25 Epic Adventures by Travel Bloggers in 2015
As we reflect on the year that was, we’d like to take a moment to highlight some of the epic adventures that fellow travel bloggers experienced in 2015. This is the 4th year doing this annual round-up, so make sure you check out the epic adventures from years past:
- 40 Epic Adventures by Travel Bloggers in 2014
- 28 Epic Adventures by Travel Bloggers in 2013
- 25 Epic Adventures by Travel Bloggers in 2012
- 19 Epic Adventures by Travel 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 2015, please share your experience in the comments section below – I’m sure our readers will want to read about your adventures just as much as we do!
Perhaps these adventures will inspire your travels in 2016?
Driving the Skeleton Coast in Namibia
We kick off this year’s list with our friend’s Pete and Dalene Heck from Hecktic Travels. These fellow Canadians had an epic year of adventures, traveling from Southern Africa to New Zealand to the Faroe Islands, so it was hard to pick just one. However, one adventure that stood out to us was their road trip along the Skeleton Coast in Namibia.
“The Skeleton Coast is as menacing as its name suggests. Borne of a book written in the 1940s to chronicle one of dozens of shipwrecks near its shores, the name is now even used on maps to depict a large chunk of the Namibian coastline.
We took turns down several different side roads, once to see the Zelia, a ship stranded in August 2008 when it came loose from its towing line and ran aground.
There were no markers to indicate where we had been or which way back to the main road. We felt completely at mercy to the elements around us, like the ground could open up and swallow us. No one would have known the difference.”
Trekking the Arctic Circle Trail in Greenland
Matthew Karsten from Expert Vagabond tackled one of the most remote and isolated treks on the planet – the Arctic Circle Trail in Greenland. The photo above does a great job showcasing the stunning scenery found in this special part of the world.
“Greenland’s Arctic Circle Trail is often listed as one of the best long-distance hikes in the world. The trail stretches up to 200 kilometers (124 miles) from the edge of the ice cap to the fishing town of Sisimiut on the West coast.
Only 300 people hike the trail every year, so while you may run into other hikers, it’s possible to go days without seeing a fellow human. Standing alone on Greenland’s barren ice cap in complete silence, you’re hit with the reality of how remote this place is.”
Exploring the Kingdom of Bhutan
Matt Gibson from Xpat Matt traveled to The Kingdom of Bhutan, also known as the Land of the Thunder Dragon. Matt writes, “Although Bhutan is very high on a lot of travelers’ wish lists, the number of people who visit the country is actually quite low. The main reasons are Bhutan’s reputation for difficult-to-obtain visas and high travel prices. Both reputations are grossly overstated and the Tourism Council has been working hard to change these misperceptions.”
“Bhutan is generally seen as a culturally protected and isolationist nation. It has perhaps the best natural conservation program in the world and — having replaced Gross National Product with Gross National Happiness as their national indicator of success — is also often referred to as “The Last Shangri-La”.
I feel the above image captures the strongly spiritual, whimsical, and carefree outlook of the Bhutanese. They seem to dance softly to the rhythm of the world around them with no ambition other than maintaining harmony with themselves, their surroundings, and each blissful moment.
Arctic Expedition to Wrangel Island (Russia)
Sherry Ott from Ottsworld has had some epic adventures over the past several years and 2015 was no different. She recently boarded a small ship that traveled through the Bering Strait to the Arctic Ocean and set foot on Wrangel Island in Eastern Russia. Only 150 people get the opportunity to set foot on Wrangel Island each year, which makes this epic adventure all the more extraordinary.
“My last two weeks were spent on the Spirit of Enderby Polar ship cruising around Wrangel Island, passing through the Bering Straight, and soaking in the Chukotka culture of Russia’s Far East.
I had two weeks of uninterrupted observation; feeling the cold wind on my face, tasting the salt water, examining my footsteps on the tundra, rolling with the Arctic ocean, clearing my mind, and falling into deep dream-filled sleep without worrying what was happening below the Arctic Circle.”
Read more: Wrangel Island Photography
Wildlife Safari in Phinda, South Africa
Keith Jenkins from Velvet Escape traveled to South Africa to explore the Phinda Private Game Reserve, a 170 square kilometer game reserve situated in KwaZulu-Natal, between the Mkuze Game Reserve and the Greater St. Lucia Wetland Park. Within minutes of passing through the park entrance he witnessed a cheetah! And if the wildlife wasn’t enough, check out his luxurious accommodations on the reserve.
“Due to regular rainfall, the Phinda Private Game Reserve has a lush green environment that contains seven distinct ecosystems. As I soon discovered, spotting the Big Five (elephant, leopard, lion, buffalo and rhino) is almost a certainty but there are opportunities here to spot other amazing African animals like the cheetah and a great variety of antelope species.”
Read more: The magic of Phinda
The Magic of Uluru in Australia
Caz and Craig Makepeace from yTravelBlog.com recently completed an 18 month road trip around Australia with their two girls. They had so many memorable adventures on their trip but one that stands out is their time at Uluru, or Ayers Rock, located in the heart of the Northern Territory’s Red Centre desert.
“You’ve probably seen hundreds of photos and postcards of Uluru, but it’s a place you have to see, and feel, for yourself. Made of arkosic sandstone, Uluru stands 348 metres high and is taller than the Eiffel Tower and 2.5 times the height of Sydney Harbour Bridge.
Uluru has been a very spiritual place to the Anangu people, the traditional owners, for thousands of years. Ask most people who visit and spiritual experience is the word often use to describe it.”
Read more: 9 Ways to Experience the Magic of Uluru
Mountain Trekking in Albania, Kosovo and Montenegro
Dan and Audrey from Uncornered Market completed the Peaks of the Balkans trek, an epic 200-kilometer hike through the hills of Albania, Montenegro and Kosovo. The trek took 14 days to complete, with 12 days on the trail, one day transfer at the beginning and one rest day.
“The Peaks of the Balkans region features a rich history and is currently in the process of figuring out ways to share that history with others. Armed with the right information, you can have a transformative experience and take in some of the most surprising experiential landscape that the Balkans — and Europe — have to offer.
Walking with Polar Bears in Churchill, Manitoba
Next up is fellow Canadian travel bloggers Dave and Deb from The Plantet D. In 2015 they traveled to the far north of Manitoba to join an Arctic Safari that included walking near wild polar bears. Yes, you read that correctly. Walking! Don’t you want to give that cute bear a big hug?
“It was late summer and the perfect time to spot polar bears in the coastal region of Manitoba. Nanuk Lodge is situated smack dab in the middle of a denning area for polar bears, where mothers and cubs spend their summers.
During our flight to the lodge, we saw at least a dozen polar bears walking on the tundra. During our safari we saw 4 polar bears at close proximity during our walking safaris, with at least another half a dozen in the distance. It was truly mesmerizing.”
Kate from Adventurous Kate had an epic year of travel that included visiting 21 countries (read her 2015 recap here), so I was somewhat surprised when she said that one of her most memorable experiences in 2015 was traveling to Albania. However, after reading about her trip to Albania, I’ve become intrigued about this often overlooked Balkan nation. Especially Berat and Saranda.
“Like the rest of the Balkans and much of the Mediterranean, cafe culture rules and so does the evening stroll. As soon as the sun begins to set and temperatures turn livable again, it seems like everyone comes out for the evening to stroll down the street and sit at cafes. No matter how old or young you are, you’re there.
I don’t expect Albania to grow into a major tourist destination in the next decade, but things are absolutely going to change as the country continues developing.
If Montenegro was lauded as the new Croatia, Albania could very well become the new Montenegro.”
Read more: What’s it Like to Travel in Albania?
Hiking Trolltunga in Norway
Michael Turtle from Time Travel Turtle strapped on his hiking boots and completed the famous Trolltunga hike in southwestern Norway. You’ve likely seen images of Trolltunga but didn’t know where it was located or how to get there. Fortunately, Micheal has included some helpful information about the hike here.
“The destination for the hike is a rock called Trolltunga, which is Norwegian for Troll’s Tongue. The name is fairly obvious when you see the rock for yourself – it looks like a long pointy tongue, jutting out from a cliff face into the air. Beneath this rock is nothing – just emptiness – for about 700 metres until the ground. And on the ground is a large and dramatic fjord.
As far as hikes go, this is one of the most epic I’ve ever done. It’s an all day round trip – up muddy hills, across rocky slopes, through snowfields and along cliff edges. And at the end of the route is the ultimate payoff. The Troll’s Tongue!
It is difficult, it is long, and it is spectacular. It’s one of the best ways to experience the stunning landscapes of this country.”
Read more: Is this the most epic hike in Europe?
Sleeping under the stars on the Great Barrier Reef
Matt Long from Landlopers.com had a truly unique travel experience when he was in Australia earlier this year. Not only did he get to explore the world famous Great Barrier Reer, he spent the night sleeping under the stars while on a permanently moored pontoon called Reefworld. How cool is that?
“Guests sleep under those very stars in what Australians call swags, an interesting hybrid of tent and sleeping bag that are actually the perfect way to enjoy the experience. If I’m going to sleep alongside the Great Barrier Reef, I want to feel like I’m actually sleeping next to the Great Barrier Reef, and being outdoors is the only way to accomplish that.
If the Great Barrier Reef is on your bucket list, consider spending a little bit more money (it’s not much more actually) and enjoy a full two days and one night learning all you can about this amazing treasure. It’s not a place you are likely to visit often, and going on a Reefsleep adventure guarantees you’ll enjoy it in the very best way possible.
Bird watching on the Galapagos Islands
Jen Miner from The Vacation Gals visited the treasured Galapagos Islands earlier this year and witnessed an abundance of wildlife and endemic species. Reading her post and looking at her photos instantly brought me back to our time spent in this truly unique part of the world. It’s a special destination that should be on everyone’s travel wish list.
“The wildlife of the Galapagos is its biggest draw, and while Ecuador has made moves to limit tourism there due to resulting environmental degradation, it’s a guarantee that every tourist who travels to the Galapagos islands has a keen interest in nature and wildlife.
What especially amazed me — and I mean this in the purest, most literal sense — was how relaxed the birds of the Galapagos were while my family and I slowly walked, hiked, snorkeled and slogged near them.”
Read more: Birds of the Galapagos Islands
Hitchhiking around the Land of Fire and Ice
Matt Kepnes from Nomadic Matt returned to the mythical lands of Iceland in 2015. During his visit, he pushed his comfort zone while attempting to hitchhike around the beautiful island nation. What he found on this trip was much more than cascading waterfalls and dramatic volcanic landscapes.
“I was defeated and hungry. When I had hitched Iceland’s main ring road, rides were abundant, but here they were nonexistent.
I was ready to give up, trudge back to the ferry building, and wait for the bus, but then, like an Icelandic angel descending from heaven in a gigantic steel cage, Stefan stopped his SUV and picked me up.
Around me were melting glaciers, with rivers of clear blue water cutting into the snow. To my left were huge valleys where waterfalls fell down mountains into rivers and snow disappeared under the summer sun, leaving the growing grass a bright green.”
Hiking the Lycian Way: One of the World’s Great Walks
Leigh McAdam from HikeBikeTravel.com traveled from Canada to Turkey to hike a section of the historical Lycian Way. The Lycian Way is a long-distance footpath that stretches approximately 540 km along the Mediterranean on Turkey’s southern coast.
“For over a decade I have contemplated hiking Turkey’s Lycian Way – truly one of the world’s great walks. Years ago, well before the internet when you looked at books for inspiration, I bought one called The Top Treks of the World. I remember being in awe of the landscape on the Lycian Way and thinking this is one hike I really want to do.
Fast forward to late October 2015 and I can now say that I’ve had a taste of the Lycian Way. Our group of four spent six days hiking it – starting at Gul Mountain Hotel, 30 kilometres south of Antalya and finishing at Melanippe Beach near the Gelidonya Lighthouse.
It is an outstanding trek – truly world-class but make no mistake – it’s a challenge.”
Heli-tour and Walking on a Glacier in Alaska
Erin and Josh Bender from Travel with Bender have been traveling around the world with their two kids for over 3 years, so they’ve had a lot of epic adventures worthy of this annual list. One highlight from 2015 was landing on the Meade Glacier while on a once-in-a-lifetime helicopter tour from Skagway, Alaska. The walked on the massive (but melting) glacier and even drank some fresh glacier water right from the source.
“I’ve seen my fair share of landscapes but nothing has quite compared to Alaska. A land teeming with magic, carved by the invisible hand of nature like a patient master craftsman. An immaculate wilderness, whose vastness is only surpassed by its diversity. A land which needs to be seen to be believed.
What made this visit to Meade Glacier even more special was realizing how little time is left to experience it. Glaciers like this one in Southeast Alaska (which are up to 2000 years old) are quickly disappearing, losing over 1 foot in depth each week – 2 feet in the summer. The ice will be completely gone in 15 years.”
Read more: Skagway Helicopter Tour: Meade Glacier
Walking in the footsteps of Vincent Van Gogh
Kash from Budget Traveller had a very unique adventure in 2015. Well, it’s actually more of a quest. To celebrate his 36th birthday, Kash decided to follow in the footsteps of Vincent Van Gogh and visit many of the locations that inspired his life’s work.
2015 marked the 125th anniversary of Vincent Van Gogh’s death (July 30, 1890). Coincidentally, Vincent died when he was 37 years old, which puts his life’s journey into perspective. What he accomplished in such a short life is quite remarkable.
Kash went beyond the Vincent Van Gogh Museum, which is an essential piece of the story, and visited several locations and attractions that are depicted in Vincent Van Gogh’s artwork and life. Kash’s quest began in Amsterdam and concluded at the Notre Dame D’Auvers cemetery located north of Paris, which is where Van Gogh is buried.
While I’m not much of an art or history buff, I appreciate this unique approach to creating an original travel itinerary. It’s such a cool way to connect the story to reality.
Read more: Vincent Van Gogh, in 40 Pictures
Kayaking with Whales in the Johnstone Strait
Christy Woodrow from Ordinary Traveler traveled to the remote community of Telegraph Cove, located on the east side of northern Vancouver Island in British Columbia, to go on an overnight kayaking adventure in search of Orca Whales.
“As I boarded the tiny plane headed for Port Hardy, British Columbia, I had to tell myself to breathe. I was on a solo journey to kayak with Orcas in Telegraph Cove — just an hour north of Port Hardy.
During the months of July through September, the Johnstone Strait has the largest population of Orcas (killer whales) in North America.”
Read more: Kayaking With Whales in Johnstone Strait
Abseiling the Devil’s Gorge (Teufelsklamm) in Austria
Melvin from Travel Dudes had many adrenaline pumping adventures in Austria this year, but the one that stands out is when he abseiled down a river canyon named the Devil’s Gorge. Check out this fun video to see what it looks like to shoot down a canyon with ropes and ziplines.
“The complete route is very diverse. You will slide down rocks, always through water, sometimes with the help of a rope. Be prepared for the zipline part, half through water and surrounded by spectacular rocks. It’s amazing to be in the middle of that gorge and see what nature created with the power of water.”
Read more: Abseiling the Devil’s Gorge (Teufelsklamm)
Partying at Oktoberfest in Munich, Germany
Earlier this year, Erik van Erp from Around the Globe attended the world’s biggest beer festival – Oktoberfest! The above photo was captured at The Hofbräu Festzelt, which comes highly recommended by Erik.
It’s said that over 6 million people attend Oktoberfest each year. Think about that for a moment. That’s more than the entire population of Ireland! Now, think about putting all of Ireland’s population at a beer festival. Good times indeed.
As many of you know, we love all things beer. If you’re a new reader of blog, make sure you check out our series “Memorable Moments Drinking Beer Around the World“.
While many of these epic adventures involve climbing mountains or reaching far corners of the earth, attending the annual Oktoberfest in Munich is high on our travel wish list.
Read more: Oktoberfest in Munich, Germany
Erik’s website is written in German but you can right click on his blog posts and click “translate to English”. Gotta love the internet!
Learning to fly in Wanaka, New Zealand
Like most travel bloggers on this list, Liz from Young Adventuress had a lot of adventures in 2015, making it hard to choose just one. She’s made New Zealand her home base, so she has an endless supply of adventure at her fingertips. The best way to witness the spectacular landscapes of New Zealand is from the sky, so Liz jumped on a scenic flight over Wanaka that also allowed her to take over the wheel and pilot the plane.
“Scrambling up the wing, I plonked over the side into the tiny cockpit. I felt like I was a WWII bomber pilot. But you know, in a dress.
Tucking my camera away between my knees, I pulled the headset over my ears and tried to pay attention as the pilot began explain all of the bobs and levers and buttons in front of me, which I promptly forgot.
My jaw literally dropped open as we circled Mt. Aspiring and I am pretty sure I mumbled “holy shit” directly into the headset.”
Read more: Learning to fly in Wanaka
Discovering Belgrade and the new Serbia
Becki Enright from Borders of Adventure traveled to Belgrade, Serbia and found a city, and country, that has proudly moved past its tragic history to become a stylish, multicultural city that belongs in the conversation of Europe’s finest.
“Belgrade shatters the preconception of Balkan backwardness and slow progress. Its attractiveness puts it on par with its western European neighbouring capitals, yet packs way more of a punch.
Why? It has to work harder to prove it, and while still rebuilding and repairing (there are some damaged structures from the Yugoslav War that Serbia was involved in between 1991 and 1999), its modern face shows a fun and artistic personality.“
Read more: Defiant Belgrade. The heart of a new Serbia.
River rafting in Baños de Agua Santa, Ecuador
Canadian travel photographer and blogger Brendan van Son, from Brendans Adventures, has had some unbelievable adventures over the past few years. He bounced around the globe again in 2015 and spent a good chunk of time in South America focusing on his travel photography and hosting photography tours in Peru and Bolivia (check out his YouTube channel for some great tutorials and shooting guides).
One adventure that got his heart pounding was river rafting down class 4 rapids in Baños, Ecuador.
“I’ve wanted to get back in a raft for a while. I missed out the chance of rafting the Zambezi in Livingstone and I’ve been itching to do it again for a while. This trip into the river with GeoTours was fantastic. We did a half day on the class 4 rapids, and had a tonne of fun.”
Read more: Adventure in Baños de Agua Santa
Muay Thai Boxing in Bangkok
Lola Akinmade Åkerström woke up at the crack of dawn to endure an ass-kicking at legendary boxing gym Banchamek Gym in Bangkok, Thailand. The gym is owned and run by world champion Muay Thai boxer Buakaw Banchamek.
“Muay Thai is a combat sport that originated in Thailand and its records date as far back as the 15-16th century, though the artform is much likely older.”
“Three hours later, fully drenched in sweat, I was in love with the feeling. Of strength and accomplishment. Of a renewed love for kickboxing brewing once again. Trying to catch my panting breath, joy welled up within me. Why wasn’t I doing more of this?”
Facing the Mystery of the Moai, Easter Island
Juno Kim from Runaway Juno visited the mysterious island of Rapa Nui (aka Easter Island), famed for its unique stone statues called Moai. Having visited this special Polynesian island several years ago, we instantly connected with her story. It’s one of the most memorable and interesting places we’ve ever visited. She captured some wonderful photos from her trip – you can see them here.
“Moai statues are known to be made within 1250 and 1400 AD. Although there have been a lot of studies about the statues and the Rapa Nui culture, the exact story behind these magnificent statues is still not clear. With or without the facts, these statues speak in silence.”
Read more: Facing the Modern Mystery: Moai of Rapa Nui
What was our most epic adventure in 2015?
The clear winner for us was returning to the Canadian Rockies during the winter. We’ve visited western Alberta a few times during the summer but never during the winter, so this visit was filled with firsts. The first time we went on a trip without our boys, the first time snowboarding in the Canadian Rockies, first time snowshoeing on a frozen lake, first time dogsledding, first time doing a night icewalk at Johnston Canyon, and first time walking on Lake Louise to name a few.
We love winter adventures that include cozy log cabins with wood burning fireplaces, so this trip to Banff and Lake Louise in the Canadian Rockies was a dream come true in so many ways.
Read more from our winter trip to the Canadian Rockies:
- Winter in Banff: Our best anniversary to date
- Dog sledding to the Great Divide in the Canadian Rockies
- Snowboarding at Lake Louise Ski Resort in Alberta
Well, there you have it! Some pretty epic adventures by travel bloggers this year. If you’re still searching for more adventure inspiration, reminder to check out these posts from previous years:
- 40 Epic Adventures by Travel Bloggers in 2014
- 28 Epic Adventures by Travel Bloggers in 2013
- 25 Epic Adventures by Travel Bloggers in 2012
- 19 Epic Adventures by Travel Bloggers in 2011
Your turn! What was YOUR most Epic Adventure in 2015?
Share your experience in the comments section below. Feel free to leave links, we’d love to read about your epic adventure!