Thrill seeker's bucket list: 50 experiences to try before you die
Nude runs, meals in the sky, cycling on one of the world's most dangerous roads. There's no excuse for being bored with so many adrenaline-pumping adventures out there.
Here are 50 heart-pounding, life-affirming things to try before you die -- just don't do them all in the same week or they may be the very thing that kills you.
Which of these insane activities would you try? Vote now on our Facebook poll!
1. Be a jet fighter pilot for a day, worldwide
Are you a Maverick or a Goose? "Top Gun" references aside, these day you really can fly a fighter jet. Choose from the MiG-29, L-39 Albatross and Hawker Hunter to finally realize those childhood, Tom Cruise-inspired dreams.
MiGFlug is available in various locations from Russia, the United States, the United Kingdom and other European countries.
www.migflug.com; +41 (0) 44 500 5010
2. Go volcano boarding, Nicaragua
Snow boarding is old school. The latest extreme way to slide a slope can be found at Cerro Negro in Nicaragua.
The live volcano, which erupted as recently as 1999, has become a hot spot for extreme boarders. Boarders can reach speeds of up to 80 kilometers per hour as they course down the volcano's sides. The day trip, run by Bigfoot Nicaragua, includes a hike through the landscape, a boarding session and a couple of mojitos to cool down with afterwards.
www.bigfootnicaragua.com; +505 8917 8832; US$28
3. Enter the Cage of Death, Australia
Stare into the faces of some of Australia's biggest saltwater crocodiles for 15 minutes, separated by nothing more than a couple inches of perspex.
Luckily the cage can house two people at one time, so there'll be someone there to hold your hand.
www.crocosauruscove.com; +61 8 8981 7522; US$159/232 for 1/2 persons
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4. Cling to a cliff, China
Here's a trek with a difference: at 2,160 meters, the majestic South Peak of Mount Hua is one of the most popular among climbers in the mountain range, and, some say, the most treacherous.
At one point one kilometer above the ground, you have to traverse a slim wooden plank stuck to the face of a vertical cliff.
5. Ride Insanity, United States
Hovering 270 meters above the ground and 20 meters over the edge of Las Vegas' Stratosphere Tower, these spinning mechanical arms are sure to get your heart pounding and your hands sweating. And that's before you've strapped yourself to a seat.
It is not the only ride that is offered at the 350-meter Stratosphere Tower, the tallest freestanding observation tower in the United States. But it is perhaps the one most likely to make you question your own sanity.
www.stratospherehotel.com; +1 702 380 7711; US$12
6. Go Zapcat powerboating, United Kingdom
If anything was built purely for speed, and therefore thrills, it's these inflatable catamaran hulls decked out with powerful racing engines. The Gs can be brutal, and the jumps will make you wonder whether you're sailing or flying, but there are few things on water that beat these bad boys for bragging rights.
The powerboat experience in the United Kingdom is run by the current National Zapcat Championship winning team.
www.redletterdays.co.uk; ＋44 0845 640 8000; US$160 per hour
7. Climb the outside of CN Tower, Canada
The thrill of visiting Toronto's CN Tower used to be the half-kilometer ride up the elevator. Now, brave punters can dangle from the outside of the roof of the tower’s restaurant, 356 meters above the ground.
The Edge Walk lasts one and a half hours, with about 20 to 30 minutes spent on the walk itself.
www.edgewalkcntower.ca; ＋1 855 553 3833; US$183
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8. Perform an Everest skydive, Nepal
You could spend months preparing for, and eventually climbing, the world's highest mountain ... or you could fly above it on a plane and skydive past it.
The self-proclaimed "world’s most elite skydiving adventure" allows adventurers to jump from 29,500 feet, higher than the Everest summit. Not only will you free fall past the world’s highest mountain, you'll get to laugh at those struggling to make their way up and down on foot.
www.everest-skydive.com; +33 634 267 097; US$24,035/32,182 for 1/tandem
9. Jump the Nevis Bungy, New Zealand
Think Usain Bolt is quick? You can travel 134 meters in 8.5 seconds, if you have a go on the Nevis Bungy, New Zealand's highest.
The adventure starts before you get to the pod, 134 meters above the Nevis River, with a 4x4 jeep journey across the kiwi backcountry. Here's a tip: don't wear white pants.
www.bungy.co.nz; +64 0800 286 4958; US$230
10. Free dive at Dean's Blue Hole, Bahamas
Don’t be fooled by its poetic name or its tropical location. Dean’s Blue Hole is deep and dark and intimidating. But, if you're up for it, you can tame the world's deepest known seawater blue hole by learning to become a free diver.
You probably won't beat William Trubridge, who broke the unassisted free diving record by diving 100 meters here in December last year. And you certainly won't conquer all 203 meters of this light-and-oxygen-deprived sinkhole. But you will have a great time trying to do so.
www.verticalblue.net; a four-day beginner's course starts at US$475
11. Ride the world's steepest roller coaster, Japan
The world’s steepest steel roller coaster opened at the Fuji-Q Highland Amusement Park in Tamanash, Japan this year.
On top of a free fall of 121 degrees, you will fight the G-forces through seven twists and a drop of 43 meters. The near-vertical free fall is the 14th Guinness World Record set by Fuji-Q, one of the leading amusement parks in the world for thrill seekers.
www.fujiq.jp; +81 0555 23 2111; US$13
12. Go Zorbing, worldwide
Yes it looks and feels faintly ridiculous, but there's nothing like tumbling around in a giant inflatable ball to bring out the child in you. Whether you do it wet or dry, alone or in a group, you can be sure you'll end up screaming and laughing to the last roll.
And it’s simple: get to the top of the hill, crawl into the giant inflatable orb and off you go. Your only regret will be not having room for one in your back yard.
www.zorb.com; +64 9 306 8070; around US$40 per person.
13. Go water buffalo racing, Indonesia
Balancing on small, wooden chariots while wading through shin-deep wet rice fields, racers have to control both their own nerves and not one but two charging bullocks.
You won't be able to compete, but just watching these animals careering almost out of control through mud and water will got your blood pumping. The water buffalo races are held every year in Negara Town, Bali in October.
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14. Run with the bulls, Spain
This one might be a bucket-list cliché, but there is no adrenaline rush quite like the fear of being gored in the back and trampled by one of the world’s most powerful land mammals.
The biggest Running of the Bulls event occurs during the nine-day festival in San Fermin Festival (July 6-14) in Pamplona, Spain. Fifteen bulls charge through the streets of the old city, to be herded from off-site pens into the bull ring.
If you get cold feet, they run for seven consecutive mornings so you won’t miss your chance. Do take extra care though -- 15 people have died since 1924.
www.pamplona-spain.com; ＋34 1 888 825 4720
15. Take part in an Office Chair Race, Germany
Sitting in the same old office chair day after day can be so dull. Why not kit it out with crazy add-ons and race it down the road?
The Office Chair Racing Championship in the German resort town of Bad Koening sees more than 50 participants race downhill over jump ramps. The latest winner, Luxembourger Pierre Feller, completed the 200-meter course in 26.95 seconds, reaching speeds of up to 35 kilometers per hour.
16. Kayak over a waterfall, United States
Floating down a river isn't always an exercise in blissful stress reduction. Taking on the waterfalls of the Palouse region of eastern Washington State and northern Idaho is proving an irresistible sport for young gun pro kayakers.
Tyler Bradt, who clinched a 3.7-second free fall over the 57-meter (that's higher than Niagara Falls) Palouse Falls in eastern Washington in 2009, said “the motivating factor for all of this was just that I thought it was possible.”
A video of Tyler Bradt’s adventure: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uNXh9gXDd2Y
www.parks.wa.gov; ＋1 360 902 8844
17. Take a motorcycle cab ride, Thailand
Don’t make the mistake of thinking this is some ordinary cab ride. Commuting on two wheels in Thailand is an adventure.
In places like Krabi and Bangkok, tourists and locals alike often enjoy the thrill of snaking through crowded streets at high speed, inches away from buses on either side.
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18. Run (or limp) the Marathon des Sables, Morocco
Six days, 50 C, 254 kilometers -- just some of the reasons this ultra marathon across the Sahara Desert in Morocco is known as the world's toughest foot race.
This isn't one to go into unprepared. Competitors must carry all their own equipment and even experienced runners train for years for the race. In 2007, two competitors died on the way.
The race for 2012 is now accepting applications.
www.darbaroud.com; +1 208 787 2077; US$4,472
19. Ride around the Nurburgring, Germany
BMW “Ring Taxis” are available from April to October, during which you can be driven around a race track in a BMW M3 by a professional driver.
The rides take place in the Nordschleife, one of the two race tracks in Nurburgring. It was given the name “Green Hell” by Formula 1 racer Jackie Stewart.
Ring taxis get booked up a year in advance, but you can keep an eye out for any cancelled tickets as April approaches.
www.nuerburgring.de; +49 2691 302 9777; US$277
20. Go hot air ballooning, Turkey
It's one of the oldest, and finest, ways to see the world. Enjoy the sweeping vistas of the Cappadocia while you float silently in clear skies above the region's villages.
Be sure to wave to your fellow hot air ballooning enthusiasts and get ready for the bubbly Champagne toast ahead of an enjoyable ride.
www.hotairballooncappadocia.com; ＋90 533 768 3409; US$213
21. Go whitewater rafting, Zambia
If you're up this creek without a paddle you're in trouble. The Zambezi River in Africa is rated Class 5; “extremely difficult,” just under “unrunnable.”
Its thundering rapids -- nicknamed Oblivion, Overland Truck Crash and Stairway to Heaven -- pull no punches. Just below Victoria Falls, you'll be hit relentlessly by the raging waters and tested by precipitous drops and deadly whirlpools.
www.orangeriverrafting.com; +27 (0) 21 853 7952; US$140 per person
22. Dine in the sky, worldwide
"Pull up a seat" takes on a new and literal meaning. You and 21 of your friends can eat dinner hanging from a crane 50 meters in the air.
Each meal takes around an hour, and going to the toilet can be a rather unsubtle affair as the whole table needs to descend if someone's really needs to go. But this is one meal that'll be memorable for other reasons.
www.dinnerinthesky.com; +32 2 333 3810; US$420 per person
23. Climb Harbour Bridge, Australia
More than 2,000 proposals have been made at the summit of the Sydney Harbour Bridge since the bridge climb service went into operation. And it's easy to see why.
There are various ways to get to the top of the bridge to view one of the most beautiful harbors of the world -- The Express Climb (just over two hours), The Discovery Climb (3.5 hours up close with the engineering), The Bridge Climb (3.5 hours along the outer arch).
www.bridgeclimb.com; ＋61 (0) 2 8274 7777; US$185-305
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24. Swim with great white sharks, South Africa
There are countless places where you can swim with sharks (50 of which are listed here), but one of the best is on offer in Cape Town.
A Great White Shark Diving and Viewing trip from Simon's Town can also include a visit to the Boulders Beach Penguin Colony.
www.cpepointtroute.co.za; ＋27 21 782 9356; US$300
25. Ride the London Eye, United Kingdom
Three million people can't be wrong, can they? That's the amount of people who have taken a ride on Europe's biggest Ferris wheel each year.
The giant 135-meter tall icon is to London what the Eiffel Tower is to Paris. But much more fun to ride. Trips take about 30 minutes and provide spectacular views across the city.
To take it up a notch go at night, when London's lights spread out for miles around.
www.londoneye.com; +44 (0) 871 781 3000; from US$27
26. Run the Wenger Patagonian Expedition Race, Chile
There's no better way to appreciate the Patagonian landscape than to swim in its freezing rivers, hike its hills, cycle its paths and climb and kayak your way through its 563 kilometers of rugged topography.
Teams of four take up to 10 days to travel through the roughest and most remote corners of Patagonia. Racers can only use satellite images to navigate. The clock never stops and many teams take just a few hours of sleep over the duration of the race.
27. Wingsuit Fly, Switzerland
You may not want to fly through a waterfall in your wingsuit as one guy did earlier this year. But just zipping this thing on and preparing to get as close to natural flight as is humanly possible will get your nerves jangling.
The United States Parachute Association requires any jumper flying a wingsuit for the first time have a minimum of 200 freefall skydives. Click here for steps to be certified as a wingsuit flier.
Some wingsuit schools to look up once you're ready:
Flock University --www.flockuniversity.org
Fly Your Body -- www.flyyourbody.com
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28. Go ice swimming, Finland
Don your swimming togs, find a deep patch of frozen water, drill a hole and plunge in. That's the protocol for this time-honored Finnish custom.
If the thought of plunging right into an icy hole sends shivers up your spine, heat up with a sauna session first. The freezing climes that you encounter afterward may be a slight relief.
Watch a video of ice-hole swimming in Finland here.
29. Run the Spoelana Naturist Race, Spain
There's a strict dress code for this race -- a cap or hat on the head, sunglasses, socks, footwear and nothing else. Formally called Patxi Ros Trophy, the race was initiated by Patxi Ros, sports and naturism lover, in 1999.
In 2003 it was taken over by the Basque Country Naturist Club who used it to promote the naturalist way of life.
30. Paraglide over Neuschwanstein Castle, Germany
Paragliding anywhere is going to be a thrill, but we were inspired by a video of a flight over the fantastical Neuschwanstein Castle in Germany. This building allegedly inspired Walt Disney as he was creating the castles of his cartoons.
www.abschweb.net; +49 08367 598; US$160 per flight
31. Play bossaball, worldwide
Bossaball combines sport, music and great fun. Mixing soccer, volleyball, gymnastics and capoeira, and played on a big bouncy trampoline-like surface, bossaball players try to ground the ball on the other side of the net.
It takes skill and athleticism, but most of all a childish sense of fun. Check out a video here.
32. Ride the world’s longest zip line, South Africa
Become a human torpedo on the world’s longest and fastest zip line. At a height of 280 meters and two kilometers long, riders can hit 100 kilometers per hour. A great way to feel like a bird -- a very nauseous bird.
The best part about this thrill activity is that it doesn’t require any skills. Just balls.
www.zip2000.co.za; +27 (0) 14 557 1544/3382; from US$50
33. Go cheese rolling, United Kingdom
It's not smart, it's not even that impressive. But it is fun. Among the more bizarre 'thrills' on this list is the now famous event held in Gloucestershire, England, involving normally bright, sensible people chasing a wheel of cheese down a very steep slope.
Bruised limbs and fractured bones are inevitable, as people try to catch the seven-pound wheel of Double Glousester before it gets to the bottom of the 200-meter hill. The event takes place on the last Monday of May.
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34. Hang glide, United States
On any list of nerve-wracking experiences, “first hang glide” ranks somewhere between “first kiss” and “first drinking session.” In all three cases, you'll hope for the best guide and best location.
One of the best spots for hang gliding is Chattanooga, Tennessee, where the Cumberland Plateau rises more than 900 meters above the lush Sequatchie Valley.
Local pilot and hang glide specialist Trevor Childress makes a living giving others the thrill of their lives. Once you’ve landed safely back to earth, you might just want to kiss him. Or buy him a beer. It won’t be his first time.
www.goingonglide.com; +1 423 463 6389; US$150
35. Take part in a Rickshaw Run, India
Why get frustrated haggling with India's rickshaw wallahs when you can ride one and see the country yourself? With these three-wheeled, half-a-horsepower contraptions, dozens of gallant travelers race from one end of India to the other three times a year.
Each edition is different from the last and is "the most stupid and probably the best thing you could possibly do with two weeks" according to The Adventurists website.
www.theadventurists.com; ＋91 0117 3290884; US$923
36. Go sea kayaking, Antarctica
For many, making it all the way up to Antarctica is enough. But in order to cross it off this list, you’ll need to get into the water. The real challenge here will be managing to keep your socks dry or risk freezing to death. (Tip: just bring an extra pair)
Fly down to the southern tip of the world in Ushuaia, Tierra del Fuego, Argentina to take a boat to the Antarctic. We recommend Adventurers Corner as a discovery tour for “Real Explorers” instead of the brief touristy sea trips so you get the real thrill.
www.explorerscorner.com/antarctica; +1 877 677 9623; US$16,500
37. Go dog-sled racing, United States
Dog sledding may not sound exciting, but think about it -- you’re on dog-powered transportation whistling past trees at speeds that humans weren't really designed for. Choose a company that does small groups to ensure your independence on the sled.
Golovin Alaska offers some of the best dog mushing where you will witness the vast tundra, moose, wolves, eagles, and the Northern lights.
www.alaskaadventures.net/dog-mushing; +1 877 923 2419; US$2,500
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38. Dive the Great Barrier Reef, Australia
If you're a water baby, or a nature lover, and especially if you're both, a diving trip to the Great Barrier Reef, one of the world's greatest natural constructions, will be like coming home.
Head to Hook Reef located on the east side of Southern Swain Reefs, 220 kilometers from Gladstone. With up to 50 meters of visibility you can see scorpion fish, parrot fish, fusiliers, sea snakes, crabs, shrimp, starfish and octopus.
Learn to dive at www.prodivecairns.com/5daylearntodive.html
www.tourismwhitsundays.com.au; ＋61 1300 71 74 07; US$175
39. Do the Death Drop, Zambia
Feel four glorious seconds of terrified regret as you walk off a 53-meter high cliff and free fall at 180 kilometers an hour.
You'll just have time to catch the awesome view of Batoka Gorge before the terror of what you're doing throws your stomach into your mouth and snaps your eyes shut.
www.thezambeziswing.com; ＋260 213 321188; US60
40. Swim in the Dead Sea, Israel
Well, you can try to swim. The Dead Sea is not a sea at all but a lake made up of 30 percent salt, which turns even the skinniest figures into bouyant blobs on the surface. It's better to just sit there and enjoy it.
This salty water is meant to be good for the skin and can help with respiration, but wear shoes -- the salt crystals on the bottom are sharp enough to cut your feet.
41. Rally drive, Sydney
Strap yourself into a competition-prepared, V8-charged Impreza WRX and let the Schumacher within express himself.
Those with driving experience can take the controls and get a feel for rally driving on a custom-designed course, after which the terror quotient cranks up again as a pro driver shows you how it's really done.
www.adrenalin.com.au; ＋61 (0) 2 8324 9999; eight laps of madness from US$260
42. Cycle the Death Road, Bolivia
Ever since a new road was built connecting the same destinations, Bolivia's "Death Road" has been all but abandoned by cars, leaving it to a few brave cyclists.
The road connects Bolivia’s main city, La Paz, and the Yungas region. Some reports say it claims up to 300 lives each year.
But such is the beauty of the scenery through which it passes, thousands of people flock to ride this route every year. Just don't go during rainy season, which is from December to February.
www.gravitybolivia.com; ＋591 2 231 3849; US$105 through Gravity Bolivia
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43. Walk a wing, United Kingdom
Strap into the top wing of a vintage biplane and get swept through the skies at 220 kph.
Originally a functional role during war time to aid in-air re-fueling or to transfer fuel tanks from plane to plane, wing walking is now purely a thrill seeker's pursuit. And for those who like a face full of bugs.
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44. Drive the Himalayas, India
What makes Raid-de-Himalaya different from other motorcar rallies? You have to drive above an altitude of 4,572 meters for two days of the five-day adventure.
That turns this rally from one of pure driving skill, to one of intense endurance and physical and mental toughness as you battle oxygen depletion and icy cold temperatures.
www.raid-de-himalaya.com; ＋91 98160 25899; US$885
45. Surf Shipstern Bluff, Australia
Great white sharks, huge waves, difficulty in just getting out there -- there are several reasons Shipstern Bluff is considered one of the most dangerous surf spots in the world.
It was only when Tasmanian surfer Andy Campbell took up the challenge 1997 that the spot on the southeastern coast of Tasmania became fodder for big wave surfers around the world.
46. Go cliff diving, Mexico
Cliff diving -- it involves big heights, high speeds, crowds of onlookers, and if you're doing it properly, tiny Speedos. What's not to like?
This extreme form of getting into the water started in Hawaii and has now spread across the world. But it's the divers in Acapulco, Mexico, that are most famed. Watch them from the safety of your restaurant, then sign up with the World High Diving Federation to train yourself up for a big splash.
www.whdf.com; +41 91 796 1901; US$3.50 to watch the divers in Mexico
47. Rescue a hostage, United Kingdom
From the comfort zone of your couch in the living room to the danger zone of a live hostage extraction -- witness how negotiations, intelligence gathering and finally rescue attempts take place with ex-U.K. Special Forces troops.
You also get to plan and execute your own assault. Picked up by armored luxury car from your chosen meeting point, you'll learn about real-life events including the successful assault on the beseiged Iranian embassy in London before being dropped back home for a nice cup of tea and a lie down.
www.quintessentiallyescape.com; ＋44 (0) 845 224 2506
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48. Go snowmobiling, Canada
Bay Du Nord Wilderness Reserve in Newfoundland is the largest protected area in the province, offering miles of uncharted terrain for extreme snowmobiling.
It's fast, it's furious, it isn't always safe, but that's why we do it, right? The snowmobile season runs from December to April.
www.newfoundlandoutdooradventures.ca; ＋1 709 467 2744; US$204 for a day tour
49. Climb some ice, United States
It’s a bit like yoga -- constantly bending your limbs into awkward postures -- but with a helmet, spiky shoes and an ax, inside a giant fridge.
You need to be fit, you need to be nimble, and you need to be prepared for one of life's most exhilirating experiences. Colorado offers some of the best ice climbing in the world.
www.frontrangeclimbing.com; +1 866 404 3721; US$120
50. Take part in a rodeo, United States
Another sport derived from a functional job, a rodeo, the naughty twin of cattle herding, will test your strength, balance and determination to impress that cute cowgirl in the stands.
There are various events, from roping and tying up calves, to barrel racing to steer wrestling, so if the thought of sitting on one of those bucking broncs for eight seconds turns you off, don't fear. There are other ways to get hurt too.
www.sankeyrodeo.com; ＋1 417 263 7777; US$100 for three-four days of rodeo school
Which of these insane activities would you try? Vote now on our Facebook poll!