Ultimate adventure travel bucket list

Live with the locals in Chyulu Hills in Kenya at a community-owned lodge, Campi Ya Kanzi.

Getting to the chinstrap penguin colony along the Antarctic Peninsula isn't for the fainthearted. To reach the finger of land that juts out from the frozen continent’s western coast, you have to first face the stormy Drake Passage.

But the risks are worth it. Gliding through the waters of Orne Harbor, you may encounter humpback and minke whales, leopard and fur seals, and cormorants and other seabirds. Greeting you onshore is the sight of hundreds of squawking penguins tending their young. Still unimpressed? Then hike up the 935-foot Spigot Peak for awe-inspiring panoramic views of the world’s last great wilderness.

Slideshow: Check out which places are on the ultimate adventure travel bucket list

Challenging experiences like Quark Expeditions’ guided trip from Argentina to Antarctica remind us that the toughest journeys are often the most memorable. And in an age where time is treated as a commodity, arriving at a destination through toil and sweat is becoming a lost art.

Adventure plays a key role in T+L’s bucket list of 101 experiences every traveler should know—gleaned from our network of correspondents and tastemakers. But not every escapade requires traveling to the ends of the earth or pushing your body’s limits. David Chang, the chef behind the Momofuku restaurant empire, favors fly-fishing in Jackson Hole, Wyo.

Other all-American adventures include driving down the dramatic Pacific Coast Highway, with a stop at the Redwood Grill for a pulled-pork sandwich, and paying a visit to the millennia-old sequoias in Yosemite’s Mariposa Grove (documentary filmmaker Ken Burns’s pick).

For thrill-seekers, there are the serious adrenaline rushes: whitewater rafting through the Class Four rapids of the Salmon River’s Middle Fork in central Idaho or heli-skiing in British Columbia’s Bugaboo Mountains. And you don’t always need to leave the big city behind. You can channel your inner race-car driver at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway, zooming from zero to 60 mph in 3-1/2 seconds in a Ferrari F430 GT.

If you’re seeking a gentler pace, consider a stay at Campi Ya Kanzi, a community-owned lodge in eastern Kenya where Masai trackers lead guests through the savanna and cloud forest.

Read on for more life-changing adventures and our tips on how to tackle them.