Around the world in 80 ways.
Feel like your travel idea canteen has run dry? Not to fear — in honor of National Plan for Vacation Day on Tuesday, National Geographic is sharing the 20 “coolest” travel adventures for 2024, ranging from horseback safaris in Kenya to antiquing in the Hudson Valley.
“I’m so excited about this,” National Geographic Editor-in-Chief Nathan Lump gushed at an exclusive preview in New York last week. “We’ve really extended it to be bigger than ever before.”
As in years past, NatGeo turned to its stable of experts — including photographers, editors and explorers — to help compile its annual compendium of off-the-beaten-track locales.
However, they switched things up for 2024 by having these veteran globetrotters suggest unique activities at each destination as well.
“We’re not just mentioning places,” NatGeo senior editor Amy Alipio, who has been helming the round-up since its inception 12 years ago, told USA Today. “We’re mentioning where to go, but [also] what to do once you’re there. I think we’re really pinpointing ways people can connect and immerse themselves in a destination.”
There’s no point in going to Tanzania if you’re going to spend the whole trip at the hotel swim-up bar, right?
As an added service, experts have ranked the experiences in order of which they think travelers will like best.
Ultimately, NatGeo hopes that the list will inspire people to get out of their comfort zone, and in the words of the late, great Anthony Bourdain, “to move, as far as you can, as much as you can.”
This year’s list features a plethora of US-based adventures. Perhaps the most notable is viewing the giant Kodiak bears in Katmai National Park, Alaska, which is home to the greatest concentration of the species in the world.
“For me, seeing a single brown bear in the wild is meaningful because it is a sign that the landscape is healthy enough to support it,” fawned Alaska photographer Acacia Johnson, who frequently contributes to National Geographic.
Other highlights include taking a road trip through New Mexico on Route 66, perusing antiques in the Hudson Valley and viewing the total solar eclipse on April 8 in Niagara Falls State Park.
It appears the latter might not be as “overrated” as Redditors think it is.
Exploring Kenya by safari jeep seems cliché at this point. Fortunately, the NatGeo brain trust has devised another, more traditional way to see the Pride of Africa — riding a horse.
“Although horse safaris originated in Kenya in the 1970s, they’re a perfect fit for today’s growing number of travelers looking for more engaging, sustainable wildlife encounters,” NatGeo writes. “At the 32,000-acre Borana Conservancy, two stables house thoroughbreds and ex-polo ponies for riders of all skill levels.”
Not comfortable in the saddle? Travelers can still enjoy the area on foot or by car by visiting Algeria’s Tassili n’Ajjer National Park — the largest in Africa — which is home to a “geologic wonderland of sandstone towers, arches and sculpted outcrops,” per NatGeo.
It’s not easy avoiding tourist traps in one of the most well-traveled regions on Earth. Fortunately, NatGeo has devised a way for Eurotrippers to get off the beaten path — by running an Olympic marathon in Paris.
That’s right, for the first time, the public is invited to run their own 26.2-mile race during the 2024 Summer Olympics in the City of Light. The measure appears to be part of an ongoing campaign to make the games more inclusive to the hoi polloi.
Looks like they took Bill Murray seriously when he said during the 2016 summer games, “Every Olympic event should include one average person competing for reference.”
While Asia is too vast and diverse to encapsulate in an online list, NatGeo has managed to select some of the continent’s better-hidden gems (no colored flag tours of the Great Wall here).
Endorsed experiences include listening to live music in Kyoto, Japan, eating one’s way across Thailand and trekking Sri Lanka’s tea trail.
“Starting just outside Kandy, the trail follows the 19th-century tracks upon which workers and horse-drawn carts transported freshly plucked leaves,” NatGeo writes. “Hikers pass through hill towns and tea estates and can stop to take a cooking class or savor a cup of aromatic Ceylon tea.”
NatGeo’s South America recs are basically a smorgasbord of outdoor adventures that would make British explorer Percy Fawcett blush.
They entail everything from hiking a volcano in Panama to cruising Colombia’s mighty Magdalena River, which “flows for nearly a thousand miles from the Andes to the Caribbean.”
Full list of recommended experiences:
Horseback safari in Kenya
Run an Olympic marathon in Paris
Tour UNESCO sites by Ski in Georgia
Bear-watch at Katmai National Park, Alaska
Experience live music in Kyoto, Japan
Cruise the Magdalena River in Colombia
Drive Route 66 in New Mexico
Explore ancient rock art in Algeria
Dive with whale sharks off Australia
Hike a volcano in Panama
Catch the total solar eclipse in Niagara Falls
Trek a glacier in Chile
Explore Menorca’s archaeological sites
Ride the classic rails in Scotland
Find authentic flavor in Isan, Thailand
Explore the tea trail in Sri Lanka
Gallery hop in Sao Paulo, Brazil
Raft the rapids in West Virginia
Go antiquing in the Hudson Valley
Sleep on the water on Tofino Island, British Columbia