12 Months of Adventure Trips

Mark your calendar for a glacier hike, elephant safari or other incredible adventure for every month of the year.

Photo By: REI Adventures

Photo By: REI Adventures

Photo By: Tourism Tasmania/Rob Burnett

Photo By: REI Adventures

Photo By: Intrepid Travel

Photo By: Audley Travel

Photo By: Intrepid Travel

Photo By: Safari Bookings

Photo By: Audley Travel

Photo By: REI Adventures

Photo By: Audley Travel

Photo By: Audley Travel

January: Iceland

Yes, Iceland is cold in January—but maybe not as cold as you think. In Reykjavik, the temperatures average 30 to 33 degrees F. Crowds are down, prices sometimes drop and the long nights are ideal for shooting the dancing Northern Lights. This rugged island is home to hot springs and geothermal pools, frozen waterfalls, ice caves, volcanoes and pale blue glaciers. Book an Iceland Winter Adventure and grab your crampons and ice ax to hike the Solheimajokull Glacier, or snowshoe over icy lava fields. Later, relax in the spa-like waters of the famous Blue Lagoon. National Geographic Traveler selected this trip as a 2014 "Tour of a Lifetime."

February: Galapagos Islands

Blue-footed boobies, sea lions and greater flamingos that stand over three feet tall: the Galapagos Islands, off the Ecuadorian coast, are among the best places in the world to see wildlife. In February, the sea starts to warm up, making a guided multisport trip perfect for kayaking and snorkeling. Daytime temps average 80 degrees F, and rain showers are typically followed by sunshine, so you can also hike or bike to look for the iguanas, giant tortoise and birds that nest during this month.

March: Tasmania

Bring your sunscreen to "Tassie," as the locals call this island off Southern Australia. The beaches are warmest in March, when temperatures range from 62 to 73 degrees F. History buffs, opt for a tour with a stay at the MACq01 in Hobart, once a penal colony and now the capital city. The rooms in this 5-star hotel tell the stories of 114 different Tasmanian characters, from convicts to cricketers, and full-time storytellers are on hand to regale you with tales of the past. Later, cruise the Freycinet Peninsula to spot dolphins, head to Northern Tasmania to sample boutique wines, or hike the sandy beaches on Maria Island to see everything from wallabies and wombats, to penguins and bad-tempered Tasmanian devils.

April: The Southern Alps, New Zealand

Remember: The seasons in New Zealand are the opposite of those in the U.S., so April means spectacular fall leaf color. You'll also find fewer tourists and off-peak prices this month. Although the nights can drop into the 40s, daytime temps range from the 50s to the 70s, perfect for hiking, or tramping, as the locals say. On a New Zealand Southern Alps tour, you'll climb peaks overlooking majestic glaciers and turquoise-blue lakes. At night, bed down, Kiwi-style, in a backcountry hut, or stargaze from Aoraki Mount Cook National Park in the International Dark Sky Reserve. Come back later to see the wildflowers bloom.

May: Everest Base Camp, Nepal

Follow in the snowy footsteps of Tenzing Norgay and Sir Edmund Hillary as you trek to Everest Base Camp in Nepal. When the skies are clear—and May is a great time to go, before the June rains set in—you'll get breathtaking views of the Himalayas and earn bragging rights to climbing 5,500 meters, or almost 3-1/2 miles high. On a side trip to Kathmandu, ride a rickshaw through a bustling market or explore temples, monasteries and teahouses. Your tourism dollars will help Nepal continue to recover from the devasting earthquake of 2015. Bonus: Buddha's birthday is celebrated in May with lively street dances and the rhythms of madals (hand drums).

June: Belfast, Ireland

In June, Ireland's mild temperatures and long days allow plenty of time for sightseeing. On a tour through Northern Ireland, walk or catch a cab ride through history in Belfast, once known for its political violence. It's now a popular tourist destination, thanks to a 1998 peace agreement, and a fabulous new museum dedicated to the Belfast-built Titanic. Follow the Antrim Coast to explore beautiful, wild Connemara National Park, and don't miss the Giant's Causeway, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Your guide may tell you that its strange formations, made of some 40,000 massive basalt columns, were created by a legendary giant named Finn McCool.

July: Mongolia's Naadam Festival

Mongolia's biggest festival, Naadam, or "the three games of men," is a colorful, almost circus-like exhibition of three sports: wrestling, horse racing and archery. Major cities celebrate it from July 10 to 12, but the dates can differ in some provinces and sub-provinces. The fest, which grew out of the country's military history (think Genghis Khan), is also a big cultural event that commemorates the founding of the Mongolian People's Republic. Meet the athletes on a Mongolian tour, and stay overnight, nomad-style, at a horse breeder's camp (bring a sleeping bag). Also on the itinerary: a sunset hike to the Flaming Cliffs, a camel ride and a stop at something you won't expect to find here: a monument to Liverpool's favorite sons at Beatles Square.

August: Okavango Delta Safari

August is high season in Africa’s Okavango Delta, when chilly mornings warm up to pleasant, sunny days. It’s also a great month for wildlife viewing. Most visitors see at least four of the "big five" animals, which include lions, elephants, buffalo, cheetahs and rhinos, and waterfowl are abundant. The delta is a unique wetland, studded with islands, that formed as the Okavango River flowed into the Kalahari Desert of northern Botswana. Thanks to its natural beauty, it's been called Africa’s last Eden. Safaris and tours of this UNESCO World Heritage Site include hikes, night drives, family safaris, off-road driving, travel by mokoro (a type of canoe) and much more.

September: Peru

If you've got Machu Picchu on your bucket list, add Kuelap, too. This site in northern Peru lies some 10,000 feet above sea level, and thanks to its size and spectacular ruins, it's been called "the new Machu Picchu." Archeologists think it was built in the sixth century A.D. by a pre-Incan people. Ride a cable car to see the remains of the ancient structures—the views are breathtaking—and explore the hundreds of round, stone houses discovered there in 1843. September is dry and sunny, so it's a great time to visit.

October: South Africa's Ultimate Women's Hiking Adventure and Safari

True to its name, the Ultimate Women’s Adventure & Safari is designed for, and guided by, women. You’ll start your visit to South Africa with a kayak trip to a penguin colony and a bike ride through the Cape Winelands (of course, you'll stop for tastings). This adventure also includes a visit to Cape Town and a hike in Drakensberg (the Dragon Mountains). Later, a female guide leads her group to Sabi Sands, a magnificent private reserve where zebras, wildebeest, Transvaal lions and other wild animals roam in their natural habitat.

November: Tanzania's Great Migration

One of the world's greatest wildlife spectacles happens in Tanzania in October and November, when brief rains prompt more than a million wildebeests to migrate to the Serengeti grasslands (the birdwatching is also excellent). For experienced travelers, the Chimpanzees of Western Tanzania tour takes you into the wilderness of Katavi National Park and on a trek through the Mahale Mountains to search for chimps. (Researchers have been studying some of these fascinating animals, known as the "M" colony, since the 1950s.) After you pull off your hiking boots, relax with a swim in Lake Tanganyika or lounge on a sunny beach in Zanzibar.

December: Patagonia

End the year with a cruise with Australis, a company that specializes in adventures to the "ends of the world." December is a good time to see Patagonia, when the winds are down and the weather is warming up. You'll be astounded by the size of Pia Glacier as it slips out of the mountains and into the sea. On a tour of Ainsworth Bay, you'll spot southern elephant seals and a variety of birds. When you sail around legendary Cape Horn, you'll be tracing the route of explorers in 1616 who thought they really had reached the end of the world. The company's newest ship, Ventus Australis (that's Latin for Southern Wind) is a state-of-the-art, 210-passenger vessel scheduled to launch in early 2018.

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