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The best places to travel in 2019 for unique adventures

When the urge to travel hits, pay attention. A little wanderlust could be a sign that that you’ve been getting a little too comfortable in your routine and it’s time to challenge (and maybe even humble) yourself with a new experience. Travel is a way to grow, to learn and to gain perspective – so where to next?

We’ve rounded up 9 destinations that are catching the eyes of travellers as top places to visit in 2019, or are bucket-list experiences just waiting to be ticked off this year.

1. Sri Lanka

In Lonely Planet’s “Best in Travel 2019,” Sri Lanka snagged the top country spot – so now’s the time to see what it’s all about. It’s not a huge country, so you can cover a lot of ground while you’re there. The Central Highlands’ tea plantations are a famous sea of green that are part of the Great Global Bucket List (make sure to have a sip while you’re there), but there’s more to Sri Lanka than tea. Stay in a rainforest eco-lodge, bike to the ruins at Anuradhapura, or catch waves on the beaches of Hikkaduwa.

MEC Adventures is heading to Sri Lanka in 2019 – check out the Sri Lanka multi-sport adventure trip.

2. Northern Lights in Canada

Part of what makes seeing the Northern Lights so special is that they’re not guaranteed; there’s even an aurora forecast to help with predictions. You’ll need to head to the high-latitude regions for a chance to see them. Two prime spots are Yellowknife (NWT) and Whitehorse (Yukon) from mid-August through to mid-April. Stay at a remote lodge far away from the city lights, and pair your visit with snowshoeing, a visit to the Takhini Hotsprings, and a campfire with s’mores.

3. Morocco

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golden moment ✨💛💫

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Morocco’s Atlantic Coast made Fodor’s 2019 Go List, and you might be surprised to find sweet right-hand surf breaks dotting the coastline near towns like Essaouria (west of Marrakech) and Taghazout. For most people, though, deserts are what they picture when they imagine Morocco; if you’ve ever wanted to ride a camel in the desert (at sunset, perhaps?), this is the place to make it happen. Eating slow-cooked tagine meals, hiking in the Atlas Mountains, and visiting action-packed markets like Djemaa El Fna in Marrakech are just a few of the must-do experiences. Make sure to include littler-known Meknès in your visit – it’s one of Lonely Planet’s top cities for 2019.

MEC Adventures is heading to Morocco in 2019 – check out the Morocco discovery trip.

4. Colombia

A lot has changed in Colombia over the last few years, and this country is now on travellers’ radars. Visitors have a huge range of landscapes to explore – everything from Caribbean coastal cities and tropical rainforests to grassy plains and snowy peaks. With so much variety, how do you decide where to go? A couple of ideas: Fodor named the old city of Cartagena (in the north) on their 2019 Go List, and San Gil is known as the adventure capital of Colombia, with whitewater rafting, bungee jumping, mountain biking and paragliding. From a practical standpoint, it’s also got some logistical benefits, which is why Travelzoo included Colombia on their list of “2019 best bets: where Canadians should travel next.”

MEC Adventures is heading to Colombia in 2019 – check out the Colombia discovery trip.

5. Grand Canyon National Park

Happy birthday, Grand Canyon National Park! This park turns 100 in 2019, which is an adorable blip in the existence of the 6-million-year-old Grand Canyon itself. When you go, take the time to hike into the actual canyon. Most people snap photos of the view from above, but to really experience the inner canyon, hike on of the park’s Corridor trails, like Bright Angel, South Kaibab or North Kaibab, and stay overnight at one of the campgrounds.

“I love the Grand Canyon,” said MEC Ambassador Bruce Kirkby, “It’s such an iconic spot in North America.”

Bruce has been to more than 80 countries, so he’s one to trust when it comes to calling something iconic.

6. Everest Base Camp

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Ever since I was a kid I have had a desire to see the world, but to be honest, I never wanted to do it on my own. I’ve always wanted to share it with others – whether than be a partner, friends, or something different - as a part of something bigger.⠀ ⠀⠀ To finally get the chance to do that with @chasingsunrise as we explored Everest last month was a dream. To share that experience with so many others, to come home connected with them in such a significant way, and to forever hold those experiences as more than my own was a powerful thing to experience. ⠀⠀ It’s early days for @chasingsunrise, but I’m grateful AF for the roller coaster of a journey that has led me here and to every one of you that has been a part of it.⠀ ⠀⠀ Snapped from just outside Gorak Shep just hours before reaching Base Camp with the crew. Check my story for all the Base Camp moments!⠀⠀⠀ #ChasingSunrise⠀ #ChasingEverest

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Everest Base Camp isn’t a casual hike. It takes time to acclimatize, you’re dealing with altitude, and there’s plenty of prep to tackle before you even arrive. But all that effort is what makes the achievement of reaching Base Camp worth it – this is a trek that’ll change you. The word “epic” gets tossed around a lot in travel writing, but the scenery here is one place where it’s actually justified. When you’re done your trek, take time to take in Kathmandu – it’s on Lonely Planet’s top cities list for 2019.

Want to make it happen? Check out the MEC Adventures Everest Base Camp trip.

7. Machu Picchu

Is Machu Picchu on your bucket list? It’s an renowned destination that’s part of the Condé Nast Traveller list of “30 adventures to have in a lifetime” and the Telegraph travel team’s “31 things to do in your lifetime.”

A highlight for many travellers is hiking to Machu Picchu via the famous Inca Trail. If this is your goal, now’s the time to start planning, since you’ll need a permit and will need to hike with a registered operator. What some people don’t realize is that there are other hikes near Machu Picchu, too. One of these is the Salkantay trek, which cuts through Andean mountains and cloud forests to finish near Aguas Calientes, just a short shuttle away from Machu Picchu.

MEC Adventures is heading to Peru in 2019 – check out the Inca Trail hiking trip and the lodge-to-lodge Salkantay trekking trip.

8. Mount Kilimanjaro

It’s the tallest peak in Africa, and you could be on top of it to watch the sunrise from the summit. It’s a physically and mentally challenging trek to the top, and it might make you wonder: is it worth the time and energy? If you ask anyone who’s done it, the answer is likely going to be a big yes. Conquering Kilimanjaro is on the Telegraph’s list of “greatest travel adventures in the world” and it’s a bucket-list experience for many people.

MEC Adventures is conquering Kilimanjaro – check out the Mount Kilimanjaro summit trip.

9. New Zealand

Fun fact: when we had a contest to announce the launch of MEC Adventures, we included a short survey asking where people wanted to travel… and New Zealand topped the list. Is it the mountains and black sand beaches? The glow-worm caves and glaciers? Some of the best stargazing on earth or the adventure-country reputation? Whatever the draw, people are clearly pumped about travelling to NZ. Airbnb has Kaikoura (on the South Island) on its list of “trending destinations for 2019,” and the South Island is also home to Kawarau Bridge, the birthplace of modern bungee jumping, which is on Condé Nast Traveler’s “adventures to have in a lifetime” list.

MEC Adventures is heading to New Zealand in 2019 – check out the New Zealand multi-sport adventure.

If you can, carve out some time to explore somewhere new this year. A mega adventure is bound to change the way you look at the world, but even a mini-adventure can shake up your routine and your outlook.

Top photo: Panoramic Milky Way at Lake Pukaki, NZ, part of the Aoraki Mackenzie Dark Sky Reserve.

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MEC Staffer

A Canada-wide crew over 2000 strong. Includes adventurers, thinkers, doers, writers, photographers and people who get out often.