Cage diving with sharks (Sam Cahir/Dive Worldwide)
List Words : Wanderlust team | 02 January

9 trips to take you out of your comfort zone in 2017

New year, new you? Push your travel boundaries with these exciting trips guaranteed to take you into a whole new world of adventure...

1: Cycle from Hanoi to Laos

Cycling in Northern Vietnam (KE Adventures)
Cycling in Northern Vietnam (KE Adventures)

This epic mountain bike journey from north west Vietnam into Laos is regarded by many as the best backroads biking holiday in Southeast Asia. 

After exploring the stunning valleys around Sapa, you'll head towards Tram Ton Pass, the highest road pass in Vietnam, and a land of lofty mountains and steeply terraced valleys that the local Hmong call 'the land beyond the clouds'.

It's a journey that brings daily encounters with colourful hilltribes, many of whom see very few tourists. 

After crossing into Laos at the remote Tay Trang border, you'll enjoy a spectacular ride through rugged mountains to the Ou River, where longboats await to take you to the faded colonial elegance of Luang Prabang and the end of your once-in-a-lifetime journey.

Who? KE Adventure Travel

When? 15 Jan, 05 Feb, 12 Mar, 08 Oct, 05 Nov & 10 Dec 2017

How long? 13 days

How much? £2,195 (excl airfares)

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2: Help save orangutans

Volunteer feeding an orangutan (Dreamstime)
Volunteer feeding an orangutan (Dreamstime)

On this 'voluntour', you'll play a vital role in raising conservation effort in Sarawak, helping to restore the harmony between people and orangutans that has become strained in recent years.

The programme features hands-on visits to the region's orangutan centres – the Matang Wildlife Centre and the Semenggoh Nature Reserve – as well as Bako, Kubah and Batang Ai National Parks. 

You'll also venture deep into the rainforest to meet the descendants of the legendary Borneo head-hunters – the Iban tribe – who are now the custodians of the wild orangutans of Batang Ai.

Who? The Great Projects

When? The 3rd of every month

How long? 13 nights

How much? From £1,095 (excl airfares)

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3: Climb Kilimanjaro

Climbers on Kilimanjaro (Dreamstime)
Climbers on Kilimanjaro (Dreamstime)

Climbing Africa's highest mountain tops many a traveller's Bucket List, and this 7-day trek along the Machame route is designed to help you reach your goal. A little longer than most, this trek gives you plenty of time to acclimatise and enjoy the scenery.

The route approaches Kilimanjaro through forest and moorland from the southwest and joins the Shira route before traversing beneath the southern icefields of Kibo. You'll make your final ascent to the summit by the stunning Barafu route.

All park fees are included and your ascent will be supervised by Samson Lauwo, the great grandson of the famous Mzee Lauwo, who led Hans Mayer, the first European to summit the mountain in 1889.

Who? Absolute Africa

When? Flexible departures throughout 2017

How long? 7 days

How much? From £1,317 (excl airfares)

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4: Discover the hidden Caucasus

Upper Ushguli, Georgia (Dreamstime)
Upper Ushguli, Georgia (Dreamstime)

Venture into some of Europe’s most remote and intriguing villages in the mystical region of Svaneti, a fiercely traditional land with incredible architecture, hidden away in the high mountains of the Caucasus.

Staying in local homes, you'll experience the best of Georgian and Armenian hospitality, explore stunning religious monuments and ancient cave cities and spend time in the fascinating cities of Tbilisi and Yerevan.

This is a hidden corner of Europe that very few people get to visit.

Who? Undiscovered Destinations

When? 4 Jun & 24 Sep 2017

How long? 15 days

How much? From £1,999 (excl airfares)

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5: Have a 4x4 adventure in Peru

On the road in Peru (Peru Safari)
On the road in Peru (Peru Safari)

What better way to explore Peru than in your own 4×4 self-drive expedition vehicle? Take on the desert, the Andes and the Amazon, venturing into corners of the country very few can reach, backed by a support vehicle and guide who will be with you every step of the way.

Where you go is entirely up to you. Whether it’s the Deserts of Paracas, the mysterious Nazca lines, Imperial Cusco, the rugged Inca Trail, iconic Machu Picchu, the snowy Salkantay mountain range, or a steamy Amazon Jungle Reserve, expert guides are on hand to tailor a 4×4 adventure to reveal all that's unique and exciting about Peru.

Who? Peru Safari

When? Flexible departures available throughout 2017

How long? 15 nights

How much? From £2,980 (excl airfares)

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6: Canoe the Yukon

Canoe on the Yukon (Dreamstime)
Canoe on the Yukon (Dreamstime)

Vast panoramas and intimate wildlife encounters await on this 370-kilometre canoe tour of Canada's iconic Yukon region. 

Starting at Johnsons Crossing, you'll follow the Teslin River through the mountains of the southern Yukon towards the confluence with the Yukon River. Moose, caribou, wolf and eagle are easily spotted from the river. During August and September, thousands of salmon spawn in the Teslin River, enticing grizzly bears to feast.

Each evening, you will set up camp along the riverbanks or on gravel bars. Meals are cooked on the open campfire, with fresh Arctic grayling, salmon and northern pike often added to the menu.

Who? Windows On The Wild

When? Various departures May to August 2017

How long? 10 days

How much? From £1,235 (excl airfares)

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7: Cage dive with Great White Sharks

Cage diving with sharks (Dreamstime)
Cage diving with sharks (Dreamstime)

Come face-to-face with the world's most feared (often unjustly) marine predator on this liveaboard diving adventure off the Neptune Islands in South Australia

Surface cage encounters are open to all, but if your have Open Water dive qualifications, an ocean floor cage dive is available too.

The blue offshore waters of the Neptune Islands are also home to giant smooth rays, eagle rays and grouper. You'll also get the chance to swim with seals off Hopkins Island, listen to educational talk on great white sharks and get involved with current research programmes. It's a truly unforgettable and self-challenging experience.

Who? Dive Worldwide

When? Various departures May to October 2017

How long? 3 days

How much? £1,245 (excl airfares)

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8: Overland through West Africa

Village life in West Africa (Dreamstime)
Village life, West Africa (Dreamstime)

Unlike their more visited cousins in East Africa, the countries of West Africa truly are hidden gems. 

Largely untouched by tourism, every trip through the region is an incredible adventure involving fantastic community interaction, wonderful wild camps, difficult roads, and a rare opportunity to experience a more traditional way of life.

Travel here is not always easy, but it is inevitably rewarding. Starting on the phenomenal beaches of the Freetown Peninsular, you will head east through the remote forest region of Guinea, into Cote d’Ivoire and then along the Atlantic coast of Ghana to its bustling capital of Accra. Finally, Togo and Benin await, two countries packed full of history, voodoo culture and stunning scenery.

Who? Dragoman

When? 11 Sep & 19 Dec 2017

How long? 48 days

How much? From £2,280 (excl airfares)

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9: Ride amongst snow-capped volcanoes

Horses grazing near Cotopaxi (Dreamstime)
Horses grazing near Cotopaxi (Dreamstime)

This horse-riding holiday will take you through some of Ecuador's most stunning high altitude scenery, including the icy glaciers of conical, snow-capped Cotopaxi, one of the highest active volcanoes in the world. 

You'll experience first-hand the diverse highland landscapes, flora and fauna, and indigenous communities of this fascinating, compact Andean country.

The pace is varied, from steadily crossing wetlands to cantering across the vast plains of the altiplano. Nights are spent in a mixture of haciendas, farmhouses and highland lodges. A ride around Cotopaxi is a rugged, rustic trip, but one you'll never forget.

Who? Andean Trails

When? 4 Feb, 4, 18 Mar, 3 June, 22 Jul, 19 Aug, 23 Sep & 18 Nov 2017

How long? 8 days

How much? From £2,037 (excl airfares)

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Main image: Cage diving with sharks (Sam Cahir/Dive Worldwide)