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The Best Adventure Travel Books to Inspire Your Inner Explorer

Article by Petrina Darrah

Petrina Darrah

Posted: March 16, 2023

Looking for some inspiration for your next adventure? Look no further than these top adventure travel books! Whether you’re looking for classic tales of exploration, contemporary accounts of extreme sports, or fictional stories that transport you to new worlds, these books are sure to inspire and excite.

“The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” by Mark Twain

This classic novel tells the story of Huck Finn and Jim, a runaway slave, as they journey down the Mississippi River. Filled with adventure, danger, and humour, this book is a must-read for anyone who loves tales of exploration and self-discovery.

“Into Thin Air” by Jon Krakauer

In this gripping account, journalist Jon Krakauer tells the story of a disastrous expedition to climb Mount Everest. With vivid descriptions of the landscape and the physical and emotional challenges faced by the climbers, this book is a thrilling read that will leave you on the edge of your seat.

“Wild” by Cheryl Strayed

After the death of her mother and the breakdown of her marriage, Cheryl Strayed decided to hike the Pacific Crest Trail, a 2,650-mile route from Mexico to Canada. In this memoir, she shares her experiences on the trail, including the physical and emotional challenges she faced along the way.

“The Snow Leopard” by Peter Matthiessen

This travelogue tells the story of Peter Matthiessen’s journey through the Himalayas in search of the elusive snow leopard. Along the way, he encounters a range of fascinating people and landscapes, and reflects on the nature of life and death.

“The Beach” by Alex Garland

In this fictional tale, a young backpacker named Richard sets out to find a secret beach in Thailand, where he hopes to escape from the pressures of modern life. What he finds there, however, is not the paradise he expected, and he soon discovers that even the most idyllic places have their dark side.

“Journey to the Center of the Earth” by Jules Verne

This classic science fiction novel tells the story of a group of adventurers who journey to the centre of the Earth, encountering all manner of strange creatures and landscapes along the way. With its imaginative plot and vivid descriptions, this book is a true adventure classic.

“Born to Run” by Christopher McDougall

In this non-fiction book, author Christopher McDougall explores the world of ultra-running, a sport that involves running extreme distances in challenging terrain. Along the way, he meets a range of fascinating characters and learns about the physical and mental benefits of pushing oneself to the limit.

“The Lost City of Z” by David Grann

This non-fiction book tells the story of British explorer Percy Fawcett, who vanished in the Amazon rainforest in 1925 while searching for a mythical lost city. Drawing on Fawcett’s own writings and interviews with modern-day adventurers, author David Grann paints a vivid picture of the challenges and dangers of exploration in the world’s most remote places.

African young woman lying on sofa drinking coffee and reading an interesting book at home

“The Lord of the Rings” by J.R.R. Tolkien

This epic fantasy series follows the journey of Frodo Baggins as he sets out to destroy the powerful and dangerous Ring of Power. Along the way, he encounters a range of strange creatures and landscapes, and must face his own fears and weaknesses in order to save the world from destruction.

“Jurassic Park” by Michael Crichton

In this thrilling science fiction novel, a billionaire creates a theme park filled with genetically engineered dinosaurs. When things go wrong, a group of visitors must fight for their lives against the deadly creatures. With its fast-paced action and thrilling plot twists, this book is a true adventure classic.

The Motorcycle Diaries” by Ernesto Che Guevara

This non-fiction book recounts the journey of a young Ernesto Che Guevara and his friend Alberto Granado, as they travel from Argentina to Venezuela on a motorcycle in the 1950s. The book offers a fascinating glimpse into the early life of one of the world’s most famous revolutionaries.

“Kon-Tiki” by Thor Heyerdahl

In this non-fiction book, Norwegian explorer Thor Heyerdahl tells the story of his journey across the Pacific Ocean on a balsa wood raft, in an attempt to prove that ancient South Americans could have travelled to Polynesia. Filled with adventure and danger, this book is a true classic of exploration literature.

“Touching the Void” by Joe Simpson

In this gripping memoir, mountaineer Joe Simpson recounts his harrowing experience of being stranded on a mountain in Peru, with a broken leg and no way to call for help. With its vivid descriptions of the physical and emotional challenges he faced, this book is a must-read for anyone interested in extreme sports and survival.

“Endurance: Shackleton’s Incredible Voyage” by Alfred Lansing

This non-fiction book tells the story of explorer Ernest Shackleton’s ill-fated attempt to cross Antarctica in 1914. After his ship, the Endurance, becomes trapped in ice, Shackleton and his crew must battle the elements and endure months of hardship in order to survive. With its vivid descriptions of the Antarctic landscape and the incredible feats of endurance shown by the crew, this book is a true classic of exploration literature.

“The Call of the Wild” by Jack London

This classic novel tells the story of Buck, a domesticated dog who is stolen from his home in California and sold into the brutal world of the Yukon gold rush. As he adapts to his new life, Buck must learn to survive in the harsh wilderness and embrace his wild instincts. With its thrilling plot and vivid descriptions of the Canadian wilderness, this book is a must-read for anyone who loves tales of adventure and survival.

Adventure travel books offer a captivating glimpse into the world of exploration and the human spirit. From tales of treacherous journeys to stories of self-discovery, these books have the power to inspire and transport readers to the most remote corners of the earth. Adventure travel books can inspire your next great volunteering adventure. Many of these books tell stories of people who embark on incredible journeys to help others and make a positive impact in the world. By reading about their experiences, you can gain insights into the challenges and rewards of volunteering abroad. These books can also help you to identify opportunities to volunteer in places you may never have considered before. Whether you want to work on conservation projects in the Costa Rican rainforest or work on community projects in Nepal, these books can help you to find your next adventure and make a meaningful difference in the world.

Whether you’re an armchair traveller or an intrepid adventurer, these books are sure to ignite your sense of curiosity and wonder, and encourage you to embark on your own journeys of discovery. So, grab a copy of one of these books, sit back, and let the adventure begin!

By Petrina Darrah

Petrina Darrah is a freelance writer from New Zealand with a passion for outdoor adventure and sustainable travel. She has been writing about travel for more than five years and her work has appeared in print and digital publications including National Geographic Travel, Conde Nast Travel, Business Insider, Atlas Obscura and more. You can see more of her work at petrinadarrah.com.
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