/get-lost
Expert: Deputy Editor Mary Turner
Two trips on deck for me are: surfing the warm, turquoise waters of Barbados (and ending the day with a strong rum punch on the deck of the Sea Side Bar in Bathsheba), and hiking the stunning mountain and beach landscapes of Scotland’s Outer Hebrides.
Follow the Tour de France
Expert: General Manager Scott Rosenfield
I’ve wanted to follow the Tour de France since I watched Lance Armstrong win his first yellow jersey in 1999. Every year, the massive crowds and stunning scenery pull me in. To be honest, I’d settle for just one stage—so long as it’s on Alpe d’Huez.
Fish the Seychelles
Expert: Associate Editor Nick Kelley
Standing in the ultraclear waters of the Seychelles as a 30-pound giant trevally chases down your fly is as good as fishing gets. If it’s not a trevally on the line, it could be a milkfish, sailfish, or one of another dozen species roaming the Indian Ocean. Book through Alphonse Fishing Company, which offers plush bungalows and an unrivaled team of guides.
Revere the Redwoods
Expert: Correspondent Tim Neville
No photo of California’s Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks can prepare you for your first encounter with the most voluminous living thing on the planet: a 300-foot-tall tree with a 100-foot circumference and two-foot-thick bark, wrapped around a heart that’s a thousand years older than Jesus.
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