There’s something totally liberating about being away from your home soil! People always say “live in the moment”, “enjoy each day like it’s your last”… but realistically who actually does that around their studies or 9-5 routine?! When you’re travelling these clichés suddenly make sense and become a way of life, rather than overused phrases that everyone aspires to do but somehow can’t manage. When it’s just you and your backpack, far, far away from home you can live in the moment, bask in the freedom and do things that would seem overwhelmingly ridiculous in ‘real-life’!
Skydive – Australia
Sky-diving isn’t exclusive to any part of the world but if you want to fall in love with somewhere then this is the way to do it! If you manage to keep your eyes open and aren’t praying/swearing you get to check out your location from a bird’s eye view – what could be more magical than that?! If you’re as mean as us you could record your skydive and play it to your parents pretending they’re watching it live on video chat. Mwah, ha, ha!
World’s highest cliff jump – Queenstown Australia
Kiwis are crazy… in the nicest possible way! For a land so laid-back, New Zealanders hobbies often involve throwing yourself off high things. If you’re going to pop your bungee cherry anywhere then New Zealand is a fantastic choice. Queenstown the adventure capital of NZ is the place to indulge in as many stomach-churning activities as your budget/nerves can take (blame it on the budget if you bottle it). If you’re going to roll out the ‘I would bungee but I don’t like being upside-down’ excuse then have a go on the Canyon Swing – it’s only 200 metres high and the guys in charge don’t mess with your head… much!
Great White Sharks – South Africa
Get some face time with one of the ocean’s most misunderstood beauties – the Great White Shark! Jaws gave these sharks some serious bad press and the only way to overcome any childhood fears is to come nose to nose with them in their territory. In the Southern tip of South Africa, around Cape Town and Mossel Bay there are loads of opportunities to rub shoulders with sharks. Pick your organisation carefully as baiting sharks isn’t cool and can make them associate humans with food. After spending time with the Great White experts I grew to love these majestic creatures… go on, get in there! If this isn’t high-risk enough for you, there’s another option… scuba diving with Tiger sharks and Bull Sharks in South Africa’s Protea Banks. Even for a shark lover, being on the bottom of the freezing ocean bed surrounded by the least-human friendly variety was a teensy bit scary!
Bike Death Road – Bolivia
I’m toying with not recommending this one… Ok, all I’m going to say is that if you do decide to go for it and mountain-bike La Paz’s infamous Death Road, do not Google or YouTube it in advance! Go in completely ignorant to what lies ahead and enjoy the terrifying yet exhilarating journey. If you’re not as fit as a fiddle, no worries as it’s nearly all downhill. Maybe practice squeezing a tennis ball, over and over in advance – because those brakes will get a hammering and your arms will become locked on for the 4-5 hour white-knuckle ride.
Swim with Piranha – Brazil
Spend a lazy afternoon fishing piranha in Brazil’s Pantanal… how romantic! In reality you’re dangling pieces of flesh into the murky waters and then tugging the notorious meat eating fish out of the lakes (they’re delicious by the way!). When you’ve spent an afternoon marvelling at how big their teeth are and how viciously they attack the bait you can jump in and swim with them! Now call me boring but I decided against this one and let my fellow fisherman go ahead, mainly because the water was swamp-like and nothing to do with the carnivorous fish (honest!). The swimmers survived, so perhaps they’d just become wise to our fishing game and ignored the oversized bait.
Full Moon Party + Fire Limbo – Koh Phangan
Surviving Koh Phangnan’s Full Moon Party is an achievement in itself! If you manage to swerve the lethal buckets, mushroom shakes and an island full of pumped-up lunatics then you’re winning. If you’re totally fascinated with fire than the temptation to outdo the locals at fire limbo, fire skipping or diving through a fire coated hoop, is too much to wrestle with. It’s easy to get carried away and think you have super human powers and can beat the ultra-bendy Thai men. Blame the buckets!
Surf in Jeffrey’s Bay – South Africa
Surfing and travelling go hand in hand… If you’ve been out roaming the earth and ended up in a beachy town then you will have probably given surfing a go. It isn’t scary, like some of the other experiences but I can see why it might be. The oceans are often so big and murky looking from the shore and even from the board you can get moments of ‘I wonder which creatures are looking up at me, thinking hmm tasty’. Ok, I’m talking sharks again. These creatures were around millions of years before humans. We all know the fact: more humans die from coconuts landing on their heads than being attacked by sharks. I loved surfing in South Africa’s Jeffrey’s Bay (made famous by cult surf film Endless Summer) but you are thrashing around like a cute seal in the shark’s domain. Check out this pro-surfer video in J-Bay. But, there is nothing more thrilling then catching a wave for the first time!
Water Rappelling – Costa Rica
Some say repelling and some say abseiling… it’s both the same thing and involves dangling, or majestically bouncing down a rock face. Water-rappelling is nearly identical but you bounce Spiderman style down waterfalls. If you watched Bear Grylls putting celebs through their paces on Celebrity Survivor then you’ll have seen Costa Rica’s finest water-rappelling sites. You do get a little practice go and can be done with no prior experience at all! Whilst you’re in Costa Rica you may as well have a go on Latin America’s longest zipline (1.5km) and check out the rainforest superman style as you are clipped to the zipline by your back.
Komodo Dragons – Indonesia
The only way to get to the dragons native islands of Komodo and Rinca is by boat. Now this may be possible in some luxury yacht but I did it the budget way – the way most backpackers do it. This does mean spending four days at sea, sleeping on deck alongside your fellow dragon seekers and being completely cut off from the world. Spend your day’s snorkelling amongst manta rays, chatting to your shipmates and lazing around on the sunny deck. If you’re lucky your crew or fellow travellers will have brought a guitar and if you don’t leave with the sound of Redemption Song on loop in your head, ask for your money back 😉 When you land on Komodo Island you’ll see the houses are all on stilts to stop the dragons invading the local’s homes. These lazy but deadly creatures grow up to three metres long and have a poisonous bite that results in a slow two-day death.
Night Volcano Trekking – Indonesia
Easily the most ridiculous thing I did whilst travelling, apart from perhaps the diving with Bull sharks and Tiger sharks in South Africa. But of course, with great fear comes great rewards! Volcano trekking is awesome and usually not something to be afraid of… If you find yourself in Yogyakarta (Java, Indonesia) and you want to head to Bali then don’t be boring and fly or get the bus, volcano trek your way there! You may or may not get the opportunity to spice things up a little and volcano trek at night… We’d already explored the magnitude of Mount Bromo and on only a couple of hours sleep our guide suggested we may want to trek up Mount Ijen at 1am in the pitch black and climb into the crater to witness the magical blue fire! Who could possibly say no to that?! It wasn’t so much of a trek as a hair-raising slippery two hour slide in complete darkness into a volcano’s crater, edging ever closer to the huge sulphur flames! I survived, people generally do survive. But if you’re a fan of health and safety you may want to give this one a swerve. You can climb to the top at sunrise and enjoy the magnificent volcano lake that appears as the day breaks!
There are so many opportunities to dive straight out of your comfort zone when you travel and you may surprise yourself with your new-found confidence! #MeetTheWorld
Read more about guest author Johanna Whitaker’s travels and adventures at: visionsofjohanna.org