5 Land Adventures to Try on Holiday

From hiking America's Rocky Mountains to motorcycling through Europe to embarking on a dune safari in the Middle East, these adventures on terra firma should not be missed.

by Matthew Long

Explore the depths of the Thai jungle atop gentle elephants, all of whom were rescued and rehabilitated at Four Seasons Tented Camp Golden Triangle.

From driving the gold-tipped dunes of Doha to riding elephants through the jungles of Thailand, these activity holidays offer even the most seasoned traveller an adventure to remember.

“Adventure travel” is a term that’s thrown around a lot, but at its heart it is any extraordinary travel experience that surprises, delights or pushes you out of your comfort zone.

Some heart-pumping adventures take you up in the air while others are based in the water, but many can be enjoyed with your feet firmly planted on the ground—trekking across the Tanzanian savannah or racing across a desert landscape channelling your inner Lawrence of Arabia. Four Seasons hotels and resorts around the world offer a variety of active pursuits, including these five exciting ways to experience Tanzania, Doha, Lisbon, Thailand and Vail on terra firma.

Set out on safari in Tanzania

Track rare animals through a “camera trap” and observe native plants during an expert-led walking safari, one of the many options for exploring the bush at Four Seasons Safari Lodge Serengeti.

Live the dream of tromping through the bush, observing nature’s most exclusive animals at Four Seasons Safari Lodge Serengeti. Here, there are several ways to delve into safari adventure and track the Big Five, including game drives aboard SUVs and forays on foot led by expert naturalists and local Maasai people.

For the ultimate experience, visit the world’s largest inactive volcanic caldera, the world-famous Ngorongoro Crater. There you’ll spend time in the best game-viewing location in all of Africa, looking for the endangered black rhino and learning about local life for the Maasai people.

Finally, enjoy bush dining at its finest with a gourmet meal prepared on the savannah as Maasai warriors guard the camp.

Go off-roading in Doha

Master the curves and turns of the Arabian Desert’s towering sand dunes—some rising over 40 metres (131 feet)—through a tour arranged by Four Seasons Hotel Doha. Photography courtesy Joshua Wanyama

Hold on to your hat as your SUV drives through astonishing dunes around Doha, their dramatic dips and steep slopes making for adrenaline-surging lifts and falls. This is the quintessential experience for anyone visiting Qatar, so be sure to spend a day out with the expert driver who will give you the overland thrill of your life.

Not only is this an exciting ride, it’s a photogenic one as well. Shutterbugs will have plenty of chances to capture the beautiful vistas that only a desert landscape can provide. Set up the escape via Four Seasons Hotel Doha, where you can arrange a gourmet packed lunch to enjoy on the dunes and a relaxing spa treatment upon return to the Hotel.

Tour Lisbon by vintage motorcycle

A  motorcycle tour from Four Seasons Hotel Ritz Lisbon offers the chance to capture the storied beauty of Europe’s second-oldest capital city.

With your camera in tow, strap on a motorcycle helmet and get ready for an exhilarating four-hour photography tour of Lisbon as you’ve never experienced it before. Through a special partnership with Four Seasons Hotel Ritz Lisbon, you’ll join a professional photographer on a fast-paced tour of Portugal’s historic capital by vintage motorcycle.

Slide into the sidecar, or climb behind your expert driver, and cruise down cobblestone streets and around leafy squares to discover the city’s most spectacular miradouros (lookout points): the 11th-century Castelo de São Jorge, the medieval alleys of Alfama, the bohemian Bairro Alto, the elegant Chiado district. At each stop, you’ll get professional insight of framing shots, capturing evocative scenes and working with Lisbon’s beautiful natural light. Once you have your shot, hop back on the bike for a scenic (and speedy) drive to the next attraction.

Become an elephant whisperer in Thailand

Upon arrival at Four Seasons Tented Camp, guests can undergo basic training from skilled mahouts, Hindi for “elephant keepers.”

Trek through the dense jungles of the Golden Triangle—where Thailand, Burma and Laos converge—on one of the specially trained Asian elephants who call Four Seasons Tented Camp Golden Triangle home. These mighty creatures have been rescued from a life of heavy labour through the Golden Triangle Asian Elephant Foundation, and at the Camp, guests have a rare chance to help them thrive in a happy and natural environment.

Start this elephant adventure by joining the mahouts (trainers) to learn the basic commands for working with these fiercely intelligent creatures. Then, help bathe and care for the gentle giants before embarking on an elephant trek. With three route options, these two-hour elephant trekking excursions are the perfect way to bond with your pachyderm before bath time in the Ruak River.

Explore the rugged wilderness in Vail

Four Seasons Resort and Residences Vail can arrange a challenging expedition to one of the area’s eponymous “fourteeners,” Mount of the Holy Cross, named for its distinguishable cross at the summit’s middle.

The allure of the Colorado Rockies, with its soaring peaks and abundant wildlife, has been calling to adventurers seeking activity holidays for generations. Don’t just look at the natural splendour that surrounds you in Vail—head out and become a part of it with the Hike a Fourteener Extraordinary Experience.

At Four Seasons Resort and Residences Vail, join the Hike a Fourteener expedition into the Rockies and spend two luxurious but adventurous days in the Colorado wilderness climbing up a famous “fourteener”—one of the mountain peaks that exceed 14,000 feet (4,250 metres). Accompanied by sturdy llamas, you’ll enjoy gourmet meals and renowned Four Seasons services while ascending to the top of the mountains, a daunting but worthwhile endeavour.