Think about your last vacation. Did you lay on a beach while sipping a margarita? Explore a new and exciting city? Go wine tasting with your girlfriends? They all sound amazing (and I would do every one of these by the way), but over the past few years, travelers have been craving more of a once-in-a-lifetime, thrill-seeking adventure. In this feature of THOR Advantage, we explore 8 vacation ideas that only the gutsiest of travelers will dare to consider.
1.Skiing…into a Japanese Volcano
And you thought double black diamond moguls were extreme? While heli-skiing is still popular among expert skiers, I have now learned that skiing can be taken to a whole new level, literally. Hokkaido, Japan’s northernmost island, offers skiers the chance of a lifetime to ski into the crater of Mount Yotei’s volcano. Only this time, there won’t be a chair lift or helicopter assisting you to the top. This grueling 6-8-hour hike to the top is only for the most dedicated and experienced skiers, and I hate to break it to you, but only 20 skiers per year successfully ski into Mount Yotei’s crater. Those that are successful become part of an elite few to have skied into a volcano. (selfie required)
2.Cycling in Vietnam
Did I scare you off yet?
I’m going to take it down a notch and give you an experience that I did myself. While it’s not “thrill-seeking,” it’s certainly adventurous and my most memorable vacation to date: cycling through the Mekong Delta in Vietnam. My family and I did a 3-day trip and cycled 20 miles per day through the Mekong Delta. The best part? It’s too beautiful and life changing to focus on the 20-mile trek. You don’t need to be an expert cyclist to do this (prerequisite: know how to ride a bike, even if it hasn’t been for years). Trekking through the villages gives you the opportunity to see the culture and lifestyle of the locals, which is something you could never see without doing a trip like this. During our 3-day ride, we were unexpectedly invited to a local’s wedding and given snake wine to drink. (and yes, I said snake wine, that is not a misspelling).
3.4W ATV Riding in Moab
Moab’s beauty attracts millions of hikers each year, and it’s also extremely popular with ATV enthusiasts. Located in eastern Utah, Moab provides thousands of miles of unpaved roads for ATVer’s to explore. With the backdrop of the snow-kissed mountains, your views can’t get any sweeter. While it might be scenic, these off-roading conditions are not for beginners. Moab Rim, one of Moab’s most difficult trails, presents many obstacles along the way, including tricky turns and tilted rock layers. For more information on Moab Rim trail, visit https://utah.com/atv/moab-rim-trail.
4.Bungee Jumping in Macau
Adrenaline junkies…this is for you! Sure, there are tons of places to bungee jump, but if you’re going to take the plunge, you might as well take it from the longest bungee jump in the world, Macau Tower. Known as the “skyjump,” jumpers begin their thrill-seeking adventure at 764 feet high, the equivalent of two-and-a-half football fields. If you’re a bit hesitant at the top, keep in mind that the entire jump lasts for a mere 5 seconds since you will be accelerating up to nearly 125 mph. You’ll be down before you can even blink, and this leap of faith is sure to come with some pretty strong bragging rights!
5.Roller Coaster Thrill
Okay, so maybe bungee jumping is a bit too extreme. Perhaps you’re planning a family vacation with younger children and can’t quite make the trip to China. My favorite amusement park as a child was in my home state of Ohio: Cedar Point. It is the second oldest and one of the most visited amusement parks in the United States and has held a record for having the tallest roller coaster for the past several years. The “Maverick” was recently rated the third best roller coaster in the nation by USA Today and it’s the only amusement park in the world that has 5 roller coasters taller than 200 ft. Pack your bags during the summertime and enjoy a weekend that is sure not to disappoint.
6.Catching Some Waves
While expert surfers tend to migrate to Hawaii or Costa Rica, one of the most extreme destinations to surf includes Dungeons, in Cape Town, South Africa. Surfers may recognize this hot spot as the former location for the Red Bull Big Wave Africa contest, and it is known as one of the most beautiful places to visit in the Cape Peninsula. While the scenery might take your breath away, so will the waves. Since you have to scale a mountain in order to get into the break, it serves as no easy task. It’s a popular spot for both locals and globetrotters during South Africa’s winter, boasting large waves ranging from 3-4 meters. Still don’t believe me? Well, there’s always YouTube to find out!
7.Hiking in Maroon Bells
I’ve lived in Colorado for over 10 years now, and one of the most beautiful and challenging hikes includes Maroon Bells. Located just 12 miles from Aspen, Maroon Bells is one of the most photographed hikes in Colorado and its colorful beauty is especially preeminent during the Fall season, with its green and yellow leaves splashed across the mountain backdrop. While it’s easy to “get lost” in the beautiful photographs, it’s also easy to get lost on this trail if you’re not paying close attention. The hike is easy-moderate until you reach 11,000 feet on the east slope. It’s often described as “deceptive” since the rock is down sloping and unstable. It’s safe to say that if you’re not an expert climber, stay below 11,000 feet and enjoy the breathtaking views that surround you.
If you want to see gorilla’s behind glass windows, head to the nearest zoo. If you’re looking to interact with them in their natural habitat, head to Uganda and take a gorilla safari. Once you arrive in Uganda’s coastal town of Entebbe, you will fly to Kibale Forest National Park. During your 11-day adventure, you will hike and ride around the forest, where you will be able to see how elephants, gorillas, and chimpanzees interact in their natural environment. In addition, hiking up to 8,500 feet will allow you to track the gorillas and see animals like you’ve never seen them before. For more information on this incredible adventure, visit www.bwindiforestnationalpark.com.
From catching massive waves in South Africa to hiking into thin air in Colorado, each of these 8 adventures are sure to be nothing less than memorable, and in some cases, life-changing. While everyone deserves a relaxing vacation to rejuvenate from time-to- time, perhaps when you’re planning your next vacation, you will consider these eight crazy adventures. Sometimes we need to live outside our comfort zone, experience the unknown, and travel to unexpected places. As the world famous athletic brand Nike always says: “Just do it.”