Best Off-the-Beaten-Path Adventures for Active Travelers

By: Bryan Shelmon

Bryan Shelmon is a travel writer, living the digital nomad lifestyle as of the past 5+ years to immerse himself into the travel industry. Bryan has traveled to regions including the Americas, the Caribbean, Europe, and Southeast Asia. While traveling, he enjoys daily writing sessions with his favorite chai latte, attending local cultural events, and working on CULTURE art inspired by new places.

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September 7, 2023 | Adventure Experts

Venture into the unknown on these off-the-beaten-path trips where the only footsteps you’ll find will be left by you. Every inch of the journey reveals something spectacular about places you thought you knew. From scorching deserts to frozen tundras, forgotten historical sites to bustling modern cities, these adventures hold plenty in store for the intrepid traveler.

Adventure awaits, and we’ve got trip ideas that will give wanderlust to even the most seasoned active travelers.

List of Best Off-the-Beaten-Path Adventures for Active Travelers

  1. Mesopotamia
  2. Lebanon
  3. Saudi Arabia
  4. Iran
  5. Tajikistan Fann Mountains
  6. Dinaric Alps
  7. West Africa
  8. Alaska

1. Mesopotamia

Dust off paths long forgotten as you uncover routes once trotted by Earth’s earliest civilizations. The Mesopotamia region (now Iraq) showcases evidence of life dating back thousands of years while bringing to light modern cities dedicated to preserving the rich heritage.

Imam shrine clock gate looking down on Iraq, or Old Mesopotamia

Step back in time when wandering the ruins of ancient Babylon in the very footsteps of Mesopotamian royalty and the remaining mud-brick structures of Uruk that puzzle you how the first city was built with such geometric precision. With civilization comes religion, and you’ll be enlightened by the birthplace of the Prophet Abraham at the UNESCO-listed Ziggurat of Ur and villages devoted to the Shia faith.

Riverside settlements along the Euphrates and Tigris Rivers show how Iraq’s two longest rivers were critical for the growth of civilizations—a fact still true to this day.

Travelers on a traditional boat floating near the Euphrates and Tigris Rivers in Iraq

All paths lead to Baghdad, Iraq’s capital and cultural hub, for visiting the Iraq Museum and historic institutions that hold artifacts telling the rich story of the region.

How to visit Mesopotamia? -> Join MT Sobek’s Iraq Treasures of the South Cultural Discovery Tour

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Request a FREE 2024 Adventure Travel catalog from MT Sobek!

2. Lebanon

Put on your hiking boots and thinking caps because the 23-mile-long Lebanon Mountain Trail traverses one of the country’s richest regions. The area’s wealth is rooted in culture, history, and literature, exhibiting priceless treasures with every landmark you encounter.

Group of intrepid travelers trekking the great Lebanon Mountain Trail

Established in 2007, you’ll be among the early pioneers of this off-the-beaten-path route that strings together a host of exciting sites. It features the Baskinta Literary Trail, a 14-mile preview into Lebanon’s most cherished poets and writers. The trail’s 22 landmarks include the summer home and Memorial Garden of Mikhail Naimy, dedicated to one of the most prolific Lebanese spiritual writers in the 20th century; the Abdallah Ghanem Cultural Center, and the Cave of Sayf el Dawla, a hideout for the refuge who protected local poets.

Tourists look at the historic statue of Lebanese poet Mikhail Naimy in the Baskinta Literary Trail

The trail feels like walking a historical timeline of Lebanon. The mountainous trails take you to summits occupied by medieval sites like the 12th-century Byblos Crusader Castle and 13th-century Sidon Sea Castle. Then to lows, such as the Holy Valley and Bekaa Valley, home to the nation’s first Christian monastery and oldest winery, respectively.

Tourist on a stairs from Hawka village to Kadisha Valley also called Holy Valley in North Governorate of Lebanon

How to visit Lebanon? -> Join MT Sobek’s Lebanon Mountain Trail Hiking Tour

3. Saudi Arabia

Trust us, it’s not a mirage! Saudi Arabia holds much more than vast terrains covered in sand—if you’re feeling adventurous enough to explore it. You’ll be amazed at the people, culture, nature, and historical wonders awaiting you in the largest county on the Arabian Peninsula.

Tourists exploring the madain saleh or al hijr which is an archaeological site located in alula in saudi arabia

Major cities like Riyadh and Jeddah expose you to the warm, friendly nature of the locals. Explore the vibrant souks for a multi-sensory experience—from colorful and aromatic spices to artisan fabrics made with the softest textures. In contrast, explore remote mountain and cultural villages preserving century-old traditions for their way of life.

Tourists buying aromatic spices at the local traditional souks in Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia’s past gives much more appreciation to its cities and towns of today. Set your path towards the AlUla archaeological site to excavate its history, admire 3,000-year-old rock art hidden in the ancient wells of Hima, and petroglyphs found in the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Jubbah.

Tourists riding camels in the dessert landscapes of Saudi Arabia

The expansive desert is an oasis bringing your Arabian dreams to life. Camp in The Empty Quarter to revel in Arabian pastimes before the night reveals the star-lit sky.

Massimo President & CEO of MT Sobek riding a camel in Saudi Arabia

How to visit Saudi Arabia? -> Join MT Sobek’s Saudi Arabia Cultural Discovery Tour

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Request your FREE 2024 Adventure Travel Catalog from MT Sobek!

4. Iran

Your Middle Eastern adventures always have an element of surprise. However, the four main elements—earth, water, fire, and wind—have influenced some of the greatest cultural treasures in Iran. Let these elements guide you to some of its most legendary sites, from its capital city, Tehran, to ancient sites like Shiraz and Yazd.

Iranian women adorned in traditional clothes smiling in Iran

Colorful light through stained glass window inside Nasir Al-Mulk Mosque (Pink Mosque), a traditional mosque in Shiraz, Iran

Exploring the element of Earth brings you to the Shirkuh Mountain. A town called Abarqu holds one of the oldest trees in the world, an 80-foot Cypress Tree dating back 4,000 years. And Shiraz, affectionately known as the ‘town of roses and nightingales,’ features the Eram Garden blossoming with roses.

The importance of water is found in the UNESCO town of Yazd, one of the oldest on Earth. The water museum provides a glimpse at the historic desert water supply system and even sites like the Imam and Jameh Mosques, whose blue tiles are reminiscent of the ocean—and have picturesque courtyard pools.

Tourists exploring Iran's historic site - traditional Jameh mosque in Iran

Tourists exploring a beautiful historic site on a cultural discovery tour in Iran

Light up the fire in your adventure at the Zoroastrian Fire Temple with a fire burning inside since the year 470 and the Pir-e-Sabz Fire Temple. And the final element of wind featured prominently at sites like the Dewlap Abad Garden with its 110-foot tall wind tower.

How to visit Iran? -> Join MT Sobek’s Iran Treasures Cultural Discovery Tour

5. Tajikistan Fann Mountains

A trip to Central Asia brings your adventure travels to new heights. Tajikistan isn’t your typical bucket-list destination—but this unbeaten excursion will take you to the foothills of the region’s highest peaks, over 16,000 feet above sea level!

Group of hikers hiking the great Tajikistan Fann Mountains in Tajikistan

The Fann Mountains are a hiker’s dream—filled with scenic passes, high-elevation lakes, and remote villages exuding warm Tajik hospitality. Explore the region on foot to encounter stunning natural landscapes like the Seven Lakes, surrounded by hundreds of peaks. Cut through the Munora Pass, where you’ll already be 11,000 feet above sea level, and the Alauddin Pass offers views of the snow-capped Chapdara Peak kissing the sky at a 17,000-foot elevation.

Group of hikers trekking the great Alauddin Pass in Tajikistann Fann Mountains

This adventure hardly has a low point—except if you want to count the downward trek into the Pushtikul Valley, home to Lake Pushtikul.

Hikers comfortably camping on a trail in Tajikistann Fann Mountains

Hikers camping on a trail in Tajikistan Fann Mountains

Rejuvenate for the next day’s hiking segment with welcoming homestays in local mountain villages like Zimtut Village, or pitch a tent for an immersive nature stay.

How to visit Tajikistan Fann Mountains? -> Join MT Sobek’s Tajikistan Fann Mountain Trekking Tour

6. Dinaric Alps

Traveler stories of the Swiss Alps, the Caucasus Mountains, and the Dolomites are easy to come by. But your tales of an excursion through the Dinaric Alps will surely turn heads. This sparsely traveled mountain range takes you on an unbeaten path across the Western Balkans, discovering some of Europe’s most splendid landscapes that few have seen.

Group of hikers trekking the great green Raduha Mountain Ridge with a magnificent backdrop of the Dinaric Alps in Slovenia

MT Sobek staff Ally successfully hikes Dinaric Alps range in Slovenia

Via Dinarica is a 1,200-mile-long route across six countries—Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, Kosovo, and Albania. Check off superlative sites from your bucket list, like Bosnia’s highest mountain village of Lukomir; the Maglic summit, the country’s highest peak rising nearly 8,000 feet; whitewater rafting the Tara River in Europe’s deepest canyon. Remember–the journey is as thrilling as the destination, taking you through national parks, ravines, and even a chance to swim in the Adriatic Sea.

Group of hikers trekking in the valley of Sevewn Triglav Lakes during their Slovenia hiking adventure

Tourists sight mountain cows nesting in grassy Slovenia landscapes

How to visit the Dinaric Alps? -> Join MT Sobek’s Balkans Via Dinarica Hiking Tour

7. West Africa

Enchant yourself with a spellbinding journey into West Africa. Experience the purest form of African heritage uninfluenced by European culture in remote villages across Ghana, Togo, and Benin. It’s a trip that fully immerses you in the celebrations, traditions, and beauty of the Sub-Sahara.

Tourists watching a traditional dance in a local village in Ghana

Woman in traditional West African clothes on a boat with her child in West Africa

Traditional woman in West Africa boasting her architecture and items to tourists

Brace yourself as each destination explores the richness of life, death, the afterlife, and everything in between! Join in the vibrant festivities of the Akwasidae and Fetatroto Festivals. Learn how Ghanaians celebrate the loss of life with decorated coffins reflecting a unique side of their heritage. And feel the magic of Beninese Voodoo ceremonies held in the city of Ouidah.

Traditional masked voodoo dancers performing a ritual in West Africa

These traditions have transcended borders as a result of the dark history of enslavement–evident in several sites preserved from the Atlantic Slave Trade.

How to visit West Africa? -> Join MT Sobek’s Ghana, Togo & Benin Cultural Discovery Adventure Tour

8. Alaska

There isn’t just one way to explore Alaska. The best adventures let you experience it from multiple perspectives—air, water, and land. It’s time to include all three in your travel plans to the last frontier.

Tourists spotting botany and wildflowers near Alaska's Hula Hula River

Listen to the engine’s roar as a bush plane takes off into the chilly skies above the Yukon River Flats. The arctic landscape will take your breath away while giving you a chance to spot any nearby wildlife and wildflowers! Land in the summits of the Brooks Range for the headwaters of the Hula Hula River. Strap on your life vest because this 100-mile whitewater rafting expedition is not for the faint of heart. Flow directly into the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, where you’ll have a chance to encounter the local residents—grizzly bears, Dall sheep, Musk oxen, and more.

Group of travelers rafting in Alaska's Hula Hula River

Tourists sighting Alaskan wildlife near the Hula Hula River

Tourists enjoying birding opportunities while rafting in Alaska's Hula Hula River

How to visit Alaska? -> Join MT Sobek’s Alaska Hula Hula River Rafting Adventure Tour

In Conclusion

Excited yet? We have tons of upcoming exciting off-the-beaten-path trips that you don’t want to miss! Browse our newly added trips and download your free MT Sobek Catalog for inspiration for your next journey. Where will you adventure next?

Request a free 2024 MT Sobek Catalog from us!
Request your FREE 2024 Adventure Travel Catalog from MT Sobek!