Taking a mekoro through the Okavango Delta, Botswana
As your poler guides the traditional dugout canoe through the maze of islands and rivers, lilies and reeds, he’s also watching out for crocodiles and hippos. His vigilance means you can keep your binoculars trained on the bathing elephants and herds of antelope which seek sanctuary here, away from the barren Kalahari desert. Trips with the community-run Okavango Polers’ Trust last about three days, camping on islands and ensuring you leave no trace of your visit behind.
Pony trekking, Lesotho
The four-day horse-riding trip offered by Drakensberg Adventures begins with the Sani Pass in eastern Kwazulu Natal, a rubble strewn track and the highest pass in Southern Africa. Crossing the border at the top you reach The Sani Top Chalet where a sign lets you know that, at 3482m, you are sitting in the highest bar in Africa. Here the real journey begins: two days’ riding to reach Thabana Ntlenyana, the highest point south of Kilimanjaro, where you can stop for a well-earned lunch.
Rafting on Klaralven River, Sweden
Build your own timber raft from a dozen ropes and logs and float down the Klarälven, Sweden’s longest river. You can take your raft out for just one afternoon, but to get the most from your DIY achievement it’s best to go on a five – or eight – day trip to fully explore the river. There are periods of intense activity (rapids and whirlpools) but most of the journey is a slow meander so you can keep an eye out for beaver and moose, and bask in the success of your handmade raft.
Drifting down the Canal du Midi, France
Take a barge down the seventeenth century Canal du Midi and drift through Languedoc. The long hours of sunshine in this part of France power the boat’s hot water and electric motor, so the only complication you face is negotiating a “ladder” of seven lock gates before the final stretch of the 75km journey to Pont Neuf in Béziers. Your seven days begins in the medieval town of Carcassonne, and there’s plenty to do en route, or you could simply take it slow.
Taking the Sleeper Train to the Scottish Highlands
Board the Caledonian sleeper train one evening and the following morning you’ll wake up in the heart of the Scottish Highlands – a slow, subconscious teleport out of the urban grit and grind into the mountainous fresh and wild. The train leaves Euston at 9:15, reaching Crewe around midnight from where it trundles up to Scotland. It arrives mid-morning at the foot of Ben Nevis, Britain’s highest peak, but if you wake early you can always take a peek out your window at the Central Highlands.
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Going further, slower on a Keralan houseboat
In 1991 Tour India launched the first tourist houseboat, converted from an old kettuvallam barge. Today the company has six boats and offer long charters that allow you to explore more remote areas: little-visited waterways and genuine, workaday villages. For an even slower journey there’s Coco Houseboats. You don’t cover as much ground, but your journey is more peaceful, with time to enjoy the passing scenery.
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Taking a trip on a Dhow, Mozambique
Just hoisting the sail of a dhow is hard work, but as soon as it catches a breeze they sail across the ocean as gracefully as any yacht. A plank of wood nailed across the hull is where you sit, while the captain tills the wooden rudder. There are organised trips, but by asking around you should be able to arrange a ride with a local fishermen.