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Adventure travel and extreme sports aren't just for the daredevils or adrenaline junkies of the world. By challenging yourself, pushing your comfort zone and testing your limits, you really find out what you are capable of. Adventure travel reveals exactly who you are, demanding the most of your physical, psychological and spiritual self.
For those travellers who don't regularly participate in an extreme sport, but who would like to try something new, it can be difficult to know where to go and what to do, whilst still travelling independently. Increasingly, specialist travel agencies and tour operators are appearing selling high-priced 'Adventure Tours'. In many cases, these businesses act as little more than brokers, on-selling an extreme sports activity to foreign tourists at inflated prices. This guide aims to change this, providing information on what to do and how to arrange it independently.
For some people, there comes a point when life's challenges must take on new dimensions. Even the glories of professional and social success can't compare to the rush of achieving personal quests in nature. The reason? No matter how sophisticated and successful we become, nature maintains the upper hand.
Experiencing nature at its most extreme can reveal exactly who you are. Face the challenge of freezing temperatures, soaring altitudes, pounding G forces and barren deserts. Venture to places that test your ability to persevere; push your body to the limit in the harshest conditions and with the most demanding activities. Savor the rewards that only come from experiencing nature at its most extreme.
B.A.S.E. Jumping (or BASE Jumping) is an extreme sport where a person jumps off a fixed object with just a parachute. B.A.S.E. is an acronym for Buildings, Antennas, Spans (e.g a bridge) and Earth (e.g. a cliff). BASE Jumping grew out of skydiving. As BASE Jumps are generally from lower altitudes, it is seen as much more dangerous and there has been a high number of serious injuries and deaths. It is also seen as one the most adrenaline fuelled adventure sport. The BASE Jumper, Dean Potter, is the current National Geographic 'Adventurer of the Year'.
Similar to bungee jumping, a person (or people) are tied to a long elastic chord and jump from a ledge, cliff or bridge. However, instead of freefalling vertically before springing back up, the person swings Tarzan-like over a huge gorge or valley.
Bungee (or bungy) jumping involves jumping from a tall ledge with a bungee cord attached to the person (or people). It is the epitome or an adrenaline sport as it involves danger, speed, a thrill and it will usually be within a mountain range or a valley. The most popular commercial bungee jumps are run by A J Hackett in New Zealand.
Canyoning is travelling through canyons using a variety of techniques including; walking, scrambling, climbing, jumping, abseiling, and/or swimming. Canyoning can vary in the difficulty level but is ofter done in remote settings where the beauty of the landscape is the main pull. Often people will travel through waterfalls and rugged gorges. The most popular canyoning destinations are those in mountain canyons with flowing water.
Hang gliding is an air sport where an unmotorised glider is launched into the air and can be gliding airborn for hours if flown in areas of rising air. Hang gliders can be foot-launched off a high peak, launched by powered aircraft or towed by a boat. Hang gliding is traditionally seen as an unsafe sport but the accident rate has dramatically decreased in recent years.
Paragliding is similar to hang gliding but a fabric wing is used (similar to a parachute). It is a more gentle flight than hang gliding.
Heliskiing is off-trail, downhill skiing that is accessed by a helicopter, not a ski lift. The attraction of heliskiing is being able to ski in natural environments without the effort or gear compromise required for hiking into these areas. Often Heliskiers are after powder snow, natural terrain contours and steep, variable or extreme slopes, all of which are rare to get with ski resorts.
Ice climbing is similar to rock climbing though is refers to the activity of ascending ice formations - usually features such as frozen waterfalls and cliffs and rockslabs covered in ice. The ice can vary greatly in different weather conditions.
Gaining popularity every day, Kite Surfing is the hottest adventure activity out there today. Possibly that is because the power of the kite is extreme and gives you power, excitement and control all rolled up in to one. Although it looks like a lot of work, the inginuitively designed harness put most of the work on your lower back and stomach, thus not killing your upper arms. If you haven't had a chance to try Kite Surfing yet, make sure you do!
While nearly everywhere that has water and wind has kitesurfing, some of the more popular locations include:
Mountain biking is simply off-road travelling on a bicycle designed for rough terrain and conditions. People take part in mountain biking competitively but usually it is done for fun and to take in the countryside. It has a bit more edge than hiking. Dirt bikes are motored and driven on rough terrain, normally competitively.
River Boarding is essentially body-boarding on white-water rapids. Foam boards are used as buoyancy and flippers for propulsion. This is a growing sport in North America through media exposure. In Europe it can be called Hydrospeed and in New Zealand it is refered to as White Water Sledging. Locations include:
Rock climbing involves a person climbing up natural rock formations or man-made walls, in most cases with safety ropes (though the more experienced climbers sometimes go without). Rock climbing is a test of strength, endurance, agility and balance and can vary greatly in difficulty according to the contours of the wall or rock face.
Abseiling (or rappelling) is the controlled descent down a rope from a cliff, or high structure. It can be a quicker way of descending than climbing.
Scuba is an acronym for Self Contained Underwater Breathing Apparatus. It is a form of underwater diving where a diver uses a scuba set to breath underwater.
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The United States are home to some amazing downhill skiing. Although skiing can be found in most of the northern states the best skiing is either in the Rocky Mountains, Sierra Nevada or along the east coast. There is also some good skiing to be found in Alaska, if you want to brave the cold and long nights. If interested in cross country skiing it can be found in almost all of the northern states. One place with great cross country skiing is the upper peninsula of Michigan. For more information on skiing in specific states read the articles:
Due to its northern location and plentiful snow, Hokkaido has some of the best skiing in Japan. This means if you're planning a ski vacation to Japan, a stop at one of Hokkaido's ski resorts is a must.
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An avid adventure traveller, I've experienced some amazing adventures right around the globe.
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