Ticking off an adrenaline adventure on your gap year appears to be just as necessary as accommodation and trying the local cuisine. The wild activites featured in this article will make your trip more memorable, increase bragging rights, and justify the cost of that travel insurance.
The Bloukrans Bungy in South Africa
Our number one white-knuckle thrill is the world’s highest bungee jump: the Bloukrans Bungy, in South Africa. Jump off the third-highest bridge ever built, which is a massive 216 metres above the ground. That’s more than one-and-a-half times the height of the London Eye!
Secured in a harness on the end of a long, elastic cord, you’ll freefall head-first, reaching a speed of up to 120 miles per hour, before bouncing up and down before being winched back up. That is what we like to call a thrill ride!
You’ll find the bridge just outside Tsitsikamma in southern South Africa, located on the most popular of South Africa’s backpacker trails, the Garden Route. Now, isn’t that convenient?
Skydive over Lake Taupo in New Zealand
Jump from 12,000 ft, freefalling at 120mph before opening your parachute to gently float back down to earth, whilst you process what just happened.
Skydiving gives you both a massive thrill and a sublimely peaceful birds-eye view of the scenery below. Most people start with a tandem jump, during which they’re strapped to a specially-trained expert. This is an easy and safe option, requiring just half an hour’s training on the ground, so you can get into the air quicker.
Lake Taupo, New Zealand is one of the most popular places to throw yourself out of a plane, and for good reason. There are several skydive companies in the area, which means that prices stay low – considerably lower than in Queenstown. The scenery is spectacular with views over Lake Taupo and the snow-capped mountains of Tongariro National Park.
Whitewater rafting on the Zambezi River
On the border between Zambia and Zimbabwe is the mighty Zambezi River and the widest waterfall on Earth, the thunderous Victoria Falls.
The stretch of river below the Falls – Batoka Gorge – is the world’s wildest white-water rafting spot. With 23 stomach-turning, heart-pounding rapids and stunning African scenery, this Grade 5 stretch is the ultimate adrenalin-rush for people who like their thrills on the soggy side.
You can take a rafting trip from either side of the river – Zimbabwe or Zambia – starting just below the Falls. Remember you’ll need your passport if you’re crossing from one side to the other.
You can take on a full day’s rafting, or if you’re a rafting enthusiast you can do a multi-day trip, where you camp overnight on the side of the river. No rafting experience is necessary. The river is at its wildest when water levels are high, from March to July, making it too dangerous to raft the rapids closest to the Falls. As the water subsides, from June to February, all 23 rapids become safe to raft, but still as vigorous.
Cycle Death Road in Bolivia
There are a few things you should know about Death Road in Bolivia before you agree to cycle down it. Its 64km long, all of it downhill: you’ll descend 11,800 ft, from snow-covered peaks down to the steaming Amazon jungle. Its 8ft wide, made of gravel, and edged by sheer drops of 3,000 ft. Your mountain bike will reach speeds of 70km/h on the four-hour ride, occasionally swerving to avoid oncoming trucks and buses. People have died on the descent. It’s called Death Road for a reason.
Now we’ve got that out of the way, here’s how you can ride it. There are several companies which will rent you a bike, drive you from La Paz to the top of Death Road by truck and guide you back down. Some are more reputable than others, so make sure you do your research. They also don’t ride during the rainy season (December to February), which is probably for the best.
Watch the video of the death defying road below:
Stratosphere Tower rides, Las Vegas
Stratosphere Tower in Las Vegas, USA is America’s tallest observation tower, and home to some of highest thrill rides in the world.
The highest of all is The Big Shot, which catapults you from the 921-foot-high platform up the Tower’s mast to a height of 1,081ft.
Next is Insanity, an arm that extends out 64ft over the edge of the Tower which spins and flings you outwards until you’re facing down more than 900ft above the city.
The last of these blood-racing rides is the X Scream. At a height of 866ft it propels you head-first over the edge of the Stratosphere Tower and dangles you weightlessly above Vegas’ notorious strip, which is an unbeatable sight. If you can manage to get your eyes open, anyway.