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  • Words by Mr Ian Belcher

With nights still long, temperatures raw and warm sun a stranger, planning the big escape is a daily ritual. But this year it's going to be different. Very different. Powder sand, chic boutique hotels and beach bars with ambient grooves are all very well - MR PORTER couldn't be a more enthusiastic fan - but you're after something fresh, something memorable, something unique: a pulse-racing, soul-lifting, smile-widening buzz that jump starts a cold heart and puts a pep in a lethargic step. In short, you want an adventure.

Your search is over. We've tried and tested eight truly marvellous trips, including kayaking around Alaskan glaciers, rafting through Australian rainforest and the hot-wind-in-your-face rush of sailing among Croatia's Dalmatian islands. You could also take a communal dip with pods of beluga whales in Canada's Hudson Bay - a yarn guaranteed to take centre stage at any dinner party - and enjoy the very latest adrenaline rush by snorkelling off Antarctica's icebergs. On dry land there's high-altitude excitement in the mesmerising mountains and valleys of Ladakh; one of the planet's most beautiful hikes in southern Namibia, and, on a more luxurious note, a Maldivian castaway experience to leave Robinson Crusoe green with envy. Take your time. Think hard. This break is going to be an undoubted highlight of 2014...

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