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25 extreme getaways

  • 25 extreme getaways

    It’s a big world out there. From towering blue mountains to yellow, sun-baked deserts and lush green forests to wide-open valleys, the Earth is a cornucopia of multi-colored and highly variable climates, temperatures, and topography. Within it, people will find tropical jungles, sand-filled beaches, and vast polar tundras. There’s so much of the world to see and so many exciting experiences that it’s no surprise so many travelers seek extreme destinations when planning their vacations. And with budget international airlines, home-sharing, and other innovations that are bringing down the cost of travel along with the rise of social media sharing, more people than ever are traveling abroad and seeking the great unknown.

    For adventurous folks, there’s a wide selection of sites to choose from. On top of wild destinations, many places also offer adrenaline-pumping activities for tourists. Beyond the standard adventure sports like skiing, mountain biking, or whitewater rafting, there’s a wide range of more unique activities, including rappelling rock faces, climbing up ice-covered waterfalls, or even sleeping on the sides of sheer cliffs.

    To salute some of the world’s more far-flung vacation destinations and adventures, Stacker put together a list of the most extreme getaways along with activities to take part in. Some require a certain degree of skill. People who want to go heli-skiing in the Himalayas need to know how to ski first. Those who plan to ride a bike down one of the world’s scariest roads need to know how to ride a bike. Still, many of the adventures included on this list are ones that anyone with courage can do.

    For readers dreaming of their next adventure, check out this list of the world’s 25 most extreme getaways.

    You may also like: 30 tips for traveling alone

  • Sea kayaking in Glacier Bay National Park, Alaska

    Views from the bow of a kayak in Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve are among the most unique—and most extreme—in the world. As giant pieces of glaciers crash into the ocean with thunderous roars, travelers will see icebergs towering in the distance as loons and geese swooping down by their boats. Alaska’s stunning wilderness park can be accessed independently by renting kayaks and taking one of the daily tour boats, or via cruise ship aboard one of the many tours through the area.

  • Hiking the wooden planks of Mount Huashan, China

    Comprising a series of narrow wooden planks jutting out from the side of a cliff roughly 2,000 feet in the air, the Huashan Trail leading to the summit of Mount Huashan, China is one of the most extreme hiking trails in the world. The path up to Mount Huashan, which is one of China’s five sacred mountains, is 7.5 miles long and rises almost 6,000 feet.

  • “Coasteering” in Pembrokeshire, Wales

    Sometimes called “extreme rock pooling,” coasteering involves scrambling along rock faces in the intertidal zone using a combination of swimming, climbing, and jumping. The activity originated from surfers in Pembrokeshire, Wales, and the region remains one of the best places in the world to do it. Travelers can also visit castles, tour theme parks, and watch whales.

  • Exploring giant caves in Phong Nha, Vietnam

    The massive and awe-inspiring Son Doong Cave, which sits inside Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park in Vietnam, is 600 feet tall and over 3 miles long, making it the largest cave on the planet. It is so astronomically large that it generates its own climate and weather system. The park also boasts dozens of other mesmerizing caves.

  • Climbing Mount Kilimanjaro in Moshi, Tanzania

    If climbing the tallest free-standing mountain in the world doesn’t get someone’s adrenaline pumping, there’s not much that will. Towering at 19,341 feet, the famous peak in Tanzania draws between 35,000 and 50,000 climbers to its base camp each year. Of those who try the climb, about 60% to 70% make it to Uhuru Peak successfully, according to Equatours guide company.

  • Slot canyon trekking in Zion National Park, Utah

    Zion National Park in Utah showcases some of the world’s most challenging and intensely adventurous canyoneering routes in the world. The area contains giant slot canyons and offers opportunities to hike through waist-deep channels, rappel down surging waterfalls, and swim through narrow canyons, all while negotiating rocks, logs, and other obstacles. Amid all of that, travelers will soak up the breathtaking scenery.

  • Mountain biking “Death Road” near La Paz, Bolivia

    Known as “Death Road,” the North Yungas Road in Bolivia is considered by many people to be the most dangerous road in the world. The menacing name draws hordes of daredevils every year who want to cycle down its winding path. The 43-mile switchback, which is surrounded by lush Andean cloud forests, has sharp turns with no safety barriers and a 1,600-foot drop to one side.

  • Whitewater rafting the remote Klinaklini River, Canada

    Rafting Class V whitewater rapids is an adventure in itself. However, rafting the Klinaklini River in Canada offers the added excitement of a remote wilderness trek to access it. The stretch of water—which includes rapids with names like “Little Drop of Horrors”—requires a helicopter-assisted hike through vast snowfields across Mount Waddington, British Columbia’s highest peak. Once there, travelers descend the river through steep canyons full of grizzly bears, bald eagles, and other wildlife.

  • Blackwater scuba-diving in Kona, Hawaii

    If regular scuba diving isn’t enough to get the heart pumping, doing it at night while tied to the bottom of a boat, suspended in pitch-black water surely will. Even as far as night dives go, the excursion into the 5,000-foot-deep channel, which involves an underwater parachute, is exceptionally extreme. During the dives, people will get the chance to see a variety of pelagic marine life and sea creatures. Onshore, people can also take part in adventures like helicopter volcano tours or summiting Mauna Kea, the world’s tallest mountain as measured from the seafloor.

  • Horse trekking the Mountains of Heaven, Kyrgyzstan

    Deep in the mountains of Kyrgyzstan sits a vast expanse of virtually untouched wilderness full of sweeping plains and rocky outcroppings. In this overwhelming landscape, adventurous explorers can trek along a genuine Silk Road trail by horseback, traveling from Tash Rabat to Lake Son Kul. Along the way, guided trips offer wild camping under the stars combined with experiences in primitive yurts and remote homestays.

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