For the high-stakes trekkers among us, a simple amble through quaint foreign neighborhoods and leisurely afternoons on sun-soaked beaches don’t cut it. Travel – and the adventure that underpins it – must include blood-pumping activities that push the envelope. If you’re craving an adrenaline rush on your next trip, we’ve got some ideas in store – 6 extreme adventures that will change the way you experience the world. Read on, daredevils! (Note: Be sure you follow all recommended guidelines and consult relevant experts before engaging in the following activities. In other words, stay safe and smart.)
1: Climb Mount Everest
Let’s get real: climbing Mount Everest is no ambling hike. A trek up the tallest mountain in the world (towering above 29,000 feet) requires months of preparation, thousands of dollars of equipment, and incredible physical fitness. Given the intense cold that’s pervasive, you also have to find the perfect window of time when the mountain is warm enough to ascend – and when the skies are clear.
Also, we should note that even experienced climbers and well-prepared adventurers take two months to climb up and descend. The first step is making it to Everest Base Camp (anchored at a mere 17,000 feet) where you acclimate to the weather and altitude for a couple of weeks. Next, when the weather is warm and clear, you can slowly wind your way up the mountain face, stopping at designated camps on your way up.
However you view the physical preparation, the cost can be somewhat prohibitive. You need to secure a climbing permit ($10,000+), while untold containers of oxygen, boots, jackets, hiking and climbing gear, food, sleeping bags, and tents all add up to significant expense. But you don’t want to skimp; spend everything you need to for Sherpas (who will help carry your bags), medical insurance, and supplies to ensure you can survive the trek up and down.
Sound like the extreme adventure is, well, too extreme? If you’d rather admire imposing Everest from a safe distance and elevation, consider touring the lovely city of Kathmandu.
2: Skydive in Dubai
While Mount Everest requires incredible endurance and strength, skydiving in Dubai just takes courage. If you can muster it, the views of the Persian Gulf and the crenelated skyline will be absolutely breathtaking. Soar up to 13,000 feet, then freefall at 120 miles per hour into the wind above the Palm Jumeirah Islands, just a jaunt from the Dubai shore.
Prices include the jump, pictures, and edited video of you enjoying this experience of a lifetime while freaking out about falling hundreds of feet per second. Prices at the popular Skydive Dubai run 1,700-2,200 AED ($460-600) and reservations are required.
When you’re back on the ground, we recommend these delightful Dubai activities.
3: Go tree camping in Mammoth Cave National Park
In all fairness, this is one of the less extreme adventures on our list, but it’s a fascinating “floating” experience that everyone should try. First of all, get yourself a tree tent; we’re fans of the ones from Tentsile, though you can get them a number of places. They offer tents suitable for up to three people, which include room for gear (several under-tent mesh pockets can hold goodies, keeping them out of your way inside the tent), insect mesh to keep bugs out, and the option to close yourself in entirely (should the weather get icky). Prices aren’t cheap, though – some are as much as $1,000.
When you get to Mammoth Tree National Park in Kentucky, start by taking a tour of the caves – the 400 miles of passageways underground are dizzyingly fascinating, with dozens of stalactites and stalagmites to ogle. When you’ve had your fill and are ready for some daylight, emerge and hunt for a campsite with sturdy trees. Tentsile recommends you anchor your tent at about four feet off the ground using three trees in a triangle formation. More guidance can be found here.
Once you’re elevated, crawl in and listen to the wind blowing through the trees, the animals dotting about below you, and the sound of your partner snoring next to you. Ah, nature.
4: Paraglide in Hawaii
For those who aren’t quite keen on the free-falling rush that comes with skydiving but want something more than tent living, paragliding might make a better adventure. Where better to soak in the far-reaching ocean, the undulation of waves, the crest of mountains, and the lush expanse of forests than Hawaii? Yep, we’re recommending a meandering soar in the skies above these beloved Pacific isles – either by yourself or with a tandem partner.
Gravity Hawaii has been doing this for years, so we highly recommend you check them out. Not only do they have training classes (teaching newbies how to handle the wind and operate their equipment), but they have glorious flights available with instructors than take you on a breathtaking 45-minute journey above the crests and beaches of Hawaii. Prices start at $250 for tandem flights with an instructor. (If you’re a daredevil, request the “High G” maneuver for an extra $25. Trust us – it’s worth it.)
5: Heli-ski in Alaska
We haven’t done this one yet but it’s definitely on our bucket list. (We did take a seaplane above the glaciers and it was glorious); the next extreme adventure is definitely jumping out of a helicopter with skis onto the thick white slopes of the Alaskan wild. Our recommendation is to go with the Black Ops Valdez company, located in the Chugach Mountains.
Here’s how it works: Climb aboard the company’s A-Star 350 B3 aircraft, fitted with all of your equipment (which you can get at Black Ops), then climb to between 3,000 and 5,000 feet. The pilot will position you perfectly for a drop onto the blanketed slopes of the Chugach peaks, letting you careen down at lightning speed to the Tsaina Valley – where, eventually, you slow your slide to a manageable 20-30mph. Once stopped, the company’s snowcats will pick you up and take you back to headquarters where you will eat, drink, and pretend you just lived a James Bond glory moment.
Walk-in rates start at $1,200, though multi-day packages are available for much more.
6: Run with wild animals in Africa
On most African savannahs, running among the wild animals is prohibited – it excites the animals, rangers warn, and that triggers their predatory instincts. Not a good situation. But, it turns out, the private Singita Reserve in Tanzania doesn’t have the same restrictions. Accommodations are posh – four-poster beds with glasses of Port docked nearby, bookended with espresso in the mornings – and the wild is just outside your tent. So, if you want to, you can run the trodden paths through the reserve between meals. (Be sure to get permission from the Reserve before jogging, however.)
Some inveterate runners have reported the whole of the animal kingdom joining them on their outings – zebras, hyenas, jackals, wildebeests, and other animals they could scarce identify. Importantly, running paths offer clear lines of sight in all directions so you can identify potential predators before they get too close. Still, it’s a bit dangerous.
Sound like a fun alternative to your typical morning jog? Prices aren’t published online, but you can learn more by inquiring on Singita’s website.