Travel can bring out a lust for adventure in even the meek. There’s something about leaving familiar surroundings that inspires us to try new things, even if those things would never even appear on our radar at home. Somehow, skydiving doesn’t seem so crazy when the backdrop is the striking landscape of one of the most beautiful countries in the world. So for all those gutsy explorers — and the ones who want to summon the courage — here are some daring exploits to try around the world.
1. Spain: Running of the Bulls
The rousing spectacle of bulls racing through the streets of Pamplona is a famous image. But watching the bulls is one thing — and running with them is another. The festival of San Fermin honors the patron saint of Navarra every year from July 6 through 14. The highlight is the Encierro, when the bulls are lead through the streets of the old quarter to the bull ring by runners. Although thousands of runners participate, only those in top physical condition are encouraged to run. If you are prone to stumbling or falling over things, a balcony view may be best because one person falling can trip up the other runners, which can be a dangerous situation. Runners are required to be quick, agile, and have cool nerves. In other words, they can’t freak out when they see a herd of bulls charging toward them. The actual run only lasts three to four minutes, but that can seem like a lifetime if you find yourself close to the sharp horns of a bull behind you.
2. Macau: Bungy Jumping From Macau Tower
The 764 foot Macau Tower bungy jump ranks as the highest commercial bungy jump in the world in the Guinness World Record. Standing on top of the tower’s edge and gazing down over the glittering Macau skyline counts as a brave act by itself but free falling down at 124 miles an hour takes you to another level. Equipped with a harness and a special cable that prevents you from bumping against the tower when you jump, you’ll plummet down at a surreal speed and then bounce back up. It’s the ultimate test for falling and height fears. For an extra edge, try the night bungy.
3. Costa Rica: Scaling An Active Volcano
Sure, this Central American beauty is known for zip-lining and surfing thrills, but you can do those activities almost anywhere. That’s not the case for volcano climbing. You just don’t find many active, ash-shooting volcanos everywhere — but Costa Rica is home to six. Arenal is the most famous and until recently, one of the most active volcanos in the world, spewing out lava three times a day. Rising up 5,357 feet on the northern tip of the country, Arenal forms a striking spectacle, with smoke and ash floating around the summit. Arenal is located in Arenal Volcano National Park and hiking tours to the crater’s western rim were very popular until several people were killed by ash and falling cinders. Now you will see signs announcing that climbing the volcano is prohibited but since Arenal hasn’t erupted in six years, there are still guides who will lead climbs toward the crater. For a less risky hike, walking through the surrounding forests and lava fields can supply a sense of daring without the danger.
4. New Zealand: Skydiving
New Zealand is synonymous with adventurous stunts; locals classify canyoning, hang gliding, and zorbing (rolling down a hill in an inflatable ball) as ordinary activities. But there’s nothing like jumping out of a plane to really up the ante. Skydiving is one of the country’s top excursions with a wealth of options available. Adrenaline junkies can skydive over Lake Taupo, New Zealand's largest lake, catch a glimpse of snow-capped Southern alps from Queenstown or view both the north and south island from Abel Tasman.
5. Mexico: Swimming With Whale Sharks
There are only a handful of places around the globe where swimming alongside the biggest fish in the sea is a common excursion and the crystalline waters of Isla Holbox, located on the northeastern tip of the state of Quintana Roo, is one of the most popular. Measuring 40 feet long and weighing about 15 tons, these spotted creatures appear menacing and capable of quickly gobbling up a few legs as a snack. But once you’re splashing next to docile whale sharks, which aren’t technically sharks at all, you’ll realize that they’re only interested in the plankton floating around your legs. It’s an adventure that sounds scary — but isn’t at all — so that’s a win for timid travelers everywhere.
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