By Glenn Baja
Are you looking for unusual travel destinations that take you off the beaten path? These days, even previously “remote” or exotic destinations are becoming more crowded. Do you want to hang out with giant tortoises? Do you want to hike a volcano? Do you want to snorkel with sea lions? Do you want to make cheese?
If you’re willing to open your mind and find a trip to thrive on: one that stimulates your mind, challenges your body, exposes you to something completely new… where English isn’t necessarily heard very much (but it’s still easy to get around)… here is a list of the most unusual trips for older adults who want something out of the ordinary.
1. Make Cheese, Chocolate, and Wine in Switzerland
You know you’ve always wanted to know how to make three of the most delightful things known to mankind… right? Alpenwild offers a cheese, chocolate and wine experience like no other. It’s a working vacation – yes, you’ll be hands-on making cheese, chocolate, and wine! This trip checks-off a lot of boxes on the bucket list not only because of the food, but because of the stunning Swiss scenery.
2. Cave Hotel-ing in Cappadocia
Central Turkey’s Cappadocia region is famous for its anthill-shaped towers, also called “fairy chimneys” and its many cave cities. You can stay at a cave hotel and get a real sense of the incredible history of the region, by foot or by hot air balloon.
3. Sea-to-Sand in Jordan
It’s safe, it’s small, and it’s fascinating. Dead Sea healing spas, dramatic desert landscapes of the Wadi Rum, the historic capital of Amman… and who can forget Petra, the incredible city-in-a-canyon made famous by the Indiana Jones movies? Jordan is a small country and you can see it all in one trip. The people are friendly, the scenery spectacular, and it’s a true traveler’s oasis.
4. Ride a Train Through the Rockies
The majestic Rocky Mountains are the backdrop for an epic train ride that has routinely topped many “best of” travel lists .Rocky Mountaineer trains, with glass-domed coaches and luxury white-glove service take you past the mountains, forests, glaciers, and lakes, of the Canadian Rockies.
5. Cruise The Deep Dark Amazon
The world’s second-largest river and largest rainforest in the world has nearly unlimited possibility for adventure. Amazon River cruises (small-boat) wind their way through Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, and Peru. Look for the cruises that are staffed by naturalists for the most in-depth experience.
6. Explore the Steppes of Mongolia
Genghis Khan’s descendants are a fiercely proud people and the vastness of the Mongolian steppe is incomprehensible. The “edge of the world” is fascinating. Nomadic Expeditions offers both adventure- and culture-focused itineraries in Mongolia. If you’re an equestrian, there are also plenty of opportunities to rent famously tough little Mongolian horses and explore the steppes on horseback.
7. Wildlife Watching On an Antarctic Cruise
Antarctica is not that easy to get to as a tourist, as environmental rules strictly limit the number of cruise ships. That’s a good thing, because you’re there to penguin-watch, not to people-watch. This adventure is a photographer’s dream.
8. Fall for Victoria Falls
Located on the border of Zambia and and Zimbabwe in southern Africa, Victoria Falls is beyond spectacular. The “Smoke That Thunders” falls can be approached on foot, or for a truly unforgettable view, by hot air balloon or by helicopter. You can also cruise the Zambezi River and soak in the spectacular scenery, or watch daredevil bungee jumpers leap off the Victoria Falls Bridge. While it is neither the highest nor widest waterfall in the world, Victoria Falls is classified as the largest, based on its combined width of 1708 metres (5,604 ft) and height of 108 meters (354 feet), resulting in the world’s largest sheet of falling water. It is roughly twice the height of North America’s Niagara Falls and well over twice the width of its Horseshoe Falls.
9. Pedal Through Provence
Provence is spectacular… and delicious. The countryside ranges from rolling vineyards to rugged sandstone mountains, lavender and thyme fields, tiny medieval villages, and food. Lots and lots of exquisite food. There’s a reason France is known for its cuisine, and it’s largely due to the exceptional produce grown in the sunny, semi-arid region of Provence. Explore by car or, for a more guilt-free trip, by bike – and don’t forget to stop and smell the lavender!
10. Eat in Istria
Croatia is still off the beaten path. With a Mediterranean climate, but less developed and more budget-friendly, the Istrian peninsula attracts foodies from all over the world. Olive groves, hilltop towns, wineries, beaches, and beautiful coastal towns with fascinating museums, churches and Roman ruins offer plenty to do on this relatively small peninsula that you can explore by car or bike.
11. Argentina’s Lake District
Northwest Patagonia isn’t exactly next door, but Argentina’s Lake District is worth the flight for its stunning natural beauty and culture. Visit the steppe, the forests, waterfalls, lakes and mountains – but don’t forget the galleries and restaurants of the region’s only significant city, San Carlos de Bariloche, that feature the amazing regional cuisine and culture. While the Tierra del Fuego and other more remote areas of Patagonia offer a more rugged adventure, the Lake District offers a perfect mix of nature and culture.
Are You Packed?
The world is your playground! Whether you’re looking for adventure close to home or you’re ready to explore the hidden corners of the world, there are a lot of options for active older adults. You don’t have to join the masses on the tour buses or big cruise ships. You don’t have to fight the crowds at all – and still have an epic experience – if you visit any of these lesser-known gems of the world. These unusual trips will delight you and broaden your horizons!