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What is adventure travel?

What is adventure travel?

In a world so filled with instagram, facebook, WhatsApp and so many other means of technology. Adventure tourism is a way in which individuals, and groups, can connect more with each other and our own personal selves. It allows us to push our bodies and spirits to the limits and tap into our wild nature in new locations and remote destinations around the world.

When people think it’s hard to travel internationally, or they don’t have the funds, many of us don’t realize how well set up international travel is these days and how affordable it can be.  International airport tourism arrivals reached more than 1.18 billion annually just a couple of years ago and it’s not slowing down.

It all lies in what your priorities are in life. Do you really want to explore the world? In this article we take a quick look at what adventure travel actually is, how a country can rank as a highly desirable travel destination and some countries that have ranked highly in certain categories. 

What is adventure travel?

In order to truly be considered “adventure travel” the excursion has to take an individual out of their environment for at least 24 hours but less than 1 year. It must include two of the three aspects: a culturally immersive experience, a visit to a natural environment or participation in a physical activity of some kind. 

A list of different adventure tourism activities include but are not limited to:

Participating in a volunteer tourism program; visiting a historical site; trekking; surfing; skiing and snowboarding; snorkeling; scuba diving; paragliding; sailing; research expedition safaris; orienteering; learning a new language; whitewater rafting; fly-fishing; kayaking; cultural education/environmentally sustainable activities; climbing; caving; camping; backpacking; archeological expeditions; cycle tours; food tours . . . the list goes on and on.

What makes a country a good adventure travel destination?

The Adventure Tourism Development Index (ADTI) has come up with a general standard for “ranking” developed and developing countries in regards to their Adventure Travel Capabilities. 

The categories are as follows:

Government Policy That Supports Sustainable Development:

Policies that support the conservation of natural and cultural resources. Switzerland has made large leaps and bounds in recent years in its attempts of habitat and climate protection.

Safety and Security

Pretty self explanatory. It pertains to countries with very few or no travel warnings. These rankings differ substantially between developed vs developing countries. South America has seen large increases in Safety and Security in recent years. 


The means in which this factor is determined is from the quantity of Hospital Beds, Physicians and Nurses/Midwives per 1,000 people in a certain location. Monaco is a country ranked highly in this category. Do you know where that is?

Natural Resources

Adventure Tourism is about getting out in the open. Environments that are not excessively crowded and that have well protected environments score highly in this category. Countries that frequently receive a high ranking in this category include Canada, Norway and Iceland. Did you know Canada has the largest coastline in the world?

Cultural Resources

Locations where the country takes large steps to preserve cultural traditions and which have a lot of UNESCO world heritage sites. Countries such as India, Brazil and China are ranked highly in this section. 

Adventure Activity Resources 

This ranking pertains to a countries ability to support adventure sports. Activities such as paragliding, healthy reefs for diving. All in all, natural resources that support a particular activity. One of the highest ranked countries for this is Israel with an 880 km long trail that spans the entire country. 


Locations with a thriving start up culture tend to host well to adventure tourism. Adventure travel companies are typically small and privately owned so entrepreneurial support in a specific region helps develop more successful and fulfilling programs. Countries such as Singapore, New Zealand and Denmark rank highly on this list. 


The Humanitarian ranking is based off of three main facets. The Happy Planet Index (HPI), NGO density within the country and NGO presence. For those of you that are not aware of the HPI it is a measurement based off of general life expectancy, experienced well-being and the ecological global footprint the nation takes up. Colombia is well known for frequently having a high HPI score.

Tourism Infrastructure 

For adventure tourism, well based infrastructure is not the same as it may be for luxury tourism. The likes of well developed roads, airports and lodging are not on the highest priority. 

Adventure Tourism is more focused on trail maps, information on cultural sites, interpreters, etc. Peru and Iceland are ranked highly in these categories.

Who Ranks Highly overall?

When looking at the overall rankings, some of the top adventure tourism destinations for the past couple of years have been Iceland, New Zealand, Israel and Chile. They have a well developed infrastructure to support adventure travel and resources available to enable individuals to enjoy the activities. 

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If you made it to the end of this article . . . wow . . . I’m impressed. Now you know a little bit more about all the various features that come into making adventure travel possible in countries around the world. If you would like more information on specific destinations or a type of specific travel please feel free to reach out to us. 



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