Travel can be an antidote to many of life’s ills. There’s something about hitting the road that elevates mind, body and spirit. A change of scenery and exposure to new places, people and cultures even boosts creativity! In fact, numerous scientific studies illustrate the value of travel.

One study found that women who vacationed every six years or less had a significantly higher risk of heart attack or coronary death compared to women who vacationed at least twice a year. Another study found that men who didn’t take an annual vacation had a 20% higher risk of death overall and 30% greater risk of death from heart disease specifically. Research also shows that experiential purchases leave you with a longer-lasting sense of happiness than material purchases.

Of course, there are trips, and then there are trips. Here are 10 wild and scenic locations that top our adventure travel bucket list. Which places top your list?

1. Grand Canyon (United States, North America)

Spectacular is the word for Red Rock Country. The walls of the Grand Canyon glow gold, rose, rust and violet. You’ve seen the pictures, but standing on the edge of the Grand Canyon defies description. With its sedimentary layers stacked more than a mile thick, formed by the erosive power of water and wind for eons, it’s awe inspiring. After all, there’s a reason it’s considered one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World!

Hiker woman hiking in Grand Canyon walking with hiking poles. Healthy active lifestyle image of hiking young multiracial female hiker in Grand Canyon, South Rim, Arizona, USA.

Grand Canyon, South Rim.

Not sure where to start? Explore the more remote North Rim to avoid the crowds, staying at the Grand Canyon Lodge for a night or two. This classic national park hotel boasts a rustic beauty that complements its high-desert surroundings. You can even opt to ride a mule into the canyon! Or check out the historic South Rim. Wake early for the stunning sunrise, and take plenty photos during the afternoon golden hour. Although the South Rim is more popular, it’s still possible to seek out less-crowded overlooks and little-known trails for a more solitary experience in this epic landscape.

Experience this national treasure on our Grand Canyon, Bryce & Zion adventure.

2. Churchill, Manitoba (Canada, North America)

No matter the season, you’re in for a good time in Churchill, Manitoba! In autumn, there are the polar bears. Churchill is home to the largest population of wild polar bears on the planet each fall. The animals gather here as they wait for Hudson Bay to freeze so they can hunt seals on the ice. Search for them in giant Polar Rovers and by helicopter during a scenic flight over the tundra and taiga forest.

Nat Hab & WWF traveler delights in a polar bear spotting from the comfort of our Polar Rover!

A Nat Hab & WWF traveler delights in a polar bear sighting from the comfort of our Polar Rover! © Court Whelan

Come summer, the tundra turns green. You’ll see wildflowers and animals come out en mass. But the big show is the beluga whales; more than 3,000 of them congregate at the mouth of the Churchill River each season. Get an up-close view via motorized rafts and kayaks. You can even listen to their songs through a hydrophone. Keep the once-in-a-lifetime experiences going with a tundra safari, searching for caribou, red fox and polar bears. (Yes, there are polar bears here in the summer, too!)

Braving the cold of winter in Churchill is also well worth it. It’s the time of year when the northern lights—another of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World—work their magic with an ethereal color display. Churchill is renowned for its intense auroral activity. On a Nat Hab northern lights trip, you’ll be able to get Instagram-worthy pics, be it from a cabin in the boreal forest, our custom-built Aurora Pod® with 360-degree views of the night sky through its glass top and sides, heated Aurora Domes, or an authentic tepee warmed by a campfire.

And any time of year, you can visit a local Indigenous dog musher for a dog sled or cart ride!

> Read: Eight Enlightening Indigenous Activities in Churchill and Winnipeg

Unfortunately, Churchill’s polar bears are under threat from climate change. Biologists with the University of Toronto and Polar Bears International, a non-profit conservation organization, recently reported that polar bears living in the Western Hudson Bay region could experience reproductive failure by 2060 as the sea ice disappears. By 2100—without dramatic intervention—the population could collapse entirely. Find out more about polar bear conservation and learn how you can help!

Learn more about Nat Hab’s polar bear safaris, beluga whale tours and northern lights adventures.

3. Machu Picchu (Peru, South America)

Peru’s Machu Picchu is otherworldly. The stone city was built by the Incas in the 15th century in the Sacred Valley of the Urubamba River. But the magic starts long before you get there! It’s a 1.5-hour train ride from Ollantaytambo to the village of Aguas Calientes. This journey itself is a thrill, as you climb up steep mountains and narrow gorges.

Couple looking at the Lost city of the Incas, Machu Picchu,

Looking down on Machu Picchu, the Lost City of the Incas.

Once there, take a bus to Machu Picchu, often referred to as the “Lost City of the Incas.” It’s also one of the Seven Wonders of the World. You’ll be awed by the vast labyrinth of ruins, complex passageways, steep staircases and hidden nooks and crannies. You keep wondering how all this was built without advanced technology and marveling at the fact that it still stands!

For the daring, there’s hiking for a few hours to the top of Wayna Picchu (1,200 feet from the base at Machu Picchu). Or, you can make your way to the top of Machu Picchu Mountain. If both are too ambitious, there are trails surrounding the Machu Picchu Pueblo Hotel, an Andean-style luxury lodge on the Urubamba River, where you’ll make your temporary home.

Discover the Lost City of the Incas on our Machu Picchu & the Sacred Valley adventure.

4. Serengeti (Tanzania, Africa)

One of the most beautifully choreographed dances on the planet is orchestrated by nature itself. During Africa’s Great Migration, more than two million wildebeests, zebras and gazelles cross the Serengeti in Tanzania to Kenya’s Maasai Mara, with lions, cheetahs and other predators hot on their trail. Now, imagine having a prime seat for this amazing show as you take it all in from a private mobile safari camp in the center of the action.

Tanzania nature conservation safari with Nat Hab and WWF sustainable safari trucks

Nat Hab travelers and Expedition Leaders on safari. © Joe Charleson

For more drama, there’s a descent into the famed Ngorongoro Crater, part of the Serengeti Ecosystem and the largest unbroken caldera on Earth. Some 30,000 animals live here, making it a safari-goers dream. Anticipate seeing elephant, buffalo, hippo, giraffe, zebra, blue wildebeest, eland, gazelles and, if you’re lucky, a black rhinoceros. UNESCO added the Ngorongoro Conservation Area to its World Heritage Site list in 1979. Today, the crater is often referred to as the “Eighth Wonder of the Natural World.”

It’s not just cold areas of the globe that are threatened by climate change. According to reports, in recent years, fewer and fewer animals have come looking for fresh pasture in the Maasai Mara. A decrease in rainfall has resulted in less green grass for grazing, and many herds have stayed in Tanzania, which could have a devastating impact on the Maasai Mara’s ecosystem, as wildebeest are a vital part of the food chain. Luckily, you can be sure you’re part of the solution—not part of the problem—when you book a carbon-neutral, conservation-minded Serengeti safari with Nat Hab!

Encounter wildest Africa and the Serengeti on our Tanzania’s Great Migration & Ngorongoro Crater safari.

5. Dalmatian Coast (Croatia, Europe)

You may not be familiar with Croatia’s Dalmatian Coast, but once you go there, you’ll never forget it. The Dinaric and Julian Alps rise above rugged seacoast and glacier-carved lakes. There are caves, gorges, waterfalls and crystalline rivers. On private boat cruises, view a large colony of rare griffon vultures on the island of Cres, rocky headlands, turquoise bays, and red-roofed villages that cascade to the sea.

Family enjoys magical view of Lake Bled in Slovenia.

A family enjoys the magical view of Lake Bled in Slovenia.

Just across the northern border in Slovenia, wander mountain trails among flowers and alpine wildlife like chamois, ibex and red deer. In addition to nature’s bounty, there are cultural attractions like ancient monasteries and castles, as well as traditional farms continuing sustainable artisan production of wine, honey and cheese.

Our Nat Hab adventure to Croatia and Slovenia includes taking in the beauty of the Dinaric and Julian Alps by foot and cable car, two private boat cruises to less-traveled isles, a visit to a griffon vulture reserve, swimming in pristine beaches, and hiking and kayaking in Slovenia’s Lake Bohinj in Triglav National Park. Kornati National Park, with its 100 mostly uninhabited islands, islets and reefs, awaits via a private boat tour. You might even spot bottlenose dolphins and loggerhead sea turtles along the way!

Explore the Dalmatian Coast and Wild Nature of Croatia & Slovenia.

6. Antarctica

There are few adventures that compare to this one! Antarctica has long been the ultimate grail for adventure travelers, and today, it’s possible to explore the White Continent in comfort and safety. This frosty, primal wilderness is home to penguins, seals, whales and flotillas of icebergs large as ships, and it’s an experience not to be missed.

Nat Hab & wwf travelers experience magical whale watching moment aboard a sail boat in Antarctica

Nat Hab & WWF travelers experience a magical whale watching moment aboard a private sailboat. © Ben Wallis

Many cruises to Antarctica carry more than 100 passengers. But if you’re craving a little more solitude and serenity, our polar wildlife expedition to Antarctica is limited to just for seven travelers. We explore the Antarctic Peninsula via an expedition yacht; with a small vessel, you’ll gain access to spots larger ships can’t go. Sail, hike, kayak and hang out on shore with penguins. With Mother Nature’s blessing of good weather, you’ll have up to 10 days to explore remote coves, beaches and icebound headlands. Enjoy up to three nights camping ashore and travel alongside the ship’s naturalists and polar historians.

Cherish your time in Antarctica. According to a recent State of the Environment report, climate change poses the greatest threat to Antarctic and Southern Ocean ecosystems. Pollution, tourism, commercial fishing and an expanding human presence also affect the region. Nat Hab supports World Wildlife Fund’s efforts to protect Antarctica by increasing the network of Marine Protected Areas, developing initiatives to protect seabirds and improve fisheries management and establishing a climate change monitoring program.

Cruise along the Antarctic Peninsula on Nat Hab’s Sailing Antarctica: A Polar Wildlife Expedition.

7. Galapagos Islands (Ecuador, South America)

Maybe you’ve oohed and ahhed over videos of the gigantic tortoises of the Galapagos Islands — but have you considered going to see them in the wild? You’ll thank yourself the minute you set eyes on them. Six hundred miles off the coast of Ecuador, surrounded by open ocean, lay the Galapagos Islands, a volcanic archipelago that straddles the equator. The area, also known as the “Enchanted Isles,” is one of the most biodiverse places in the world.

Nat Hab & WWF naturalist guide expedition leader takes wildlife photography of seals in Galápagos Islands

© Richard de Gouveia

In addition to giant tortoises and sea turtles, there is an abundance of iguanas, blue-footed boobies, sea lions, porpoises, penguins and whales. You can meet them both kayaking and snorkeling! One highlight of our Nat Hab Galapagos adventures is an optional overnight stay at our private Tortoise Camp on Santa Cruz, where wild tortoises roam as they please. Choose to stay in a safari-style canvas tent or in elevated treehouses with en suite facilities.

There’s good news on the Galapagos conservation front. Ecuador recently created a new marine reserve around the Galapagos Islands, extending the reserve by 60,000 square kilometers (23,166 square miles). This is the beginning of the implementation of a plan agreed by Ecuador, Colombia, Costa Rica, Panama and the U.N. Climate Summit in Glasgow to create a common corridor through which species threatened by climate change and commercial fishing can migrate. Our conservation partner, World Wildlife Fund, is also making strides in the area!

Cruise the Galapagos with the world’s best naturalist guides by your side!

8. Great Barrier Reef (Australia)

Australia’s Great Barrier Reef—the world’s largest coral reef system and one of the Seven Wonders of the Natural World—offers some of the best snorkeling on the planet! Imagine plunging into the clear waters of the Coral Sea off the coast of Lady Elliot Island and enountering graceful sea turtles and manta rays, gentle reef sharks and schools of colorful tropical fish. If you’re there between June and September, you may glimpse migrating humpback whales. There’s simply no comparison to the undersea wonder that is the Great Barrier Reef.

Snorkelers swim with endangered sea turtles in Australia’s Great Barrier Reef

© Lady Elliot, Nat Hab’s Australian tour partner

On shore on Lady Elliot Island, visit a historic lighthouse, birdwatch and stargaze. On a glass-bottom boat with local naturalists, view the undersea realm and learn how corals are being impacted by climate change. While the Great Barrier Reef’s record coral cover is reason to be hopeful, global warming continues to be a threat.

Travel Down Under to explore the Great Barrier Reef on our Ultimate Australia Safari.

9. Himalayas (Bhutan, Nepal and India, Asia) 

If extremes are what you’re after, the Himalayas—another of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World—are the place the find them!

Nepal is home to both towering peaks—including the world’s highest mountains—and lowland jungle plains. Expect a safari drive here to include sightings of sloth bears, leopards and rhinos. The country’s Chitwan National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is the largest area of undisturbed wilderness along the base of the Himalaya, with Asian elephants, golden jackals, wild boar, monkeys and more. Meanwhile, Meghauli Serai, a safari base on the edge of the Rapti River, is known for crocs, one-horned rhinos and gharial.

In the Kathmandu Valley, visit the Tibetan Buddhist enclave of Boudhanath, home to the largest stupa in Nepal and a sacred pilgrimage site for Tibetan Buddhists, and Pashupatinath Temple, the oldest temple in the area and one of the most sacred Hindu sites in the country.

Smiling young woman takes a selfie on mountain peak Kala Patthar in Nepal

Kala Patthar, Nepal.

Find serenity in the monasteries of the tiny Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan, the “Land of the Thunder Dragon.” Thimphu, Bhutan’s capital city, is rich in culture, art and architecture. There’s even a 170-foot-tall Buddha statue that is one of the tallest in the world! The city also hosts the Motithang Takin Preserve, a sanctuary for takin—large, shaggy hoofed mammals closely related to the muskox, and the national animal of Bhutan. The preserve is also home to a few sambar and barking deer.

And, of course, no visit to Bhutan and the Himalayas is complete without a visit to Taktsang Monastery, also known as the “Tiger’s Nest.” This complex of 17th-century temples clings to the side of a cliff more than 2,000 feet above the valley floor. Gain an initial vista as you hike to a viewpoint opposite the monastery. You can stop here, but those who choose to tackle the entire challenging journey are rewarded with stunning views of the temples, the surrounding summits and the valley below.

Extreme adventurers can search for the elusive snow leopard (as well as ibex and wolves) in the heights of Ladakh, India, high in the Himalayas. Snow leopards are threatened by poaching and climate change, but responsible wildlife tourism is helping increase their numbers! Nat Hab donates to the Snow Leopard Conservancy India Trust for each traveler on our Land of the Snow Leopard trip. And our conservation partner, WWF, has worked in the region since the 1960s and has made progress for wild species and natural landscapes there.

Explore the heights of the Himalayas on our Nepal & Bhutan and India snow leopards adventures.

10. Iceland (Europe)

Ironically, one of the hottest destinations in adventure travel is Iceland! The small island country sits on the edge of the Arctic Circle and has an undeniable mystique, with its glaciers, geysers, hot springs, waterfalls, basalt pillars and black sand beaches, not to mention the fjords and lava fields. As for crowds, they primarily consist of whales, seals and puffins rather than people.

Tourist ride horse at Kirkjufell mountain landscape and waterfall in Iceland summer. Kirjufell is the beautiful landmark and the most photographed destination which attracts people to visit Iceland.

Travelers ride Icelandic horses through the Kirkjufell mountain landscape.

Nat Hab’s Iceland adventure makes a complete circle around the perimeter of this unique island—you won’t find a more thorough immersion in Icelandic nature! Get ready for Adventure with a capital A, from private boat excursions in search of whales and puffins, to a 4×4 expedition into a volcano crater, to visits to traditional fishing villages, glaciers and geothermal features.

Stroll through historic fishing villages, and visit mighty waterfalls like Skogafoss and Seljalandsfoss. Board a private Zodiac to see the Fjallsarlon Glacier Lagoon, chock full of giant floating icebergs, and hop in an SUV for off-roading in the central highlands. Take in a sulphuric blue-green crater lake and Drekagil (Dragon) Canyon, with its dark, twisted lava formations. Soak in thermal pools (said to have healing properties) and even go horseback riding on Icelandic horses.

Although Iceland is a must-see, it is in danger. About 11% of the island is covered by glaciers (mostly ice caps). If glocal warming continues, Iceland’s glaciers could decrease by 40% by 2100 and virtually disappear by 2200, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. One way conservationists and locals alike are helping protect this vulnerable island? By creating a more sustainable Iceland food system.

Circle the Land of Fire & Ice on our Iceland adventure.

We receive so much from traveling, but it’s important to give back, too. Aspire to be that mindful traveler who sojourns responsibly, being respectful of the culture and environment. This can manifest itself in many ways: Minimizing single-plastic use. Staying in locally owned accommodations instead of international chains. Spending money with mom-and-pop shops and purchasing your souvenirs from local artisans. Here are a few more tips for how to be a better environmentalist when traveling.