Horse safari, a marathon top National Geographic travel adventures list

By Dana Forsythe
National Geographic released their list of coolest travel experiences for 2024, including diving with sharks in Western Australia. File Photo by Bill Greenblatt/UPI
National Geographic released their list of coolest travel experiences for 2024, including diving with sharks in Western Australia. File Photo by Bill Greenblatt/UPI | License Photo

Jan. 30 (UPI) -- According to National Geographic, travelers are focusing on experiences over destinations this year. On Tuesday, it released its annual list of 20 of the coolest travel destinations around the world to explore in 2024.

The list includes a horseback safari in Kenya, an Olympic marathon in Paris, river trips on the Magdalena river in Colombia, bear watching in Alaska, diving with sharks in Australia and exploring glaciers in Chile.


In previous years, National Geographic grouped it's Best of the World list into categories like culture, nature, community and family.

In 2024, the publication highlighted once-in-a-lifetime experiences across the world.

Senior editor at National Geographic Amy Alipio told USA Today the staff utilizes a network of experts to assemble the list and, this year, they ranked the list.

"For example, like the horseback safari (in Kenya), -- just because people are really into slow travel," Alipio said. "But also our number two experience is really timely. It's about the Paris Olympics, which are this summer."


North American destinations

National Geographic highlighted several unique experiences in North America, including roadtripping across the country on Route 66 and braving the rapids in West Virginia.

Ranking high up on the list, Alaska's Katmai National Park was featured due to its population of brown bears. Groups like AK Adventures offer guided trips along the Katmai coast where bears feast on a diversity of foods including grasses, razor clams and salmon.

Editors also highlighted New York's Hudson Valley, which has seen a renewed interest over the past few years.

Animal experiences

Editors selected several animal-centric experiences for this year's list, giving the top spot to horseback safaris in Kenya. Started in the 1970s, the country is home to the 32,000-acre Borana Conservancy, which houses two stables of thoroughbreds and ex-polo ponies for riders of all skill levels.

Diving with sharks in the Indian Ocean north of Perth, Western Australia, was also on the list. The Coral Coast is home to the Ningaloo Reef, where adventurous travelers can dive with hundreds of whale sharks. Depending on the season, divers can also witness humpback whales and manta rays.


Colombia made the list for a second year in the row. It was singled out for the country's Magdalena river. Cruises along the thousand-mile from the Andes to the Caribbean. AmaWaterways' cruises on the river make seven-night trips from Cartagena via Mompós to Barranquilla, stopping at at colonial towns along the way.


Volcanoes grabbed headlines across the world in 2023. Travelers who are looking to explore lava flows up close, can head to Panama to explore the country's "1,000 Kilometers of Trails" project. One of those trails, the Ruta de la Caldera, snakes around the extinct Valle de Antón volcano in Panama.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, the list also highlighted glacier hiking in Chile's Laguna San Rafael National Park, where visitors can trek atop the Exploradores Glacier. There are more than 17,000 glaciers still covering Patagonia's ice fields, but rising temperatures are rapidly melting them.


Explorers seeking culture haven't been left out either. The list mentioned several locations to take in unique art and music. Known for an incredible music scene, Kyoto, Japan, is home to a live music scene that offers everything from jazz, punk, rock, swing and pop.

In Algeria, explorers can study 15,000 petroglyphs, including images of elephants, giraffes, and rhinos at Tassili n'Ajjer National Park.

Nat Geo also celebrated the art scene in São Paulo, Brazil, highlighting the Museu de Arte de São Paulo (MASP), which is expanding to showcase more of its 11,000-plus artworks.

The full list can seen below and found at National Geographic.


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