Discover Exhilarating Experiences and Far-Flung Destinations After 50

50 Plus Hub Research Team

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Reaching the age of 50 opens up new possibilities for adventure and exploration. With more free time and resources, people over 50 have the chance to travel to exotic locales, learn new skills, and challenge themselves in exciting ways. This time of life is perfect for checking destinations off your bucket list and creating unforgettable memories.

Adventure Travel

Adventure travel offers the thrill of exploring new places while pushing your physical and mental limits. Popular adventurous activities for the 50+ crowd include:

Safari

Going on safari in Africa allows you to get up close to incredible wildlife like lions, elephants, and rhinos in their natural habitats. Top safari destinations include:

  • Serengeti National Park, Tanzania – Home to the Great Migration with over a million wildebeest and other wildlife. Luxury safari lodges available.
  • Kruger National Park, South Africa – Over 500 bird species and the Big 5. Affordable safaris and lodging options.
  • Masai Mara Reserve, Kenya – See wildebeest, zebra, and predators crossing the Mara River. Luxury tent camps situated near the reserve.

Always go with an experienced guide for safety. Prime safari seasons are the dry months of June-October when foliage is sparse and animals congregate near water sources. Pack neutral colored clothing, hats, sunglasses, binoculars, camera gear and mosquito repellent. Game drives start early in the cool morning hours when animals are most active. Then relax during midday and go on evening drives to see nocturnal creatures.

Whitewater Rafting

Navigating rough river rapids in an inflatable raft provides an adrenaline rush. Top whitewater rafting spots in the US include:

  • Grand Canyon, Arizona – Raft through powerful rapid classes of up to 10 on the Colorado River. 1-2 week trips available.
  • Salmon River, Idaho – Known as the “River of No Return”, this pristine wilderness area has 100 rapids up to class IV. 4-6 day trips.
  • New River, West Virginia – Over 50 rapids in the ancient Appalachian Mountains. Day trips or multi-day excursions.

Whitewater rafting is thrilling but requires being in good physical shape. Always wear a life jacket, helmet, waterproof clothing and shoes that strap on. Listen to safety instructions from guides. The best times are spring through early fall when water levels are higher from snowmelt and rainfall. Ride in a paddle raft for the most hands-on experience.

Hot Air Ballooning

See landscapes from new heights by floating in a hot air balloon. Prime hot air ballooning locations:

  • Cappadocia, Turkey – Drift over unique geological formations and stone “fairy chimneys” at sunrise.
  • Napa Valley, California – Admire vineyards and the valley floor from above. Popular to do at sunrise then enjoy a wine tasting after.
  • Serengeti National Park, Tanzania – Combine a balloon safari with a wildlife viewing safari on the ground.

Hot air balloon rides are serene, last about an hour, and often include champagne toasts. Look for perfect weather conditions with light winds. Dress in layers and expect an early start to catch dawn light. Watch the set up and inflating process before climbing into the basket for an unforgettable sky-high perspective.

Bucket List Travel

Fulfill your lifelong travel goals by experiencing these bucket list-worthy places and iconic sights after 50:

Great Wall of China

Walking along this ancient stone fortress offers sweeping views and a history lesson. The best sections to visit include:

  • Badaling – Closest to Beijing and most restored portion with cable cars available. Very crowded.
  • Mutianyu – Features original construction and watchtowers. Has a cool toboggan ride down!
  • Jinshanling – A 10 km remote stretch with majestic mountain scenery.

Visit in spring or fall to avoid extreme heat and crowds. Be prepared to climb lots of stairs. Wear sturdy shoes and bring water. Hiking the wall takes 4-5 hours so arrive early, especially if doing a long section. Stay in nearby villages to enjoy rural life and try delicious local cuisine after your trek.

Pyramids of Giza, Egypt

Marvel at the last remaining Wonder of the Ancient World – the pyramids built as tombs for pharaohs:

  • Great Pyramid of Khufu – The oldest and largest of the three pyramids. You can even go inside the main chamber!
  • Pyramid of Khafre – Appears tallest due to higher elevation. Still has limestone casing at the top.
  • Pyramid of Menkaure – The smallest but with unique three queen’s pyramids nearby.

Early morning visits are best before the heat and crowds pick up. Camel and horse rides available for panoramic views. Explore the interior tunnels and chambers with a guide – be prepared to crouch and climb through tight spaces. Don’t miss the Great Sphinx and Solar Boat Museum nearby. Stay in Cairo to visit the Egyptian Museum and take a relaxing Nile River cruise.

Machu Picchu, Peru

Explore the incredible Incan city in the clouds perched between two Andean peaks. Tips for visiting:

  • Take the train from Cusco to Aguas Calientes and then shuttle bus up.
  • Stay overnight nearby to see sunrise and beat crowds.
  • Hike the Inca Trail for a multi-day journey to end at Machu Picchu. Requires permits so book far in advance.
  • Try the less crowded alternative of Salkantay Trek to Machu Picchu. No permit needed.

With a knowledgeable guide, you’ll appreciate the astronomical and engineering marvels even more. Allow several hours to wander in awe through the ruins. Stay in Cusco a few days prior to adjust to the high altitude.

Northern Lights

Witnessing the magical aurora borealis glowing across the night sky is truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Top spots include:

  • Lapland, Finland – Ride a sled pulled by huskies or reindeer with views of the Northern Lights. Stay in an igloo hotel for full experience!
  • Reykjavik, Iceland – Take a Northern Lights cruise or watch from thermal hot spring pools. Prime viewing from September through April.
  • Yellowknife, Canada – Located directly under the Auroral Oval for frequent displays. Snowmobiling tours available.

Bundle up in winter clothing, find an area with no light pollution, and wait patiently for this elusive natural phenomenon. Local guides know the best viewing locations and timing. See the lights shimmer and dance as solar winds interact with the atmosphere. The colors can range from green to purple depending on the intensity.

Learn New Skills

Use your free time after 50 to pick up exciting new hobbies and skills. Consider:

Surfing

Ride the waves and enjoy the laidback surf culture in spots like:

  • Waikiki, Hawaii – Gentle waves and warm water make it beginner friendly. Take group or private lessons.
  • Nosara, Costa Rica – Remote surf town with consistent breaks and all-inclusive surf camps.
  • Canggu, Bali – Yoga and surfing hub with surf shops offering courses for all levels.

Surfing is a great low-impact workout. Start with foam board rentals and always surf near a lifeguard. Take lessons to learn how to paddle out, pop up, and ride the waves. It takes perseverance and getting comfortable with wiping out! Once you get the hang of it, you’ll be hooked.

Sailing

Hoist the sails and cruise pristine waters aboard your own boat. Popular places to learn include:

  • British Virgin Islands – Ideal for beginners with steady easterly trade winds and calm seas. Charter crewed or bareboat yachts.
  • San Juan Islands, Washington – Take classes from experts and practice navigating the islands. Whale watching opportunities!
  • Greece – With over 2000 islands, plenty of places to drop anchor and enjoy idyllic island life. Get certified for sailing and chartering.

Start by taking American Sailing Association 101 basic sailing courses. Learn knots, rigging, safety, and sailing mechanics. Consider getting licensed as a captain. Charter a boat with friends or take a flotilla sailing trip with other boats.

Shooting Sports

Improve focus and precision with target practice at a shooting range. Fun options include:

  • Clay shooting – Shatter clay pigeons flung into the air with a shotgun. Very satisfying!
  • Archery – Test accuracy and arm strength with a recurve or compound bow.
  • Pistol target shooting – Safely practice shooting handguns at paper or steel targets.

Lessons provide hands-on training on proper shooting techniques, range safety and gun cleaning. Always wear protective eye and ear gear. Trying different guns and targets keeps skill building fun.

Cooking

Take your culinary skills to the next level by taking cooking classes focused on:

  • French dishes like crepes, souffles, and macarons. Bon appetit!
  • Italian classics like handmade pasta, risotto, and tiramisu. Delizioso!
  • Mexican favorites like tamales, tacos, and moles. ¡Qué rico!
  • Baking and decorating elaborate cakes.
  • Wine and food pairings.
  • Ethnic cuisines you’ve always wanted to try.

Unleash your inner chef at recreational cooking schools like Sur La Table. Consider going on a culinary tour abroad. Use exotic ingredients and recreate dishes from your travels. Host dinner parties to show off new recipes.

Volunteering

Use your time and experience to give back after 50 through rewarding volunteer experiences:

Volunteer Abroad

Immerse yourself in a new culture while making an impact through programs like:

  • Working at an elephant sanctuary in Thailand.
  • Helping with sea turtle conservation in Costa Rica.
  • Building schools and wells in African communities in need.
  • Teaching English as a second language in Latin America.

Trusted volunteer abroad organizations like International Volunteer HQ handle logistics like housing. Programs range from 1-12 weeks. Perfect for retirees who want meaningful adventures. Gain new perspectives by living and serving in communities abroad.

Tour Guide

Share your passion for a place by giving tours, such as:

  • Becoming a docent at a history or art museum.
  • Leading walking tours showcasing insider tips about a favorite city.
  • Guiding wildlife safaris if you’re very knowledgeable about animals.
  • Providing tours at scenic state/national parks if you know the trails well.

Contact museums, tourism bureaus, and tour companies about becoming a volunteer guide. Study up to provide engaging stories and respond to questions. Lead small groups on fun explorations.

Community Outreach

Assist those in need in your hometown through outreach like:

  • Delivering meals, groceries, and care packages to the elderly and people with disabilities.
  • Mentoring and tutoring at-risk youth after school.
  • Coaching kids’ community sports teams.
  • Helping build homes with Habitat for Humanity.

Check local community centers, churches, and charities for volunteering opportunities. Use your free time to help neighbors who could really use a hand. Find ways to give back that align with your interests and skills.

Destinations After 50: Pros and Cons

Destination Pros Cons
Serengeti National Park, Tanzania See the Great Migration up close, high wildlife concentrations, chance to see the Big 5 Far distance to travel, high cost, risk of malaria
Kruger National Park, South Africa Excellent infrastructure, high chance of spotting the Big 5, affordable safari options Very popular so can get crowded, South Africa visa requirements
Grand Canyon, Arizona Iconic landscape, white water rafting through rapids, once-in-a-lifetime experience Very physically demanding, permits required far in advance for rafting trips
New River, West Virginia Close major cities, day trip or multi-day options, scenic Appalachian setting Only class I-III rapids suitable for beginners
Cappadocia, Turkey Unique lunar landscape, magical hot air balloon rides at dawn Need to arrive very early, lots of walking and uneven terrain
Napa Valley, California World-class wine region, combines with culinary experiences Crowded, expensive, timing very weather dependent
Great Wall of China Walk on an iconic UNESCO site, scenic surrounding mountain landscapes Very challenging hiking, extremely crowded at some sections
Pyramids of Giza, Egypt Chance to go inside the pyramids, includes highlights of Cairo Intense heat, pushy vendors and crowds
Machu Picchu, Peru Incredible Incan ruins, option to hike the Inca Trail High altitude – requires acclimatization, permits for hiking sell out fast
Lapland, Finland Best chance of seeing the lights, fun winter activities like reindeer sleigh rides Very remote, extremely cold temperatures
Waikiki, Hawaii Warm water, beginner-friendly gentle waves, vibrant beach culture Crowded beach, expensive accommodation costs
British Virgin Islands Steady winds perfect for beginners, gorgeous Caribbean scenery Need to book a liveaboard charter, risk of storms
Clay shooting Immediate satisfaction from breaking clays, fun social sport Need access to shooting range, gun rental costs
Archery Low impact sport, build upper body strength, easy to get started Need patience as accuracy develops slowly
Thailand Immerse yourself in Thai culture, work hands-on with elephants Volunteer programs can be expensive, language barriers
Docent at museum Share your interests and knowledge, set your own schedule Need strong public speaking skills, extensive training
Meals on Wheels Help homebound elderly and disabled, very flexible time commitment Need own transportation, heartbreaking situations

Final Thoughts

The period after 50 presents the perfect chance to pursue exciting new adventures, see bucket list destinations, and give back. Take advantage of your freedom and resources to create unforgettable experiences. Just remember to travel safely by securing travel insurance, researching destinations thoroughly, and consulting your doctor if engaging in strenuous activities. Follow your dreams and enjoy this thrilling stage of life to the fullest!

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