To some of us, every trip away from home is an adventure in its own little way. Everything from cross country road trips to jumping into a river from a nearby canyon can provide the exhilaration many of us thrive on. Of course, sometimes it's not enough to go on the well-beaten path that, although incredible, has been trail blazed by countless others.
Sometimes, we need an adventure that we can recount to our buddies when we're having drinks around the bonfire on the beach, knowing full well no one else has ever experienced it. If this type of adventure is going to help you live the life you love, here are the places to find it.
Maybe you're accustomed to the beach lifestyle found in Southern California and other waterfront destinations. If that's the case, Oymyakon, Russia is certainly the place to step outside of your comfort zone. After all, how can you really find yourself if you only keep visiting destinations that are carbon copies of what you're used to? In Oymyakon, there are a variety of winter sports you can enjoy, but these might not be the high point of your stories.
Oymyakon also happens to be the coldest inhabited place on earth. Back in 1924, temperatures dropped below -96 degrees. It was once used solely to get rid of political exiles, but now a few hundred people actually call it home. You'll add a new thumbtack to your world map, and while you're there, you can enjoy all the extreme skiing and snowboarding you can handle. If you're really into taking chances, go ahead and climb the nearby mountains. And if there ever comes a moment when you feel in need of a break, head out onto the frozen waterways where even the fishing is extreme.
Mount Chimborazo, Ecuador
Have you ever made it to the summit of Mount Everest? In the grand scheme of things, not many people have. For those of us who seek inspiration in the adventures we have, Mount Everest is a Mecca of sorts. All the attention given to the king of mountains, though, may rightly belong to Mount Chimborazo, depending on the adventure you're seeking. If your idea of happiness is being as close to heaven, the stars, or whatever it is above our heads that you seek, this inactive volcano is an essential destination.
At less than 21,000 feet tall, Mount Chimborazo is dwarfed by the more well-known climbing destinations such as Everest and K2. As we all know, though, it's not the size of the dog in the fight—it's the size of the fight in the dog. Due to its location, the summit of Mount Chimborazo is actually the closest you can get to space without stepping foot off the earth. Sure—you could go jump out of a plane and momentarily be closer, but at that point, you're moving away from the stars. If you decide to climb this inactive volcano, every step you take will get you closer to being among them.
Sometimes, the most inspiring places for those with an innate urge for exploration are right in front of us. You've no doubt heard of Quebec and the variety of sites to see, but there's a good chance you've never heard of Val-David. It's now officially on your radar, so take the time to step out of the sunshine-laden places we call home and take an adventure worth talking about.
What's so special about Val-David? It's not the Parc Dufresne, where you may have considered rock climbing at one point. It's not even the cross-country skiing or the seemingly never-ending bike trails. Enjoy all of these while you're there, but make sure to make time for ice climbing. It's one thing to scale a mountain for the exhilaration you desire; it's quite another to use special tools to climb up the side of a frozen waterfall. It might not constitute walking on water, but it's certainly a spiritual experience.
Mui Ne, Vietnam
No matter how far I go in this life, there will always be something special that draws me to the ocean. Of course, Southern California isn't the only place in the world with great beaches, and if you're looking for the path less traveled, Mui Ne should be on your bucket list. You can enjoy just about any water sport you've become accustomed to. Get your shot of adrenaline by surfing the waves or rent a jet ski and get in the “deep end.” Whatever you do, though, don't let the wind go to waste.
The wind is exactly what sets Mui Ne apart from so many other places laying claim to the beach lifestyle. Sure, you could enjoy kite surfing and wind surfing at most beaches in America, but the cross-onshore winds at Mui Ne are the strongest Asia has to offer. And due to the consistency of the strong winds, especially between November and April, you won't be stuck in the hotel waiting for gusts to pick up. Afterwards, enjoy a drink at one of the countless bars that popped up to support the tourists who have no clue of the invigorating adventures they're missing out on.
Cape Hatteras, North Carolina
If you're on a spiritual journey, you can find adventure in your own backyard. Of course, if you want somewhere you've never heard of, you'll likely have to travel a bit further. Don't call the credit card company to let them know you'll be out of the country just yet, though, because Cape Hatteras might be all the adventure you need. While you can take a few down moments to explore the awesome lighthouses, you can bet your surfboard there are more adventurous things to do.
Just like Mui Ne, Cape Hatteras does more than let you feel the wind in your face—it lets you ride the wind via kite and wind surfing. Some people with an unenviable level of inspiration actually head to the area (and others in North Carolina) during the height of hurricane season for big waves, extreme gusts and other extremely dangerous attractions. Why not just take a boat to Cape Lookout where you can go shark diving instead? Like Bodhi said, you have to be willing to pay the ultimate price to experience the ultimate, but there's no use in stacking the deck.
Do you have any secret or lesser-known adventure travel destinations we missed? Let us know in the comments!