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eMag | Directory | TNT Travel Show 2017 | Events Search | TNT Jobs

By TNT travel editor

Helen Elfer

                                             White water raftingEverest base campFreedivingCanyoningSky diving

Conquer your fears. Feel the adrenaline hit you like a punchin the stomach. Jump from dizzying heights, dive into mysterious depths, get battered in freezing waters, leap offjagged rocks, scale epic peaks ... you get the drift. If you’ve always wanted to enter the world of extreme sports, then get on with it while you still can. Whether you want to add an element of danger to your travels, have promised yourself to tick off a few entries on your bucket list this year, or just want to update your Facebook profile picturewith something that’ll make all your mates sick with envy, one of these extreme adventures should do the trick.

White water rafting, Zambia


Hidden rocks, sharp drops, rough currents, stinging spray – it’s all just part of the extreme sports fun if you’re white water rafting on the notorious Zambezi River.

The section that the most daredevil of rafters aim for is the gorge below the Victoria Falls, before the churning, plunging rapids flow into Lake Kariba and become calmer. White water rafting falls into classes between one and six, with six categorised as dangerous and effectively unnavigable. You guessed it, the waters on the Zambezi River below the famous Falls have been classified by the British Canoe Union as grade five, with “extremely difficult, long and violent rapids, steep gradients, big drops andpressure areas”.

Think you can take on the rapids, no sweat? Even the ones nicknamed ‘Oblivion’ and ‘The Devil’s Toilet Bowl’? Perhaps you’ll find the crocodiles more of an issue then. These critters are commonly found living in parts of the Zambezi River, but we’re assured they’re usually considered small and harmless. Usually, that is...

On the plus side, you’ll have simply spectacular views of the Victoria Falls and Zambian scenery, particularly when you’re floating about at the base of the tremendous Victoria Falls. And you’ll certainly have quite the tale to tell once you get home again.

Prepare: Amazingly, this is one of the few really extreme sports that even a complete beginner can do. With a little training and expert guidance, anyone with the bottle cancomplete a descent of all the raftable rapids. Take it to the extreme 
Getting there: Fly from London Heathrow to Livingstone, via Johannesburg, with British Airways from £1118 return. 
Book: Water By Nature has trips running between August and October. waterbynature.com
Fear factor: There’s at least one death every year from white water rafting – proceed with caution. 9/10


 

Everest Base Camp trek, Nepal


There’s no better time than now to take on Mount Everest, as this year marks the 60th  anniversary of when Sir Edmund Hillary and Nepalese Sherpa Tenzing Norgay made theirhistoric conquest of the world’s highest mountain. Clearly, you won’t quite be following in their footsteps, but you can at least go part of the way – to the Everest Base Camp.

This classic trek in the Himalayas will give you gaspworthy views of the 8848m Mount Everest. You’ll trek past some of the world’s most remote mountain paths, glaciers, valleys and high passes to reach the foot of the beast. Then a gruelling hike to the 5545m Kala Patthar will deliver views of Everest, Lhotse and the other peaks of this epic region.

On the way back, you’ll have the chance to pass remote monasteries and villages, and learn about Sherpa culture. 

Prepare: If you like to spend your days lolling in font of The Jeremy Kyle Show with a  Burger King sack balanced on your belly, then this isn’t the extreme trip for you. Tour operators say you’ll need to be in very good shape to manage walking these kinds of distances at high altitudes, especially since you’ll be carrying a backpack and coveringdemanding terrain.
Getting there: Fly from London Heathrow to Kathmandu from £638 return with Jet Airways (jetairways.com) 
Book it: Intrepid Travel run an Everest Base Camp 15-day trek that departs twice weekly.intrepidtravel.com 
Fear factor: 3/10. It’s a marathon, not a sprint, this one. Rather than a single adrenaline blast of fear, it’s going to be a long, gruelling slog, punctuated with moments of exhilaration that are going to make it all worthwhile. The only fear you should have is not being in good enough nick before you set out… 3/10
  


Freediving, Thailand

Any keen divers among you likely associate your underwater adventures with the constant sound of your own heavy breathing, and a sturdy oxygen tank on your back. Freedivingis completely different. No scuba gear is used, but instead you just hold your breath. Enthusiasts rave about how it makes you feel part of the deep sea world, as there’s nothing between you and the marine life you’re seeing. Off the coast of Thailand’s Koh Tao, a popular site for freediving training, you’ll be getting up close and personal with schools of tropical fish and colourful coral gardens.

Conversely, this serene experience is often listed as the second most dangerous sport in the world (after base jumping from buildings) as the risks are significant, from the relatively minor, such as passing out underwater and burst eardrums, to more serious ailments such as severe fatigue or ‘lung squeezes’ (when divers go deeper than their lungs can handle, resulting in coughing up blood). Or, of course, you can drown.

Prepare: This isn’t a sport you can just jump headfirst into. You need proper training in the form of a formal course to learn correct body positioning, a range of breathingtechniques for before, during and after the dive and, of course, safety aspects. Blue Immersion, which is based on Koh Tao, offers a two-day AIDA course that gets you diving safely down to 20m. More experienced divers can go deeper still.
Getting there: Fly from London Heathrow to Koh Samui from £963 return with British Airways (britishairways.com). Then take a ferry from Koh Samui to Koh Tao for £8.
Book it: Blue Immersion runs courses suitable for beginners and more experienced freedivers.
blue-immersion.com
Fear factor: 9/10. Second most dangerous sport in the world? That’s extreme, especially considering some statistics say there’s as many as 100 freediving deaths per year. Butthose who do it say the euphoria is worth the risk. 9/10
 



Canyoning, France

Canyoning is the Marmite of extreme sports – some people love it, some people hate it. If you think clambering your way over terrifyingly slippery rocks, jumping into freezing pools of water and abseiling down plunging waterfalls sounds like a recipe for disaster, give it a miss. If it sounds like the ultimate adventure then get yourself over to the south of France, pronto. Parts of the Alpes-Maritimes region seem like they were designedespecially for canyoning, with jagged mountains ideal for climbing, their steep slopes and fast-running streams perfect for sliding down.

Prepare: Decent levels of stamina and a reasonable level of fitness are required. You also definitely need to be a strong and confident swimmer, as you’ll frequently find yourself in deep water, sometimes with a strong current. Some of the more remote canyons can only be reached by a tough hike, so be ready for that too. 
Getting there: Fly from London Gatwick to Nice from £57.50 return with easyJet (easyjet.co.uk).
Book it: Berenger Adventures runs courses in the Alpes-Maritimes region from easy half-day excursions to more extreme four-day Fear factor: Although there are lightweight canyoning experiences available, the rougher ones require nerves of steel.runs that’ll really test your bottle. 8/10


Sky diving, Hawaii


It’s the ultimate rush: flying above the clouds, then falling through the skies at an adrenaline-pumping rate of 120mph before letting your parachute open and coasting slowly down to earth. There are stunning sites all over the world where you can do this, but many say the views in Hawaii are unmatchable.

A skydive over Oahu on a clear day lets you see the other Hawaiian islands, whales frolicking in the water, and as you approach the landing area, views of Diamond Head, Pearl Harbour, Kaena Point and the North Shore coastline

Prepare: Skydiving is relatively safe, especially when you take your first plunges in tandem, attached to an experienced instructor who will talk you through the process and look after the all-important parachute.
Getting there: Fly from London Heathrow to Honolulu from £808 return with Royal Dutch Airlines (klm.com).
Book it: Sky Dive Hawaii offers tandem jumps and training for solo jumps. skydivehawaii.com
Fear factor: Completely exhilarating, but unless you’re petrified of heights, not much danger. 6/10
 

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