Warning: don’t read this list if you have a heart condition. What follows are 25 heart-pounding, life-affirming activities that’ll get that tiptoeing-the-cliff-edge buzz shooting around your body. In some cases, literally.
1. Cage of Death (Australia)
You can stare into the faces of some of Australia’s biggest saltwater crocodiles for 15 minutes, separated by nothing more than a couple of inches of glass. The cage houses two people at a time, so there’ll be someone there to hold your hand. After all, the tastiest snacks come in see-through wrappers!
2. Everest Skydive (Nepal)
You could spend months preparing for, and eventually climbing, the world’s highest mountain … or you could skydive past it. The self-proclaimed “world’s most elite skydiving adventure” allows adventurers to jump from a plane at 29,500 feet, higher than the Everest summit, to float back to base camp. So why climb when you can fly!
3. Surf Shipstern Bluff (Australia)
Great white sharks, huge waves, difficulty just getting out there — there are several reasons Shipstern Bluff is considered one of the most dangerous surf spots in the world. It was only when Tasmanian surfer Andy Campbell took up the challenge 1997 that the spot on the southeastern coast of Tasmania became fodder for big wave surfers around the world.
When water goes bad!
4. World’s steepest coaster (Japan)
This roller coaster is sure to make your heart pound like crazy because you’re never gonna experience an adrenaline rush this phenomenal over any other roller coasters. As they say, what goes up must come down. You hope!
5. Running of the Bulls (Spain)
This one might be a bucket list cliché, but there’s no adrenaline rush quite like the fear of being gored and trampled by one of the world’s most powerful land mammals. The biggest Running of the Bulls event occurs during the nine-day festival in San Fermin (July 6-14) in Pamplona, Spain. Fifteen bulls charge through the streets of the old city, to be herded into the bull ring. If you get cold feet, they run for seven consecutive mornings so you have plenty of chances to build your nerve. There is a down side — at least 15 people have died in the event since 1924.
6. Snowmobiling (Canada)
Bay Du Nord Wilderness Reserve in Newfoundland is the largest protected area in the province, offering miles of uncharted terrain for extreme snowmobiling. It’s fast, it’s furious, it isn’t always safe, but that’s why we do it, right? The snowmobile season runs from December to April.
7. Marathon des Sables (Morocco)
Six days, 50 C, 254 kilometers — just some of the reasons this ultra marathon across the Sahara Desert in Morocco is known as the world’s toughest foot race. This isn’t one to go into unprepared. Competitors must carry all their own equipment and even experienced runners train for years for the race. In 2007, two competitors died on the way. The 2014 race takes place April 4-14. Registration for the 2015 race opens in spring this year.
8. Dine in The Sky
“Pull up a seat” takes on a new and literal meaning when you and 21 of your friends are eating dinner hanging from a crane 50 meters in the air. Each meal takes around an hour, and going to the toilet can be a rather unsubtle affair as the whole table needs to descend if someone really needs to go. But this is one meal that’s memorable for other reasons.
9. Zapcat powerboating (UK)
All I can say is that always wear a helmet. That way no one can see you cry!
10. Dog sled racing (United States)
Dog sledding may not sound exciting, but consider that you’re on dog-powered transportation whistling past trees at speeds humans weren’t really designed for. It’s best to go with a company that does small groups to ensure your independence on the sled. Golsovia Alaska offers some of the best dog mushing; you’ll see the vast tundra, moose, wolves, eagles and, maybe, the Northern Lights.
11. Himalaya Rally (India)
What makes Raid-de-Himalaya different from other motorcar rallies? You have to drive above an altitude of 4,572 meters for two days of the five-day adventure. This turns the rally from one of pure driving skill, to one of intense endurance and physical and mental toughness, as you battle oxygen depletion and icy temperatures.
12. Kayak over a Waterfall (United States)
Floating down a river isn’t always an exercise in blissful stress reduction. Taking on the waterfalls of the Palouse region of eastern Washington State and northern Idaho is proving an irresistible sport for young pro kayakers. Tyler Bradt, who clinched a 3.7-second freefall over the 57-meter (that’s higher than Niagara Falls) Palouse Falls in eastern Washington in 2009 said “the motivating factor for all of this was just that I thought it was possible.”
13. Volcano Boarding (Nicaragua)
Snowboarding is an old school. The most extreme way to slide a slope is at Cerro Negro in Nicaragua.The live volcano, which erupted as recently as 1999, has become a hotspot for extreme boarders, who can reach speeds of up to 80 kilometers per hour as they course down the volcano. Run by Bigfoot Nicaragua, day trips include a hike, boarding session, and mojitos.
14. Insanity Ride (United States)
Hovering 270 meters above ground and 20 meters over the edge of Las Vegas’ Stratosphere Tower, these spinning mechanical arms will get your heart pounding probably even before you’ve strapped yourself to a seat. It’s not the only ride offered at the 350-meter Stratosphere Tower, the tallest freestanding observation tower in the United States. But it’s the one most likely to make you question your sanity.
15. Sopelana Naturist Race
There’s a strict dress code for this race — a cap or hat, sunglasses, socks, footwear and nothing else.Formally called Patxi Ros Trophy, the race was initiated by Patxi Ros, sports and naturism lover, in 1999.In 2003 it was taken over by the Basque Country Naturist Club, which uses it to promote the naturalist way of life.
16. Bossaball (Global)
Bossaball combines soccer, volleyball, gymnastics and capoeira, and is played on a big bouncy trampoline-like surface. Players try to ground the ball on the other side of the net. It takes skill and athleticism, but most of all a childish sense of fun.
17. Swim with great white sharks (South Africa)
There are countless places to swim with sharks, but one of the best is in Cape Town.A Great White Shark Diving and Viewing trip from Simon’s Town can also include a visit to the Boulders Beach Penguin Colony.
18. World’s longest cable car ride (China)
The cable car at Tianmen Shan (Heaven’s Gate Mountain) in China’s Hunan province is the world’s longest — it takes 28 minutes from start to finish. China’s scenic town of Zhangjiajie and Tianmen Shan are connected by the 7,455-meter-long cable car ride that gets as steep as 38 degrees in parts. It ascends and descends 1,279 meters.
19. Neuschwanstein Castle paraglide (Germany)
Paragliding anywhere is going to be a thrill, but it looks best in this video of a flight over the fantastical Neuschwanstein Castle in Germany.The building allegedly inspired Walt Disney as he was creating the castles of his cartoons.
20. Harbour Bridge climb (Australia)
More than 2,000 marriage proposals have been made at the summit of the Sydney Harbour Bridge since the bridge climb service went into operation. There are various ways to get to the top of the bridge to view one of the most beautiful harbors of the world — The Express Climb (just more than two hours), The Discovery Climb (3.5 hours up close with the engineering) and The Bridge Climb (3.5 hours along the outer arch).
21. Great Barrier Reef dive (Australia)
If you’re a water baby, or a nature lover, and especially if you’re both, a diving trip to the Great Barrier Reef, one of the world’s greatest natural constructions, will be like coming home. Hook Reef on the east side of Southern Swain Reefs, 220 kilometers from Gladstone, has up to 50 meters of visibility so you can see scorpionfish, parrotfish, fusiliers, sea snakes, crabs, shrimp, starfish, and octopus.
22. Rodeo (United States)
Another sport derived from a functional job, a rodeo, the naughty twin of cattle herding, will test your strength, balance and determination to impress that cute cowgirl or cowboy in the stands. There are various events, from roping and tying up calves, to barrel racing to steer wrestling, so if the thought of sitting on one of those bucking broncs for eight seconds turns you off, don’t fear — there are other ways to get hurt.
23. Free dive at Dean’s Blue Hole (Bahamas)
Don’t be fooled by its poetic name or its tropical location: Dean’s Blue Hole is deep, dark and intimidating.But, if you’re up for it, you can tame the world’s deepest known seawater blue hole by learning to become a free diver. You probably won’t beat William Trubridge, who broke the unassisted free diving record by diving 100 meters here in 2011. And you certainly won’t conquer all 203 meters of this light-and-oxygen-deprived sinkhole. But you’ll have a great time getting close.
24. Ice swimming (Finland)
Don swimming togs, find a deep patch of frozen water, drill a hole, and plunge in — that’s the protocol for this time-honored Finnish custom. If the thought of plunging right into an icy hole sends shivers up your spine, you can heat up with a sauna session first.
25. Wingsuit flight (Switzerland)
You may not want to fly through a waterfall in your wingsuit as one thrill-seeker did in 2011. But just zipping this thing on and preparing to get as close to natural flight as is humanly possible will get your nerves jangling. The United States Parachute Association requires any jumper flying a wingsuit for the first time to have a minimum of 200 freefall skydives.