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Ditch the tropical vacation; visit Nepal and climb Island Peak this autumn!

Why Your Next Vacation Should Be an Active Vacation

bolivia hiking expedition

It can be pretty hard to turn down a pina colada or ice-cold coconut, especially when it’s served to you in some remote, tropical beach locale.

And while we love our cherished R&R as well, we simply prefer to have it in another form: physical activity. Call us crazy but even when life seems hard and is getting us down, we like to unwind by going out into the wilds where we sometimes find even more challenges, but uniquely rewarding ones.

Many people feel the same way: active vacations are quickly becoming the most desirable form of vacation for many working professionals. They, like us, would much rather send that peak than take a luxurious cable car up it.

In this Epic journal entry, we’re going to be talking about all of the merits of taking an active holiday and why you should plan on having one. We’ll not only cover the benefits of adventurous vacations but also what you can do to start preparing for one.

This is an introduction to one of the most rewarding experiences anyone can have in their lifetime.

They’re much better for your mental and physical health

Breaking news: staying active is not only beneficial to your physical health but also your mental health, even when you’re on holiday.

This statement may seem obvious but it’s one that many people still subconsciously deny. For many, the idea of a holiday is a time when they can check out mentally, drop healthy habits, and do the things they wouldn’t normally do in their functioning lives. That might mean binge drinking or being overly sedentary i.e. lounging by the pool all day.

Understandably, these are things people do to unwind after months of physical and mental grinding in the office. They’ve earned some respite as well.

But what if doing more on your vacation was actually better for you?

While it may seem ridiculous at first to prescribe something physically exerting to cure your over-exertion, it might be just what you need.

Sustained, low-contact physical activities, such as hiking, walking, and yoga, are great for your cardio, which in turn increases overall health and boosts emotional moods (thanks to those sweet endorphins). Throw a backpack on and now you’ve got a weighted exercise, further building muscle tone and strength.

If you venture out into the wilderness on your holiday, you’ll also be spared the noxious hazards of urban pollution, a well-known detriment to modern health.

You’re afforded truly authentic experiences

Mass tourism is plagued by over-commercialization and easily packaged, recycled experiences. Ask people what they did at some of the world’s most popular tourist attractions and most will say the same things.

A vacation should really be an opportunity to do something out of the norm: to break away from the monotony of your everyday life and revitalize yourself by doing something different for a change. That might mean going somewhere that you’ve never been before or doing something that you’ve never considered.

An active holiday can present you with new challenges but also new perspectives. The fact that physically demanding adventures already appeal to less of the general population means that fewer people are actually experiencing these novelties. Lots of people go to Mont Blanc; not many make it to K2.

It should be said as well that just because a place is remote doesn’t necessarily mean it’s untrodden. Overtourism can afflict any corner of the world given sufficient demand: just look at Everest Base Camp and Patagonia, which are prime examples of over-tourism in the wilderness.

So remember that when choosing an active holiday, it’s not necessarily enough to go “into the wild”. You must do your research and choose a location that might be a relative unknown. It might be an act of faith, but the authenticity of the place will be untouched by the masses.

Local peoples and cultures are much more accessible

Active vacations usually involve visiting some pretty off-the-beaten-path locations. We’re talking about trekking through remote valleys in the Karakoram or horseback riding in the vast, empty steppes of Mongolia.

Eventually, while traveling in these remote locations, you’re going to cross paths with some new faces. Whether you’re just passing through a village on the way to the next teahouse or interacting with a guide or porter, chances are they’re a local. If you’re lucky (or just ask nicely), they may even share an intimate detail or insight about their life and where they’re from.

We can’t tell you how many wonderful nights we’ve had hanging out with our local teams. Swapping recipes in the kitchen tent; telling jokes by the fireside; appreciating the scenery of their ancestral land together; this is how you connect with a destination’s culture: by going straight to the source.

So while those conversations one has in the big cities, with the taxi drivers or hospitality workers, may be productive, the true path to cultural enlightenment lies within the hearts of those further afield. And taking an active holiday may just get you in touch with these sorts of people!

You’re often surrounded by good people, friends, and family

Adventure is hard sometimes. Long days of walking, inhospitable weather, and technically challenging obstacles can make you seriously question why you ever decided on such an experience.

Luckily, you have a group of other badasses with you.

Active holidays are often team-based, not simply because there happen to be other people interested in the same itinerary, but because they’re needed for one to succeed. Physical, emotional, and moral support from people you trust is a proven way to overcome adversity. And when it comes to adventure travel, unexpected curve balls and hardship are bound to happen.

Completing a challenge with a group of people also has the added effect of creating new social bonds. Having a shared experience with a stranger and even putting your life in their hands is not something that goes away easily: it leads to new relationships (and travel buddies) that can last a lifetime.

So it’s not simply the case that you build stronger bonds with people who you frequently travel with; sometimes, you leave with more than what you started.

They’re more rewarding in the end

Everyone leaves a destination with something. Maybe it’s a trinket, some photos, or even a phone number from a cute guy or girl you met along the way.

Not everyone gets to take away an accomplishment from a vacation though.

Summiting a peak, finishing a long trek, and successfully going outside one’s comfort zone are extremely rewarding feelings. Finishing something difficult ultimately builds confidence, self-esteem, and more healthy behaviors.

All that toil, tribulation, and anxiety that you might have felt along the way may have been uncomfortable, but they’re all brought into perspective by your victory. You realize that this thing that you did wouldn’t have been possible without hardship.

So while active vacations are not always easy and often require more personal investment, you get more out of them. Your friends may leave Mexico with a better tan, but you’re leaving your holiday better than you were before.

Practical Tips for Planning an Active Vacation

We know we’ve been harping on it in this article, but going on an active vacation isn’t always easy.

Being properly prepared before going off on your grand adventure will increase your odds of successfully completing it though.

Below are a few things to consider before booking an active vacation. Know what you’re getting yourself into, be ready, and you’re sure to have a good time.

Choose the right destination

No place offers the same adventure, and where you go has a huge effect on what you can expect.

Want to go hike amongst some of the world’s highest peaks and with relatively few people? Trekking in Pakistan’s Karakoram Range would be the perfect choice.

madeira hikes

Maybe you want to go somewhere a little more convenient, but is no less physically rewarding or underappreciated? Madeira offers empty trails, hidden gems, and plenty of good food to keep you going.

Here are a couple more ideas worth considering:

Pack appropriately

You’re not heading to the Italian Riviera, amico mio, so you might want to leave that roller bag and Tommy Bahama at home this time. Active holidays require activewear. That means swapping out those boat shoes for hiking boots and those linen clothes for some quick-drying synthetic.

Trust us when we say that you don’t want to get out in the open wilderness without the right clothing or equipment. Packing for an active holiday is a little different than a normal one, but it shouldn’t be stressful either.

Below are a few essential items to bring with you on your next adventure:

  • Good hiking boots – And not brand new ones either! It’s a common mistake to take a new pair on a trip without breaking them in the first place. This is a sure way to end up with blisters. Leather is the industry standard but synthetic boots are quite good these days too.
  • Layers – You’ll want to have clothing that you can take on and off easily depending on the weather and physical exertion. For example, a base layer (shirt), an insulating layer (fleece), and a protective layer (hardshell) are a good combination. Find a system that works for you.
  • Filtered water bottle – For cleaning any questionable water you might find. Get one that filters out particulates, microorganisms, and viruses, like the Grayl.
  • Headlamp – Your trusty light source for when electricity isn’t available or out of commission. Rechargeable ones are convenient but usually weaker. Don’t hesitate to buy a more powerful one that requires batteries.

Be prepared, physically and mentally

Embarking on an active holiday requires both mental and physical preparation. Mentally, it’s essential to set realistic expectations and visualize the activities you’re about to engage in. This will help build anticipation while simultaneously reducing anxiety. You might even consider mindfulness practices to enhance your mental resilience, which help you keep focused and calm on your adventure.

bolivia hiking expedition

Physically, it’s important to start conditioning your body well in advance. Tailor your fitness routine to include exercises that target strength, endurance, and flexibility. For instance, if you’re planning a hiking trip, incorporate cardiovascular activities like running or cycling, alongside strength training for your legs and core. Flexibility exercises, such as yoga or dynamic stretching, can help prevent injuries and improve overall performance.

Hydration and nutrition play crucial roles in physical preparation. Maintain a balanced diet rich in proteins, carbohydrates, and healthy fats to fuel your body, and stay hydrated, especially as your activity levels increase. Adequate rest and recovery are equally important, so ensure you get plenty of sleep in the weeks leading up to your trip.

Go on an active vacation with Epic Expeditions

Wrapping up, while traditional vacations offer relaxation in the form of sedation, an active holiday provides a more transformative experience for your body and mind.

Engaging in physical activities such as hiking, trekking, and yoga in breathtaking locales not only boosts your physical health but also enhances your mental well-being. Additionally, venturing into pristine natural environments spares you the hazards of urban pollution, offering a purer, revitalizing experience.

Moreover, active holidays present unique, authentic experiences far from the commercialized tourist traps, allowing you to connect more deeply with local cultures, fellow adventurers, and even yourself. Completing physically demanding activities alongside others will foster strong social bonds, creating lifelong friendships, and memorable shared experiences.

Don’t just settle for ordinary—embrace the extraordinary. Organize an active holiday with Epic Expeditions and embark on a journey that actually challenges and rewards you. Start planning your next adventure today and discover the real joys of an active vacation. 


More from the blog

Welcome to our Journal!

snow lake trek pakistan

Here at Epic Expeditions, adventure is constantly on our minds. 

Our blog – or Journal as we like to call it – contains epic trip stories, photo diaries, and news about new tours. 

Thanks for checking it out! 

What's new in the journal?

The trip we're most stoked about

Island Peak Climbing Expedition

Next trip: October 14th - 31st, 2024

Adventure Guide

Hailing from the Toronto region of Eastern Canada, with a background as a former standout athlete (hockey of course) and a  love of mountain adventure, Clark is a welcomed addition to the Epic team.

In addition to being a keen photographer and adventurer, Clark brings his brilliant sense of humor, leadership skills, and positive attitude to everything he puts his mind to. 

When he is not leading trips, he is working on taking over the hard apple cider game in Canada as a skilled craft brewer. 

Adventure Guide

Noemi grew up in the mountains of German-Speaking Switzerland where she naturally developed a deep love and respect for mountain environments.

She is a talented photographer, aspiring climber, and speaks at least 5 languages fluently including Arabic (and probably a few more that we don’t know about), which she taught herself in a matter of months by watching YouTube videos. 

Noemi has spent the last several years traveling, hiking, and photographing her way around many different countries in the Middle East, South and Central Asia, and Europe, and we could not be more stoked to welcome her to the Epic team! 

Adventure Guide

As our man on the ground in Mongolia, there is not much this legend can’t do. As a native the Bayan-Ölgii province of the Western Mongolia Altai, Syerik has been working as a guide and tourism entrepreneur…

for the past several years and is one of the rising stars in Mongolia adventure travel industry. 

He is currently building a beautiful Ger (Yurt) camp near his hometown where he will host Epic Mongolia team members on our trip as well as other travelers from around the world! 

He is the perfect guide for your trip to Mongolia. Serik did an amazing job giving us a well rounded experience in the Altai NP region and down in the Gobi…
The food was fantastic and Serik gave us many opportunities to learn about the Kazakh culture in that region including traditional meals. (I can’t recommend enjoying the milk tea enough!)

– Coastal

Head of canine operations

Choriza started off life as a care-free vagabond on the streets of Madeira Island without any place to call home. From the moment we met her, we knew this dog was just different, and it was pretty much love at first sight. 

She gave up the dog street life in favor of joining her new dad Chris to become a full-time member of the Epic family towards the end of 2022.

These days she can be found listening in on the fringes of important Epic business meetings while half-asleep on the couch. She is a keen hiker, lover of mud, rare steak, and might just be the sweetest little dog we have ever seen. 

Adventure Guide

An experienced trek leader and
IFMGA aspirant ski guide, avid alpine climber, devoted adventure photographer.

Organized and guided trekking expeditions, climbs and ski tours in Tajikistan’s Pamirs, Patagonia, Peru, Morocco, Nepal, Kyrgyzstan, Georgian and Russian Caucasus and Kamchatka.

A full member and meets the organiser of the British Alpine Club. Visited over 40 countries, lived in the UK for four years. Certified first-aider.

We joined Andrew on a fantastic trip to the Fann Mountains in Tajikistan, pure nature and magnificent scenery! Andrey was super prepared and led us safely up and down numerous passes and through some rough and icy cold rivers. Thank you for a very memorable trip, your planning and prep was excellent!

– Monika Steinlechner

epic expeditions team

Adventure Guide

Our man in Nepal, Sandip is what we like to call a “Swiss Army Knife”. There is not much Sandip can’t do when it comes to helping Epic to run our expeditions smoothly in Nepal.

His tireless work ethic, passion for all things trekking in the Himalayas, and smart decision-making mean that Sandip is a truly invaluable member of our team.

Sandip is passionate about showing visitors to his country an amazing time, and he goes above and beyond to make sure that happens. 

His company Himalayan Masters is Epic’s trusted partner in Nepal and one of the country’s top new tour agencies.

We really enjoyed the entire journey, and I would like to say that Sandip is truly professional. He guided us and he is a hardworking person, providing us with the best service and taking care of each one of us. Plus, he is super funny! The kind of professionnal you always want to find on your path for your explorations! 

– Alexandra Ruth

Fairy Meadows

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Our Favorite Experiences

#1 Sunrise from Reflection Lake

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#2 Hiking to Nanga Parbat Base Camp

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#3 Playing cricket with the locals

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Trips Where We Visit Fairy Meadows

Our flagship Pakistani adventure tour.  Road trip with some  hiking and cultural immersion.

A trekking-style tour that features some very remote locations, inlcuding a K2 viewpoint.

Adventure Guide

João has born in the mountains of Madeira Islands in Portugal. Nature lover, writer, musician, guide, for him, a day without contact with outdoor vibes is a nightmare. 

With a degree in Cultural Studies in Portugal and a Master of Arts in Global Cultures and Creativity in the U.K.

João found out what really matters in life can be found on the trails, and in the contact with people from different backgrounds and cultures.

Guiding, crazy trekking missions, and sharing observations about the natural world, – these are some of João’s passions. 

After trekking to K2 Base Camp and exploring all over Northern Pakistan, he fell in love with the country and the local people. His experiences resulted in his desire to share these feelings with the world.

João is one of the most experienced guides at Epic and his skillset and positive mindset in the mountains is second to none

When not in Pakistan, João is  guiding and exploring in the Madeira Islands trails –  discovering some of the hidden treasures on his Portuguese Island.

João I can not thank you enough for the off the beaten paths and views you keep giving. Definitely one of the most challenging and amazing hikes we did 1200m meters all the way up to Fanal forest and circling back to the hidden village. Wow!

– Jeffery 

travel hunza valley

Adventure Guide

Sohail is the newest addition to the Epic team and we are beyond stoked to have him on board. As a veteran of the Karakoram and a native of Karimabad in Hunza, there is not much Sohail can’t do in the mountains. 

Besides having the ability to speak more languages than we can count, Sohail has explored every corner of Gilgit Baltistan and logs more trekking miles 

in a year than most people will do in a lifetime. As of the summer of 2022, Sohail has summited Gasherbrum 1, Gasherbrum 2, and K2 – three of Pakistan’s five 8000-meter peaks. Sohail guides several trips including our annual bespoke expeditions but specializes in Hunza Valley tours.

Chris and Sohail, and the team at Epic are FANTASTIC! Highly recommend anyone to do a tour with ‘Epic’. They have the perfect balance of fun, excitement and wild adventures, tied in with being super professional and ensuring your safety/health in a foreign environment. Don’t waste a moment and book a tour with these guys as the value for money is UNREAL!

– Borgan

iran travel tour

Adventure Guide

Pedro’s been traveling all around the globe since 2009. His keen interests in documentary photography, rural life, and local people from different ethnic groups have been the focus of many of his professional projects.

Since 2012, he has developed his passion for travel and awesome shared experiences into a full-time adventure photography tour leader position.

Pedro has found himself continuously going back to the Middle East, with his likely favorite destination being Iran. Pedro lead his 11th tour in Iran with Epic in spring 2020

When Pedro’s not traveling the world with Epic Expeditions, you’ll find him based in the western south of Portugal planning he’s next adventure missions, logistics and working out his photos in local exhibitions.

 I loved the combination of hiking, camping around breathtaking scenery mixed with the cultural aspects. The guide (Pedro) is knowledgeable and work very hard to make the trip as memorable as possible. All in all an epic adventure with some extremely epic individuals! Go for it, you won’t regret it!

– Coastal

Diane Bouvet

Adventure Admin / Marketing

After fleeing from the corporate fashion world in Paris towards the start of 2020, Diane has been working as a web developer and graphic designer remotely from various bases across the globe

She brings all of her incredible design and organizational power to Epic Expeditions and is responsible for many of the beautiful behind-the-scenes design elements. 

Diane has been to Iran and to Pakistan twice including all over Gilgit Baltistan and KPK.

k2 gondogoro la trek

Head of Operations | Guide

A veteran of Pakistan travel, Ralph is an experienced guide, photographer and writer who specializes in documenting remote locations. 

Not one to simply go where everyone else does, he insists on exploring new and lesser-known areas.

Together with Epic Expeditions, he shows people parts of Pakistan that most other operators don’t even know about. He is particularly fond of the village of Barah, which he believes will become just as famous as Hunza one day.

Just got back from EBT’s Trekking Amongst Giants 15 day tour. The experience was first class. Ralph, our head guide, ensured that the entire trip ran smoothly and relatively on time (a bonus for anyone travelling in Pakistan). We had so many unforgettable days on the tour and the trekking was well-planned, safe but also a rewarding challenge. 

– Calvin

Traveling to a non-tourist destination can be a little intimidating but EBT takes all of the worry and trepidation away. From the pre-trip call to meeting the wonderful staff in person you can tell that you are dealing with a company that has a passion for what they do each and every day. Ralph, Zahid, and Khan were supportive, kind, and always willing to go the extra mile to make sure that everyone on the trip was getting what they wanted out of the experience.

– Katrina 

adventure tours pakistan

Founder | Adventure Guide | Director

Since he started exploring the world, Chris has been seeking out every shade of adventure in various parts of the globe and had visited more than 70 countries along the way. 

Over the last 10 years, Chris has logged more than 7000 trail miles across five continents and climbed multiple 6000 + 7000 meter peaks in Pakistan and Nepal.

A few years back, a distant dream and a deep passion for the mountains and the people of Pakistan led Chris to co-found Epic Expeditions at a time when foreign adventure tourism in Pakistan was almost nonexistent. Since then, Chris has guided more than 20 expeditions to various parts of Northern Pakistan.

Chris believes in using photography and powerful adventure experiences to dismantle negative stereotypes regarding what mainstream media considers “dangerous” countries while facilitating unique and meaningful memories in the mountains for countless people from around the globe. 

For him, an ideal start to the day begins with a steaming cup of good coffee, the beam of a headlamp, alpine boots, and a camera in hand.

He lives in Madeira Island when not leading expeditions in far-flung lands. 

Chris also works as a writer and photographer on his blog Off the Atlas – an adventure travel blog all about Pakistan.  

Read this interview our staff did with Chris to learn more about him!

Chris believes in Pakistan and its people, and he believes in the value of journeys shared with others and family cultivated on the road. Honesty and integrity are at the heart of what he does, and this really shines through in his work as a guide. He also makes great coffee – whether at 5am in an empty guesthouse or half way up a Himalayan peak.”

– Will De Villers

Pakistan is a magical country! Had 3 of the best weeks of my life thanks to Epic Backpacking Tours with owner, and one of our awesome guides, Chris. From detailed itinerary, preparation with an equipment list, and visa assistance. To amazing food, great porters, helpful guides, and great accommodations. Epic really hit home run after home run. […]

Their desire for adventure and amazing trip is just as high as yours. Bring a good pound of coffee for the trip. French press coffee every morning and no average tin coffee, plus you’ll be in your guides good books.

– Clark Tyler

epic backpacker tours

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