Shotover Canyon Swing and Flying Fox - Queenstown
Queenstown is New Zealand's adventure capital and the Shotover River is one of its crown jewels. Strung 182m above the floor of the Shotover Canyon, the Canyon Fox is New Zealand's highest flying fox and the only one in the world that starts with a free-fall over a cliff edge.
There are five drop styles, including a ramp that lets you run and launch yourself at take-off. From there, you fly across the canyon suspended on a 5 metre long rope. If catapulting yourself attached to a flying fox isn't your style, the Canyon Swing is another option. Sitting at 109 metres above the river, launch and free-fall 60 metres down a vertical cliff face, then swing for 200 metres. Either way, the thrills promise to get your blood pumping.
AJ Hackett Nevis Bungy, Swing and Catapult - Queenstown
Over the Remarkables in the remote Nevis Valley, Central Otago, bungy pioneer AJ Hackett has developed three activities designed for “those who want to take it to the next level, and then another 30 or so levels after that”.
The bungy jump is the highest in New Zealand at 134 metres, with a free-fall of 8.5 seconds (of pure fear and adrenaline). The swing is one of the world’s biggest, with an arc of 300 metres and options to swing forwards, backwards and upside down. For some reassurance, go tandem with a friend!
The catapult ride is extreme. You’re propelled 150 metres across the valley, straight into a fall, reaching speeds of almost 100km/h in 1.5 seconds. You'll generate up to 3Gs of force too! You've been warned.
The Shark Dive - Beqa Lagoon, Fiji
While some other shark experiences get you up close to the ocean's apex predators from the safety of a cage, at Beqa Lagoon, you'll be right there, unobstructed and in their habitat.
Up to eight species of sharks hang out in the Beqa waters, including blacktip and whitetip reef sharks, bull sharks and the largest tropical shark, the tiger. View them in all their toothy glory, as the dive guides feed them and be entranced by the scene that unfolds, as the sharks snack on the fish around them. More than 400 species of tropical fish also call the reef home.
Everest Skydive - Himalayas, Kathmandu
Not everyone fancies a hike up Mt Everest, but any serious thrill-seeker might be tempted to skydive over it. Jumpers launch from helicopters at around 7000m above sea level, which is below Everest's peak, but high enough where one will require oxygen and specialised parachute equipment. From there you descend into the mighty Himalayas, landing at one of the highest drop zones on the planet, deep in the heart of Sherpa country.
The Everest skydives are set up for all experience levels, with both solo or tandem jumps, but only taking limited bookings through the year in the months of October and November.
Mount Hua Cliff Hike - China
Fancy scaling a mountainside, up steep rocky steps to walk out along a sheer cliff-face on rickety planks, using only basic safety gear?
The cliff trails of Mt. Hua (Huashan) are called the world’s most dangerous and a quick peak at any photo will let you know why. Pilgrims, monks and nuns have been doing these death-defying climbs since the 2nd century BC, accessing holy sites on the mountain's five peaks.
These days, some of the most dangerous routes have been closed or improved, but you'll still need nerves of steel to get yourself up to the ancient Cebu Taoist Temple (converted into a tea house) on the southern peak or the Chess Pavilion on the eastern peak.
Volcano-boarding - Nicaragua
If clambering up extreme mountains doesn't get you excited, then volcano-boarding down a volcanic ash slope should! Pioneered by an Australian, volcano-boarding on Nicaragua's Cerro Negro (Black Hill) is an adrenaline junkie's dream. The hike to the summit takes roughly an hour but from there it's all downhill on your trusty, rustic wooden sled.
The wild run to the bottom of the 728 metre high cone can be done in less than 3 minutes and speeds of over 90km/h have been reached. Most people opt to sit, but the boarding can be done standing, feeling like snowboarding on cinder. Cerro Negro is still an active volcano by the way, but don't worry, it hasn't erupted since 1999.
If you wanted to try somewhere closer to home (and more off the beaten track), you can board the slopes of Mount Yasur in Vanuatu.
Wingwalking Experience - England
An activity that is usually reserved for stunt performers and professional daredevils, the Wingwalking Experience in England allows any thrill-seeker to get strapped to the top wing of a vintage biplane and fly through the air at over 200km/h. While you're up there, you'll get taken through a series of aerobatic manoeuvres, including low-level flypasts and heart-stopping spins and dives.
Wingwalking dates back to airshows of the 1920s and was also used by the US military. Fatalities weren't uncommon in the early days, but thankfully, modern safety measures and pilot experience have made it much more dependable way to get your kicks.
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White Water Rafting - Zambezi River, Victoria Falls (South Africa)
The stretch of the Zambezi River below the Victoria Falls is regarded by rafting enthusiasts as the world's wildest one-day whitewater run. The river runs through a basalt gorge, with a steep gradient and extremely high volumes of water. Nearly half the rapids are Grade 5, the highest level of difficulty considered safe for recreational paddlers, and come with inviting names like Gnashing Jaws of Death, Devil's Toilet Bowl, Overland Truck Eater and Commercial Suicide.
The dry season is the most exciting time to raft, as the river is at its lowest level, so you'll take some big drops and probably be flipped (there are crocodiles in the river, but apparently they don't pose a serious threat..!). Once you've completed your raft, you can make your way up to Victoria Falls and take a dip in Devil's Pool, the natural swimming hole right at the edge of the world's largest waterfall.
Biking the Death Road - Bolivia
They don't call it the 'Death Road' for nothing. Cut into the side of the Cordillera Oriental mountain range, the precarious North Yungas road is a road leading from La Paz to Coroico, 56 kilometres northeast of La Paz in the Yungas region of Bolivia and in 2006, one estimate stated that 200 to 300 travellers a year along the road.
These days, it's closed to vehicles and you can mountainbike in relative safety down a 5-hour section of the Death Road with only one short uphill. You'll still have to deal with the dangerously narrow roads and sheer drop-offs (up to 600 metres) but the breathtaking views and your own speed limits make up for the pure fear you'll experience looking down over the edge of the road.
In the wet season, rain can turn the road into a mud track and fog can hamper visibility. It's probably safer to go in the dry season, where you'll only have to contend with dust and occasional rockfalls.
Lake Placid Bobsled Experience - Upstate New York
If you've ever wondered what it's like to careen down a bobsled track at up to 100km/h, head to Lake Placid for a run down the ice chutes. You can take the bobsled and have a professional driver and brakeman steer. You'll be generating up to 3-4Gs of force and cover the 800m distance in about 40 seconds. Then, if you really want to take it up a notch and get closer to the ice, you can choose to take a single-person sled, either the luge (riding feet-first on your back) or for the really adventurous, the skeleton sled (head-first lying on your stomach). No experience is required, just the pure need for speed.
Note: Park City, Utah, also offers bobsled rides and you can learn to drive one yourself.