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Adventures for the non-adventurous

Once the reserve of hardy, super-fit types, nowadays it seems everyone fancies an escapade. And we want it with plumped-up pillows, gourmet food and easier activities thrown in. From cycling across California’s mountains on an electric bike to cooking your way through Vietnam, here’s travel writer Ellie Ross’ pick of the greatest ‘soft’ adventures


01/11/2021

Take an unstrenuous cycle through alpine meadows

E-biking through California’s Palisades Tahoe

Cycling through high alpine trails is not for the faint-hearted, but electric mountain bikes, equipped with pedal-assist motors, make climbing mountains a doddle. E-mountain bike tours offer easy uphill cycling through Palisades Tahoe with panoramic views of Lake Tahoe and the Sierra Nevada. One-and-a-half-hour tours cost from $99pp, including equipment.

Plan your California adventure

Search Provence for ‘black gold’

Truffle hunting in Provence

A stay at Crillon Le Brave offers opportunities to dine on personalised picnics in Provence’s spectacular lavender fields, taste the region’s best wine in the hotel’s tasting cave and learn about the secretive art of truffle hunting with a tour of the local truffle plantation, a truffle oil tasting session and a hunt for the area’s ‘black gold’ truffles with professional hunters. All activities can be booked through the hotel at a additional charge on arrival.

Taste truffles in Provence


Swim with the fishes in St Lucia

‘Snuba’ in St Lucia

If you want to experience the thrill of scuba diving but with the ease of snorkelling, try ‘snuba’. A cross between the two, it sees you breathe up to 20ft underwater without the need for a bulky oxygen tank. St Lucia’s crystal-clear waters are rich in marine life – look out for turtles, seahorses, whales and eagle rays beneath the waves. St Lucia Snuba Tours cost from $82pp.

Discover an underwater world in St Lucia

Capture the rocky spires of Vestrahorn on the Stokksnes Peninsula

Landscape photography in Iceland

Floating icebergs, lava fields and cascading waterfalls... Iceland’s landscape is hard-wired for outdoor adventurers. Get your adrenaline fix from behind the lens. Wild Photography Holidays has a Midsummer Landscape Workshop starting in Reykjavik and travelling to highlights including the Golden Circle and Lake Myvatn, with photography tuition included. 

Take great snaps in Iceland

Visit Victoria Falls on the Zambezi River (Getty Images). 

Admire the Zambezi River’s incredible wildlife

Explore the Zambezi River’s endless natural wonders from the comfort of A’Zambezi River Lodge – just 5km from the iconic Victoria Falls. Take a boat trip along the river to spot elephants (opening image), hippos and rare African skimmers before ending the day with a plunge in the lodge’s spectacular pool overlooking the river. If the adventurer in you comes out, speak to the hotel about white water rafting, nature walks, bungee jumping and more, all of which can be arranged.

Discover Zimbabwe

Stroll in the Japanese garden of Kyoto’s Rurikoin Temple (Adobe Stock)

Explore the real Japan

With low crime levels and efficient public transport, Japan is excellent for a soft adventure. And a guided tour offers extra reassurance. InsideJapan’s Japan Unmasked trip takes up to 14 people from Tokyo to destinations including Hiroshima and Takayama. Guides explain etiquette for staying in traditional ryokan guesthouses, how to eat certain dishes and reveal their favourite backstreet bars.

Escape to Japan


Sizzle some seafood in Ho Chi Minh City

Cooking and culture in Vietnam

Taste your way through Vietnam on the ultimate culinary journey from Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh City. Intrepid Travel has a 12-day tour that includes cooking classes, a teahouse visit and a mi quang noodle demonstration. In Hoi An, learn how to make banh xeo (crispy pancakes, a central Vietnamese speciality).

Fly to Vietnam via Hong Kong with oneworld and Qatar Airways

Encounter an unofficial tour guide at Leopard Hills

Spot the Big 5 in South Africa

Take off into Sabi Sand Game Reserve’s 10,000 hectares in state-of-the-art game viewing vehicles to spot not only the Big 5, but many of South Africa’s other natural treasures, including the leopard tortoise and rhino beetle. Enjoy luxuriously comfy rooms with unbeatable views over the private reserve’s waterhole at Leopard Hills, a five-star pad dedicated to showing off the best of South Africa’s fauna in whichever way suits you. From walking tours to wildlife photography classes and game drives, you’ll feel like a true adventurer, whatever you choose to do.

For more on South Africa, click here.

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