26 Epic Adventures by Travel Bloggers in 2016
Well, it’s about that time again. Time to look back on the year that was and look forward to the year that has just begun. For the past 6 years we’ve put together a year end round-up that highlights some of the adventures fellow travel bloggers have experienced throughout the year. It’s so awesome to see so many people fulfilling their longtime dreams!
Looking for travel inspiration? Check out these epic adventures from years past.
- 25 Epic Adventures by bloggers in 2015
- 40 Epic Adventures by bloggers in 2014
- 28 Epic Adventures by bloggers in 2013
- 25 Epic Adventures by bloggers in 2012
- 19 Epic Adventures by bloggers in 2011
There are literally hundreds of awesome travel blogs out there, so we couldn’t possibly include every one in our annual round-up. If you are a travel blogger that had a memorable adventure in 2016, please share your experience in the comments section below. I’m sure our readers will want to learn about your adventures just as much as we do!
Will one of these adventures inspire your travels in 2017?
Trekking to see wild Mountain Gorillas in Rwanda
Cailin O’Neil, the travel blogger and YouTuber behind Travel Yourself, fulfilled a longtime dream this year when she witnessed wild mountain gorillas in their natural habitat. Talk about a once-in-a-life experience! Check out the video in the link below for some video footage of these fascinating animals.
“Sadly there are less than 800 wild mountain gorillas remaining in the world, so when I was given the opportunity to see these adorable creatures for myself, I literally jumped at the chance.
There are only 80 trekking permits given out each day to see the gorillas, with those 80 people being divided into 10 groups of eight to visit 10 different gorilla families, one group per family.”
Read more – Trekking to see wild Mountain Gorillas in Rwanda
Hiking in Afghanistan’s remote Wakhan Corridor
In 2016, Matthew Karsten, the adventurous travel blogger and photographer behind Expert Vagabond, traveled to a place that many of us would have avoided – the mountains of Afghanistan. I remember doing a double take when he first announced his trip plans earlier in the year. As the photo above indicates, the mountain landscapes in that rarely visited part of the world are outstanding.
“When I told family & friends I was planning a trip to Afghanistan, they thought I’d lost my mind. Afghanistan, that war-torn middle eastern country full of terrorists, soldiers, car bombs, predator drones, and IEDs. Parts of Afghanistan can be dangerous, sure, but it’s also full of beauty, hospitality, and history too.
I learned that the version of the country most of us see each night on the evening news is simply not the full story…This is the Afghanistan I was on a mission to seek out and share.”
Read more – How To Visit Afghanistan’s Wakhan Corridor
Exploring the Land of Fire and Ice
Iceland always seems to find its way on this annual compilation. It’s probably because we have Iceland on the brain and plan to visit later this year. Norbert, the long time globetrotter and man behind GloboTreks, visited the Land of Fire and Ice earlier this year and captured some wonderful images from his adventures.
“Iceland might be the most beautiful country I’ve visited so far and one of the few that has truly amazed me from start to finish. While the country might be relatively small, what it lacks in size it makes up with a variety of stunning scenery that ranges from crystal blue glacier lagoons to green moss volcanoes, red sand beaches, and black desert landscapes.
Read more – 20 Stunning Places you should visit in Iceland
Offbeat Trekking in Kyrgyzstan
It seems like every year we share an epic trekking adventure by Dan and Audrey, the couple behind Uncornered Market. That’s because every year they introduce us to a completely new corner of the world. This year was no different. If you like playing in the mountains, click on the link below to learn about their multi-day trek in the remote mountains of Kyrgyzstan.
“With over 90% of its territory covered in mountains, Kyrgyzstan has no shortage of treks filled with stunning landscapes, alpine lakes, shepherds, yurts and a feeling of being very far out, immersed in nature. It’s why we often recommend Kyrgyzstan to travelers interested in trekking with a taste of the offbeat.
Our recent trek of the newly developed Jyrgalan trail in the Tian Shan mountains above the towns of Karakol and Jyrgalan reminded us again why we make such recommendations.”
Visiting the Moai Statues of Easter Island
Sam and Audrey, the Canadian travel bloggers and YouTubers behind Nomadic Samuel and That Backpacker, had an epic year of adventure in 2016. A clear highlight was their visit to Easter Island, arguably the most fascinating island on the planet.
“We hopped in the car and drove out to Rano Raraku, which is an extinct volcano that happens to be the quarry that supplied the stone from which the moai were carved.
The quarry was used for roughly 500 years, until the early 1700s, and it supplied 95% of the statues that you see scattered across the island. It’s a pretty cool site to visit because you can see some moai that were left unfinished – some are still attached to the rock – and it helps you visualize what the whole process must have been like.”
Read more – One week travel itinerary to Easter Island
Hanging out with Polar Bears in Churchill, Manitoba
Fellow Canadian travel bloggers Pete and Dalene Heck, the couple behind one of our favorite blogs Hecktic Travels, traveled to the frigid coast of Hudson Bay in Northern Manitoba to witness polar bears roaming in their natural habitat. Check out Pete’s incredible polar bear photos in the link below. Reading their posts this year reminds us just how awesome Canada is.
“Despite knowing their grievous plight, in real life it is easy to believe that polar bears just want nothing more than snuggles. They aren’t aggressive or territorial like other bears. They make no sound except for slight gripes to each other, and several approached our buggy with what appeared to be only genuine curiosity.”
Read more – So Darling, So Deadly.
River Surfing in Calgary and Kananaskis, Alberta
Prior to reading Matt Gibson‘s article about surfing in Calgary, I had no idea river surfing was actually a thing. Add freezing cold glacier water to the mix and you’ve got yourself some serious adrenaline pumping adventure. It looks pretty hardcore!
“By the end of my hour-long surf session on the river wave they call ‘The Mountain’, I was so fatigued that after falling and being swept downstream, yet again, I didn’t even bother to try and paddle upstream.
I was completely spent, not from exertion, but from the frigid water.
I had new respect for Calgary’s river surfers. Not because of the ease with which they caught and slashed back and forth across the touchy wave on their ultra-short surfboards, but because they would spend whole days in the depths of the Canadian winter in the river, which is fed by glaciers.”
Read more – River surfing in Calgary and Kananaskis
The Mother of All Road Trips
Our friends Erin and Josh, the team behind the popular family travel blog ‘Travel with Bender‘, completed an adventure that is very high on our travel wish list – they did an epic one year road trip across Canada and the USA.
We met up with them during their visit to the Pacific Northwest and got the download on their crazy itinerary. They put together a detailed post that highlights their route(s) and best articles from the #motherofallroadtrips. Have a read, get inspired.
Read more – 31 Weird Things About the US
Hiking to Angels Landing in Zion National Park, Utah
Amanda, the solo female travel blogger behind A Dangerous Business, put on her hiking shoes and tackled the infamous Angels Landing in Zion National Park. The national parks in the US Southwest have been high on our wish list for years. Reading Amanda’s adventures in Utah has reminded us that we need to get down there sooner than later. The landscapes are unbelievable!
“Angels Landing is one of the most iconic hikes in the national parks system (and certainly in Zion), and I knew I could do it if I prepared properly.
Well, let me tell you that it’s difficult. And kind of terrifying.
Not only do you have to scramble up rough sandstone “steps,” but if you’re short like me you’ll also have to pull yourself up onto ledges using the fixed chain, and probably slide down some exposed sections on your butt. All with 1000+-foot dropoffs, sometimes on both sides of the narrow trail.”
Read more – I hiked to Angels Landing and Didn’t Die!
Helicopter tour over Cape Town, South Africa
Our friend Keith Jenkins, the man behind the popular luxury travel blog Velvet Escape, took to the skies on his last trip to Cape Town in South Africa. There’s nothing quite like experiencing a new destination from a helicopter. And, judging by the photo he captured above, it looks like it was a epic place for a helicopter tour!
“We climbed into the helicopter, buckled up and put on our noise-cancelling headphones. I was so excited I could scream! The scenery was just mind-blowing!
I remarked how awesome it must be for the pilot to see this every day – during the whale season, you can also see whales (especially in Hout Bay and False Bay) and the odd Great White shark! Maurits, our pilot, laughed and said, “It’s the most beautiful office in the world!”
Read more – Helicopter tour of Cape Town, South Africa
Jungle surfing in the Daintree Rainforest, Australia
Caz and Craig Makepeace, the Australian family travel bloggers behind Y Travel Blog, had an epic family adventure in the Daintree Rainforest, located north of Port Douglas in Queensland, Australia. They took their girls high into the canopy to ‘jungle surf’ through the dense rain forest. It looks like tonnes of fun!
“There is no place like the Daintree in Australia, possibly the world. At an estimated 110 million years old, the Daintree Rainforest is the largest continuous area of tropical rainforest on the Australian continent and the oldest living rainforest on earth – even pre-dating the Amazon Rainforest.
Yes, you can drive through the Daintree Rainforest, walk through the forest, climb to the top of the tower at the Discovery Centre, but the most exhilarating experience is by jungle surfing (zip lining) high up amongst the canopy.”
Scuba Diving at the Komodo Islands, Indonesia
Kiersten, the California native behind the popular female travel and lifestyle blog The Blonde Abroad, had another epic year of adventure in 2016. From the Galapagos Islands to China to Brazil, it was tough to pick just one adventure to share. Scuba diving in Indonesia has long been on our travel wish list, so I suppose that’s why it made the final cut.
“Komodo definitely ranks among the best spots in Indonesia to dive. You can pretty much dive off any beach in the area and find gorgeous coral and an impressive array of underwater life.
Komodo National Park is made up of three large islands located in the heart of the Indonesian archipelago. The volcanic islands Komodo, Rinca, and Padar provide a dramatic landscape to this lush park. Full of sandy beaches and sparkling water, this is the perfect place to explore the natural beauty of the country.
Read more – Scuba Diving the Komodo Islands, Indonesia
Exploring the Canadian Rockies in Alberta
We love it when people visit our beautiful country and return with great things to say. Christy and Scott, the American travel bloggers behind Ordinary Traveler, visited two of Canada’s greatest treasures – Banff National Park and Jasper National Park.
“Alberta has been on our travel bucket list for many years and in early September we finally had the opportunity to visit this part of Canada.
During this trip, we got see the infamous Lake Louise and Moraine Lake in Banff and experience some warm-weather hiking in Jasper. September turned out to be the perfect time to visit. We avoided the summer crowds and we were lucky enough to see the fall colors changing!
Read more – 15 Photos That Prove Alberta is Heaven on Earth
Experiencing Jordanian culture through its food
Mark Wiens, the hungry man behind the travel and food blog Migrationology, ate his way around Jordan earlier this year. He produced a fantastic Jordanian food guide that you should definitely check out. But be warned, it’s dangerous to read that post on an empty stomach.
“Food is such an integral part of Jordanian culture, and when you start eating, you’re almost certain to meet and mingle with some of the most hospitable and friendly people you’ve ever met.
The highlight of my trip was eating Maqluba at a local family home in a small village. The family prepared the dish, put it all onto the tray, and sprinkled on freshly oil fried peanuts and pine nuts on top. The food and the sharing of the meal with this family was an awesome experience.”
Read more – 25 of the Best Jordanian Dishes You Should Eat
Journey into the Heart of West Africa
Nellie Huang, the newbie mom and travel writer behind Wild Junket, had another epic year of adventure in 2016. We tip our hat, because we know firsthand that traveling with an infant/toddler is not easy. A highlight from her year was visiting West Africa, where she learned about the Cape Coast slave history in Ghana and met a voodoo expert in Benin.
“West Africa may not have major bucket-list attractions like the Big Five or Victoria Falls, but it is so under-explored that makes any trip there an adventure.
Far from the well-trodden tourist trails in East Africa and Southern Africa, West Africa is a wild, wild world chocked full of remote yet epic landscapes from the world-renown Timbuktu to the slave forts on the Atlantic coast.
I’m not going to lie; West Africa is probably the most challenging destination I’ve been (solo), but that’s exactly what makes it such a rewarding experience.”
Read more – My Journey into the Heart of West Africa
Endless adventures in Western Australia
Kate McCulley, the woman behind the solo female travel blog Adventurous Kate, traveled to the other side of the world to explore the vast and remote region of Western Australia. While there, she visited Rottnest Island, Ningaloo Reef, Karijini National Park, Nambung National Park, Hutt Lagoon and Broome, to name a few. Quite the adventure!
“I was so excited to take selfies with quokkas on Rottnest Island and it did not disappoint whatsoever! Quokkas are small marsupials endemic to a few regions in WA, including Rottnest (which means rat’s nest in Dutch — when they landed, they thought the quokkas were rats).
In the past few years, selfies with the adorable, friendly quokkas have become the ultimate WA souvenir. I was determined to get as many as possible.”
Read more – My Favorite Experiences in Western Australia
Rappelling down a crater in the Negev Desert, Israel
Hannah and Adam, the American travel bloggers behind the blog Getting Stamped, traveled to Middle East this year and spent time exploring the Negev Desert in Israel. Aside from hiking, biking, camping and wine tasting, they rappelled down the side of a steep rocky crater. How’s that for an epic adventure?!
“The adventurous can strap themselves in and rappel down a vertical wall of the Ramon Crater. From one of the main viewpoints around the crater you can make the 50-foot vertical journey down to a ledge in the rock wall.
For those with a fear of heights it may take some time to work up the courage, but the experience and the views of the Negev desert are worth it.”
Read more – Things to do in the Negev Desert in Israel
Hot air balloon over the Serengeti in Tanzania
Matt Long, the man behind the luxury travel blog Landlopers, fulfilled a lifelong dream by going on a wildlife safari in Tanzania’s Serengeti National Park. On his final day, he woke before sunrise and boarded a hot air balloon to witness the magic of the Serengeti from above.
“Right below the balloon was a lone lion, eating a freshly caught wildebeest in a bloody show unlike anything I’d ever before witnessed. I couldn’t believe it. We spent a week touring Tanzania and saw any number of amazing wildlife experiences, but this was different.
As I soon realized, floating above the grasslands in a hot air balloon gave us unique access to the animals impossible to replicate in any other way.
The best moment occurred near the end of the hour-long flight when we were fortunate enough to find herds of zebra and wildebeest on the move, all part of the Great Migration that passes through every year.”
Fun in the Sun in the Maldives
Dave and Deb, the Canadian travel bloggers behind the award winning travel and photography blog The Planet D, visited the Maldives in 2016 and captured some beautiful images of the iconic over-water bungalows.
The Maldives are on a whole other level of awesome. Seriously, look at those bungalows! Beyond the dreamy, sun-drenched beaches, they were able to find plenty of adventure on their trip to this tropical nation.
“I must admit, we expected to do nothing more than bask in the sun, sip cocktails and watch the sunset over the Indian Ocean, but once we arrived at the islands, we found out that there are more things to do in Maldives than we originally thought.
It’s true, the over the water bungalows are a spectacular sight and those images are what drew us to the Maldives in the first place. But are there things to do in Maldives besides relax? Oh yeah! We actually ended up having an amazing adventure holiday!”
Read more – 10 of the best things to do in the Maldives
Hiking the West Highland Way in Scotland
Laurel Robbins, the woman behind the adventure travel blog Monkeys and Mountains, hiked the West Highland Way, Scotland’s first official long distance walking route that spans 150 km (95 mile). It’s a popular route that attracts over 15,000 hikers each year.
“It’s one of the most beautiful long distance hikes I’ve ever done, with its dramatic changes in landscape, from walking along the shores of Loch Lomond, to hiking over mountain passes in the Highlands.
Scottish hospitality is also out of this world. I felt so welcome at each B&B. I’d highly recommend walking the West Highland Way to anyone even remotely considering it.”
Read more – Hiking the West Highland Way in Scotland
Hiking to Melatsunyane Falls in Lesotho
Not only did Brendan van Son introduce us to an incredible waterfall and canyon, he introduced us to a new country! Prior to reading about his trip and seeing his photos on Instagram, I could not point the country of Lesotho on the map. I have never heard of it before. Yet another reason to follow travel bloggers – you’ll learn something new every day!
“Melatsunyane Falls might actually be my favourite location for photography in 2016, it was that good. I’m not really sure how no one knows about these waterfalls, or how Lesotho in general is so under the radar as a tourism destination.”
Read more – Melatsunyane Falls is Crazy!
Hiking Spain’s Camino de Ronda Coastal Path
Sherry Ott, the long-term traveler behind the blog Ottsworld, returned to Spain in 2016 for some unfinished business. After completing the Camino de Santiago hike a few years ago, she knew she would return to the Costa Brava region to tackle the Camino de Ronda Coastal Path.
“Salty sea breezes, colorful flowers that reminded me of bowls of Easter eggs, skies that stretched forever and ever, burning calf muscles, salty sweat running down my forehead, and methodical crashing waves; this what I experienced my last two weeks in Costa Brava while hiking the Cami de Ronda coastal trails.
I finally accomplished my goal of hiking the Camino de Ronda from L’loret de Mar to Portbou at the border of France. My father and I completed the nearly 100 miles of hiking and became entranced with the landscapes and culture.”
Read more – Finishing Business on the Camino de Ronda
Self drive safari in Addo Elephant National Park, South Africa
Erik van Erp, the man behind the travel community site Around the Globe, traveled to South Africa this year and went on an epic safari in Addo Elephant National Park. The park is located about 800 km from Cape Town. The content on his site is written in Dutch, but you can easily translate the content to English to read about his adventure.
“Addo Elephant National Park is one of the parks in South Africa where you can easily drive around and find elephants and many other wild animals, including the Big Five.
You will see herds of elephants at Harpoor dam. Here, elephants come regularly go to cool down and drink. Sometimes they walk in a parade one meter of your car!”
Read more – Exploring Addo Elephant National Park
Attending the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta
Earlier this year, we added the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta to our travel wish list. When I was doing a little online research I stumbled on Laurence’s awesome photo collection from his time there early this year. Laurence is the award winning photographer behind the awesome travel blog Finding the Universe.
“This is the largest balloon event of its kind in the world, and it plays host to around 600 hot air balloons, who fill the skies over Albuquerque for almost two weeks. It’s billed as the most photographed event on earth, and the largest event in the USA. Obviously – we had to visit!
You don’t have to actually attend the festival fields (although we highly recommend you do!) in order to see the balloons. As soon as they launch, the skies over Albuquerque become filled with balloons, which you can see from all over the city!”
Overland through the Kimberley in Western Australia
Becki Enright, the award winning travel writer behind the blog Borders of Adventure, went on an overland trip through the Outback of Western Australia. Often referred to as Australia’s Last Frontier, the remote and wild Kimberley is a place few travelers get to experience.
“From Broome to the Kimberley coastline, that jags along the northern stretches of Australia’s largest state, is a single road that journeys up to the tip of the Dampier Peninsula. It cuts through a stretch of land where the coastline to the west quickly starts transforming into desert to the east.
For hundreds of kilometres lay places where humans haven’t ever trodden. One of Earth’s last preserved wilderness areas, full of arid desert and Protected World heritage landmarks including craters and National Parks.”
Read more – The Indigenous Outback of Western Australia
Road tripping around Albania
Nick and Dariece, the Canadian travel bloggers behind the blog Goats on the Road, rented a car and took a 10 day road trip around Albania. They began their journey in Tirana and continued through Albania’s farmlands and countryside. They spent time in Berat, one of the world’s oldest continuously inhabited cities, and the coastal town of Saranda, located on the Albanian Riviera.
“Our final drive in Albania was the most beautiful one of the trip, and possibly the most scenic drive we’ve ever taken in our lives. We took the coastal road from Saranda to Tirana, which meandered along the coastline, up over a high mountain pass, and back down to sea level.
While winding our way along the Adriatic Sea, with the windows down and the warm breeze blowing in, we were able to reflect on our time in the country. Aside from a tumultuous recent history, Albania has everything a traveller could ask for – great food, friendly people and stunning scenery. 10 days just wasn’t enough!“
Read more – Acclimatizing to Albania: A 10 day road trip
Discovering Kashgar – China’s Silk Road City
Michael Turtle, the Australian travel writer behind Time Travel Turtle, explored the historic Old City of Kashgar in China. I must confess, I had never heard of Kashgar before reading Micheal’s story. A quick Google reveals that it’s located in China’s far west, bordering Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan. It’s one of the oldest cities in central Asia, with its history stretching over 2,000 years!
“Kashgar was a key city along the Silk Road, the network of trading routes that connected Asia to Europe for centuries. What makes it so fascinating today is that the atmosphere has hardly changed.
Arriving in Kashgar is like emerging from a time machine. Nowhere do you get the sense of China’s Silk Road history more than in the historic Old City of Kashgar. The community was built here behind raised walls to provide protection and inside is a warren of more than two hundred streets and alleyways that bend their way through residential and market areas.”
Read more – China’s Silk Road City
Tracking leopards on a Wildlife Safari in Sri Lanka
Liz Carlson, the voice and photographer behind the travel blog Young Adventuress, went on a wildlife safari in Sri Lanka and was lucky enough to witness a leopard in its natural environment. Yes, you read that correctly. Wild leopards. In Sri Lanka! Who knew?
“Yala National Park has the highest leopard concentration in the world, and found all over the country. However, they are also an apex predator in Sri Lanka, so they have little to fear which means that can be much easier to spot than in Africa.
I saw three when I was in Yala. One under a tree a million miles away, one on the infamous Leopard Rock at sunset my second night there, and finally a young leopard hiding behind the bushes near the jeep. Jackpot!
Read more – Wildlife in Sri Lanka: expect the unexpected
What was our most epic adventure in 2016?
When we reflect on 2016 the trip that stands out the most was our 2 week road trip around Ireland and Northern Ireland. We love a good road trip. And Ireland is the perfect country to take a young family on the road.
Highlights from our trip included drinking Guinness in Dublin, marveling at the Cathedral Church of St Colman in Cobh, witnessing the beauty of the Cliffs of Moher, driving the Wild Atlantic Way, exploring the coastal town of Portrush and walking on the Giant’s Causeway. We had great time.
Read more about our trip to Ireland:
- Highlights from our 2 week Ireland road trip
- Traveling to Ireland for the first time? Here’s what you need to know
- The Blarney Castle in Ireland – is it worth visiting?
- 25 Photos that will make you want to visit Dublin, Ireland
And that’s a wrap! Phew, you made it to the end of this 4,600 word post. Some pretty epic adventures by travel bloggers this year! If you’re still searching for more adventure inspiration, make sure check out these posts from previous years:
- 25 Epic Adventures by bloggers in 2015
- 40 Epic Adventures by bloggers in 2014
- 28 Epic Adventures by bloggers in 2013
- 25 Epic Adventures by bloggers in 2012
- 19 Epic Adventures by bloggers in 2011
Your turn! What was YOUR most Epic Adventure in 2016?
Share your experience in the comments section below. Feel free to leave links, we’d love to read about your epic adventure!