Nine active experiences every traveller should try

Time-pressed travellers, take heart.  When we polled our Traveller team on their most memorable travel experiences, we discovered  there is a wealth of one-day wonders out there; activities that may be over in just a few hours, but that linger much longer in the memory.


SKI SIX OF THE BEST-KNOWN US SKI RESORTS  IN A DAY

HOW LONG Eight hours.

You'll join between three and 12 skiers with two ski guides to ski-tour from resort to resort through the backcountry of the Wasatch Ranges, home to some of the world's driest powder snow.  The resorts include the likes of Park City, Deer Valley and Alta, and you will ski each resort's most iconic runs. 

MAKE IT HAPPEN The cost is $US395 a person, seven days a week. See skiutah.com

CLIMB TO HUAYNA PICCHU, PERU

HOW LONG Around three hours.

THE EXPERIENCE While thousands of visitors descend on Machu Picchu every day, only a fraction climb Huayna Picchu, the mist-shrouded peak that looms ominously behind it. It's a strenuous ascent up a steep stone path but the reward is another set of Inca ruins at the summit and mesmerising views of surrounding valleys.

MAKE IT HAPPEN Only 400 people a day are allowed to climb in two groups – one departing at 7am-8am and another at 10am-11am. Tickets cost 200 Peruvian sol per person and can be bought in advance at machupicchu.gob.pe

RAFT THE UPPER NAVUA RIVER, FIJI

HOW LONG Day-long.

THE EXPERIENCE Need a break from poolside cocktails at your  Fiji resort? Check out Rivers Fiji's exhilarating rafting adventure on the Upper Navua River. Located beneath an impenetrable canvas of   jungle, the river slices through a deep canon of volcanic rock in the highlands of Viti Levu. You'll tackle 24 kilometres of white water, pass dozens of spectacular waterfalls and set foot on beaches few others reach. 

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MAKE IT HAPPEN The cost is US$239 a person, including lunch. See riversfiji.com

HORSE RIDE THROUGH THE HOLLYWOOD HILLS, LOS ANGELES, US

HOW LONG From one to four hours.

THE EXPERIENCE It's hard to believe that one of America's largest urban parks is less than five kilometres from Hollywood Blvd. Sunset Ranch offers  guided horse rides through Griffith Park, a rugged 1700-hectare wilderness that engulfs much of the Hollywood Hills. Choose from a one or two-hour day ride, a two-hour sunset ride or a four-hour dinner ride. All  offer sensational views of the city.

MAKE IT HAPPEN Rides start at $US50 a person. See sunsetranchhollywood.com

PLAY A ROUND OF GOLF AT ST ANDREWS, SCOTLAND

HOW LONG Five hours.

THE EXPERIENCE Anyone who's  swung a golf club will have dreamed of teeing off at the Old Course in St Andrews, the birthplace of the game. Golf has been played here for more than 500 years, and, despite it being a championship course, St Andrews is open to the public. 

MAKE IT HAPPEN  Book a package with accommodation (oldcourse-experience.com), or book well in advance with the St Andrews Links Trust (standrews.org.uk). Green fees start from £88.

LEARN HOW TO MUSH IN CANADA'S YUKON

HOW LONG Four hours.

THE EXPERIENCE This is not some passive wintry joyride; you'll be given your own sled, a pack of three to five dogs and a few hours to keep them in line. Sky High Wilderness Ranch guides offer basic instruction on how to manage your gear and command your canines but, in the Yukon, mushing is generally a work-it-out-as-you-fall-off -around-a-corner sort of experience. It's a straightforward start across Fish Lake before you have to tackle the twisting forest trails, but be warned: out on that sparkly frozen expanse on a sunny day at 26 below with the dogs pacing comfortably and powder billowing behind the sled, emotions can run away on you.

MAKE IT HAPPEN Stay onsite in an off-the-grid Aurora-viewing cabin or Sky High's rustic lodge. Cost for half a day of winter dog mushing is $C190 per sled. See skyhighwilderness.com

DO A MILLENNIUM CAVE TOUR ESPIRITU SANTO, VANUATU

HOW LONG Seven to nine hours.

THE EXPERIENCE Just before the jungle path gets really steep and muddy, local guides from Funaspef village streak your face with clay to ensure safe passage to the valley floor. At the mouth of a tunnel called Millennium Cave, life vests and small torches are distributed and there's a safety talk on the dangers of touching bat droppings. You'll wade through the tunnel's slow-moving, waist-deep water then, back out in daylight, float down an adjoining river, clamber over boulders and climb wooden ladders and scramble up waterfalls back to the village. It's wild, and you need to be fit.

MAKE IT HAPPEN Minibus pickups from your Luganville accommodation happen at around 8:30am and you'll be dropped back by 5pm. The cost is 7000 vatu a person.  See millenniumcavetour.weebly.com

TAKE THE GIBBON ZIPLINE CANOPY TOUR, CHIANG MAI, THAILAND

HOW LONG Full day.

THE EXPERIENCE Flight of the Gibbon tours immerse guests into the jungle canopy, making them feel like the eponymous apes that benefit from the proceeds of the tour. The day trip includes hotel pickup, lunch and locally grown coffee in the idyllic village of Mae Kampong, before harnessing up and tackling 30 zipline, abseiling and sky bridge stations suspended high above the forest floor. The tour is conducted with an emphasis on safety and a portion of profits are reinvested into reforestation and primate rehabilitation.

MAKE IT HAPPEN The cost, 3999 Thai baht per person, includes transfers, lunch and three hours of ziplining. See treetopasia.com

TAKE A SELF-GUIDED BICYCLE TRIP AROUND YANGON, MYANMAR

HOW LONG Around 4 hours, depending on individual preference.

THE EXPERIENCE It takes courage to navigate Yangon's congested streets and five-lane roundabouts, but drivers are surprisingly considerate and the street views rewarding. A circular loop skirts the Martyrs' Mausoleum and Memorial to the Fallen Heroes, Bogyoke Museum (where Aung Sun Su Kyi's family lived; check opening times before visiting), Kandawgyi Lake and Yangon's centerpiece, Shwedagon Pagoda.

MAKE IT HAPPEN Complimentary bicycles are available to guests at Belmond Governor's Residence along with maps and self-guided itineraries. Room rates start from around AU$800, single or double occupancy. See belmond.com/governors-residence-yangon

CONTRIBUTORS: Elspeth Callender, Caroline Gladstone, Ben Groundwater, Ute Junker, Nina Karnikowski, Katrina Lobley, Catherine Marshall, Rob McFarland, Steve McKenna, Julie Miller, Craig Tansley 

See also: Eight outdoor experiences that every traveller should try

See also: Five urban experiences every traveller should try

See also: Six food and wine experiences every traveller should try

See also: Twelve cultural experiences that every traveller should try

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