Rhiannon Batten, Emily Mathieson, Andy Pietrasik, Kevin Rushby, Jonathan Thompson, The Guardian, January 17, 2014
Via Ferrata, Dolomites, Italy
Italy's famous "iron roads", many built during the first world war for troops to move around the mountains, will take on a special significance this centenary year. The routes lead through mountain tunnels, up disconcertingly rusty ladders, across swaying bridges and around the side of limestone mountains in an experience that anyone with a good head for heights can try. There are more than 200 routes in the Dolomites, many suitable for day trips, or try Exodus's eight-day introductory trip.
• From £1,249pp half-board including flights. Departures in July, August and September. 0845 287 2078, exodus.co.uk
Ice climbing Banff, Canada
Banff national park is arguably the best waterfall-climbing destination on the planet. If you're new to crampons, there are plenty of beginners' routes around the outdoorsy town of Canmore, where you can sharpen your ice axe and your skills. For the more experienced, there are a number of stunning technical waterfall ascents.
• Two-day basic ice-climbing course from C$325pp (£180) with Yamnuska Mountain Adventures (+1 403 678 4164, yamnuska.com)
Surfing, New York City, USA
View the great metropolis from a new perspective: a surfboard. Check into the brand new Playland Motel in Rockaway Beach, Queens, the city's first notable beachfront hotel. It's a short walk from the newly renovated Boarders (boarderssurfshop.com), so rent some gear and hit some Big Apple barrels.
• Two-hour lesson for two $115pp. +1 718 496 3371, surflessonsnewyork101.com
Cruise the Ganges, India
The most sacred of Indian rivers, the Ganges is tricky to navigate, particularly around Varanasi, where water levels are often low. Until now this has meant that boats big enough to have onboard accommodation haven't operated on that section of the river. In August, however, Assam Bengal Navigation is launching a new boat, the ABN Rajmahal, designed to cope with the shallows on this stretch. Sailing between Patna and Varanasi, the seven-night City of Light cruise will take in Moghul forts, palaces and the sacred Sarnath deer park. There's also great wildlife (look out for the river's famous dolphins) and the chance to see India's holiest city from the water. The boat's 22 en suite cabins all have balconies and passengers can book on-board spa treatments.
• From £854pp for eight days, including all meals and excursions. 01572 821121, assambengalnavigation.com
Retro road racing, Peak District, UK
This summer sees the first L'Eroica Britannia event – inspired by the vintage-themed Tuscan cycling race that has been running since 1997. Saddle up on a pre-1987 bike and choose from 30-, 50- and 100-mile routes through the Derbyshire countryside, as well as a festival celebrating the food, drink and landscape of the area.
• The race is on 22 June, with a surrounding festival starting on 20 June. Entry opens to the public at the start of February and costs £70 per rider, including three days' camping. eroicabritannia.co.uk
The Chapada Diamantina national park in the state of Bahia is a beautiful area of dramatic flat-topped mountains, waterfalls, sparkling blue pools and lush rainforest. In the 1840s diamond prospectors flocked here but now it is a protected area and very peaceful. The six-day trek heads deep into the park, passing high waterfalls – plenty of swimming opportunities – and spectacular rock formations with homestay accommodation. The walk starts and finishes in the pretty colonial town of Lençóis, then you will head off to Salavador and Rio for a couple of nights' recuperation.
• The 12-day trip departs 27 September and 17 January 2015 and costs from £1.950 including flights and most meals, 01722 718444, discoveradventure.com
Protecting sea turtles, Peloponnese, Greece
Adventure doesn't always have to be about adrenalin. GVI's trips help volunteers get under the skin of a destination and explore the region. On this project, participants stay for between two and 12 weeks, living in tents with a conservation team in the village of Mavrovouni while helping protect and monitor the important loggerhead turtle nesting grounds in the bay of Lakonikos.
• From £995 full-board, flights extra. Available June-September. 01727 250250, gvi.co.uk
Hiking through history, Stratford to London, UK
This year is the 450th anniversary of Shakespeare's birth, so bard-themed events will be 10–a-penny. To explore the anniversary in an active fashion, try hiking Shakespeare's Way (shakespearesway.org), a 146-mile waymarked trail between Stratford and London that's thought to follow a similar route to one the great writer took between his birthplace and the Globe Theatre in the 16th century. Along the two-week walk through the Cotswolds and Chilterns, you'll also pass Blenheim Palace and the megalithic Rollright Stones complex.
• A 15-night trip, including B&B accommodation, luggage transfer and, er, a book of sonnets, costs £1,195pp (£535 for a seven-night Stratford-Oxford trip). 01291 689774, celtic-trails.com
Biking the High Atlas, Morocco
Starting in Ouirgane, 40 miles south of Marrakech, this epic bike ride is through a mountain landscape of stark limestone peaks and verdant valleys. The going is not easy: roads are never more than rough tracks and frequently just mule paths – in fact some stretches are unrideable and mules will carry the bikes up. The rewards are enormous, with beautiful stone-and-adobe villages unchanged in centuries plus amazing views across the Atlas Mountains.
• An eight-day trip with six days of biking and hiking, departing October 2014, costs £870. 020-8150 6131, epicmorocco.co.uk/mountainbiking
Australia: Stay on a sheep station, Gnaraloo, WA
Gnaraloo is about as raw, remote and beautiful as Australia gets: a working sheep station at the end of an unpaved road 650 miles north of Perth that also welcomes adventurous travellers. The desert meets the sea here at Ningaloo Reef, and the gnarly wilderness and salt-licked scenery appeals to hardy campers and self-sufficient types. There's a small shop on site, but otherwise you bring in what you need. Surfers camp by the beach and strike out for the big Tombstones break; windsurfers and fishermen put up in stone cabins at the homestead and enjoy barbecues with unbroken ocean views and possible sightings of whales and dolphins. Snorkellers can step off pristine empty sands into an underworld brimming with pipefish, seadragon, seahorses, parrotfish and reef sharks. There is also an award-winning conservation programme for nesting hawsbill, loggerhead and green turtles. Those wanting the full ocker experience can even bed down in the sheep-shearing quarters.
• Camping from £10 a night, cabins for three from £75 a night, sheep-shearing quarters (sleep six) from £125. +61 8 9315 4809, gnaraloo.com
This article originally appeared on guardian.co.uk