Most travelers go on holiday to rest and rejuvenate from stress of their daily lives. These extreme travel adventures are not for most people. This adventurer’s bucket list is not for the faint of heart. It’s for those who want to challenge themselves to the utmost and go where few have gone before, despite the risk of injury and even death. For some, that danger is actually a major part of the attraction. So let’s, ahem, dive in.
10 Explore The Blue Holes
Cave diving is one of the most dangerous sports in the world. It’s hard to tell which way is up and it’s easy to get lost and run out of air before anyone even misses you. The Bahamas’ Blue Holes are limestone caves that have been flooded over the millennia, forming a captivating maze of prehistoric treasures. The upper levels of these caves are commonly visited by casual divers on vacation, but the spectacular sights lie beneath a layer of toxic gases that separate the upper and lower levels. For those who dare to explore deeper, there are huge underwater rooms filled with formations, ancient crocodile fossils, and even prehistoric human bones.
9 Kayak a Waterfall
Many extreme sports are spinoffs of popular, less dangerous activities. Many people have been kayaking, fewer have kayaked through Class 5 rapids, and even fewer have purposely steered their kayaks over waterfalls. Thrill seekers are always trying to up the ante and going for a new world record. The current record is held by Tyler Bradt who paddled over a 189 foot drop at Palouse Falls in Washington. If the daredevil in you is telling you to go for it, be prepared to risk serious injuries and possibly death for the thrill.
8 Climb Mount Everest
Climbing Mount Everest used to be the epitome of extreme adventure travel but, although it is the highest in the world, it is neither the most difficult to climb nor the deadliest. Those titles belong to K2 and Annapurna. But every thrill seeker needs to check Everest off the list. Although Nepalese Sherpa guides carry many climbers’ gear and keep them on the path, it is still a harrowing expedition. The price tag may be even scarier than the climb itself – from $30,000 to $85,000 depending on which face you ascend and what kind of services you require. Since the first official ascent by Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay in 1953, about 280 people have died. 2015 was a record year with 22 climber deaths on the mountain.
7 Ski Down K2
K2 is considered the most dangerous mountain in the world despite coming in second to Everest in height. It’s weather is more unforgiving and its remoteness makes rescue efforts difficult. Pro mountain skiers have been racing to try to reach the summit and ski back down the entire 28,251 feet. American Dave Watson has come closest, skiing from 820 feet below the peak while others have died trying. The record is yours for the taking.
6 Wingsuit Off the Eiger
The Eiger in the Swiss Alps is a formidable mountain under any circumstances. Loose rock, rough terrain, and fierce unpredictable weather explain its name, which means the Ogre in German. More than 60 climbers have died on its slopes and it is impossible to ski the mountain. Not to be deterred, extreme sport enthusiasts have donned wingsuits and simply jumped off the cliff on the north face. BASE-jumping with a wingsuit is even more dangerous than with the more common use of a parachute, as the flyer depends on the fabric of the suit to provide enough lift to allow him to glide past sharp outcroppings. American Dean Potter combined this with speed flying, in which he skis down the mountain, using the wingsuit to lift him over the sharp protruding rocks mentioned above. As evidence of the danger of these extreme sports, Potter died last year BASE jumping in Yosemite National Park.
5 Hike the Triple Crown
Maybe you prefer to keep your feet on the ground. This mother of all marathons known as the Triple Crown entails hiking all three of the longest trails in the United States. These trails cover a total of almost 7,700 miles and stretch from Canada to Mexico and Georgia to Maine. The Pacific Crest trail follows the Sierra Nevada and Cascade Range for 2,654 miles, the Appalachian Trail runs 2,184 miles from Georgia to Maine, and the Continental Divide Trail is a whopping 3,100 miles through the Rocky Mountains from Mexico to Canada. Pencil in a few years, budget for a lot of boots, and maybe you’ll be able to join the 174 people who have been recognized for achieving the Triple Crown.
4 Surf the Monster at Shipsterns Bluff
This ferocious Australian surf spot is renowned as one of the most dangerous and difficult in the world. Located off the southeast coast of Tasmania and accessible only by boat or a long hike through the wilderness, the mega waves here break into steps due to the movement of the swells from the deep water to a barely submerged ledge. Reaching up to more than 20 feet, these waves are for experts and pros only. Even filming the action is difficult and dangerous but drones have recently caught amazing footage of these crazy waves (and crazier surfers). And did we mention the abundance of Great White sharks in the area?
3 Free Climb El Capitan
El Capitan, a sheer vertical rock formation soaring 3000 feet from its base, is the most iconic rock climbing location in the US. Once thought to be impossible to climb, it is now a popular challeng for free climbers and BASE jumpers. Free climbers do not use ropes and pitons but instead rely on hand and foot holds. The first free climber to tackle the imposing Nose was Lynn Hill in 1993 but speed climbers now regularly race that route. Just last year the first free climbers to successfully ascend the sheer face of the Dawn Wall labored for 19 days. Yosemite doesn’t require registration to climb in the park, which means you’re good to go.
2 Crossing the Sahara Desert
For millennia, explorers, nomads, and traders have braved the dangers of the Sahara out of necessity. In our modern times, extreme travelers head out into the ocean of sand for fun and adventure, aware of the risk of heat, sand storms, insurgencies, simply getting lost and swallowed up in the dunes, and, of course, thirst. If you manage to acquire the necessary travel documents, a trip across this desert the size of the United States can take days or weeks. If crossing by foot, camel, or 4×4 isn’t challenging enough, you can try to equal the feat of three ultra-endurance athletes who ran 4,000 miles across the Sahara in 111 days, running the equivalent of two marathons each day.
1 Descend Into an Active Volcano
Okay, so if none of these options have sounded crazy enough for you, we have one last option for your extreme travel adventure. Take a trip to the inferno of an active volcano in the South Pacific nation of Vanuatu. The caldera of the Marum Crater lies 1200 feet below the surface in one of the most inaccessible and dangerous volcanoes in the world. You’ll need to climb up and down rock faces on the interior of the volcano, deal with acid rain and toxic gases, endure temperatures high enough to melt video equipment, and don a heat suit in order to approach the lava lake, but don’t let that stop you. George Kourounis and Sam Crossman made the trip and, naturally, they posted the video and selfies to prove it.
Thrill seeking adventurers are constantly looking for new ways to challenge themselves, often at risk of life and limb. If you’re one of those intrepid travelers, this list is a good place to start. If you’re like most of us, content to plan more relaxing vacations, these extreme adventures will still give you the chance to live vicariously.