iReport: Your best adventure travel stories

iReport: Your best adventure travel stories

From skydiving to white-water rafting, our iReporters have traveled the world for some thrilling experiences
hot air ballooning
Warm air rises.

A few months ago, we invited iReporters to share their adventure travel stories with us. We heard lots of amazing stories.

If you're still hesitating on your own plans for wild adventure, perhaps these examples will get you motivated.

Skydiving in Tampa, Florida, United States

iReporter: Matt Sky, see iReport Skydiving in Tampa.

"Tampa may not seem like the wildest location. We usually think of beaches and relaxation -- but jumping out of a plane thousands of feet above the ground becomes quite a rush," says Matt Sky. "My first time skydiving in Tampa was eye-opening, and changed my outlook on life.

"I was starting to worry about my career, when I suddenly remembered that I've pushed through fear before and done some exciting things."

"When you go skydiving you really feel how mortal we are -- how fragile our bodies are. In that moment you are completely dependent on that parachute opening up. For me, it opened up a bolder, braver part of myself I hadn't felt before.

"Basically, when you do a tandem jump, another skydiver jumps out alongside you taking the film and photos of your experience. After jumping, you're in free fall for about 40 seconds, you then open the chute and it takes maybe 10 minutes from there to finally land."

Skydiving in TampaFor Matt Sky, jumping out of a plane takes his mind off daily worries, such as his career.

"While the rush comes from the initial jump, the parachuting portion is quite incredible in its own right. You're able to marvel at the size of this planet and see it in a way that's so personal -- just you and the enormous distance below.

"Since then I have done a second dive with my girlfriend in Long Island. I'd like to get certified, and be able to do these without any assistance.

"The climate in the northeast doesn't allow year-round skydiving, but if I were to move I would probably pursue it as a more frequent hobby.

"Comparatively speaking, skydiving is quite safe when compared to many 'extreme' sports, and provides this surreal experience that is unique. It puts everything in life in a new perspective.

"We are all here for such a short period of time. We can't let fear hold us back from doing what we want to do. This isn't to say skydiving is what everyone wants to do, but I think it is so important to take risks that matter.

"I'd rather regret things I've tried, than regret not trying anything."

An Arctic challange, Svalbard, Norway

 Ice BearsThe team of adventurers getting ready.iReporter: L. Craig Smith, see his report here.

"Get out of your comfort zone and travel the world," says L. Craig Smith. "Experience raw nature. The memories will stay with you forever.

"I was part of a small group of six who decided it would be interesting to go to the Arctic and look for polar bears.

"A lawyer, two writers, an ad executive, an Internet investor and a snowboarder were part of the group, led by a professional guide and cook. None of us had formal training or experience in this type of extreme environment.

"Our only experience was our desire to travel the world and go to places people normally do not go.

"We were given a packing list and several books to read. We purchased extreme cold weather gear (five layers), satellite phones, rifles (required by the authorities because of the bears) food and fuel for six days.

"When we reached Svalbard the weather was minus 9 C and we were given a day to learn how to use snowmobiles and pull sledges.

 Ice BearsIn addition to polar bears, Smith's group found reindeer in Spitsbergen."What happened next was unexpected. We set out and pulled our sledges for 80 kilometers on unmarked trails in deep snow. When we set up our base camp a blizzard hit sending the temperatures down to minus 30 C."

"We ringed the camp with trip wires and flares to scare off polar bears should they come into the camp. The snow drifts caused several of our tents to cave in. I received frostbite on my face.

Our five layers of clothes and our Arctic single-man tents were our shelter.

"After five days the weather cleared and we found polar bears on the sheet ice.

We then made our way back to Svalbard taking 10 hours, getting lost, navigating large snow drifts and flipping several snowmobiles as we made our way through some rather treacherous terrain.

"There is no emergency number to call.

"There is no one to get you out of a jam. If you get into trouble and if you have a satellite phone and if you are able to reach the governor of the island and if the weather permits a helicopter to search for you and if you have the US$15,000 per hour to get rescued you might get out, otherwise you get out because of you and no one else."

White-water rafting on the Ganges, India

White-Water Rafting on the GangesThe Ganges -- also sacred for white-water enthusiasts.iReporter: Jeremy La Zelle, see his iReport here.

"This photograph was taken while on a year-long backpacking adventure throughout Asia," says Jeremy La Zelle. "By far, rafting the Ganges River ranks among the many adventurous highlights of my trip.

"When I encountered the Ganges River for the first time in Rishikesh, India, it was certainly an awe-inspiring experience. My mind, body and spirit were overwhelmed with a desire to be as adventurous as possible.

"Rishikesh is located on the foothills of the mighty Himalayas, and provides a scenic backdrop filled with Buddhist temples, yoga and wild cheeky macaques.

"Most rafters start their journey about 20 kilometers above the village, cutting through the village with a thunderous roar in the Ganges River.

"For white-water rafting adventure enthusiasts, few rivers in the world come close to the power of the Ganges. My favorite experience was navigating class IV and V rapids while carefully avoiding capsizing into its highly dangerous currents.

 The Earth's Highest Mountain"Nothing says adventure more than exploring the ethereal mountains of the Himalayas," says Jeremy La Zelle."This river is more than adventure, however. It is considered sacred. Along the banks of the Ganges is one of the oldest cities in the world called Varanasi. It is here where many Buddhists will cremate their deceased and scatter the remains into the river.

"Travel is best when adventure and culture shock clash into memories lasting a lifetime.

"The Ganges has a profound impact and led me to further explore the Himalayas in Nepal. I trekked to Mount Everest base camp, paraglided in Pokhara, jungle trekked in Chitwan National Park and much more.

"All these adventure experiences in the Himalayas were directly inspired by the Ganges River. It is truly sacred.

"I love adventure traveling and whenever an opportunity arises to explore an unknown part of the world, I take it. I usually travel for at least eight months out of each year. When not traveling, I am at home in Los Angeles working in post-production for many television shows."

Thrilling winter at Cappadocia, Turkey

Thrilling Winter at Cappadocia, TurkeyA hot air balloon not only provides great views, it keeps you warm.iReporter: Gregorius G Suharsono, see his iReport here.

"On February 17, 2012, I flew over the land of Cappadocia in an air balloon," says Suharsono. "I took the trip with a balloon because I wanted to know how it looks in winter.

"I have been on the same trip on summer, but in winter it's really stunning.

"Its an amazing trip. We rode the balloon for one hour."

"It's really a thrilling adventure. With experienced balloon pilot Vincent Dupuis, the trip was even more interesting, as he brought us to the corner of Cappadocia that is especially difficult to reach in wintertime."

Climbing a via ferrata in the Saguenay Fjord, Quebec, Canada

Climbing a Via FerrataTaub's companions: looking at the camera at least means they're not looking down.
iReporter:
Lindsay Taub, see her iReport here.

"While not an avid climber, I find myself doing it about once every couple of months," says Taub. "Rappelling is my favorite part.

"This is the most difficult part of the climb, as you have to rely on the iron rods on the rock to traverse horizontally across the face.

"The peace of being on the rock above such spectacular waters below was stunning. We took a moment to stop along the way and allowed the harness to hold us while we wrote a postcard to friends and family.

"My knees were shaking, hands trembling as I wrote, but I can't say I remember any other place or time I've written a postcard in such a unique place! The test of mental fortitude against fear of heights and being able to trust the equipment was incredibly exhilarating.

"This was one of the most difficult climbs I've done because of the mental challenge of knowing you're not harnessed from above as you would be rappelling. The carabiners are secure, but it's really just a backup, so it's as close to a free climb as you can get still harnessed.

"It was certainly physically demanding on both upper and lower body strength, but anyone with a moderate level of physical fitness and mental toughness could do it safely."

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