BY ZOE MILLES
When it comes to traveling, there are a thousand-and-one reasons why people pack their bags and jet off into the sunset. For some, it’s the allure of sun, sea and relaxation in an exotic climate. For others, it’s the chance to experience the weird and wonderful ways of a new culture.
Some people, however, want more of a rush when they go off on their travels. Whatever your whims and desires may be, rest assured that there’s a destination that will cater to your needs, so we’ve picked five journeys that will satisfy the thrill-seeker in you!
1. Nepal – Taking on Everest in Style
Photo: Maro Simoes
If you’re looking to take your thrill seeking to new heights, then Nepal should certainly be on your bucket list! The Gokyo Lakes, located between 15,400 feet and 16,400 feet above sea level, are the epitome of secluded beauty.
Comprised of a system of six main lakes (19 lakes in total), the Gokyo Lakes cover an area of 485 acres. It not only serves breathtaking views of amazingly gorgeous scenery, but also offers a delectable glimpse into Nepalese culture. For both Hindus and Buddhists in the area, the lakes are places of religious significance, and each year around 500 Hindus take a pilgrimage to the region as part of the Janai Purnima Festival.
After trekking around the Gokyo Lakes, the luxury Everest Lodge Trek is the best (and safest) way to see the world’s highest mountain. While many thrill-seekers would love to scale Mount Everest, the reality is that it’s beyond the physical capabilities of most and potentially deadly. Fortunately, The Mountain Company offers private planes, well-appointed lodges and established walking routes to make it virtually risk-free.
2. Monaco – A Battle of Wits
Watching the likes of Lewis Hamilton rush through the streets of Monaco in cars emblazoned with UBS, Petronas and Hugo Boss logos is exciting, but if you want a real adrenaline rush then Monte Carlo offers more than F1 in the form of a bustling poker scene. Each year, the Grand Final of the European Poker Tour brings the world’s top players to Monte Carlo for some adrenaline-fueled betting action.
The combination of high stakes (EPT winners can scoop $1 million+) and witnessing how opponents try to outwit each other is what makes this event hugely entertaining. Anyone who ever had a strong hand during a game or a sports competition will know how difficult it is to conceal the adrenaline shakes.
While the average player might not be able to afford the EPT Grand Final’s €5,300 ($5,900) buy-in, the tournament does offer a selection of more affordable options for those who want to test their poker face. The best time to enjoy an emotional rollercoaster ride in Monaco is April, when the EPT is in town!
3. Great Britain – Hanging on the Wire
Photo: Hefin Owens
Great Britain might not be the first country you think of when you’re searching for “thrills,” but a recent article by The Express suggests it should be. Citing the Discovery Channel’s 2015 poll of the best places for thrill-seekers, the article outlines three activities that have helped put the “Great” in Britain!
According to stats cited by The Express, people in Britain spend $4.5 billion each year on high-adrenaline activities, with zip wiring as the most popular. Helping to forge this reputation of excitement and entertainment is Zip World Snowdonia. Home to Europe’s longest and fastest zip line, the venue claims to offer “the nearest thing to flying” thanks to a system that sees riders glide down a wire at 100mph.
In addition to offering unparalleled views of the Welsh mountain range, home to the second largest mountain in the United Kingdom, Mount Snowdon, the ride offers a thrill like no other, according to 28% of those polled.
4. U.S.A. – Take a Windy Walk
Photo: NOAA Photo Library
The U.S.A. is so large and varied that finding a place to do extreme sports is, well, extremely easy of course! However, if you’re looking for the best live experience possible then Tornado Alley is a must. The colloquial name for south-central United States, this region sees a disproportionate number of tornados each year.
The National Centers for Environmental Information say that, on average, there are more than 1,000 tornados in the U.S. each year and the majority of these occur in Tornado Alley. Now, it’s worth pointing out that there are no actual boundaries for Tornado Alley, but if you happen to be in the area (e.g. Texas, Mississippi, Alabama) between spring and early fall then you’re likely to see a tornado.
Fortunately, around 77% of tornados are classified as “weak,” so you won’t be in too much danger here. So if you’re looking to see a beautifully violent side of Mother Nature, we suggest taking a trip to Tornado Alley.
5. Qatar – Skiing in a New Way
Photo: Tristan Schmurr
The final stop on our thrill-seeking world tour is Qatar. Thanks to its seemingly endless expanse of sand dunes, this Gulf country has become a hub for skiers looking for something unique and different to add to their itinerary. Taking the familiar concept of skiing, but swapping the cold of snow for dunes of sand, has made this a must-try activity for those who want some extreme fun in the sun.
In terms of dynamics, this actually makes ski runs slightly more challenging as the movement of the dunes is more unpredictable. Essentially, if you’ve tried skiing and now fancy something a little tougher, then sand skiing is definitely for you!
Indeed, like every destination we’ve listed in this article, Qatar is also a place of outstanding natural beauty, which means you’ll get an eyeful of color and culture when you take your 4WD vehicle out to Khor al-Adaid. Don’t forget to take some sunscreen with you!
Traveling means different things to different people, so if you’re someone who enjoys a rush of adrenaline on the road then make sure you add our five picks to your itinerary. Whether you’re looking to engage the mind by playing poker in Monaco, flood the senses by hurtling down a mountain in Wales, or turn a traditional sport on its head in Qatar, we think our five top picks have got everything you need to set your pulse racing with excitement!
What do you think of these adventurous destinations? Let us know in the comments.