Outdoor Travel – Our Top Picks

It’s been a long year and a half, inside and online. Now, as the world is starting to re-open for tourism, we take a look at our top picks for outdoor travel. We’re only bringing you countries that are currently open for tourism, or will soon be.

Consider our outdoor travel list for the entry-level outdoorsperson – you won’t need to fish out your grappling hooks when heading to these destinations. Get ready for a whole lot of fresh air!

Austria

A couple of hikers look over a lake in Switzerland
Austria’s mountain trails have something for every level of experience

Austria dominates the winter sports scene, and has a wealth of ski resorts to choose from. If you visit in the warmer months though, the verdant mountains provide the perfect backdrop for walking, hiking, cycling and more. For example, if you try the highly rated Seespitz from Gleinkersee trail, you’ll pass through alpine pastures, and thick forests. And, if it’s hot, cool down with a swim in the Gleinkersee lake, or, have a snack at one of the inns dotted along its shores.

If you’re a seasoned climber, or just starting out, Austria’s mountains have something for every capability. If you prefer to be near water then you’re in luck as Austria is home to number of beautiful lakes. In Tirol, you’ll find Achensee Lake where you can spend your days surfing, sailing and diving, whilst surrounded by mountains. Between Upper Austria and SalzburgerLand, there’s Wolfgangsee Lake – its chocolate-box villages will certainly give your photography game a boost. Take the vintage cable car up the mountain for even more spectacular views.

Travel Info: Anyone entering Austria must provide either proof of vaccination, proof of recovery, or a negative PCR test no older than 72 hours. Travellers arriving from ‘safe’ countries do not need to self-isolate. Vaccinated travellers from ‘other’ countries are also exempt from quarantine rules. Non-vaccinated travellers must self-isolate for 10 days with a test to release on day 5. Children under 12 are exempt from testing.

>> Austria Lifts Quarantine Requirements

Ireland

Ireland must be on every outdoor travel bucket list
Cycle through the forests of Wicklow Mountains National Park

When you’re known as the Emerald Isle, outdoor travel is going to be a specialty. Ireland has a little bit of everything, from the beaches to the mountains, to forests, you’ll have your pick. Of course, the weather can be unreliable, but, with a good raincoat, an invigorating hike will whet the appetite for a pint of Guinness by a roaring fire. Ireland’s wealth of hiking and walking trails are of varying lengths, so can cater to all capabilities and time frames. If you’re a confident hiker and happy to build up a sweat, then head to Waterford and try the Coumshingaun Lake Walk. Around 5 hours, this hike takes you through forest, and up into the mountains, offering unrivalled views of the country surrounds. The pristine lake, protected by an amphitheatre of mountains makes this hike all the more breathtaking. Alternatively, hire a bike, and cycle through the beautiful dappled forests of Wicklow Mountains National Park.

Head to the picturesque town of Dingle, in County Kerry, where you can combine exploring the warmth and beauty of the area with getting out on the ocean. Here, you can kitesurf, dive, sail, kayak and more. The area is abundant with marine life, and sea safaris such as Dingle Sea Safari are an ideal way to see the beautiful coastline and all its islands, caves and crags. The Dingle peninsula is also home to some spectacular walking and hiking trails for those who prefer to stay on solid ground.

Travel Info: Arrivals must have a negative PCR test no older than 72 hours, unless they have been vaccinated or have recovered and are arriving from a ‘safe’ country. Travellers from ’emergency brake’ countries (with higher Covid-19/variant incidences) can skip quarantine provided they are fully vaccinated. All arrivals to the Republic of Ireland must complete the Passenger Locator Form before travelling.

Rwanda

Rwanda's National Parks provide the perfect tour for an outdoor travel itinerary
From grasslands to rainforests, Rwanda’s National Parks have something for everyone

Rwanda is the ultimate bucket list destination. If you’re looking for a change of scenery, and to get outside, then you can’t do better than this. A topographical melting pot, Rwanda is home to savannahs, volcanoes and rainforests. An emerging safari destination, the country has recently become home, once again, to the big 5. Rwanda has four national parks, each with their unique landscapes and biodiversity. Visitors can choose to visit just one, or take outdoor travel to the next level and plan a tour to see them all.

The Volcanoes National Park is the ultimate outdoors adventure. In the northwest of the country, towering volcanic peaks emerge from the mists of the rainforest. This park is home to the endangered mountain gorilla, which you can track through the undergrowth with the help of experienced guides. As the trees sing with over 200 species of birds, visitors can canoe, mountain bike and visit local villages. For an entirely different landscape, go to Akagera National Park in the eastern part of Rwanda. The low-lying land is made up of grasslands, wetlands, and forests and gives visitors the opportunity to see the Big 5 as well as a myriad of bird and buck species. Nile crocodiles and hippos wallow in the many lakes – visitors can see them in their element from either a tour-operated drive, or a self drive.

Travel Info: All travellers must provide a PCR test no older than 72 hours. They will be tested again on arrival and required to wait for the results at a designated hotel – this will be a maximum of 24 hours. The tests are at the traveller’s own cost and are USD50 with a USD10 service fee. All passengers are required to complete a Passenger Health Locator Form prior to arrival in Rwanda. Children under 5 are exempt from testing requirements.

>> Where Can South Africans go on Holiday?

Slovenia

Slovenia is ideal for both cultural and outdoor travel with its blend of history and nature
Hike the mountains in the Julian Alps, or enjoy water-based activities along the coast near Piran

Can’t choose between Riviera-style dining along the coast, or hiking in Alpine mountains? Slovenia has it all, and in a relatively small space, allowing travellers to see more in less time. To the south, the country’s tiny coastline (just over 46km long), will make you feel like you’re in Italy, which you nearly are as Trieste is just across the border. In Piran, Slovenia’s main ‘Mediterranean town’, escape to nature in Strunjan Nature Park. Perched on the cliffs overlooking the Adriatic, you’ll be afforded fabulous views, whether you stay over night in the reserve, or just visit for the day.

If you want to prioritize hiking while in Slovenia, then the 10,000+ kilometers of marked trails will make planning easy. The Julian Alps offer rugged terrain for varying degrees of mountaineering aptitude, while the Karavanke Alps have some gentler routes. Take for example, the Stari Grad Castle Hill hike, which takes you up to castle ruins with magnificent panoramic views. It takes less than 30 minutes to ascend, so it’s easy to fit into an afternoon trip and suitable for families. Finish off a long day’s walk with a rest at one of Slovenia’s many wellness spas and resorts and you’ll be fit to take on the next mountain. There’s no reason why outdoor travel can’t include a spa day!

Travel Info: Slovenia is open for tourism for arrivals from EU and Schengen Area states, as well as third party ‘safe’ countries. Arrivals must submit either, a negative PCR test (72 hours), a Rapid Antigen Test (48 hours), proof of recovery certification, or proof of vaccination. The proof of recovery must be older than 10 days and not older than 6 months. Vaccinated travellers must have received the full dose, unless they also have a recovery certificate, in which case 1 dose is accepted. If none of these documents can be provided then the traveller will either be denied entry, or required to quarantine for 10 days. All travellers to Slovenia must complete the Passenger Locator Form before arrival.

South Africa

South Africa’s coastline combines hiking with spectacular views

South Africa is a large country with vastly different landscapes across its provinces. In the north of the country, wildlife and game reserves are abundant – the Kruger National Park being the most famous, but the Pilanesberg National Park also offers great game sightings slightly closer to Johannesburg. Book a stay in one of the many game lodges and enjoy guided walks and professional game drives. In the north east coast of the country is Kwazulu-Natal. This province is home to the Drakensburg, a mountain range on the border with Lesotho. Famous for its beauty, hikes, and rock art, this area is ideal for an outdoors enthusiast, and a must-do on any outdoor travel itinerary.

Head down the coast, passing famous surfing spots such as Jeffrey’s Bay, and eventually you’ll reach the Garden Route – one of the most scenic drives in the world. Stop for a day hike in the Garden Route, or Tsistikamma National Parks. If you’re feeling brave, trying bungee jumping off of Bloukrans, Africa’s highest bridge. The Western Cape is filled with mountain ranges for every type of hiker. Start with the most famous, and hike up Table Mountain. Or head to the water and go kayaking or snorkeling with the seals. In Gansbaai, get up close and personal with Great White Sharks, or, head up the West Coast to enjoy the bright, white beaches dotted with wild flowers.

Travel Info: All arrivals must present a negative PCR test no older than 72 hours and from an accredited laboratory and signed by the medical practitioner administering the test.

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