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Adventure awaits

    After a long chilly winter being cooped up indoors, now is the perfect time to dust of those back-packs and have a much needed adventure. Whether you’re into hiking through exotic rainforests, climbing postcard worthy mountain peaks to river rafting down a desolate valley, we’ve rounded up our 5 best adventure holiday destinations for you to experience.

    A holiday to Vietnam promises an exciting experience. Discover bustling cities such as Saigon, also known as Ho Chi Minh City and the capital Hanoi. Inhale deeply as you reach the beautiful moun-tainous area around Sapa where thrilling mountain climbing opportunities and stunning hikes await.

    Vietnam’s varying terrain has resulted in a land of spectacular diversity from north to south. Over 2000 limestone karsts rising dramatically out of the seas in Halong Bay create an enchanted, time-less and almost mystical world just waiting to be explored.

    All you need to do now is choose your dates, book your tickets and pack that backpack. See you on the peaks.

    It’s difficult to believe that the geological force that almost broke Africa in two instead created such serene landscapes. But this slice of Africa’s Great Rift Valley is, for the most part, cool and calm, swathed in forest and watered by moody mineral lakes that blanch and blush with the movement of pelicans and flamingos.

    Pretty Naivasha and Elmenteita with its forest halo are the most popular and greenest of the lakes. The altitude peaks and dips all the way from Nairobi to Nakuru, home to one of Kenya’s premier wildlife parks, and ensuring pleasant weather almost year-round. Lake Baringo, with its hippos, crocodiles and fish eagles, is a place apart, while Lake Magadi, parched and salty, and its surrounds give strong hints of the drama that created this extraordinary corner of the continent.

    There are not a lot of merchants who take cards this far out, so make sure that you use your LeuPay card to draw some local currency from the ATM before you head out on such an unforget-table excursion.

    Centred on a vast, sumptuous and inviting oval lagoon dotted with reefs, Ari Atoll sits to the west of the capital and is famed for its superb diving and stellar beaches. The nutrient-rich water that flows out to the open sea through large channels between the islands attracts many ocean-going creatures and divers from all over the world.

    South Ari Atoll, a Protected Marine Area, remains one of the best places in the world to see whale sharks, which are spotted year-round on the outer reef, while North Ari Atoll is famous for its hammerhead sharks, although these are far more elusive and require deep diving to see. The small natural atoll of Rasdhoo, to Ari Atoll’s northeast, and the single island of Thoddoo both host vibrant, growing guesthouse scenes that attract budget travellers looking for an affordable diving holiday.

    Most of the islands in the Maldives do take most major credit cards, so make sure that your LeuPay card is packed and ready to live the island lifestyle you’ve always dreamed about.

    Named after female warriors of Greek mythology, the Amazon is itself a place of nearly mythical status. What traveller hasn’t imagined a trip to the Amazon, not only to admire the towering trees and awesome river, but to enter, in a real sense, the very life spring of the planet, the source of so much of the air we breathe, the water we drink and the weather we rely on?

    To be sure, expecting a Discovery Channel–like experience (jaguars in every tree, spear-toting locals around every bend) is a recipe for disappointment. In fact, the Amazon’s quintessen-tial experiences are more sublime than superlative: canoeing through a flooded forest, dozing in a hammock on a boat chugging upriver, waking to the otherworldly cry of howler monkeys. On a river whose size is legendary, it’s actually the little things that make it special. Give it some time, forget your expectations, and the Amazon cannot fail to impress.

    As the main approach route to Mt Everest, the Solukhumbu region has an almost mystical status in the world of trekking. The two-week climb to Everest Base Camp is perhaps the world’s most fa-mous trek, and tens of thousands of trekkers tackle the route every year for grandstand views of the world’s highest mountain and its even more dramatic neighbours, Lhotse and Nuptse.

    Trekking in the Everest region is a challenge because of the altitude, but the infrastructure for trekking is highly developed and you rarely have to walk more than an hour to reach the next trek-king lodge. On the plus side, this means high-altitude Mars bars and an unrivalled trekking camara-derie. On the flip side, viewpoints are crowded and lodges can fill up by mid-afternoon. If splendid isolation is more your thing, focus on the side valleys or stay in smaller lodges between the main stops.

    Just make sure that you use your LeuPay card liberally at a local mountaineering supply store be-fore you go. You want to make sure that you’ll be warm enough way up there.