by Gill Charlton, The Telegraph, May 30, 2017
1. Wild Scotland
Just around the coast from the Eden community on Ardnamurchan lies the equally remote Knoydart Peninsula. A simple but comfortable alpine-style lodge with single rooms is the base for some challenging guided walks over the Knoydart passes and around the islands of Eigg and Rum. Most days start with a boat ride, a chance to see whales and dolphins and a spectacular coastline. Wilderness Scotland (01479 420020; wildernessscotland.com) has full board weeks for £1,375 from April to September.
2. Active Finland
Novices can try leading a dog-sledding team, cross-country skiing and snowmobiling in Finland’s Oulanka National Park. A sighting of the Northern Lights is virtually guaranteed. The base is a very comfortable wooden lodge (group size averages 15) with the option of a night in an igloo. Exodus (0203 811 4236; exodus.co.uk) has a Finnish Wilderness Week from £1,399 half-board in own room including flights. Departures December to April.
3. Sail a tall ship
Spend a week under sail on the open seas and test your nerve by edging out along the bow-sprit. The elegant brig Morgenster takes up to 24 novice sailors around the Canary Islands with a small permanent crew to show you the ropes. It’s not all hard work, there’s plenty of time for sunbathing and exploring ashore. Classic Sailing (01872 580022; classic-sailing.co.uk) offers a week from £845 in a four-berth cabin including all meals; flight extra. Departures November to March.
4. A desert adventure
Oman is the most beautiful and welcoming part of the Arabian peninsula. This small-group tour uses four-wheel-drives to reach wild beaches, mountain Bedouin villages and travel deep into the hypnotic desert landscapes of the fabled Empty Quarter beloved of TE Lawrence. Wild Frontiers (0208 741 7390; wildfrontierstravel.com) offers 11 days from £2,565 full board excluding flight; option to share tent/hotel rooms or pay £240 supplement. Departures October to February.
5. Active Sri Lanka
Seeking the sun but too restless to sit on a beach? Sri Lanka has plenty of active options, from backroads cycling and a stiff climb to watch sunrise from Adam’s Peak to wild river-rafting in the Central Highlands and jungle safaris in search of leopard and elephant. Explore (01252 883707; explore.co.uk) has an active fortnight in a group of 10-16 from £2,069, including flight and all meals. Room-share option for solos or pay £350 supplement. Departures November to April, July and August.
6. Beijing to Moscow by rail
The Trans-Siberian Railway is the ultimate train ride: seven days across the Siberian and Mongolian steppes. Imaginative Traveller (01728 862230; imaginative-traveller.com) takes small groups on regular passenger trains with stops to see Lake Baikal and camp in a Mongolian ger as well as time in St Petersburg, Moscow and Beijing. Its 20-day Trans-Mongolian Experience is from £2,570 including some meals; flights extra. Departures April to September.
7. A walk in Zambia
To get up close to Africa’s wildlife, nothing beats a walking safari. Robin Pope Safaris (robinpopesafaris.net) charges no single supplements at any of its lodges year round. Join one of their sociable mobile walking safaris in the Luangwa Valley. Expert Africa (0203 405 6666; expertafrica.co.uk) has seven nights from £4,900 including all flights, meals and park fees. More affordable Wild About Africa escorted camping safaris in Namibia, Botswana and Zambia from £2,188 for nine nights in own tent including flights and meals. Regular departures.
8. Burma by river
Finding a river cruise that doesn’t penalise solo travellers is rare. Pandaw’s luxurious teak river steamers which ply the upper reaches of the Irrawaddy and Chindwin rivers are an exception. With just 18 cabins it’s easy to meet congenial companions. Guided excursions take you into timeless villages and market towns and there are bicycles on board for independent exploration. Pandaw (020 8326 5620; pandaw.com) has a seven-night Mandalay-Pagan cruise from £1,375 all in, excluding flight. Departures September to May.
9. Everest close up
A trek through the Nepal Himalaya to Everest Basecamp is high on many bucket lists. Don’t shiver in a tent; opt for convivial lodges. You will have to share a room or a dormitory but you’ll be too exhausted to care. Choose a trip that has a good male/female mix and maximum group size of 16. KE Adventure (01768 773966; keadventure.com) has run its lodge-based Everest Basecamp Trek for 30 years; 17 days from £2,315 including all meals and flights. Departures October to May.
10. South America Overland
Dragoman runs some of the best overland expedition trucks in the business with views from roof seats on slow dirt roads and a maximum of 22 on board. Ask sales staff for the sex and age of those currently booked to make sure you’re a fit. Two-week tasters take in a couple of countries but a run from Lima in Peru down the spine of the Andes into Patagonia is the big adventure. Dragoman (01728 861133; dragoman.com) offers this 65-day trip from £5,450 including accommodation and meals, excluding flight. Departures year round.