Here is our top list of the 20 extreme adventures worldwide.
Table of Contents
Adventure sports like bungee jumping are popular. Hundreds of people from all over the world travel to places designed for bungee jumpers. These places have special equipment and well-trained staff; they can even record and edit a nice video of your jump on the spot. The thrill comes from the crazy rush of free falling and the bounce you get when you reach the rope’s end.
The world’s first bungee jump is credited to Oxford University’s Dangerous Sports Club and its charismatic leader, David Kirke. The first modern bungee jump was done by David Kirke and his friends Chris Baker, Ed Hulton, and Alan Weston from the Clifton Suspension Bridge in Bristol, UK, on April 1, 1979.
“My friends kept an eye on me to see what would happen. I didn’t know this. David told ITV in a 2019 interview, “When I started jumping up again, they all jumped.” Later, the local police caught them and put them in jail.
But the Kiwi businessman A.J. Hackett’s famous (and illegal) 147-meter jump from the Eiffel Tower in 1986 made bungee jumping popular. This exciting thing he did got many people’s attention, including the local police, so he had to spend a short time in jail. In 1988, Hackett also developed the first commercial bungee jumping location in Ohakune, which was subsequently permanently relocated to Queenstown, New Zealand’s Kawarau Bridge.
Some well-known places to bungee jump are the Niouc Bridge in Switzerland, the famous Macau Tower, the Bloukrans Bridge in South Africa, the Ponte Colossus in Italy, and the Royal George Suspension bridge in the United States. Nepal is quickly becoming a popular place to bungee jump because of The Last Resort’s low prices and breathtaking views of the Bhote Koshi river.
I like a little bit of adrenaline, and I skydived once in 2018. Let me tell you something: nothing I’ve done before or since comes close to the feeling I had when my instructor and I were rocking back and forth at the door of a Beechcraft King Air aeroplane, getting ready to jump from who knows how many thousands of feet in the air. All your research on how many people have died skydiving, what happens if you pass out while skydiving, etc., goes out the window (quite literally) when you see the ground and the horizon.
Many use “skydiving” and “parachuting” interchangeably to discuss two extreme sports. But the technical differences matter when you get on a plane to fly thousands of feet in the air. Most parachuting is done from a lower height, with a shorter freefall, because the parachute opens quickly. Also, self-deploying chutes and lower technical requirements have made it easier for people to jump on their own.
On the other hand, skydiving is done from a much higher altitude, between 10,000 and 18,000 feet on average. The main thrill of skydiving comes from the freefall, so the parachute opens a long time after the jump. Before the chute opens, it takes 30 seconds if the height is 10,000 feet, 60 seconds if the size is 14,000 feet, and 90 seconds if the measurement is 18,000 feet.
There are also a lot of technical aspects to skydiving. For example, you can no longer speed up when you reach the terminal velocity. You must know how to read the altimeter and figure out when to open the parachute. So, you need a license to skydive to do it.
Some of the most famous places for this extreme adventure are Interlaken in Switzerland, Hawaii, Fox Glacier in New Zealand, and the drop from Mount Everest, the highest point on Earth.
Oh, honey! If skydiving didn’t thrill you, how about skydiving with all the risks and excitement turned up? BASE jumping is like skydiving, but people jump from buildings, antennas, bridges, and the ground instead of the sky.
The American cinematographer Carl Boenish, along with his wife Jean Boenish, Phil Smith, and Phil Mayfield, is credited with making BASE jumping what it is today. They also came up with the term “B.A.S.E. jumping.” In 1978, he used a method called “tracking and ram-air parachute” to jump off El Capitan, a rock in Yosemite. His jump was caught on film, and skydivers worldwide became interested in this new type of more dangerous and exciting skydiving.
Since BASE jumping aims to move as fast as possible, but the time of fall is limited because the distance is much shorter, there is only room for one parachute in these dangerous activities. The parachutes used are bigger and have other special equipment to slow the fall down faster and at a lower speed. Wingsuit BASE jumping is a type of this extreme adventure where jumpers wear special outfits that help them glide around rocks and other objects at speeds of up to 140 miles per hour.
When I mention canyoning, I know what you have in mind. You can picture someone using a rope to descend a stream near a precipice. But that is only a tiny part of the myriad of factors that go into this extreme adventure sport.
Canyoning is also known as canyoneering, and that term more accurately characterizes this outdoor activity. Canyoning is a form of mountaineering where, instead of climbing mountains, you search through canyons seeking hidden and unmarked trails. Can you understand how the name came to be?
Rivers constantly moving downhill wear away and break down massive cliffs and rocky mountainsides over time, and it is what makes a gorge or canyon. The canyon in Grand Canyon is the space between two mountain peaks, also called a rift. These rifts are common in mountain ranges all over the world.
Canyoning is an extreme adventure sport that originated with hikers and bushwalkers who looked far and beyond the often-travelled path to find alternate routes. To reach these locations, one must hike, walk, jump, or even climb; once there, one must abseil or rappel down and swim, depending on the area.
Canyoning has been around for a long time, but it’s still being determined where it came from. Its English name is “canyoning,” Many Americans who like this extreme adventure sport say it started in and around popular climbing spots in the US. The first person to use canyoning to study the depths of Barambiau was the French scientist Edouard Alfred Martel in 1888. Canyoning, however, has its roots in speleology, or cave investigation.
Diving in Caves beneath cenotes on Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula
In Mexico, diving underwater is paired with cave exploration, as if that weren’t already an experience. Yeah, they are descending into caves and other underwater caverns. Some loose-fisted thrill-seekers would consider it an extraordinary adventure, but many people would label it a nightmare.
The Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico is known for its cenotes; sinkholes are created when limestone bedrock collapses and exposes groundwater. These Cenotes, in the eyes of the Mayans, served as the gateway to Xibalba, the underworld. Nonetheless, diving into these cenotes and exploring hundreds of caves, their geological formations and fossil remnants have recently developed into an extreme adventure sport in the jungles of the Yucatan Peninsula.
Rafting on Rapids
Rafting, depending on how thrilling or enjoyable you want it to be, is an activity. Then there is whitewater rafting, a rowdier, riskier, and, quite honestly, much more thrilling subset of rafting. White water rafting is an extreme activity with a more extended history as a recognized sport, in contrast to other extreme activities mentioned above.
Whitewater refers to the parts of a river where the slope of the riverbed abruptly changes, causing turbulence of the water flow that traps air bubbles and gives the water a frothy or white appearance. The term might sound like some racial stereotype from a funny YouTube sketch, but it actually refers to these river sections. Rivers are rated on a scale from Class I in Easy to Class VI in Intense and Exploratory Rapids, according to the American Whitewater Association’s “International standard of river grading.” Class V is the highest one should aim for.
Downhill Mountain Biking
A two-wheeled vehicle is inherently unstable and risky because of this instability. It’s just physics as it is. But what defines an extreme adventure sport is breaking the laws of physics and pushing the human body’s physiology of flight, fight, and fear responses to the limit.
Cycling is a primarily harmless hobby, but downhill mountain riding takes it to the limit. Since the bikes are heavier than the riders, the riders are typically carried up a descent. The thrill starts when the ascent has rugged, steep terrain and involves jumping, descending, abruptly steering, and dodging obstacles as the speed shouts nonsensical action. It challenges the rider’s power, physical prowess, and cycling skills.
Mountain biking has a subgenre called downhill mountain biking. Yet downhill mountain biking uses different bikes than ordinary mountain biking. The bikes are constructed heavier, more robust, and have firmer suspension with smaller 26-inch wheels instead of 29-inch wheels to traverse the uneven terrain as quickly as possible.
Bolivia’s Andes Mountain. Some well-known locations for this extreme adventure activity are Schladming in Austria, The Whistler Mountain Bike Resort in Canada, and Australia, which has produced any nation’s most successful downhill mountain bikers.
“Kite Surfing” would signify nothing to most people; it is merely a collection of unrelated words. However, this extreme adventure makes some people think of a skinny, mean-looking guy with shoulder-length hair, washboard abs, and a sick man who jumps, spins, and does other crazy acrobatics on a surfboard while holding on to a “kite” or a parachute that takes him to very high speeds and altitudes. The daring and glamorous sport of kite surfing has gained enormous appeal in recent years.
The 20th century saw a boom in this extreme activity due to discoveries, particularly the French Legaignoux brothers’ patent for an inflatable kite that made it easier for surfers to get back into the ocean swiftly. The development of kites with the depower option, which meant the surfer was no longer at the whim of simply the wind, was when kite surfing took off in the early years of the twenty-first century.
The extreme sport of kite surfing is possible because of Bernoulli’s principle: the kite lifts off due to the wind passing under its wing, creating a lift; next, the kite and the surfer are propelled forward by weight and drag. Modern kite surfing parachutes, as was previously noted, contain depowering features that allow you to come down without being carried away by the wind.
Some of the world’s most well-known kite surfing locations include Kona Beach in Hawaii, Cabarete in the Caribbean, La Ventana in Mexico, and Cape Town, with high, powerful winds.
I’m from a country where zip lines are an important way to get around in remote hilly areas that are hard to reach by any other means of transportation. When I travelled through these areas, I had to pull myself across scary terrain and rivers through “turns,” as they are called here. Ziplining started small, but it has become a trendy extreme adventure sport in recent years.
One thing that makes ziplining different from the other extreme activities on this list is that you don’t need any special skills or a license. Anybody can do it. Some of the best places for this extreme adventure are Kronplatz in Italy, Table Mountain Zipline in South Africa, Bovec Zipline in Slovenia, and Puerto Plata Zipline in the Dominican Republic.
Can you imagine someone somewhere saw an active volcano and thought, “It would be fun to ride a sledge down the side of this volcano”? Well, that’s good for you, because a sport called “volcano surfing” or “volcano boarding” is hazardous and a lot of fun. People go to specific places in Central America and East Asia to try this crazy adventure.
Zoltan Istvan, who ran for president in the 2016 U.S. elections, says he came up with this crazy adventure in his reporter’s notebook “Surfing the Volcano” for National Geographic. He went to Mount Yasur, an active volcano on the island of Tanna in Vanuatu, and rode a snowboard down the slope!
Mount Bromo in Indonesia is another place to try these dangerous activities. But the most famous place to go volcano boarding is in Nicaragua, which is in Central America. Cerro Negro is a beautiful black active volcano in Leon, Nicaragua. This extreme adventure sport is becoming more and more popular there.
Rock climbing is not a dangerous adventure.” But “rock climbing” is a broad term. It has a lot of hazardous activities, some of which have become very popular in the last 5 years or so. Bouldering, speed climbing, and sports climbing were all officially added to the Tokyo Olympics 2020. (which took place in 2021).
You may have heard of the 2019 Oscar-winning documentary “Free Solo,” which followed climber Alex Honnold as he tried to climb the 900-meter-tall Nose of the cliff El Capitan in Yosemite National Park. Honnold is very good at Free Soloing, a type of climbing that doesn’t use ropes or protection, and Speed Climbing, which is not an Olympic sport.
Under the extreme adventure term “rock climbing,” other activities like Sports Climbing, Trad Climbing, Big Wall Climbing, Crack Climbing, and Bouldering exist. Each of these has different difficulty levels, and you can try them based on how good you are. You don’t just get a short adrenaline rush when you go rock climbing. Instead, you feel fear and excitement for a long time.
We’ve all seen something like this before. Walking on a rope is something that people have done for a very long time. We’ve seen it in the circus, on TV, in movies, and everywhere else in pop culture. In recent years, slacklining has become increasingly popular as a dangerous adventure.
The ropes or lines are less tight when slacklining than when using tight ropes. Because of this, they start to act like very narrow trampolines. Depending on where these ropes are placed, this little, bouncy trampoline requires you to use your core strength, focus, and courage fully.
There are also different kinds of slacklining. The urban lining is when you do it in city parks and streets. The high lining is even more dangerous. But slackline yoga is a great way to push your core strength and agility to the limit.
In Pamplona, Spain Running with the bulls
When you see a dangerous adventure with a bull or bull, you can only think of one country: Spain. Encierro is what it’s called in Spanish, and it’s an event where people run in front of bulls on purpose. The bulls are let loose on the city streets, and fences are put up so they can only run in specific directions.
The most popular place for this dangerous adventure is the Basque city of Pamplona in Navarra, Spain. It takes place every year at the San Fermin festival. The festival begins on July 6 and ends on July 14. The first bull run starts at 8 a.m. on July 7 and continues until the last day. All you have to do is be at least 18 years old, sober, and run in the same direction as the bulls without making them want to chase you.
Swim with Sharks
Oh, Australia, aren’t you just a big piece of land in the Pacific Ocean where crazy animals and even crazier people live? If scuba diving and exploring underwater caves didn’t give you enough adrenaline, Australia offers you the chance to be locked in a cage and thrown into the water with the Great White Shark, one of the most feared animals. Not laughing now, are you mate?
Port Lincon, in the south of Australia, has many places for this dangerous adventure. Under the Neptune Islands Marine Park water, you can pay to be locked in a cage while berley fish bring Great White Sharks to you. Most of the time, one of the most dangerous animals in nature will swim right up to your cage. If you don’t pass, you even get $100 back, almost 20% of the total fee.
Coasteering is another extreme activity that includes cliff jumping. It’s also called “tombstoning” when it’s done without equipment, and the person dives straight into the water. Since 2009, the Red Bull Cliff Diving World series has been held yearly. It is trendy, even though it only features this extreme adventure.
Most of the world’s best places to cliff dive are in the Caribbean.