Some adventure travellers like to distinguish between ‘soft’ and ‘hard’ experiences. Hard adventure tours are a little more extreme and often involve a heightened sense of risk and danger, with adrenaline as a necessary and obviously exciting part of the ride. Travellers beware – adrenaline is known to be highly addictive!
As the hard-adventure sector has grown, our whl.travel local partners have climbed to the summit of the trend. Their local expertise brings to you some of the wildest and most thrilling tours out there. Here is our pick of five tours guaranteed to give you your adrenaline fix.
Paragliding over the Peaks of Pokhara, Nepal
Nepal is quickly becoming a paragliding hotspot and the legendary Pokhara Valley offers ideal conditions for the sport.
The valley’s terrain is the kind of blend of mountains and flats that pros dream about. Its enclosed microclimate keeps atmospheric variables stable and mild, a perfect combination for a sport that counts on pilots being able to maintain flight by controlling the pressure of the air passing through the glider. Of course, the views of local villages, Buddhist monasteries and the jungle of Royal Chitwan National Park are unmatched.
For the intrepid, Outdoor Himalayan Treks, the whl.travel local connection in Nepal, organises tandem paragliding tours. He recommends tandem flights for beginners because “lots of adventurers come to Nepal (especially Pokhara) to dare solo. Some of those who get overambitious and try midair acrobatics and other risky tricks/stunts have met with fatalities. On the contrary, tandem flight has got a very promising safety/success record.”
Kite Surfing in Florianópolis, Brazil
While not yet as well known for kite surfing as some places in the north of the country, the island of Florianópolis actually has some of the best sites in Brazil, promising excellent kiting conditions and a mix of surf for both beginners and the advanced. Even better, Florianópolis has topnotch kiting schools and all the right infrastructure in place.
The best kite-surfing conditions in Florianópolis occur in September, October and November (Brazil’s spring season); however, given the island’s unique topography and exposure to the Atlantic trade winds, good weather can continue all the way until March and suitable kiting conditions can be found year-round, especially starting in the mid-afternoon. Practitioners put the count of ‘kiteable’ days at an average of 250-plus per year.
Skydiving in Fiji
Skydiving is possible all over the world, so why take the leap in Fiji? Raumati Wikaire, General Manager of GlobalBedBank Fiji, the whl.travel local connection on the island, was thrilled to skydive in Fiji for the very first time:
“The beauty of skydiving in Fiji is that it’s so relaxed and laid back, just like the Fiji life,” she explains. “We arrived to a tiny little building on the tropical island. Having completed the paperwork, we were bundled into the plane and took off. The Tandem Masters were calm and joking around so although the adrenaline was pumping, I relaxed and had faith we’d make it out alive.
An added bonus was the scenic flight on our way up. Seeing the islands and reefs of gorgeous Fiji was a great distraction to calm the nerves. Before I know it, we’re rolling out the door and falling through the air. My skin is rippling and I don’t know whether to keep my mouth open or closed. But after a few seconds I get used to the sensation and enjoy the feeling of flying. I feel powerful.”
Whitewater Rafting in Jinja, Uganda
The Far Horizons, the whl.travel local connection in Uganda, is a team of dedicated travel professionals and adrenaline seekers committed to the fun found in and around Jinja, the adventure capital of East Africa. Only they could have come up with a heart-stopping trip called The Threesome; as if one dose of adrenaline isn’t enough, this thrill-tour combines the best of whitewater rafting, free-falling and jet speeds on the Nile.
The tour begins with a rafting plunge down the roaring grade-5 rapids of the Nile River, where the truly daring paddle with all their might through huge walls of white water. Then, once on dry land, adventurers climb to a point from which there is no choice but to jump! Options are to bungee the traditional way, try a tandem leap or hop in a kayak for a splash in style. The day ends by exploding up the river in the Wild Nile Jet, a custom-built jet boat that can perform 360-degree turns in walls of spray at 90 kilometres per hour.
Abseiling Down a Waterfall in Mpumalanga, South Africa
The Elands River waterfall in Mpumalanga, South Africa, is a hotspot for abseiling. On offer locally are two variations of a dramatic descent down the canyon wall – one for beginners and one for the more experienced (or whoever “promises not to chicken out”).
The easier route is the ZASM Abseil, a spectacular 35-metre descent. The fully backed-up ropes system is safe, secure and foolproof. Half adrenaline and half relaxation, the ZASM route has unmatched views of the waterfall and, from the bottom, a pleasant hike back up the gully.
For the harder adventurer, the Waterfall Abseil is a total rush. This drop is a breathtaking 60 metres right into the mists of the raging waterfall. Abseilers enjoy a swim in the river at the bottom, then a challenging climb back to the top that is known to pique interest in rock climbing too. Addictive, isn’t it?