16 Travel Destinations
When you look at life as one extraordinary adventure, world exploration probably takes permanent residence on your to-do list. But seasoned explorers know that the journey is just as important as the exploration.
With 2015 over, we realized it was time to think of new journeys and set our sights on our to-do list for 2016. For some insight and inspiration, we caught up with noted travel photographers Chris Burkard and Morgan Maassen. They shared some of their favorite destinations and we added some of our own. We’re fairly certain that you’ll find a spot for at least one of these locations on your 2016 adventure travel list.
Each destination on this list was chosen because of its diversity and overall appeal. They may not all be easy to access, but you may find that you enjoy the journey as much as the destination. Immerse yourself into the culture, enjoy the breathtaking views and brace yourself for a vacation of a lifetime.
(Reykjavik, Iceland | Photo Credit: Chris Burkard)
(Tahiti | Photo Credit: Morgan Maassen)
1. Reykjavik, Iceland
This southern Iceland city may be renowned for its late-night clubs and bars, but if you really want to experience the best of the area, consider going on a glacier tour. Take about a 30 to 40 minute walk onto Solheimajokull glacier. Test out your snow shoes on some some amazing terrain, and get up close and personal with a real life ice mountain.
Here’s what Chris had to say about exploring these massive ice blocks, “Walking inside a glacier is pretty special, and hearing it shift can be pretty insane!”
You might be tempted to sit on the beach and take in the stunning views in this vacation hot-spot, but true adventurers know there is so much more to be done! Clear waters in every shade of blue will just beg you to don your scuba gear and go for a dive. But you also won’t want to miss out on hiking, climbing and mountaineering in and around the cloud-shrouded mountains above Teahupo’o.
Morgan’s take on Tahiti: “Tahiti has some of the most stunning mountains and ocean I have ever seen.”
(Soomaa National Park, Estonia)
(Ceara, Brazil | Photo Credit: Morgan Maassen)
3. Soomaa National Park, Estonia
Estonia is unique in that it often has more tourists in a year than it has residents, but it’s actually smaller than the Vermont and New Hampshire combined. Just a ferry ride from Finland, this Baltic country is blanketed with forest and offers unbelievable hiking and camping experiences. Long summer nights make this destination the perfect spot for summer adventures.
Our take: With a medieval heritage and untouched wilderness, a visit to Estonia may seem like a trip back to a simpler time.
4. Ceara, Brazil
This is one spot where the party will never end. Spend days kite and windsurfing and nights forro dancing. This Brazilian state is known for its coastline, but it is also rich with mountains, valleys and a beautiful landscape dotted with sand dunes.
Brazil is one of Morgan’s favorite places because: “Brazil is one of the most incredibly diverse, expansive countries I’ve ever visited, and I’m utterly infatuated with its people and culture.”
(Jæren, Norway | Photo Credit: Chris Burkard)
(Pyrenees Mountains, France | Photo Credit: Morgan Maassen)
5. Jæren, Norway
Norway certainly isn’t the first destination that comes to mind when you think about surfing, but maybe that’ll change when you learn how you can surf, ski and snowboard all in the same day. The Jæren coastline offers gentle beaches for beginners, boulder rock points for advanced surfers, and everything in between. The scenery, waves and pristine waters make this a perfect surfing destination, but do prepare for cold waters. September and October are the best months to experience some waves, though you can surf year round. In the winter months, water temps can go down to 4 degrees Celsius, so bring a 6/5 hood and at least 5mm booties with thick gloves.
6. The Pyrenees Mountains, France
About 30 miles south of Lourdes, you’ll find the small town of Cauterets where charming streets hug the Pyrenees Mountains. Swimming, hiking and cycling are popular activities in this sweet little off-the-beaten-path spot.
Morgan says, “France… has a culture I’m addicted to… the food, the mountains and coastline are divine in the summer and beautifully intense in the winter.”
Chris’s experience at Jæren, Norway: “It’s such a surreal place in itself, but witnessing surfers in frigid temps with a beautiful backdrop is insane.”
(Carpathian Mountains, Slovakia)
(European Alps: Matterhorn | Photo Credit: Chris Burkard)
7. Carpathian Mountains, Slovakia
Slovakia’s tourism slogan, “Little Big Country” is all about the Carpathian Mountains. Located in northern Slovakia, this range offers wooded hills and peaks that are a beacon for cyclists, hikers and skiers.
Our take: Although its scenery and terrain is perfect for tourism, this area remains pristine and largely untouched. Consider it a forgotten corner of the world that is just waiting for you to explore.
8. European Alps: Matterhorn
When we talk about once-in-a-lifetime, bucket-list-type experiences, the Matterhorn is usually somewhere near the top of the list. Even just sitting with an unobstructed view of the Mountain of Mountains would be pure bliss. But for the best experience, consider hiking through the forests above Zermatt to the Gornergrat above the scenic Gorner glacier. At the lake of Riffelsee, you’ll get the best view of the Matterhorn – in the reflection.
Chris recommends the European Alps because it is truly, “the perfect place to capture a perfect reflection of the Matterhorn.”
(Kimberley Mountains, Australia | Photo Credit: Morgan Maassen)
(Faroe Islands | Photo Credit: Chris Burkard)
9. Kimberley Mountains, Australia
If you’re invigorated by the thought of rugged gorges, crystal-blue ocean views and epic waterways, the Kimberely Mountains should definitely be on your list for 2016. Enjoy a camel ride, and then explore the remote Dampier Peninsula.
This spot is on Morgan’s must-experience list because: “The Kimberley Mountains have the most wildlife and stars I’ve ever seen.”
10. Faroe Islands
The New York Times called the Faroe Islands “the next great Scandinavian destination.” Located between Iceland and Scotland, the islands were formed somewhere around 55 million years ago by volcanic eruptions. You might think it would be boring to be stranded on an island that seems so isolated, but you would be mistaken. On an average day, you’ll find adventurers rappelling down cliffs into the ocean, kayaking around the islands, scuba diving and surfing. But if you ask anyone who has been, they may tell you that the Faroese people offer the most compelling reason to visit.
Chris’s take: “Although they don’t seem as remote as some of the locations that I’ve been to, once you get to them you have such an incredible sensation of being somewhere isolated and really, really special. The Faroes really impressed me.”
(Aleutian Islands, Alaska | Photo Credit: Chris Burkard)
11. Jurmala, Latvia
You may not find Latvia on a standard list of travel destinations, but this beautiful country is home to about 350 miles of scenic coastline. Jurmala is one of the most popular seaside resorts in the Baltic region and offers easy access to the dense forests of Kemeri National Park.
Our take: Watersports, rich art and culture, and unique wooden architectural structures make this Baltic gem a perfect place to find a mix of adventure and relaxation.
12. Aleutian Islands, Alaska
This majestic land of geysers, mud pots and hot springs offers incomparable views of the Bering Sea, jade green volcanic cliffs and expansive valleys painted with wildflowers. This is Alaska, but the temperatures in the Aleutians are not extreme. Just prepare for rain, fog and winds as wild as the geology. There are plenty of things to see and do on these islands, but you’d be remiss if you didn’t spend at least some of your time getting to know the people. The Aleut people have lived here for 12,000 years and their history is definitely worth exploring.
Chris recommends visiting the Aleutian Islands because they are, “So remote and beautiful, the adventure was getting there. Watch out for bears!”
(Big Island, Hawaii | Photo Credit: Morgan Maassen)
13. Big Island, Hawaii
Even if you have explored the Big Island before, its worth another visit. Beaches, scuba and snorkeling, surfing, hiking, exploring – the list of adventures you can have here is endless. Plus, it’s one of the only places in the world where you can see and experience every type of land the earth has to offer.
The Big Island is a go-to spot for Morgan because, “The rugged big island has every type of earth imaginable: lava, white sand beaches, coral reefs, volcanoes, jungle, grasslands…”
14. Petra, Jordan
Imagine an entire city carved out of a stone canyon. This is Petra. Hidden in the southern desert of Jordan, it is believed that this city was built in the 6th century BC by the Nabateans, an ancient civilization. Many of its sights take some effort to reach, the easiest being the climb to Crusader Castle. The entire climb should take less than an hour, but it is an invigorating trek.
Our take: Petra offers a great mix of adventuring, culture, history and sightseeing. You can be sure that days here will be full and fulfilling!
(Spirit Island, Canada | Photo Credit: Chris Burkard)
15. Redwood National Park, California
You don’t always need to travel to a faraway land for an unforgettable experience. Go to California to visit the majestic Redwood National Park and you’ll find a myriad of other adventures. Just drive a few hours in either direction and you’re sure to find something amazing.
Morgan says, “the Redwoods of California will never cease to amaze me.”
16. Spirit Island, Canada
Jasper National Park’s Spirit Island is one of the most photographed spots in the Canadian Rockies, and after a visit, you’ll see why. On the south end of the second largest glacier-fed lake in the world, this island is surrounded by snow-capped Rocky Mountains and offers glacial views. Go for the island experience, but be sure to enjoy the journey. Most get to the island by boat and enjoy unparalleled views. Boat tours are affordable, but they aren’t available all year.