Climbing Kilimanjaro ranked best adventure in the world, followed by trekking to Machu Picchu and rafting the Grand Canyon, with hiking Ben Nevis top in the UK in world’s greatest adventures
Best adventures in the world
  • Adventures were ranked in a research conducted by TV channel Dave to commemorate the debut of Expedition with Steve Backshall.
  • Mount Kilimanjaro Emerges as the top adventure in the world
  • Cruises to the Antarctic and descents into Iceland’s Thrihnukagigur volcano are also on the list.
  • ‘My new program on Dave sees me film a lot of world-adventure “firsts,”‘ stated Steve Backshall.

Climbing Mount Kilimanjaro, hiking the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu, and rafting the Grand Canyon are among the world’s greatest activities.

That’s according to a recent study, which also reveals the ‘explorer gene,’ which shows that some of us are genetically predisposed to be more adventurous than others.

The world’s biggest death-defying adventure list also includes descents into the bowels of Iceland’s Thrihnukagigur volcano, potholing in Vietnam’s Son Doong tunnels, and climbing Everest Base Camp in Nepal. Climbing Ben Nevis is the most challenging activity in the United Kingdom.

Hiking Kilimanjaro best in the world

According to a survey and a panel of travel experts, climbing Mount Kilimanjaro is the best adventure in the world.

trekking manchu picchu

The Inca Trail trek to Machu Picchu, pictured, has been rated the world’s second-greatest experience.

Rafting the grand canyon

Rafting the Grand Canyon comes third in the global list of greatest adventures


Top 20 Greatest Adventures in the world today

1 Climbing Mount Kilimanjaro, Tanzania 37%

2 Trekking along the Inca trail, Machu Picchu, Peru 35%

3 Rafting the Grand Canyon, Arizona 31%

4 Descending into Thrihnukagigur volcano, Iceland 29%

5 Exploring the Son Doong Caves, Vietnam 24%

6 Dog sledding to witness the Aurora Borealis, Norway 23%

7 Kayaking Arctic fjords, Greenland 22%

8 Reaching Base Camp Everest, Nepal 20%

9 Cruising the Antarctic, 19%

10 Cage diving with sharks, Cape Town, South Africa 18%

11 Swimming with Humpback Whales, Mozambique 17%

12 Cave diving, Yucatan Peninsula, Mexico 16%

13 Diving the Great Barrier Reef, Australia 13%

14 Trekking the Great Wall, China 12%

15 Paragliding in the Alps, Switzerland 11%

16 Riding the Trans-Siberian Railway, Russia 10%

17 Volcano night trekking, Indonesia 9%

18 Hiking Mount Fuji, Japan 9%

19 Diving into Belize’s great Blue Hole, Belize 8%

20 Finding the Lost City of Teyuna, Colombia 7%

Top 10 greatest British adventures

1 Conquering Ben Nevis, Scotland 71%

2 Potholing in Gaping Gill, Yorkshire 40%

3 Swimming with Seals, Lundy Island, Devon 33%

4 Open water river swimming in Oxfordshire 32%

5 Rock Climbing in Snowdonia, Wales 31%

6 Caving in the Peak District, Derbyshire 30%

7 Diving in Scapa Flow, Orkney 29%

8 Surfing off the coast of Fistral Beach, Cornwall 24%

9 Taking on the world’s fastest zip line, Wales 23%

10 Cycling the Giant’s Causeway, Ireland 20%

Source: Dave TV study. The percentages refer to the survey results 

Climbing Ben Nevis
Climbing Ben Nevis, shown, is regarded as Britain’s greatest adventure.

The new study was commissioned by Dave TV to coincide with the premiere of its new series, Expedition with Steve Backshall, which airs on Sunday nights at 8 p.m.

A group of travel experts, including the author of this piece, collaborated with Steve and his Expedition team to develop a shortlist of the “best adventures throughout the world and across the UK,” which was then submitted to a vote of 2,000 British people aged 40 and under.

According to the study, more than eight out of 10 Britons (84%) prefer to seek out exciting activities over the usual ‘fly and flop’ pool or beach vacation.

The research also reveals that Britain is a thrill-seeking nation, with half of Brits (50%) saying that the ‘sense of risk’ is what draws them to adventure vacations, and 42% looking for activities that get their hearts racing.

After reading stories about historic explorers like Captain Cook and Sir Francis Drake, and viewing films like Indiana Jones and Lara Croft, eight out of ten Brits (80%) indicated they wished to be an explorer.

Potholing in Gaping Gill, Yorkshire, is ranked second, and swimming with seals at Lundy Island, Devon, is ranked third.

Open water swimming in Oxfordshire is fourth, while rock climbing in Snowdonia is fifth.

The research also says that genetic and societal variables impact our desire for adventure, danger, and exploration.

Dr. Geoff Ellis’ statistical study of 50 of Britain’s finest ever explorers, including Sir Walter Raleigh, Sir Francis Drake, Ellen MacArthur, and Mark Kingsley, looked at common qualities and behaviors among adventurers throughout history.

Dr. Ellis argues that explorers are more likely to be born under the signs of Aquarius, Libra, or Gemini and to have grown up in the countryside. For example, rural areas account for 56% of British explorers.

According to the survey, middle schoolers are the least likely to become explorers, and adventurers often have dark hair and stand 3.5 inches taller than the average person.

Nine out of 10 Britons polled believe that humans are born with a ‘explorer gene.’

‘I knew I wanted to see the globe from an early age, and that has never ceased,’ said Steve Backshall, a Bafta-winning naturalist, adventurer, and TV presenter. I’ve spent my life traveling to some of the world’s most distant, dangerous, and challenging locations.

I’m constantly looking for a new adventure to explore the unknown, and my new program on Dave follows me as I capture a number of world-adventure “firsts,” including the first descent of a white-water river in the Himalayas.’

‘Our latest study suggests we are a country of explorers who appreciate a feeling of adventure and risk,’ said Dave Channel Director Luke Hales. Our study has led to the discovery of the “explorer gene,” which suggests that humans are born with a drive to explore.’


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