Looking for a real adventure for your next holiday? Here is just a taster of some of the experiences you could go on with your next trip. They will likely push you out of your comfort zone, but the confidence boost and rewards at the end are truly worth it.

Tornado watching in Kansas, USA

Image: Nikolas Noonan

Did you ever watch the movie Twister and think how incredibly dangerous but riveting it was to ‘chase’ tornadoes? Well, if you want a front row seat to one of the most awe-inspiring natural phenomenons, it turns out there are tours for this very experience. 

Tornado Alley, a band of land that runs through the central states in North America, is where the most tornadoes occur in the world. So, if you’re wanting to experience one of these violent storms for yourself, this is where you’ll want to head. However, this is by no means an experience to go alone. The only way you should attempt to experience a tornado first hand is with expert tornado chasers. These meteorologists have extensive experience in searching for, and watching tornadoes unfold. As they’re volatile storms that can change in size and direction swiftly, you really do need an expert guide to lead the way. 

Storm Chasing Tours, led by meteorologist Brandon Ivey who has over 20 years experience in the field and features in the Discovery Channel’s “Storm Chasers”, takes you on a 6-day, 7-night, comfortable tornado experience that includes comfortable lodging in nice hotels, dining in nice restaurants and a guaranteed window seat when out on the chase. You’ll be monitoring storm radars and weather charts and get first-hand experience of spotting and chasing the storms. 

What’s particularly good about this tour is everything is included bar airfare and souvenirs; they even provide bottled water and snacks for your excursions. Although there is no guarantee of seeing a tornado, after all, they can’t make the weather happen, you will spend up to 12 hours a day trawling through Tornado Alley and the states that it encompasses trying to find these magnificent storms, this includes: Colorado, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Texas, and Wyoming. All dates offered are within the tornado season and the most likely times that tornadoes will be circulating. The tours run from April to June at an average cost of $2,999 per person.

Go on a volcano tour in Hawaii

You can walk around the sulfur banks at the Volcano National Park

If you’re drawn to meteorological events, then next up on your travel list should be witnessing a geological eruption in the form of an active volcano, up close. 

Although there are many destinations around the world with active volcanoes, I’d advocate taking a trip to The Big Island in Hawaii, also known as Kailua-Kona. 

The island is made up of a total of 5 volcanoes, two of which are famously among the world’s most active: Kīlauea and Mauna Loa. Nestled within the summit of these two volcanoes is the Volcano National Park, managed and maintained by the USA’s National Park Service. 

Not only does the park give  you the opportunity to witness an eruption and see spewing lava up-close – in a safe and controlled way, but in exploring the park, you’ll get to experience and learn about the many aspects of an eruption, including: the heat from the steam vents, see and smell the sulfur banks, take a trip through the Thurston Lava Tube, a 500 year old cave carved from the lava that flowed through it, and observe the tremendous craters formed by the volcanic activity over millions of years – and these views are really quite breathtaking. It is the only place in the world that can give you such an all-encompassing experience of volcanoes. 

The beauty is you don’t need a tour guide to experience any of this. If you rent a car (and you’ll most certainly be renting a car if visiting the island), you can get a 7 day pass to the Volcano National Park for just $30, so you can really make the most of the various trails and experiences on offer. After all, the climate changes swiftly and dramatically in this region so having plenty of time to explore the park is ideal. 

The adventures don’t stop at the Volcano’s National Park either. You can also visit the black sands at Punaluʻu Beach, created by lava that flowed into the ocean. It’s a unique and beautiful spot for lunch and you’ll likely see turtles too! 

For those thrill seekers among you, when there are large eruptions on the island that lead to the ocean, you can also take boat and plane excursions to get even closer to the volatile eruptions! 

Related reads: Experience a horse riding safari in South Africa

Take on the Drake Passage to get to Antarctica

If you dream of visiting the southernmost continent on the planet, there are pretty limited options in how you can get there, and when. Trips typically take place from late October through to March and although you can travel from places such as South Africa, Australia and New Zealand, the cost would price most people out of ever getting to experience the icy continent.  For most, and especially from the UK, to get to Antarctica you can go by sea or air from South America. 

By air, the trip takes approximately 2 hours from the Argentinian city of Ushuaia (which will take 24+ hours to get to from the UK). Or, you can take a cruise or ship from the same location which takes 48 hours to sail to Antarctica. 

Sailing is arguably the cheapest option but involves a 600 mile trek through the Drake Passage. The Drake Passage is a volatile body of water that is unpredictable; you could journey through and get a relatively calm and smooth sailing experience, or you have to navigate a ship that battles waves that climb up to 65ft. The tumultuous waters that frequent the area is caused by the ‘climatic transition separating the cool, humid, subpolar conditions of Tierra del Fuego and the frigid, polar regions of Antarctica’.

Although it’s impossible to predict exactly what the weather is going to do during the crossing, forecasting systems have improved incredibly and the crew can determine, to some degree, when severely bad storms are expected. In planning the route, 10 days beforehand, and monitoring continuously, they can initiate plans to avoid a severe ‘drake shake’ as much as possible; this could be adjusting departure times as an example. However, sailings do continue and the crew outline steps and recommendations you can take to manage the effects felt during turbulent sailings. This includes acupressure bands on the wrist, ear seeds, bringing ginger candies, and seasickness tablets. 

The journey there may be unpredictable and an adventure in its own right. But once you arrive in Antarctica, which, in addition to being the southernmost continent, is also the driest, windiest and coldest, you’ll get to experience the most majestic emperor penguins in their peak season. You may even get to see their mating ritual and baby chicks. 

In addition to penguins, you could go kayaking with humpback whales, ski across snowy mountains, take a dive in the polar plunge and sleep under the stars. 

Complete your scuba certification in the Maldives

On his first dive, Chris saw an Octopus!

The Maldives is known for its white sands, luxury resorts and coral reefs. A perfect location for the ultimate rest and relaxation holiday.  Although many of us dream of a holiday where you can simply enjoy some sun, sea, sand and good food, if you’re someone (or with someone) that can’t sit still, the Maldives can quickly make the days long and boring when you’re there for a week or more.

If you’re wanting to have a little adventure whilst there, while also being able to make the absolute most of the R&R side of the Maldives, look for a resort that enables you to complete a PADI scuba qualification. If you’re there for at least a week, it takes just a couple of hours a day to work towards your qualification – through lessons, diving and exams, and by the time you leave, you’ll be fully certified. 

The Maldives is the perfect location to try diving or complete your certification too because of the world-renowned coral reefs; it is home to one of the largest and most biodiverse underwater kingdoms found within the world. With over 200 coral species, it’s also home to sharks, turtles, crabs, whales, dolphins and  over 1,000 species of fish. My partner saw an octopus on his first dive there! As no two dives are ever the same, you never know what you’ll experience. 

Do these appeal to you? What’s the best excursion you’ve ever taken? Let us know in the comments below. 

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