For adrenaline junkies, the feeling of dancing with danger and emerging unscathed in the crucible of nature’s playground is unquenchable.
Below, Travel Supermarket takes a look at ten of the most extreme pursuits to be undertaken, anywhere in the world:
10) Cage diving with sharks – providing all of the adrenaline, with none of the danger, at least in theory, this is an ideal rush for the adventurous tourist. Great White Sharks are apex predators that can grow to over twenty feet! Even jumping into an underwater cage, you still wonder about the strength of the steel bars when in the presence of such a fierce giant at feeding time. Great White encounters are available off the Western Cape of South Africa, where the sharks come to feed on their natural quarry of seals.
9) Bungee jumping – with no more than straps attached around the ankles, try hurling yourself from a great height on the end of fifty feet of bungee cord. Experience the exhilaration of free fall with the added fear factor of finally coming to a halt, only feet from the ground. The elasticity of the bungee rope kicks in as it hurls you skyward from whence you came.
The great news about this activity is that you need no special skills to take part, just bravery and an adrenaline itch. A bungee jump can be set up from cranes, bridges and even hot air balloons. Queenstown, New Zealand is probably the world’s most popular bungee jumping town. Be careful though, as there is a risk of bursting blood vessels in the eyes, due to the G-forces and there may be joint pain if you are carrying an injury. Despite this, it is still one of the safest of the extreme ten and so comes in at a respectable but nothing special ninth.
8) Kite surfing – this is a high-octane activity that is taking the water sports world by storm, due to its speed, power and endless possibilities. The kite surfer harnesses themselves in to a giant parachute shaped kite, by which they can sail by the wind at rip-roaring speed upon a specialised board. This sport is not easy to learn, but in high winds the kite surfer can take off, attaining huge air time, during which acrobatic tricks can be performed. Flights of up to fifty metres high and one hundred metres long are not unknown in a sport where the sky is quite literally the limit!
7) Extreme downhill mountain biking – this is a high speed, gravity fuelled dirt fest for the outdoor enthusiast who is willing to risk both broken bikes and broken bones. The UK offers some excellent trails for downhill mountain biking, particularly in areas such as North Wales. Alpine ski resorts also open their doors to bikers in the summer. The pinnacle of this activity, as with most gravity sports, is in the undertaking of impossible jumps and vertical drops, showcased at events such as the Red Bull Rampage in the USA. Thankfully, death is not common in the sport but broken bones and serious injury from hellish falls is the standard.
6) Big wave surfing – ripping down a fifty-foot water mountain at over thirty miles per hour, on six feet of waxed fibreglass, air gushing from the thundering barrel of white water behind, ready to pummel you if you should lose your balance. This is the romance of big wave surfing. Surfing is now a huge sport along the world’s oceanic coastlines and big wave surfers are idolised. Most of the best breaks are found in the Pacific Ocean. Mavericks in California and Teahupo’o in Tahiti are two rip snorters. Of course, big waves score highly on the danger score. Shallow reefs and the enormous forces of water are apt to bludgeon and drown but most adrenaline junkies will risk all to ride such a force of nature.
5) Backcountry skiing/snowboarding – a progression of the more controlled downhill skiing, this involves getting high up on a snow-capped mountain by lift, helicopter or mountaineering. Then it is time for wholesale shredding, down the mountainside, carving the craziest lines that you can imagine. There will be sheer vertical icy gulley’s, rocky obstacles and huge jumps to negotiate, along with pristine powder snow to enjoy. Injury by falling or burial by avalanche are brutal risks here. Backcountry skiing and snowboarding is enjoyed in all of the world’s major ski areas. For those who wish to graduate from the groomed runs of the resort, backcountry guides are available to take you to areas to suit your skill level, for the authentic wilderness ski experience.
4) White-water rafting/kayaking – this is about getting from the ‘put in’ to the ‘take out’, getting very wet and scared along the way and running rapids and waterfalls of Grade 5 plus. Rafting or kayaking is often the only way to negotiate some rivers and offers a unique view of nature. Anyone in fair shape can have a go at rafting, provided they are escorted by an experienced river guide. Rivers such as the Colorado in the Grand Canyon or the mighty Zambezi at Victoria Falls, Zambia offer genuinely extreme white-water conditions, where death by drowning is a palpable risk, particularly on the Zambezi, where safety standards are not well regulated. It is only in kayaks paddled by experts that the most extreme waterfalls have been run, however. The highest run so far is Palouse Falls in Washington State, US, which is a staggering 186 feet!
3) Free climbing – this is a discipline of rock climbing that involves no safety rope. The obvious dangers come, therefore, in the familiar combination of gravity and the ground. Shear madness, but for those who have the skill and know their bodies well enough to push the limits, this is an incredible spectacle of bravery, strength and technique. Fortunately, we mortals can use anchors and ropes for protection. Some of the best areas for climbing include Joshua Tree National Park in California, USA and our very own Peak District.
2) Freediving – this is the art of taking extended dives underwater on a single breath of air. Freedivers enjoy the tremendous freedom of diving without cumbersome equipment that scares away fish and other aquatic creatures. It is an opportunity to experience a genuine peace and oneness with nature. Monofinning is a fast and efficient discipline where the freediver swims with an undulating motion.
The clear, warm waters of the Red Sea, as well as the Mediterranean and the Caribbean are increasingly popular for this growing sport. Of course, some have to take it to seriously dangerous extremes. The world record submerged breath hold is over eleven and a half minutes (no, that was not a misprint) and some divers plummet to well over 100 metres deep.
Blacking out through lack of oxygen is common. The bends and drowning at depth are also real threats and, because of the risks, competitive freediving is one of the most safety conscious sports around.
1) Base jumping – those involved in this sport will be only too aware of the dangers of base jumping as lives of fellow participants are lost in this most dangerous of activities. The most thrilling, but most dangerous discipline of this sport is in using a wing suit, pioneered in the French Alps. Participants glide horizontally as they plummet toward earth in a specially designed aerodynamic suit which offers them lift and steerage. The most brazen jumpers literally skim snow covered mountain saddles and rocky crags as they descend, deploying a parachute only at the last possible moment.
Getting it wrong or getting unlucky in this sport will almost certainly result in serious injury or death. However, it is also a thing of beauty and a true flying experience. Therefore, it tops the chart at number one.
Written by the team at travelsupermarket.com