Here is our list of the 20 most extreme adventures from all around the globe.
Bungee jumping is a popular adventure sport. Hundreds of people all around the globe travel to various destinations that cater specifically to bungee enthusiasts with dedicated infrastructure, well trained staff that even provide nicely recorded and edited video of your jump on the spot. The thrill comes from the insane rush of free falling and the rebound once you reach the maximum extension of the cord.
The Oxford University’s Dangerous Sports Club (nope, I didn’t make this up) with its charismatic leader David Kirke are credited for the world’s first bungee jump. David Kirke and his friends, Chris Baker, Ed Hulton, and Alan Weston made the world’s first modern bungee jump on 1st April 1979 from the Clifton Suspension Bridge in Bristol, UK.
“My friends waited to see what would happen to me. I never realized this. When I started bouncing up again, they all jumped.”, David told to ITV in an interview in 2019. They were arrested later on by the local police.
However, it was the Kiwi entrepreneur A.J Hackett who made bungee jumping popular with his popular (and illegal) 147 meters jump from the Eiffel Tower in 1986. With this thrilling act he caught the attention of a lot of people including the local police for which he had to spend a brief amount of time in jail. Hackett also established the first commercial bungee jumping site in Ohakune in 1988 which later permanently shifted to Kawarau Bridge in Queenstown, New Zealand.
Niouc Bridge in Switzerland, the famous Macau Tower, Bloukrans Bridge in South Africa, Ponte Colossus in Italy, Royal George Suspension bridge in USA are some famous spots around the globe for bungee jumping. Recently Nepal with The Last Resort is quickly becoming a popular bungee jumping destination for its cheap prices and hair raising views over the Bhote Koshi river.
I consider myself a mild adrenaline junky and I have sky dived once, in 2018. Let me tell you something, nothing I had done before and nothing I have done since compares to the sheer outer body experience I got when I and my Instructor were rocking back and forth at the door of a Beechcraft King Air airplane, getting mentally ready to jump from an altitude of god knows how many thousands of feet above the air. All the previous research on how many people have died during sky diving, what happens when you pass out during sky diving, etc., etc. all goes flying away (quite literally) when you see the ground below and the horizon at a distance.
The two extreme adventures “parachuting” and “sky diving” are used interchangeably by a lot of people. But when you board a plane to take you thousands of feet up in the air, the technical differences matter. Parachuting usually is done from a lower altitude, with a shorter freefall because the parachute is deployed quickly and due to the advancements of self deploying chutes and lower technicalities, has lax requirements on self jumping.
Sky diving on the other hand is done from a higher altitude, much higher, on an average from 10,000 ft to 18,000 feet. The main kick in sky diving is derived from the freefall so the parachute is deployed much later after you dive towards the ground! 30 seconds if the altitude is 10,000 ft , 60 seconds if the altitude is 14,000 ft and 90 seconds if the altitude is 18,000 feet before the chute is deployed.
Skydiving also has a lot of technical points and there comes a point when you reach a velocity from which you cannot accelerate further known as the terminal velocity. You need to be able to read the altimeter and judge when to deploy the parachute. Thus, without getting a license for skydiving you aren’t allowed to sky dive alone.
Interlaken in Switzerland, Hawaii, Fox Glacier in New Zealand and the drop from the highest point on Earth, Mount Everest are some of the famous spots for this extreme adventure.
Oh baby! If skydiving didn’t tickle your bones, then how about we do skydiving but with all the risks and the thrill turned up to max settings? BASE jumping is like skydiving but instead of the sky, people jump off from B- Buildings, A- Antennas, S – Spans meaning bridges and E- Earth.
The credit of modern day BASE jumping is given to American cinematographer Carl Boenish who along with his wife Jean Boenish, Phil Smith, and Phil Mayfield also coined the term B.A.S.E jumping. In 1978 he jumped off El Capitan, a rock in Yosemite using a technique called tracking and ram-air parachute. The recorded films of his jump spread the fire of this new extreme adventures sport form of parachuting among skydivers all over the world.
Since the aim of BASE jumping is to accelerate as fast as one can but the time of fall is limited because the distance is much shorter, there is only a space for a single parachute in this extreme adventures. The parachutes used are larger and have other specialist gear to arrest the fall to a lower speed in a shorter time. Wingsuit BASE jumping is a type of this extreme adventure where special costumes help the jumpers to glide around rocks and other objects at speeds of upto 140 miles/hr.
Here is Andrew Stumpf talking about BASE Jumping in the Joe Rogan Podcast.
I know I know what comes in your mind when I say Canyoning. You imagine someone travelling down a stream by a cliff with the help of a rope. But that is just one portion of a whole host of things involved in this extreme adventure sport.
Canyoning is also called as canyoneering and I feel like it describes this outdoor adventure better. Canyoning is a kind of mountaineering but instead of mountains you grapple around for unseen and unmarked pathways in canyons. You see where the name comes from?
Huge cliffs and rocky mountain sides are eroded and weathered over time by the continuous activity of rivers travelling downhill. This creates what we call as gorge or canyon. The canyon in Grand Canyon refers to the separation or rift between two mountain peaks and we see them in various mountain ranges all over the globe.
The extreme adventure sport of canyoning has its roots in hikers and bushwalkers looking far and beyond the often treaded path and finding ways to get from one place to another. It involves hiking, walking, jumping even climbing to get to such places and then abseiling/rappelling to descend down and swimming depending upon the location.
The exact origins of canyoning are muddled as the English name and many American enthusiasts claim that this extreme adventure sport originates in and around popular climbing spots in the US. But, canyoning has its beginnings in speleology or cave exploration and the French scientist Edouard Alfred Martel was the first person to utilize canyoning to explore the abyss of Barambiau in 1888.
Cave diving under Cenotes in Yucatan peninsula Mexico
As if diving under water wasn’t an adventure enough, over at Mexico it is combined with caves. Yes, diving under water into caves and holes. A stuff that many people would classify as a nightmare but some loose screwed thrill seekers would call as an extreme adventures.
Yucatan peninsula in Mexico is famous for Cenotes: sinkholes that are caused due to the collapsing of limestone bedrocks resulting in the ground water being exposed. The Mayans believed that these Cenotes were the entrance to the underworld Xibalba. In modern times however, in the jungles of Yucatan Peninsula diving under these cenotes and exploring hundreds of caves and their geological formations and fossil remains has evolved into an extreme adventures sport.
White water rafting
There is rafting which can be pleasant, relaxing or slightly thrilling if you choose it to be. Then there is the more rowdy, more volatile and frankly far more exciting subsection of rafting known as whitewater rafting. Unlike some of extreme adventures mentioned above, white water rafting is an extreme adventure that has a longer history as an established sport.
Whitewater might sound like some racial stereotype out of some comic YouTube sketch but it actually refers to the sections of a river when the slope of the riverbed changes abruptly resulting in turbulence of the water flow that traps air bubbles and makes the water look frothy or white. According to the scale created by American Whitewater Association named as “International scale of river grading” rivers have 6 grades from Class I in Easy to Class VI in Extreme and Exploratory Rapids. Class V is the maximum that one should go for.
Downhill Mountain Biking
Any vehicle that stands on two wheels is inherently unstable and consequently dangerous. It’s just the laws of Physics. But, defying the laws of physics and pushing the human physiology of flight, fight and fright responses to the max is what makes an extreme adventure sport.
Downhill mountain biking takes our regular innocent activity of cycling and wrenches it to the extreme. The riders are generally carried up a descend because the weight of the bikes is higher. The thrill begins when the ascend has rough, steep terrain that also includes jumping, dropping, abrupt steering and clearing obstacles all the while the speed screams of illogical activity. It tests not just the cycling skill of the rider but also requires a lot of physicality and strength.
Downhill Mountain Biking is a sub-genre of mountain biking. But, the cycles used in Downhill Mountain Biking is different from regular mountain bikes. With an aim of travelling the rocky terrain as fast as possible, the bikes are made heavier, more durable and have better suspension with smaller 26 inch wheel instead of a 29-inche wheel.
Andes Mountain in Bolivia,. Schladming in Austria, The Whistler Mountain Bike Park in Canada and the country that has produced the highest number of successful downhill Mountain bikers, Australia are some of the famous spots for this extreme adventures sport.
For most people “Kite Surfing” would mean absolutely nothing, just some random words thrown in together. But for some people this extreme adventure conjures up an image of lean, mean dude with shoulder length hair and washboard abs covered in a sick tan jumping, rotating and doing all kinds of crazy acrobatics on a surf board while holding on to a “kite” or a parachute that glides him to crazy speeds and heights. This is the glamorous and the extreme adventure of kite surfing that has exploded into popularity in the recent years.
This extreme adventure exploded in the 20th century with new inventions particularly with the patent filed by the Legaignoux brothers from France for an inflatable kite which allowed surfers to get back into the water quickly. It is at the turn of the 21st century when Kite surfing really took off with the advancement in kites with the depower option which meant the surfer was no longer at the mercy of just the wind.
What happens when you are on the surf board strapped with the kite on your torso is an awesome example of Physics in action. This extreme adventure of kite surfing works because of what we know as Bernoulli’s principal: the kite flies due to the wind getting under it’s wing, generating a lift and then the weight and drag come into play enabling the kite and the surfer to keep flying with the wind. As already mentioned before, modern kite surfing parachutes have depowering functions that allow you to come down and not be pulled away by the wind.
Kailua Beach in Hawaii, Cabarete in the Caribbean, La Ventana in Mexico, Cape Towm with its big strong winds are some of the most famous kite surfing spots in the world.
I come from a country where zip lines are integral parts of transportation in the remote hilly areas where otherwise barely any other form of transportation can pierce through. In my time travelling through such areas I have pulled myself across some hair raising terrain and rivers through “tuins” as the locals call it here. But, growing from its humble origins, zip lining has become a very popular for extreme adventure sport in recent years.
One thing that is different from other extreme adventures in this list is that zip lining doesn’t require any specific physical skill or license. Anybody can do it. Kronplatz in Italy, Table Mountain Zipline in South Africa, Bovec Zipline in Slovenia, and Puerto Plata Zipline in Dominican Republic are some of the major hotspots for this extreme adventure.
Volcano Boarding for the slightly unhinged
Can you imagine that someone, somewhere looked at an active volcano and thought: Hmmm, it would be a nice idea to surf down the side of this volcano on a sledge! Well, good for you because the extreme adventure sport of volcano surfing or volcano boarding does exist. In fact, many people travel to specific locations in Central America and East Asia just to try this insane adventure.
Zoltan Istvan, who was a presidential candidate in the 2016 U.S Elections, in his reporter’s notebook “Surfing the Volcano” for National Geographic claims to have invented this extreme adventure. He travelled all the way to Mount Yasur, an active volcano in the island of Tanna, Vanuatu and surfed down the slope on a snowboard! Recorded in 2002 that, unhinged activity has now gone on to be a tourist attraction on Mount Yasur.
You can also try this extreme adventures in Mount Bromo in Indonesia. However, the most famous destination for volcano boarding is in the Central American nation of Nicaragua. Cerro Negro a stunning black active volcano in Leon, Nicaragua is increasingly becoming a popular destination for this extreme adventure sport.
You might think, “Yeah man, I have done some wall climbing at my local indoor wall climbing center. It isn’t an extreme adventure.” But Rock climbing is an umbrella term. It in itself includes many extreme adventures some of which have absolutely rocketed to popularity in the last 5 years or so. In fact, bouldering, speed climbing and sports climbing were officially included at the Tokyo Olympics 2020 (which took place in 2021).
You might have heard about “Free Solo” which won the Best Documentary at the 2019 Oscars that journeyed the climber Alex Honnold as he attempted to climb the 900 meters sheer Nose of the cliff El Capitan at the Yosemite National Park. Free Soloing, one of the disciplines of climbing involves or say doesn’t involve any ropes or protection, along with Speed Climbing (not the Olympic Sport) is where Honnold excels.
There are other disciplines like Sports Climbing, Trad Climbing, Big Wall Climbing, Crack Climbing, and Bouldering under the umbrella extreme adventure term of “rock climbing “. These have all different levels of difficulties that are graded and you can try according to your own skill level. Instead of gwtting one short hit of adrenaline you get a sustained felling of fear and thrill while rock climbing.
We have all seen this somewhere. Rope walking has been a part of human history for a long long time. We have seen it in circus, TV, movies and across all pop culture references. In recent times, popularity for slack lining has been growing as an extreme adventure.
The ropes or lines used in Slack lining have lower tension applied to them as compared to tight ropes. This leads to them behaving like trampolines, very narrow trampolines. Depending upon where these ropes are placed this narrow, bouncy trampoline requires you to used your core strength, focus, and bravery to the max.
Slack lining also has various types. You have urban lining where you practice it in city parks, and streets. Then there is the more dangerous high lining. But, if you want to test your core strength and agility to the extreme, you can try slack line yoga.
Running with the bulls in Pamplona, Spain
Whenever you see an extreme adventure featuring a bull or bulls, there is only one country that shots to your mind: Spain. Encierro as it is called in Spanish is an event where you voluntarily participate in this extreme adventure of running in front of bulls! The bulls are let loose on the streets of the city and fences are erected so that the bulls can run in fixed directions.
The Basque city of Pamplona in Navarra, Spain is the most popular destination for this extreme adventure and it takes place at the San Fermín festival every year. The festival starts on 6th July and ends on 14th July while the first bull run starts at 8AM of 7th July and continues until the last day. All you need is be above 18 years old, not be drunk and run in the same direction as the bulls without enticing them!
Swimming with the Sharks in Australia
Oh Australia, aren’t you just a big chunk of land floating in the Pacific ocean filled with absolutely crazy animals and even crazier people? If scuba diving, under water cave exploring didn’t pump the adrenaline in your body, Australia offers you a chance to be locked in a cage and thrown into the water with one of the most feared animals: the Great White Shark. Not laughing now are ya mate?
Port Lincon is South of Australia has numerous spots for this extreme adventure. Under the waters of Neptune Islands Marine Park you can pay to be securely locked in a cage while the Great White Sharks are attracted using the berley fish. More often than not you will see one of nature’s most feared predators swim right upto your cage. If not, you even are refunded $100, which is almost 20% of the total fee.
Skiing but for dummies that want nothing except the electric embrace of danger with a face splattering hit of adrenaline. Heli skiing, much like volcano boarding, is going to off the beaten path and routes to find remote locations then descending down as fast as you can without being engulfed by the natural disaster that may follow you. For obvious reasons, Heli Skiing is banned in many parts of Europe.
Because these remote locations cannot be accessed by traditionally set ski lifts, helicopters are used to reach the top of the slope hence giving the extreme adventure its name. Avalanche is one of the main threat here which has led to this extreme adventure being banned in many parts of Europe. However, British Columbia, Alaska, Zermatt in Switzerland and some parts of Alps do offer Heli skiing services.
In 2015, Tommy Caldwell and Kevin Jorgensen did something that had never been before done: they climbed the Dawn Wall, the Southeastern face of El Capitan. Not only is it the hardest route in Yosemite but also the toughest Big Wall Climb in the whole world. It took them a total if 19 days to achieve this.
19 days to climb a face of a rock? What? How? Well, Caldwell and Jorgensen climbed the Dawn Wall when the weather supported them and when it didn’t they stayed, ate and slept on portaledges each night. This, my friends was an exhibit of the extreme adventure of cliff camping.
Like with many extreme adventures, this too started from the military. But after nearly killing himself during cliff camping in a storm, John Middendorf the CEO of A5 Adventures developed a mew design for portaledges. Along with the new and safer designs, cliff camoing is slowly rising in popularity as an extension adventure and nations like Britain provide the opportunity to do it even if you aren’t an experienced climber.
Also called as globe riding or sphereing, Zorbing involves massive double layered inflatable balloons which can fit a human being inside. Isn’t it your childhood dream come true? Zorbing can be deployed in numerous ways and you may have seen footballers try this in their training sessions.
However, the most extreme form of this adventure is rolling down the hill in a zorb ball. The outer layer of the ball acts as shock absorber and keeps you safe while you can have plenty of mind rolling fun in the inner layer. As with many things in the world of extreme adventures, zorbing was a concept that came out of New Zealand but you can try it all around the globe.
Cliff jumping is a part of another extreme adventure “coasteering”. When done without the equipment, diving vertically upright into the water, it is also called as tombstoning. Red Bull Cliff Dicing World series, an annual competition held each year since 2009 is extremely popular even featuring solely this extreme adventure.
The majority of the world’s best cliff diving sites are in the Caribbean. Read our list of best places to visit in the Caribbean to know more about such gorgeous locations.
You might have not heard about it, but you bet it’s quite an old and very popular extreme adventure sport. Street luge adds boards that are specially designed for steering and a ban on mechanical braking to gravity. The driver often laying down in supine position races down paved hill or designated courses at speeds that can touch as 100 mph.
Owning to its dangerous nature, there are two governing bodies: International Gravity Sports Association (IGSA) and International Downhill Federation (IDF) that regulate speed limits as well as other equipment used in street luge.
Hunting the Nectar of the Gods in Ghalegaun, Nepal.
Ghale Gaun is a picturesque village, the word “Gaun” literally translates to Village, at an altitude of 2,095 meters and is famous for unparalleled views of the Himalayas. Visitors can stay at homestay local houses catered for tourists and do trekking, hiking, sight-seeing. However, there is one extreme adventure that the locals here have perfected over centuries.
The local Gurung people have practiced hunting honey sustainably from the wild bees in the area. You might say, “Sure, a bee sting is painful but there isn’t anything extreme here.” But remember we aren’t talking about honey from bees in stretches of a beautiful garden. We are talking about dangling tens of feet above the ground, among smoke to pacify the otherwise aggressive bees all the while poking beautiful golden yellow rainbows of honeycombs.
There are tour packages where you can try these extreme adventures yourself. Unlike everything else in this list, the final prize is not just a fleeting sensation of adrenaline but also the deep, sweet honey that also has medicinal benefits.