The 5 Top Adventure Destinations for History Buffs
When I go on an adventure I always like to travel to a location that allows me to experience the history of the region which I am exploring. Whether you are hiking the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu in Peru or embarking on a mystical trans-Himalayan trek in Nepal, reliving the legend of the Second Buddha, I can undoubtedly say that wherever your historical adventure leads, you’ll return home invigorated, enriched and inspired.
I have traveled across the globe in search of those special places that are steeped in history and equally ideal for an epic adventure. Listed below are my 5 Top Adventure Destinations for History Buffs:
The history of this country, nestled between the Tibetan plateau on one side and the plains of the subcontinent on the other, has always been influenced by it’s two superpower neighbors, China and India. Though it has inherited many customs from them, it still retains a unique culture and character of its own. Prior to Nepal’s emergence as a nation in the late 18th century, the history of Nepal was by and large restricted to the Kathmandu Valley and the Shah monarchy. In the 1990’s, the country experienced a democratic struggle and was in civil strife. However, the monarchy was ousted in 2008 and Nepal was formally named the Federal Democratic Republic of Nepal.
Nepal has both the highest peak in the world (Mount Everest) and the world’s deepest gorge (Kali Gandaki). Nepal is an extremely popular adventure tourism destination, particularly due to the wonder of the Himalayan mountains, which attracts travellers from all over. Nepal is known for its adventure activities, such as, mountaineering, trekking, rock climbing, jungle safaris, and white water rafting. To make your trip complete, soak in the restorative waters of the numerous hot springs and return rejuvenated from this mystical land.
Dominated by the Andes mountains, Chile is a long, narrow country located on the Pacific coast of South America. It displays most of the characteristics of Latin American countries with a culture predominantly Spanish and a blend of Indian roots. It won it’s independence from Spain in the year 1818 not too long after the famous Crossing of the Andes, where Argentine General Jose de San Martin led 5,000 troops from Mendoza to Santiago where they defeated Spanish royalists. Chile is politically stable, has a diverse economy, and it’s capital, Santiago it steeped in history and brilliant architecture and is one of my favorite cities in the world.
With towering Andean peaks offering rugged natural splendor to some of the deepest canyons on earth, a trip to Chile has all the ingredients of an epic adventure. Chile’s terrain is diverse with snow capped volcanoes, glaciers, and lush river valleys. With the Atacama Desert in the North and unmatched beauty of Patagonia in the South, Chile has emerged as one of the top adventure travel locations on the planet. If you favor horseback riding and are looking for a once in a lifetime journey, then perhaps do as San Martin and his ‘Army of the Andes’ did and make your own crossing of the Andes!
Peru may be best known for it’s historical significance as the center of the Inca Empire. The Inca ruled Peru and portions of South America from the 13th to 16th century. The capital of the Inca Empire is the modern day city of Cusco. Manco Capac, whom many believed to be the founder of the Inca Empire, officially founded Cusco in 1200 AD. However, it was not until 1400 AD, under the rule of the great Inca leader Pachachutec that the city expanded to become an administrative and military hub for the Inca people with a complex architectural and societal structure. With the arrival of the Spanish in 1543, the great power of the Inca rulers came to an abrupt and brutal end. The Spanish colonists killed and enslaved the Inca people, ransacking palaces and temples, and plundering their riches. The Spanish settled then in Cusco, building on top of Inca structures, in some cases removing all traces and in others retaining certain features that can still be seen today. Cusco’s popularity as a tourist destination was not to begin until the early 1900s, when the archaeological remains of Machu Picchu were discovered.
Due to it’s diverse topography, Peru is an excellent destination for anyone looking for an epic adventure. It is distinctively divided into 3 zones, the arid coastline to the west, the mountains in the central part and the the thickly forested slopes in the east leading to the Amazon plains. The world famous Inca Trail hike, a trek through the rugged Urubamba valley to Machu Picchu, is a mecca for trekkers from around the world. The icy Andean peaks, the untamed desert coast and for the die-hard explorers the mighty Amazon river with it’s thick rainforest brimming with wildlife, makes Peru a top adventure destination.
Alaska, the largest state in the United States, lies in the Pacific North West and was purchased in 1867 from Russia, for $7.2 million. However, nowadays, with its large oil and gas resources and diverse economy, Alaska contributes greatly to the American economy. One of the major events in Alaska’s history is the Klondike Gold Rush. In 1897, in a creek three hundred miles south of the Arctic Circle in the heart of Canada’s Yukon Territory, gold was discovered near the town of Dawson City. Soon after, tens of thousands of would-be miners from across the world set off propelled by the prospect of riches. The journey to the Yukon, for many, began in Alaska. The Klondike Gold Rush was a major boom to the Alaskan economy and helped put the state on the map.
Rugged glacial peaks, abundant wildlife, and arboreal forest all contribute to make Alaska a great adventure getaway. Glacier trekking, viewing marine animals, sea kayaking among icebergs, and world class fishing, Alaska has it all. Alaska is also a hiking paradise. One of my favorite hikes in the world is the Chilkoot Trail. Carved into the Coast Mountains on the border of Alaska and British Columbia, the thirty-three mile Chilkoot Trail winds through two national parks and takes visitors back in time to experience the history and adventure of one the last great gold rushes. The Chilkoot Trail is one of the primary paths that gold seekers took to the Yukon in their search for riches back in 1897. What is unique about this hike is that, to this day you will still see discarded items on the trail left behind from the miners from all those years ago.
France has been an independent country since the 9th century. Now in Western Europe, in ancient times it was part of the Celtic territory known as Gaul. From the French Kings in the days of the Rennaissance to the rule of Napoleon in the early 1800’s France’s long history has a played a major role in shaping world affairs for centuries. The culture, art, and history that have come out of these periods make France one of the most exraordinary places to visit in the world. The country is truly a living treasure of history.
Travelling to France is not all about movies, romance and art. The country packs a heavy punch when it comes to adventure activities. The highest mountain in France is Mont Blanc, and one of the most popular long distance walks in Europe, the Tour du Mont Blanc (TMB) circles it. Approximately 110 miles in length, the TMB trail passes through, France, Italy and Switzerland and offers wonderful views and close ups of the flora and fauna of the region. The South of France also offer a great range of water sports and other activities in lovely surroundings, like paddling on the Ardeche river, a tributary of the Rhone near the famous Pont-Saint-Esprit. You could also hike the French portion of the Camino de Santiago through medieval villages and the stunning French countryside.
If your looking for a great adventure that enables you to experience some history along the way these 5 destinations are a great place to start.
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I look forward to seeing you on the trail!
Founder & CEO
The Explorer’s Passage
About Jeff Bonaldi
Jeff Bonaldi is the Founder and CEO of The Explorer’s Passage, an adventure travel company. His mission is to provide travelers with the opportunity to transform their lives and the planet through the power of adventure.
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