It seems many more of us are becoming less content with lying on a beach or hugging the poolside for our annual vacation. Adventures that used to be thought of as being only for the crazy or the thrill seekers are now far more accessible and there’s quite a boom in extreme experience holidays. If your idea of a good vacation is adrenaline fueled, I’ve got some great ideas for you: Ditch the dull desk life and flirt with danger.
1 Royal Gorge Bridge Bungee Jump in Canon City, Colorado, USA
As extreme adventures go, this bungee jump reveals the tough nuts among the gals! Held once a year at the GO Fast! Games, it’s one of the highest bungee jumps in the world at a vomit-inducing 800 ft or spine-rattling 321 meters. Pray to all known deities and hope your bungee cord holds. Now feel the adrenaline rush in your veins. You may want to wear a diaper for this one. Yeehah!
2 The L2 Double Loop Water Slide at Wave in Worgl, Austria
Clearly designed by an utterly unhinged person auditioning for a job at the Spanish Inquisition, the L2 Double Loop Water Slide requires adrenaline junkies to take a seat in an insubstantial capsule that looks like a cheap prop from a 1970s sci-fi TV show. Perched 25 meters up in the air, your terrified ears notice a distinct clink when the trap door opens up below your trembling limbs. Hold on to your lunch, for the capsule shoots downwards 14 meters in near free fall. Your body is hurtling through the tube at nearly 65 km/h, that's a body-squashing 2.5 G force before you've even entered the first loop. When you get to the second loop, you'll know exactly what astronauts go through in training. Few adventure trips could be more extreme!
3 Shark Diving in Cape Town, South Africa
Ever fancied staring up the nostrils of a real monster and crying "boo"? Be careful what you wish for! Cape Town shark diving takes place throughout the year since toothy South African sea monsters never take a day off from seeking careless tourists to chow down on. Watch how hungry Great Whites go for that bait your thoughtful guide has just tipped into the water right next to you! All that lovely blood, which sharks can register from more than 2 miles away, floats in pretty swirls around your suddenly very flimsy-looking underwater cage.
4 The Kingda Ka Roller Coaster in New Jersey, USA
The Kingda Ka is fastest and tallest roller coaster in North America. Situated at Six Flags Great Adventure Park in New Jersey, this ride offers adrenaline junkies the unique opportunity to lose their lunch, eyeballs and nerve all at the same time. Climb into your little cockpit and get ready to take off at a speed of 0 to 128 miles per hour within the first 3.5 seconds of your ride. Don't worry, the best is still to come. This speedy ascent at a pleasant 90-degree angle means by now you're 456 ft (that's 45 stories) up in the air to enjoy fabulous views across New Jersey. If you haven't wet your pants by now and are still able to breathe, you can look forward to making a 90-degree descent, followed by a 270-degree swirl that only Mad Max could ever truly enjoy.
5 Pororoca Amazon Surfing in Cutias, Brazil
As adrenaline filled trips go, this one sounds quite harmless on paper, but in reality your insane tour guides have sneaked in a tidal bore reaching 4 meters in height, travelling 800 km inland along the Amazon River, going exclusively upstream at high speed. It's a 40-minute surfing experience that would be all cheesy smiles and sun-tanned loveliness in a Hollywood surf movie but actually features avoiding debris all the way. This pororoca, as the wave is called, is best surfed in the rainy season during the lunar equinox, when the wave happens every month for up to ten days between full and new moon.
6 Rock-climbing in the Yosemite Valley, USA
Compared to shark diving or dancing with polar bears, rock climbing seems far less extreme, but anyone who's scrambled up El Capitan, Yosemite's most imposing granite wall, will tell you that it's no teddy bears' picnic. Rising 3,200 ft above California's Merced River, El Capitan represents the world's greatest and perhaps most challenging rock climb, taking around 5 days to complete an ascent. Remember Tom Cruise in the opening scene of Mission Impossible II? Gasp!
7 Ziplining in Costa Rica
Costa Rica is home to astonishing flora and fauna, featuring some of the most colorful bird species on the planet. Costa Rica's zipline tours allow you to come nose to nose with Capuchin, Spider and Howler Monkeys and beak to beak with dazzlingly bright Quetzals, Toucans and hummingbirds. Zoom from canopy to canopy at break-neck speeds or take your time admiring the view of active Arenal volcano or visit Poás Volcano National Park in Costa Rica's Central Highlands, where one of the country's most active volcanoes is situated.
8 Skydiving in Las Vegas
Jumping out of an airplane and hurtling through the air in a freefall certainly beats standing at a one-armed bandit all day losing money - when your parachute unfolds and you can finally open your eyes to enjoy the views of Las Vegas' skyline, you'll agree that the Elvis outfit your friends persuaded you to wear was merely icing on the cake, adding very little to the enjoyment of your skydive experience. You're actually quite safe when you opt for the Las Vegas Tandem Skydive since your skydive buddy will pull the cord of your chute, should you pass out with all that excitement.
9 Caving in Iceland
Not everybody is cut out to enjoy life as a troglodyte, crawling through narrow rock crevices or scrambling through pitch black caves that seem to go on forever. Imagine swimming in an eerily lit up underground lake, though, and you're halfway there to understanding what makes Lara Croft tick. Undeterred by crash hat, headlamp and miles of rope tied around your person, you can explore our planet and see things few other human beings ever get to see, including lava tubes and the caves of Leidarendi. Stop off at the Blue Lagoon for a cuppa and a dip in thermal waters.
10 Paragliding in Fethiye, Turkey
Paragliding is one of those extreme sports that is usually excluded by standard travel insurance policies. Terrifying, yet exhilarating at the same time, a tandem paragliding excursion over Turkey's gorgeous Blue Lagoon at Ölüdeniz is an unmissable experience for true adrenaline junkies.
11 Take off with a Jetpack in Miami, Florida, USA
You can indulge in your very own James Bond fantasies when you take off with a Miami flyboard experience. Strap your jetpack on your back or feet and take off, zooming 30 ft into the blue Florida skies. Spot the beach babes waving at you with admiration and make a note of the hunks you’ll be asking to dance later.
12 Kayaking in Bermuda
Sea kayaking is a great way to explore a coastline, although not exactly an adrenaline-fueled experience in most cases. However, you can leave Bermuda on a catamaran cruise to go kayaking, paddleboarding and snorkeling in waters brimming with marine life of all sizes, sharks, turtles, rays and dolphins included.
13 Mountain Biking in Bolivia
A guided mountain bike tour along the Mustang Trail in Red Rock Canyon is positively sedate and suitable for retirees when compared with a mounting bike tour of the world's most dangerous road in Bolivia. Sporting more hair-raising curves than a Hollywood starlet of the 1940s, this South American road is not for the faint-hearted. Put one foot wrong or over-balance and you'll be plunging down a mountainside. You'll leave from a high-altitude plain near La Paz and try to keep up with your expert guides for the next 40 miles/4 km as they lead you down the narrowest of roads winding itself down a mountainside that takes you from the snow-capped Andes to the Amazonian rainforest in one awe-inspiring 11,800 ft descent.
14 Great Barrier Reef Diving and Snorkeling Cruise, Cairns, Australia
The world's largest natural reef beckons if you're serious about snorkeling and diving - it's simply THE place to be for underwater adrenaline fans. Myriads of colorful fishes flit by while you're busy keeping a keen eye out for Great White jaws. Some tours take you to two different dive spots, such as Norman or Saxon Reef, include a BBQ lunch and a helicopter ride to show you the Great Barrier Reef from above in all its natural beauty. Home to 30% of Australia's sponge population and 1,500 species of fish, the Great Barrier Reef boasts more than 400 types of hard coral, 134 species of sharks and rays, more than 30 species of marine mammals such as the endangered dugong, six of the world's seven species of marine turtles, also endangered, and as many as 630 species of starfish and sea urchins and similar echinoderms. Above the water surface, there are 215 bird species, 22 of them seabirds. Well worth the effort of squeezing into a wetsuit, wouldn't you agree?
15 Jungle River Tubing Safari, Montego Bay, Jamaica
If 18th century pirates had known how much fun this is, they'd not have spent their pieces of eight on wine, women and song. Tubing your way down a drowsy river one minute, you'll be gasping for air the next, as you're battling with the Great River's rapids. You'll definitely need a glass of rum punch afterward to calm down!
16 Submarine Adventure, Red Sea, Egypt
Admittedly, it's not as thrilling as taking off with John, Paul, George and Ringo in their Yellow Submarine, but a submarine adventure in the Egyptian Red Sea is a pretty close second. The sub takes you down to 72 feet/22 meters in a 50-minute ride. There are two pilots to keep you safe. You'll soon be pressing your nose against the specially designed windows to take in all those colorful creatures flitting by quite unperturbed by the sub's presence.
17 White Water Rafting with Elephants, Bali
Relax! You're not actually going to share your raft with a herd of elephants, which admittedly would be an adrenaline-filled trip of a lifetime. However, this tour is still going to raise the wee hairs on the back of your neck. First you tackle class II and III rapids with a white-water raft, then you visit the country's largest park for rescued elephants. Bear in mind, elephants are famous for their ability to remember long-forgotten wrongs. You'd better not misbehave during the 35-minute elephant ride through Taro's tropical rainforest that's included in the tour - not if you want to come back next year!
I’m out of breath now just writing about these incredible adventures. Time to come back down to earth and reality, I think.
Will you be considering anything like this for your next vacation or are you happy to stick to the sun, sea, sand formula?