The other night, out at a cocktail party, I was introduced to a friend of a friend who had been unceremoniously let go by her boyfriend of seven years.
“You’ll never guess what I’m going to do next,” she said to me, her eyes widening with the excitement of talking about a grand plan.
“Are you climbing Mount Kilimanjaro?” I asked.
“How did you know?” Her disappointment was palpable.
It’s become something of a cliché lately for women (and men) to use a climb of the tallest peak on the African continent to excise their past relationship demons and mend their broken hearts.
Climbing Kili truly is the perfect antidote to a bad breakup. The amount of planning and preparation required helps redirect your physical and emotional energy. It is just hard enough that it provides a sense of accomplishment, but not prohibitively hard, and it is simply one of the best travel brags out there. You always look great in the pictures, even if you’re crying on the inside.
At Yahoo Travel we firmly believe that travel is one of the best ways to change your mindset and your life. But climbing Kilimanjaro isn’t the only adventurous option to kick-start a new you. Here are five other big-idea trips that the newly lovelorn may want to consider.
Camp in Antarctica
The coldest, highest, and driest place on Earth, Antarctica is not for the faint of heart. Visiting this continent and braving the Drake Passage is an accomplishment in itself, but spending a night camping on the world’s final frontier is something truly spectacular.
Few places on Earth allow you to conquer an existential crisis quite like isolated Antarctica. (Photo: Intrepid)
This is a pure wilderness experience that puts you in touch with the natural splendor of the planet in a way no single overnight experience can. If you can sleep on the shores of Antarctica, you can most certainly return home to sleep alone.
Rock the Mount Kenya Batian climb
Mount Kenya, located in Mount Kenya National Park, was originally higher than Kilimanjaro, but after it blew its crater (an apt metaphor post-breakup) it lost a little of its height. We recommend joining up with the Call of the Wild women’s trek, which takes you on a glorious stroll across the equator before you begin your summit at this UNESCO World Heritage site.
A slightly (only slightly) less strenuous alternative to Kilimanjaro. (Photo: Call of the Wild)
Even though Mount Kenya is just a hop, skip and a jump across the border from Kilimanjaro in Tanzania, this hike is remarkably different from that of Kili. Here you will sleep in dormitory-style huts in the park and have the opportunity to spy lush African flora and fauna.
For this trip you carry your own ice axe, crampons, and a sleeping bag (no sherpas). On the fourth day you will attempt to do the Batian summit climb via the north face route, but you have an extra day built into the schedule if you are unable to summit.
Climb Mount Toubkal in Morocco
A more diminutive alternative to both Kilimanjaro and Kenya, North Africa’s highest peak involves a physically demanding two-day trek to the summit.
The nice part of this trip is that you can do it as an add-on to a full Moroccan itinerary. A Mount Toubkal climb is part of Intrepid’s eight-day Moroccan itinerary.
You know what is a great life reset? Waking up with the sun! Climbers set off early in the morning to conquer Toubkal at a height of 13,671 feet. The steep final climb can involve some scrambling and you will likely be out of breath by the end of it, but the effort is worth it when you see the unbelievable views of the entire Atlas range.
Check out this view. (Photo: Intrepid)
Trek the Salkantay trail to Machu Picchu
Everyone has heard of Kilimanjaro, but a much more exclusive crew have heard of Salkantay, the highest peak of the Cordillera Vilcabamba mountain range in southern Peru, about 40 miles northwest of Cuzco.
The adventure travel company Blue Parallel offers the perfect introduction to Salkantay. Their trek has a difficulty rating of medium to challenging and is best suited to the more adventurous trekker who is able to handle more altitude and distance, but don’t let that deter you. With a little bit of training, this is absolutely something you can do. Ascending to reach the famous Apacheta Pass at 15,088 feet is not too strenuous, but it does require stamina and perseverance.
She’s king of this mountain. (Photo: Blue Parallel)
Another Machu Picchu adventure is Mountain Travel Sobek’s Inn-to-Inn Express Trek through the Cordillera Vilcabamba mountain range, a challenging high-altitude hike traveling from inn to inn in the Peruvian Andes, culminating in an unforgettable view of Machu Picchu.
Go volcano surfing in Nicaragua
Nothing says adventure like “ash boarding,” the new extreme sport that allows visitors to descend the volcanic ash of Cerro Negro strapped to a board.
This really is the perfect day. Depart Mukul Beach, Golf & Spa in the morning via helicopter (bring your camera and your GoPro), fly over ocean and lush jungle until you arrive at Cerro Negro Volcano. The volcano is only about 1,640 feet (500 meters) high, and a hike to the top takes only an hour. At the peak drink in the unobstructed 360-degree view of the vast and untouched landscape. A short training session is provided before you prepare for the descent of your life, zooming downhill on a wooden board.
The adrenaline rush alone makes this an epic adventure.
Check out our original adventure travel series “A Broad Abroad.”