Thursday, 21 June 2012 5:17 PM
Activity holidays should be about more than just trekking, rafting and climbing. You should also have the opportunity to see exciting new destinations and unusual wildlife, while getting a taste of the authentic local culture.
The best way to do this is to find locations that are well off the usual tourist trail. There are a number of places in the Americas that are perfect for intrepid travellers who wish to leave behind all signs of modern living and experience what life in a real wilderness is like.
Antigua is a great base for Guatemala adventure holidays, as the city is located in the shadow of three huge volcanoes. The foothills around Volcan de Agua, Volcan de Fuego and Acatenango are perfect for hiking and mule treks, while you can also arrange wildlife-watching trips in the Highlands area.
Travel north from Antigua and you can visit the Mayan ruins at Tikal. The remains of the temples, forts and palaces are every bit as spectacular as the ones you would find at the pre-Columbian archaeological sites in Peru and Mexico.
There is plenty to do in Tikal National Park, which is a protected area of rainforest. Keep an eye out for exotic wildlife while you explore the dense jungle, as pumas, spider monkeys, racoons, ocelots, armadillos, parrots and turtles call the area home.
Cayo Blanco, Cuba
Most holidays in Cuba are based in the capital Havana, but look further afield and you will discover lots of places suitable for adventure. The beautiful islet of Cayo Blanco is among the best of them, as it has wonderful beaches and facilities for water sports.
Sailing around the island is a tranquil experience, but to see the best the area has to offer, you should go snorkelling. The crystal-clear waters of the Gulf of Cazones mean you will get great views of the exotic fish and rare corals that lurk beneath the surface.
South Shetland Islands, Antarctica
There is no better place to escape the pressures of everyday life than Antarctica, as the southerly continent remains almost untouched by man. There is lots more to see than just snow and ice in this chilly wilderness, as it is home to a rich variety of wildlife.
You will view colonies of Adelie, chinstrap and gentoo penguins as you sail around the archipelago, as well as elephant seals and southern giant petrels. Some of the scenery is spectacular as well, notably the rugged volcanic landscape of Deception Island.
As you travel towards the Antarctic Peninsula, your boat will sail through iceberg-strewn waters and past some stunning natural sights. The sea here is home to minke, humpback and killer whales, which are not worried about swimming close to vessels.
Caye Caulker, Belize
Belize is another great destination for an adventure holiday, as it has stunning landscapes to explore and lots of activities available. One place you should definitely visit is Caye Caulker, a beautiful island just off the country's Caribbean coast.
You could spend your time in this little bit of paradise relaxing on the beach, but you may prefer to go wildlife spotting, as there are saltwater crocodiles and more than 100 species of bird to see. Head out to sea for some scuba diving and you will be treated to the sight of stingrays and manatees, as well as colourful corals and spectacular underwater caves.
Arenal National Park, Costa Rica
Costa Rica's most popular tourist attractions are its beaches, but more adventurous travellers choose to explore the inland areas. Arenal National Park is one spot well worth visiting, as the protected area of cloud forest and rainforest provides the perfect setting for all kinds of outdoor activities.
Trekking through the jungle will allow you to see the native flora and fauna, but you could also view the park from above by taking a zipline tour through the canopy. There is also plenty of water in the area, so you can go fishing on the lake, white water rafting on the river or climbing up one of the waterfalls.
The park takes its name from the Arenal volcano which towers over the area. It is still active, but the explosions that used to light up the night sky on an almost daily basis are increasingly rare. The heat from the volcano does still keep the natural springs warm, so you can look forward to relaxing in one after a long hike.