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While some travelers base their itineraries around pretty beaches and well-decorated Airbnbs, adrenaline junkies seek out the most heart-pounding, stomach-dropping activities in the world. If you happen to be in this category, we’ve got you covered. Here’s a list of the ten activities every adrenaline junkie needs to try.
Gorge swinging is what happens when you combine bungee jumping and a Tarzan-style tree swing. The fall is less abusive than bungee jumping, so it takes less of a toll on your body. Gorge Swinging will usually cost you about $200 depending on where you are, but it’s highly recommended. Victoria Falls has an operator, and so does New Zealand’s ‘Nevis Swing’ in Queenstown.
Rickshaw Runs are multi-week journeys that span the length of India, the Himalayas, or Sri Lanka. There’s no set route, no back-up, and no way of knowing if you’ll make it. This event raises money for charity and involves you buying a rickshaw — or a tuk-tuk, or a motoratón — and taking your glorified lawn mower on an Amazing Race-style journey across a subcontinent. If you’re looking to raise money for a good cause and you have a few weeks free, this should definitely be on your radar.
As long as claustrophobia isn’t an issue, any adrenaline junkie should spend some time spelunking. Caves are some of the wildest ecosystems with some of the weirdest creatures, so crawling through crevices should be on your adrenaline agenda. The caves in Mexico’s Cenotes are incredibly expansive, ballroom-sized caves with protruding stalactites and stalagmites that look like old earthy church organs. Also, check out Fingal’s cave in Scotland and the Puerto Princesa in the Philippines.
If there’s one thing true about adrenaline junkies, it’s that they try to jam as many wild experiences into one lifetime as possible. There’s an entire universe underwater, so any adrenaline junkie would be amiss to bypass an afternoon of scuba diving. Weightlessly float by colorful coral reefs, swim alongside rays and turtles and centuries-old shipwrecks. Some of the best scuba diving in the world can be found in Australia, Indonesia, Central America, the Caribbean, and Canada’s British Columbia.
Avid mountain biking subcultures are popping up all around the world — and for good reason. The feeling you get from leaning back and forth on a single-track trail through the woods is unlike any other. Plus, gliding seamlessly over boulders as if they were pebbles on a dual-suspension bike is pretty empowering. For world-class mountain biking, check out the Old Ghost Road in New Zealand, Lupra Pass in Nepal, 401 Trail in Colorado, and Cerro Paine in Chile.
Paragliding isn’t nearly as heart-stopping as the others on this list, but it deserves a spot nonetheless. There are two ways to paraglide: float calmly and enjoy the scenery, or treat it like a rollercoaster. Make sure to establish some boundaries with your guide and let them know what kind of experience you’re going for. Hands down, some of the best paragliding can be found in Europe’s Alps, while Danyang, South Korea, is known as a paraglider’s haven, and the same goes for Queenstown, New Zealand.
Leaning over the edge of a raft and staring at a 10-foot drop while a captain yells at you to “brace for impact”, is something that sticks with you for a couple of days. After whitewater rafting, you feel dizzy, shocked — an adrenaline high unlike any other. Unlike most other adventure sports, with whitewater rafting there’s a feeling of camaraderie with a shared goal, like you’re in this together. Some of the most renowned waters in the world for rafting include the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon, the Zambezi in Zambia, the Tuolumne in central California, and the Rio Samana in Colombia.
Rock climbing is more of a lifestyle than any one-off activity like zip-lining or paragliding. There are ropes to learn, knots to get confused by, calluses to build, falls to be taken and fears to be quelled before any outdoor climbing adventure is recommended. Imagine yourself suspended on a monolith above blue waters, or stretched out looking for holds above beautiful high-alpine scenery. Spain has some of the best climbing in the world, but California is widely considered the home of the climbing community.
Motorcycling and ATVing
For all the speed junkies out there, there’s nothing quite like motorized vehicles. Renting a motorcycle and winding through well-paved mountain roads, or throttling an ATV over sand dunes gives a jolt of adrenaline, unlike any other sport. There’s something about the agency you have with a steering wheel and an engine between your legs. Consider the Pyrenees Loop in France, the Cape Town Circuit in South Africa, or any of the 6 Best New England Road Trip Routes for an incredible journey.
This one will take some savvy saving, but it may be the closest to heaven some of us get, so start stashing away some pennies. For anywhere from $2,000 to $5,000 USD, you can take a helicopter to the tippy top of a mountain range and carve down what amounts to be a cloud of fresh powder. For anyone who knows the feeling of catching the first chairlift and making your own tracks, this has to be on the bucket list.