It’s that time of year. Dead of Winter is here in the West, and we’re dreaming of fantastic escapes. Not to put any extra pressure on anyone, but there are some adventures that you shouldn’t pass up forever. Some of them are specific, and some are universal. So we asked our friend Robert Sharp of Out Adventures, one of the world’s top travel experts, to weigh in on some of his all-time favorite trips. Many of these can be enjoyed specifically on Out Adventures experiences, while still others are just worth doing, however you make it there (and possibly even back home).
Without further ado, here are eleven Out Adventures to enjoy before you die…
1. Riding the elephants in Chiang Mai, Thailand –Outings involving domestic animals can be dicey, if only for the well being and rights of the animal kingdom, but if you choose the right excursion, you’ll not only be having the experience of a lifetime, but you’ll be contributing to the health and well being of the animals. Just outside Chiang Mai, Thailand, you’ll find Patara Elephant Farm. Here you’ll learn about each Asian Elephant before bathing them in a river alongside your expert guide, then the ride of a lifetime through the Thai jungle.
2. Hike the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu in Peru – Anyone can take a train to Machu Picchu, one of the New Seven Wonders of the World, but it takes a certain spirit to hike for four days (while camping) to get there. When you’re at 13,000 feet above sea level, every step counts, and the camaraderie built among your fellow travelers is life-changing.
3. Flirt with the go-go boys at Crew Bar Cape Town – Not only are they great at displaying their goods, but they’re friendly as well. And if go-gos aren’t your thing, you’re bound to meet a friendly sexy local. After all, hanging with one can add a certain je ne sais quoi, if you will. You’ll get scoop on Cape Town while enjoying local cocktails.
4. Climb Mount Kilimanjaro – This adventure is not for the faint of heart. It will take months of physical preparation, and test your limits like no other experience. Reaching the summit of Uhuru Peak at 19,341 feet, and taking in the panorama, will engender a sense of accomplishment and physical high you never knew existed.
5. Show off on Tel Aviv’s Gay Beach during Pride – Break out that new speedo, because you’ll need it here. Everything you’ve heard about Israeli men is true, and then some. During Tel Aviv Pride, Hilton Beach comes alive like no other time of year. Strut on the white sands, go for a dip in the warm water, and perhaps even get invited back to the home of a local for some local cuisine.
6. Float in the Blue Lagoon & Pride Party in Reykjavik – Although Reykjavik Pride isn’t quite the circuit event you’ve come to know from other Pride Festivals, it draws visitors from around the globe. Where else can you party at night, and dip in a geothermal pool or scale an ancient glacier by day?
7. Island hop around Croatia – Why is Croatia one of the up-and-coming destinations in the globe? To put it simply, it’s one of the most beautiful countries. With miles and miles of stunning coastline, and over 1,000 undeveloped islands to explore, the best way experience this paradise properly is by sea.
8. Kayak on the Andaman Sea in Phuket – There aren’t many places in the world where you can easily explore ancient caves and secluded bays by kayak and the John Gray Sea Canoe. Plan your trip to coincide with sunset, and the image will be framed in your mind for as long as you live.
9. Ride a camel in the Moroccan Sahara Desert – Morocco is hardly one of the most gay-welcoming destinations in the world, but it is so great an experience you can’t let this fact scare you away. Not far from the bustling markets and fabulous Riads of Marrakech, you’ll find the edge of the Sahara Desert, where sunset camel rides and desert excursions abound. You’ll sand board (snowboarding, minus the snow), feast on Moroccan cuisine, and recline in a luxury tented camp.
10. Party at Bangkok’s DJ Station – Gay clubs are a dime a dozen these days, but it is rare to find a club that pumps the music and is enjoyed by a global crowd like DJ Station in Bangkok. You find it in a charming alley filled with drunk Thai guys. Just don’t arrive too early, this place doesn’t get hopping until after midnight. If that’s not enough for you, check out the various gay events at the fabulous Sofitel So Hotel in Bangkok.
11. Party with locals in Havana – It’s not so easy to get into the country, but you haven’t lived until you dance until the sun comes up in Havana. There are very few specifically gay bars (aside from some Saturdays at Café Cantante) that you can consistently rely on, but if you ask the local guys along the Malecon what’s happening on any given weekend, they will point you in the right direction and oh so much more. Viva Cuba!
Add your own favorites to the list in comments…