Going against my usual tendency to shy away from anything that involves jumping from heights, especially into water, I grabbed the rope as tightly as I could, leapt into the air, and allowed my body to swing off the ledge like a pendulum. “Let go!” the assistant shouted. For a few short seconds, I didn’t think I had it in me. Somehow I found the courage to loosen my grip, sending my body plummeting into the waterfall below. A few moments later, I emerged on the surface of the water. I felt an immense sense of excitement and pride, and I couldn’t wait to jump off the rope swing into YS Falls, Jamaica again.
Although it seems scary at first, stepping out of your comfort zone whilst travelling is fun and rewarding. Discover five fearless travel experiences to add to your bucket list.
1) Swing off the Edge of the World in Equador
Nestled in the leafy green forests of the Ecuadorian outback in Baños lies a seismic monitoring station known as La Casa del Árbol, or The Treehouse. The treehouse lies at the edge of a canyon, and a swing hangs down from a horizontal pole that sticks out of it.
This isn’t the kind of swing you’d want your kids to ride, though. It’s fashioned from a thin metal beam attached to ropes, with no safety measures to save you from falling down into the abyss below. Experience what it feels like to swing freely off the edge of the world, with Equador’s Tungurahua volcano at your feet.
2) Swim With the Devil in South Africa
Sitting at the top of the world’s tallest waterfall, Victoria Falls, in Zambia’s Zambezi River, is an infinity pool like no other. The Devil’s Pool is a deep rock pool, featuring a rock lip at the edge of the falls.
Here, the water is no more than a few centimetres deep. During the dry season, which typically falls from late August to early January, you can jump into the Devil’s Pool without worrying about being swept over the edge of Victoria Falls, as the rock lip will hold you back.
If that’s not enough to get your pulse racing, you can even lie on the rock lip at the edge of the pool. Here, you can peer down at the 103-meter drop into the crashing waters below, as the fast-flowing river rushes past you and shoots over the ledge into the falls.
3) Venture to the Mouth of an Active Volcano in Italy
If you think hiking an active volcano would be scary, how would you feel about taking a stroll up to the rim of the crater, watching the luminous lava glow bubble away beneath your feet? Yep, there are people out there who venture to the top of active volcanoes just for kicks and Instagram pics.
You can choose from a number of active volcanoes around the world, but if you really fancy a challenge, take on Sicily’s Mount Etna, Europe’s largest active volcano. Mount Etna made the news in March after erupting twice in the space of one month, injuring 10 people. Could you take the heat? Watch storm chaser and filmmaker Geoff Mackley encounter a close call whilst hiking Mount Etna in this video.
4) Embark on the World’s Deadliest Hike in China
How far would you go for a cup of tea? At Mount Huashan near Huayin City in Shaanxi, China, intrepid hikers travel along “the plank road in the sky” to reach a Chinese teahouse that’s over 7,000 feet above the ground on the mountain’s southern peak.
As its name suggests, the plank road in the sky is constructed from narrow, rickety wooden planks nailed together and bolted to the edge of the mountain. Other stages of the hike feature steep cliffs with carved toeholds and steel rod ladders. If you were to take the wrong step, the only things stopping you from falling to your death are a safety harness clipped to a metal wire secured to the side of the mountain, and a metal chain to hold on to.
To make matters worse, it’s a two-way road. It only takes around half an hour to complete the hike, but you can bet it feels like a lifetime when you’re up there! Would you risk it for a chocolate biscuit? (Sorry, I couldn’t help myself!)
5) Dive Off a 35-Foot Cliff in Jamaica
Sitting on the edge of West End Cliffs in Negril, Jamaica, lies Rick’s Café, a renowned bar that offers cliff-diving drops of up to 35 feet. Signs at the cliff edge warn of the serious joint damage that cliff diving can cause and state that if you jump, you do so at your own risk.
If the idea of a 35-foot drop isn’t enough to give you butterflies, perhaps the thought of the locals climbing a wooden post to jump off an 85-foot platform will do the job. This may seem insane, but for these men, it’s a way of making a living, as tourists will pay a hefty tip to see them diving. This video filmed on a Go Pro by local cliff diver, Birdman, is guaranteed to make your stomach flip!
These are my top five bucket list must-dos for fearless travellers. It should go without saying that you need to have additional protection from a company like MedjetHorizon in place before taking on any of these adventures.
Have you ever taken part in any extreme travel activities that deserve to be on this list? Tell me all about it in the comments.
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