7 extreme ways to travel

Posted by Adel Groenewald on 29 June 2012

As lovers of travel, it’s safe to say that we spend much time reading about, and dreaming about, the places we’d love to see and the things we’d love to. You’ll know what I mean if you also find yourself spending endless lunch hours browsing interesting travel sites.

My question to you is: have you ever explored the places that are so off the beaten track that you won’t come across them during your average lunchtime search?

Some call it adventure holidays, others call it extreme tourism, but the idea remains the same: These holidays are there to give you a thrill, take you somewhere unusual and make you do things you won’t normally do. But don’t worry; if you follow the rules, they won’t put your life at risk.

Have a look at these 7 extreme ways of travel and tell us which of them you’d give a try.


1. Cycling across the Tibetan plateau

Aptly named the roof of the world, this region of Tibet has one of the highest average altitudes on earth. It’s definitely not for the faint at heart, but it gauruntees an exciting new perspective on mountain biking.

Grasshopper Adventures and Bike Himalayas both offer tours of between 26 and 28 days that cover the renowned road between Lhasa to Kathmandu on a mountain bike. You’ll not only cycle in the Himalaya Mountains, but you’ll also experience ancient Tibetan cultures and visit some of the most sacred monasteries in Asia.

*Photo courtesy of Hendrikj.


2. Volcano trekking in Italy

Keen hiker? Know the Drakensberg like the palm of our hand? Well perhaps it’s time you have a look at volcano trekking. Some churning red lava might just give your hike that extreme twist.

Stromboli Island is one of the eight Aeolian Islands, situated just off the coast of Italy. These islands are known for their volcanic activity, but Mount Stromboli boasts what is perhaps the most active volcano in the world. With Volcano Discovery, you can climb the 900m to the summit in the afternoon and hang out until about 23h00, watching live volcano activity while the Tyrrhenian Sea and the jet black beaches lie below.

*Photo courtesy of m.aquila


3. Couch surfing in Afghanistan

For those who are not yet familiar with the term ‘couch surfing’, it basically means crashing on strangers’ couches the world over – for free. You can read more on my post about 8 ways to travel for free.

Even though showing up in a new country, on the doorstep of someone you’ve never met, seems a bit risky in itself, it gets truly extreme when you choose Afghanistan as your destination. The Afghanistan group is quite active on Couch Surfers, with about 400 members, and you’ll find a few warnings and tips on here that you won’t find on the London and Amsterdam groups, for example.

Potential Afghanistan couch surfers are warned against being ‘in the wrong place at the wrong time’ and they specifically highlight the high and low risk areas. And with high risk they mean ‘off limits’. The tips for hitchhiking and politics should also come in handy if you ever plan a solo, transport-less journey to Afghanistan.

*Photo courtesy of United Nation Photo.


4. War zone tours in Iraq

Many believe that the strip between the Euphrates and the ancient city of Babylon – in Iraq – is the cradle of Western civilisation. Unfortunately, warfare has all but ruined Iraq’s tourism industry. But don’t let this stop you, because a trip to war zone could well mean one of your most adventurous travel experiences to date.

Hinterland tours, in particular, view what some may call dangerous war zones, as exciting travel opportunities. They specialise in Iraq’s Mesopotamia and promise to offer only thrill and no injury or danger. As the situation here has increased considerably, they’re even adding previous ‘off limits’ areas back to their itinerary

This is the ideal chance to brush up on your historic and cultural sights, with an added touch of adventure and perhaps even some of Saddam Hossein’s former residencies – just for fun.

*Photo courtesy of Casbr.


5. Dog sledding in Canada

Since South Africa isn’t known for its cupious amounts of snow, we tend to travel great distances to be immersed in this freezing white substance. So why not experience it like locals the next time you make the trip?

Dog mushing holidays in Yukon give people with different levels of dog-sledding knowledge the chance to feel the icy wind in their hair as they’re whisked along by a pack of huskeys. Trips can last anyting from five to 15 days and promise a snow experience you won’t forget soon.

*Photo courtesy of http2007.


6. Motorcycle through central Mongolia

Avid motorcyclist? Spend weekends exploring our country’s many scenic roads? Well perhaps it’s time you take 10 days to explore the central provinces of Mongolia on two wheels.

See beautiful, and sometimes rather unusual, scenes and learn a bit more about the nomadic way of life of the locals as you drive the 1 400km route with Responsible Travel. The tour includes bike hire, so don’t worry about sending your beauty on a freight plane.

*Photo courtesy of The Adventurist.


7. The world’s longest and fastest zip line in South Africa

You might know it better as a foefie slide and it may well bring back childhood memories of holiding onto a branch and sliding down a rope all the way from the treehouse to the lawn. Take that memory, add a dash of extreme to the mix and you can create new memories that are much higher and much faster.

Aptly named, Unreal Zip 2000, this extreme pastime is conveniently located in South Africa, about five minutes outside Sun City. The zip line is 2km long and 280m high at its highest points. You’ll be travelling at around 120km/h, but don’t let this discourage you. Children as young as 12 and grannies as old as 84 have zipped down, smiling as they do so.

To try it for yourself will cost you R380 – completely worth it if you consider that you’ll undertake one of the top extreme holiday actitivities around. If you just feel like watching though, it’ll cost you R80, proving how high the entertainment value really is.


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