29 Mar 9 essential cities for an outdoor adventure
If you want an adventure vacation but do not have time to spend months with your backpack on your back, do not despair because there is still hope. In one or two weeks it is possible to visit some incredible natural places, all you need is a city next to nature. And there are many to choose from.
A trip to the Taman Negara rainforest, for example, feels very remote, but the reality is that all you need to do is catch a bus from the bustling metropolis of Kuala Lumpur. Hiking in the Blue Mountains will be an unforgettable experience and that very night you can party in Sydney. The next time you plan your trip, don’t just think about the beach, swimming pools, and urban visits, because you can also sign up for some outdoor adventures. Here are nine examples.
1. Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Date: From September to March
This vibrant city is full of skyscrapers but also has more than 160 rock climbing routes in and around the Batu Caves temples. You can walk through the city center to Bukit Tabur which ends with stunning views of the distant forests.
To the north, you will reach the tea, coffee, and fruit plantations of Cameron Highlands, while inland you can explore the tropical rainforest of Taman Negara. On the coast, the bustling city of Penang offers jungle trails that lead to remote beaches. On the east coast, the Perhentian Islands are ideal for scuba diving.
2. Dubai, UAE
Date: From September to March
Don’t be put off by the prejudice that Dubai only offers man-made wonders. On the outskirts of the city, there are fantastic outdoor venues, starting with the gigantic dunes, where you can go have fun riding a quad bike, camel, or jeep.
In two hours you can be in the remote mountains of Al Ain or Hatta while heading towards Oman is the Wadi Ghalilah climbing center and the ‘Grand Canyon’ of Wadi Bih. Already in Oman (it is a day trip) you can visit Musandam, which is known as the ‘Norway of Arabia’ with fjords full of dolphins. In the south, past Abu Dhabi, is the Bani Yas Island Animal Reserve.
3. Windhoek, Namibia
Date: From June to October
This is not a very popular destination, but it is the perfect place to access the country’s greatest attractions. The Etosha safari park is just three hours north and the spectacular red dunes of Sossusvlei are five hours south.
Three hours west is an oasis on the coast and the town of Swakopmund. There you can ride a quad through the dunes, parachute, or travel to the Moon (well, to a place that looks a lot like it). If you have time, don’t miss the Skeleton Coast, where there are many shipwrecks.
4. Santiago de Chile
Date: From September to November or from March to May
This bohemian and modern city has nearby places for hiking and ski slopes. It is also the starting point to travel to many of the natural wonders that this country offers.
Heading north on an overnight bus trip you can reach the San Pedro de Atacama desert. Mountain biking and sandboarding are practiced there, as well as enjoying the incredible views of the stars. During the return, the English Bay stands out for its sea and its white sands. Another wonder is the Ojos del Salado with volcanoes and hot springs.
Eight hours in the opposite direction you reach the Lake District, there you can reach the Villarrica volcano (which is active) and explore the Ojos del Caburgua waterfall. Further south, Patagonia awaits us.
5. Sydney, Australia
Date: December to March
This is one of the most attractive cities in the world to kick yourself with a backpack. It takes at least a week to climb the Harbor Bridge, surf at Bondi Beach, hike at Coogee, and ferry across the South Shore Bay.
On the outskirts of the city you can take great day trips: Grand Canyon, Katoomba Falls, Federal Pass or the National Pass in the Blue Mountains. Hunter Valley is a wine lover’s paradise. If you feel like sailing, go to the Hawkesbury River or the Royal Sydney Yacht Squadron.
6. Vancouver, Canada
Date: From April to October
This city allows morning skiing or hiking on Grouse Mountain and afternoon on the boardwalk. Stanley Park offers some great cycling routes, while Capilano Park can get you lost in the woods.
Squamish is a climbing mecca just 30 minutes away, while the highway leads to Whistler, where you can ski and bike in the summer. On the other hand, Victoria, on Vancouver Island, is the gateway to some of the best whale watching on the planet.
7. Granada, Nicaragua
Date: From November to April
Nicaragua is a nice little country and the colonial city of Granada offers a good base of operations. You can visit the Masaya volcano (which is active) and kayak the 365 islands in Lake Nicaragua.
Further south, the Maderas volcano awaits us on the island of Ometepe. The experience is like climbing a gigantic tree with roots that act as steps. You cannot miss the Cerro Negro slide (782 meters), the place where the ‘boarding volcano’ was invented.
8. Geneva, Switzerland
Date: April to June or September to October to avoid crowds
Geneva is a good starting point for exploring the Bernese Oberland, and it should not be forgotten that the city has many natural attractions, such as walking routes or taking a ferry on Lake Geneva. If hiking is your thing, Mont Saleve awaits you where there are incredible views of Mont Blanc.
From there there are trains to Interlaken for you to hike under the north face of the Eiger (you can climb it too!), Then continue to Zermatt and Matterhorn. Another place worth visiting is Bettmeralp from where you can see the Aletsch Glacier.
9. Los Angeles, USA
Date: March to May or September to November to avoid crowds and pollution
When talking about Los Angeles (LA, as the Americans say) one thinks of the glamor, the mysterious motels, and the crowded streets, but this mega city also offers great wonders of nature. The Runyon Canyon and Cahuenga Peak trails surround the famous Hollywood sign. While at night the Griffith Observatory will take you to explore the sky.
Outside the city, El Matador beach has beautiful rock formations that dot the shoreline. There is no shortage of trails through the Santa Monica Mountains, a climb to Malibu National Park, or the Devil’s Punchbowl. If you have time, you can escape to the Trans Catalina Trail or Joshua Tree National Park.