Sep 13, 2011 3:54:49 AM
Top 10 things to throw yourself off
Have you had a good plummet lately? No? Well, if you’d like to add an adrenaline rush and an element of danger to your next trip, we’ve pulled together a list of ten of the best places around the world to enjoy the feeling of weightlessness you can only get from the perfect fling. Are you ready to take the plunge?
1. BASE jumping the New River Gorge Bridge, USA
If you can make it to the New River Gorge Bridge on the third Saturday of October, you will step right into one of mankind’s only ‘Bridge Days’ – and meet a family of mad flyers. The bridge is the centrepiece of Fayette Country’s festival, and includes demonstrations of rappelling, ascending, and most notably BASE jumping. This form of flying involves the use of a parachute to jump from fixed objects such as buildings, towers and bridges, and natural formations such as cliffs. In Fayetteville, West Virginia, jumpers take their time to open their chutes in the 70,000-acre National River range. If you don’t want to jump, this is definitely the place for nail biting.
2. Bungee jumping at Victoria Falls, Zambia/Zimbabwe
Step between the borders of Zimbabwe and Zambia and you’ll hit Victoria Falls – or hear it, whichever comes first. Named after Queen Vic herself, this is also one of the most-jumped spots in the world, and during the ’90s, bungee fever took this area of bellowing water by storm. Jumpers are encouraged to find their own spot on the 1.7km-wide precipice, Plummeting 111m into the deep curtain of water. Go in November, when the Zambezi river rapids are running at their best.
3. Skydiving over Lake Taupo, New Zealand
Thinking about opening that emergency exit? See if you can make it happen over Lake Taupo, one of the last remaining active-volcano regions in New Zealand. Snow-capped volcanoes beckon flyers from all over the world. Tandem skydives here are made at around 15,000ft, with over one minute in freefall. Notably, it’s one of the cheapest adventure falls around.
4. Paragliding Sedona Red Rocks, USA
Pray that the rain has stopped by the time you reach Sedona, and breathe in the scent of the desert – juniper, red clay, limestone and wildflowers. Arizona’s premier New Age destination, Sedona has also become incredibly popular among flying and adventure enthusiasts. Flying over the rocks here is like looking down over a landscape of hellish delight – fallen, burnt rocks on the edge of the middle of nowhere. Hang-gliders and paragliders both share a love for the place, although the latter will tell you that their machine rules the Sedona skies.
5. Zip lining the treetops of Durango, USA
If you’re harbouring Tarzan dreams, take your very own Jane to the jungle-green forests of Durango, Colorado. Zip lining is, quite simply, a glorified flying fox; in Durango, this is an adventure that will send you high into the treetops. Durango has a population of around 15,000, and is nestled in the Animas River Valley, surrounded by the San Juan Mountains. As you zip from tree to tree, be careful not to land in the homes of the incredible bird- and reptile-life, which keep the jungle alive.
Patagonia is surely the land of the giants, and if you’re looking for a horizon on the road to nowhere, Barlioche, in the heart of San Carlos, is the place to find it. Located on the south margin of Lake Nahuel Huapi, Barlioche shows its beauty from its shores to its highest peaks, and hang-gliding here has been described by many as a truly angelic experience. Ideal places for descent include Mt Otto and Mt Catedral, which are easily reached by chairlifts. Flying activities can take place all year round, but the best views will be during the summer months.
7. Paragliding Mount Baba Dağ, Turkey
Not every country in the world will have it’s own flying festival – but the Oludeniz region in Turkey celebrates the art of flying each October with its annual Air Games week. Part of the turquoise coast, this region of Turkey is one of the best places to have your first soaring experience. Climb your way up Barbadag (Father Mountain), taking in the cedar forests and native fauna on your way.
8. Hang-gliding the Sierra Nevada mountains near Granada, Spain
Visit the Sierra Nevada (literally ‘snowy range’ in Spanish) and launch yourself above this southernmost tip of Europe, where the mountains meet the sea. This area of Granada is a skiers’ haven during the winter, but in the summer months the mountains beckon climbers and flyers to its illustrious peaks. Be warned: some of the walks up the Sierra mountains are a stretch, so put those walking legs on before launching your flying dreams.
9. BASE jumping from the Sky Tower, New Zealand
If you want a city view before you take the big plunge, make your way back to New Zealand. In Auckland, one of NZ’s most bustling cities, jumpers from all corners of the world come here to BASE jump from the Sky Tower, one of the tallest, free-standing structures in the southern hemisphere. At 328m above ground level, the jumper can reach up to 85km/h. Just to be safe, the jump is guide-cable-controlled to prevent jumpers from colliding with the tower, in case of gusts. Now, that’s bravery for you.
10. Cave-diving in the caverns of Cenote Dos Ojos, Mexico
Sixty five million years ago, a huge meteor hit Mexico’s Yucatán Peninsula, leaving a 284km-wide crater in the land’s surface. For years to come rainwater filled the cavities which had formed in cracks below the crater’s surface, creating an incredible vascular system of underground river and pools. Today, cave divers from all corners of the earth come to the Hidden Worlds Cenote Park to swim deep in the 35m pools, all of which retain their natural appeal. Be awed by an eerie underwater world of stalactites and stalagmites.
Get inspired and start ticking off those boxes on your wish-lists with Lonely Planet’s 1000 Ultimate Experiences. Who knows where you’ll end up!