Travel:

Carpe Diem, Travellers

BY: Sana Panjwani
From sandboarding in Chile to storm chasing in the USA, adventure is just a few hours away for those who seek the thrills and spills of life
As cliched as it might sound, the world is a magical place filled with diverse cultures and landscapes, and exploring it seems almost a necessity. Yet, when we do find the time to get away from home, our vacations are almost always limited to sightseeing and relaxing by a beach with drink in hand – amazing and rejuvenating? Yes!

An adventure though? Not exactly.

So, the next time you're planning a getaway, why not add in a bit of thrill and try out one of these seven adrenaline pumping experiences.

SANDBOARDING IN ATACAMA DESERT, CHILE

Chile is home to a 100km strip of plateau known as the Atacama Desert, also known as the driest desert in the world. The place itself is a great spot for stargazing and is home to a fair amount of flora and fauna. It even has its own culture of the Chinchorro people.

Among all these attractions also lies sandboarding - one of the most popular. All you need are a good set of sand boots, protective gear and a board if you plan on going solo. Better to sign up with a service if it's your first time though as they'll drive you out to sandboarding-friendly spots and provide you equipment and tips as well.

DUNE BASHING IN RUB' AL KHALI, ARABIAN PENINSULA

If you don't have the time to travel too far from home, sign up for a dune bashing adventure in Liwa desert in Rub' al Khali (the Empty Quarter). Home to soft sands and the Moreeb dune (also known as 'terrifying mountain'), the twists and turns are prime for a heart-thumping aventure, and the views are amazing as well.

SWING AT THE END OF THE WORLD, ECUADOR

Breathtaking views plus a hint of danger is a good formula to create a popular tourist attraction and the swing in La Casa del Arbol offers just that. Hung from a skinny tree branch at the edge of a cliff, the swing's actual origins comes, not from a place of garnering tourism, but simply an old man looking to build something fun for his grandchildren.

The swingee sails over the mountainside – only a belt strapping them and their wits in - and comes face to face with the massiveness that is Tungurahua, an active stratovolcano 100km away. The park on-site is home to three swings and a zipline, each offering unobstructed views of the landscape around.

RIDE THE TAKABISHA, JAPAN

If you're a roller coaster enthusiast, you'll definitely enjoy the steepest rollercoaster in the world. Located in Japan's Fuji-Q Highland Theme Park, the Takabisha (meaning high-handed or domineering) features a 121 degree drop at a height of 141 feet.

The 1,000 metre ride starts with a sudden drop into pitch blackness before entering a slow roll. Not two seconds later, you're pummeling down a long tunnel at a speed of 100km/h before taking you on an almost whiplash-inducing journey of steep twists and turns featuring a banana roll, a corkscrew and two airtime hills. The entire ride, though, takes less than two minutes.

If you have the wits to pay attention to your surroundings, you can even catch a unique view of Mt Fuji in the distance.

BUNGEE JUMP IN MACAU, CHINA

Why live on the edge when you can jump off it?

Holding the record for world's highest bungee jump at 233m, the Macau Tower features a harrowing sky jump via bungee cord. Jumpers feel the ultimate thrill of free falling and only begin slowing down when 30m from the ground, before being yanked back up.

If you're vying for something safer, the facility also offers Skywalk X, a thrilling walking tour around the outer rim of the tower positioned at the same height but keeping your feet firmly on hard ground'.

BIKING ON YUNGAS ROAD, BOLIVIA

Stretching 56km from La Paz to Coroico, Yungas Road was officially deemed as the "world's most dangerous road" in 1995 due to its many twists and turns.

More commonly referred to as Death Road (no need for second guesses as to why), the road is largely a single-lane stretch with few guardrails and heights reaching up to 600m. Its width barely surpasses 3.2 metres at any given point and visibility is an issue most months with summer rousing dust due to rockfalls and rain and fog obstructing vision during rainy seasons.

The road features a lot of uphill and downhill tracks, adding to its danger, but the allure of a challenge and changing, picturesque views from Altiplano terrain to rainforest makes the route attractive to mountain bikers.

The biggest threat on this road was posed to drivers and in 2009, the local government footed the construction of an alternative (and much safer) route from La Paz to Coroico. These days, the route is largely used by bikers.

STORM CHASING IN TORNADO ALLEY, USA

Just as it sounds, Tornado Alley is a colloquial term to refer to the areas in the US where tornadoes most occur. Tornadoes are as fascinating as they are terrifying, leading this combination to open a special niche of tourism – storm chasing.

It is highly recommended you book the expertise of agencies which offer storm chasing tours rather than trying independently as the experts are not only equipped with the knowledge required to safely observe the weather phenomenon but also the tools needed.

Tornadoes can occur any time of the year, but peak times are in spring and summer.

There you have it – seven thrilling spots to consider for your next getaway. Go for it.
 

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