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15 Adventures on Earth That Will Change Your Life

Posted On November 28, 2016 at 5:04 am by / Comments Off on 15 Adventures on Earth That Will Change Your Life

By Michael Lanza

“Change your life.” That’s a tall order, isn’t it? I mean, how many experiences have that magnitude of impact on you? I can think of several that overhauled my perspective on life, or at the least, expanded how I view the world and other people.

Looking at the highest mountains on the planet and walking through villages in Nepal where people live much as their ancestors have for centuries. Seeing the surreal landscapes of Iceland (photo above) and Patagonia. Immersing myself in the mountain culture on hut-to-hut treks through the vertiginous Swiss Alps. Paddling a kayak below jungle-clad cliffs rising 4,000 feet straight out of the sea in New Zealand’s Doubtful Sound, and hiking what’s reputedly the hardest hut trek in that adventure-addicted country, the Dusky Track. And seeing unforgettable mountain ranges like the Scottish Highlands, Norway’s Jotunheimen National Park, and Italy’s Dolomites, and seals, brown bears, and sea lions in Alaska’s Glacier Bay through the unclouded eyes of my kids.

Our earliest and sometimes most inspirational experiences usually happen within our own national borders, and often close to where we grew up or live. (That was the case for me on a bicycle tour with two buddies in our home state when we were 19.) And without question, several U.S. national parks deserve a spot on any list of the world’s must-see destinations, among them the Grand Canyon, Yosemite, Glacier, Zion, and the Everglades—not to mention several parks in Alaska, where you can see the breadth of wildlife that once existed all over the planet.

But there’s something about traveling abroad that puts everything you see, hear, and touch under a magnifying glass. Everything is exotic. People talk and think differently. Culture is alien, history an entirely and refreshingly new collection of stories.

Blend those elements into a hike through mountains you’ve never seen before, or paddling pristine waters, and you have the formula for an experience that does alter our perception of the world and our place in it. Take a child on a trip like that and you may actually reroute the trajectory of a young person’s life—very much for the better.

 

Trekking in Parco Naturale Paneveggio Pale di San Martino, Dolomite Mountains, Italy.
Sea kayaking Doubtful Sound, Fiordland National Park, New Zealand.
Trekking in Jotunheimen National Park, Norway.
Trekking past castle ruins in Spain's Valencia region.
Trekking the Kepler Track, Fiordland National Park, New Zealand.
Hikers at the rim of Mount Ngauruhoe, Tongariro National Park, New Zealand.
Trekking the Dientes Circuit, Chilean Patagonia.
Trekking the Cascade Saddle route, Mount Aspiring National Park, New Zealand.
Hiking Blahnukur, in Fjallabak Nature Reserve, Iceland.
Canoeing the Whanganui River, North Island, New Zealand.
Trekking in Torres del Paine National Park, Chilean Patagonia.
Kayaking Milford Sound, Fiordland National Park, New Zealand.
Trekking the Dusky Track, Fiordland National Park, New Zealand.
Glacier Bay, Alaska.
Dawn light on Dhaulagiri, Annapurna Circuit, Nepal.
Backpacking the Rockwall Trail in Canada's Kootenay National Park.

I’ve listed below 15 adventures, 14 international trips and one in Alaska, sea kayaking Glacier Bay—which is like visiting another world, or rather, stepping back in time to revisit the world as it was 10,000 years ago. And I’ve added a bonus 16th trip, backpacking in Kootenay National Park in the Canadian Rockies, both because it’s within easier reach for many Americans and because it deserves a spot on any list of the most beautiful treks on Earth. Each destination on the list links to a story at The Big Outside that includes many images from those places and information for planning that trip yourself.

Setting off on a life-changing experience requires some planning and self-motivation, and there’s no better time to get started than right now.

Bon voyage.

 

Trekking in Torres del Paine National Park, Chilean Patagonia.

Trekking in Torres del Paine National Park, Chilean Patagonia.

Patagonian Classic: Trekking Torres del Paine National Park

 

 

Hiking Blahnukur, in Fjallabak Nature Reserve, Iceland.

Hiking Blahnukur, in Fjallabak Nature Reserve, Iceland.

Earth, Wind, and Fire: A Journey to the Planet’s Beginnings in Iceland

 

 

Hikers at the rim of Mount Ngauruhoe, Tongariro National Park, New Zealand.

Hikers at the rim of Mount Ngauruhoe, Tongariro National Park, New Zealand.

Super Volcanoes: Hiking the Steaming Peaks of Tongariro National Park, New Zealand

 

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Trekking in Parco Naturale Paneveggio Pale di San Martino, Dolomite Mountains, Italy.

Trekking in Parco Naturale Paneveggio Pale di San Martino, Dolomite Mountains, Italy.

“The World’s Most Beautiful Trail:” Trekking the Alta Via 2 Through Italy’s Dolomite Mountains

 

 

Sea kayaking past the Reid Glacier, Glacier Bay National Park, Alaska.

Sea kayaking past the Reid Glacier, Glacier Bay National Park, Alaska.

Back to the Ice Age: Sea Kayaking Alaska’s Glacier Bay

 

 

Trekking in Jotunheimen National Park, Norway.

Trekking in Jotunheimen National Park, Norway.

Walking Among Giants: A Three-Generation Hut Trek in Norway’s Jotunheimen National Park

 

 

Kayaking Milford Sound, Fiordland National Park, New Zealand.

Kayaking Milford Sound, Fiordland National Park, New Zealand.

Sea Kayaking New Zealand’s Milford Sound

 

 

Trekking the Dientes Circuit, Chilean Patagonia.

Trekking the Dientes Circuit, Chilean Patagonia.

Unknown Patagonia: The Dientes Circuit

 

Make your next adventure more enjoyable with gear that fits comfortably and performs well. See my reviews of my 10 favorite backpacks, my six favorite daypacks, and my five favorite rain jackets.

 

Trekking the Cascade Saddle route, Mount Aspiring National Park, New Zealand.

The Cascade Saddle route variation on the Rees-Dart Track, New Zealand.

Off the Beaten Track in New Zealand: Trekking the Rees-Dart in Mount Aspiring National Park

 

Do you like The Big Outside? I’m Michael Lanza, the creator of The Big Outside, recognized as a top outdoors blog by a USA Today Readers Choice poll and others. Subscribe for updates about new stories and free gear giveaways by entering your email address in the box at the bottom of this story, at the top of the left sidebar, or on my About page, and follow my adventures on Facebook and Twitter.

This blog and website is my full-time job and I rely on the support of readers. If you like what you see here, please help me continue producing The Big Outside by making a donation using the Support button at the top of the left sidebar or below. Thank you for your support.









 

Dawn light on Dhaulagiri, Annapurna Circuit, Nepal.

Dawn light on Dhaulagiri, Annapurna Circuit, Nepal.

Himalayan Shangri-La: Trekking Nepal’s Annapurna Circuit

 

See my “My 10 Rules of Adventure Travel” and a menu of all of my stories about international adventures and family adventures at The Big Outside.

 

Sea kayaking Doubtful Sound, Fiordland National Park, New Zealand.

Sea kayaking Doubtful Sound, Fiordland National Park, New Zealand.

Into the Mystic: Sea Kayaking Doubtful Sound in New Zealand’s Fiordland National Park

 

 

Whanganui River, North Island, New Zealand.

Whanganui River, North Island, New Zealand.

River of Many Stories: Canoeing New Zealand’s Stunning Whanganui

 

 

Trekking past castle ruins in Spain's Valencia region.

Trekking past castle ruins in Spain’s Valencia region.

Conquistadors of Adventure: Discovering Multi-Sport Gold in Spain’s Valencia Region

 

 

Trekking the Dusky Track, Fiordland National Park, New Zealand.

Trekking the Dusky Track, Fiordland National Park, New Zealand.

Trekking the Dusky Track, Fiordland National Park, New Zealand

 

 

Trekking the Kepler Track, Fiordland National Park, New Zealand.

Trekking the Kepler Track, Fiordland National Park, New Zealand.

Trekking the Kepler Track, Fiordland National Park, New Zealand

 

 

Backpacking the Rockwall Trail in Canada's Kootenay National Park.

Backpacking the Rockwall Trail in Canada’s Kootenay National Park.

Best of the Canadian Rockies: Backpacking Kootenay National Park’s Rockwall Trail

 

 

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