Looking for something adventurous to do when you’re on break? Perhaps something completely out of the ordinary, in an “exotic” destination? In our culture of one-upmanship, we’re always trying to find new and better things to do, so that we can show it off to our friends on Facebook. Perhaps your peers have already gone bungee jumping in New Zealand, scuba diving in Thailand, or hiking along the Inca Trail. Surely there’s something else out there worthy of a couple of jealousy-inducing Tweets.
Here’s a round up of seven exotic adventures of a lifetime that you — yes, YOU — can actually do. Seven seemingly obscure activities on each of the seven continents. As off-beat as they may sound, any average albeit fearless tourist can do them with little to no experience. Just don’t forget to bring your camera; you’ll need photos to support your bragging rights.
South Africa’s zoological tourism isn’t all about lions and zebras in Kruger National Park, or the great whites off the coast of Cape Town. In the town of Oudtshoorn are ostrich farms that raise the big flightless birds for their meat, eggs, feathers, and leather — but they also allow tourists to ride on the back of them for a wild, but memorable ride around the corral.
Tourism in Bolivia may be most associated with drives through the surreal landscape of the Uyuni salt flats, but in the mountain town of Potosi is a cooperative silver mine that’s open for tourism. In fact, there are several local tour agencies that can outfit you in miner gear so you can walk, climb, and crawl through the tunnels while workers are actually mining. The best part of the tour is a trip to the miner’s market, where you can buy dynamite and nitroglycerin to safely explode on the side of hill (with your guide’s supervision, of course).
You don’t need to be a working scientist or apply for a research grant to go to the icy continent at the bottom of the world. While most of these researchers live for an entire season at McMurdo base (aka Mac Town), a regular Joe or Jane like you can go to Antarctica via a cruise tour on any of a number of tour operators, of varied travel budgets. Most tourism goes to the continent’s northern most point — the Antarctic peninsula — away from the bigger research bases. However, one frequent port of call is Port Lockroy, a small British research base, complete with a post box to mail out postcards. A supply/mail plane takes them off the continent, which is a good thing because there’s no such thing as carrier penguins — because they don’t know how to fly.
Paris is undeniably one of the world’s great cities, with plenty of “must-see” tourist sights — including the Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame, and the Louvre. But about six stories underneath the city lies the L’Empire de la Mort — the “Empire of the Dead” — the catacombs of Paris. A former quarry-turned-mass grave, hundreds of thousands of skeletal remains of former Parisians have forever rested here since the 18th century, when cemeteries became overcrowded. The underground tunnel open to tourists goes on for a little over a mile, through damp, dimly lit passageways — coincidentally where the Resistance once found refuge during WWII. It’s an urban adventure that you can definitely do in less time than it takes waiting to see the Mona Lisa.
There’s plenty of dangerous adventure when traveling through Australia — even killer pine cones! — but one safe bet is actually climbing a bridge. That’s right; tourists young and old have embraced Sydney Harbour Bridge Climb, a popular activity to do when you’re visiting the Aussie metropolis. You don a jumpsuit, clip into a safety cable, and ascend the famous bridge, only to be rewarded with a beautiful view of the city’s harbor. Some may argue that the Bridge Climb is a bit too touristy — but where else are you going to climb a bridge like this?
Although many people living in tornado regions probably think this is a bad idea, there actually exists tornado chasing tourism, with tour companies like Tempest Tours. That’s right, if you want the same thrill that Discovery’s Storm Chasers get, you too can voluntarily put yourself near the path of a violent, but awe-inspiring funnel cloud. Most tourists are weather nerds coming from regions that don’t have tornadoes, and are led by professional storm chasers so that they can fulfill their Twister fantasies. The guides make sure to keep a distance from potential danger though; things can go awry in tornado chasing when the tornado starts chasing you.
Most package tourists in China visit the Great Wall at Badaling, the closest, preserved section of the wall to Beijing. But if you journey a couple of hours north, there’s the “wild wall” — a part of the 4,464 mile-long Wonder of the World — available for day hikes along a more authentic, less preserved area of the ancient structure. And once you get to Simatai, there’s one fun way to get down from the wall: via zipline, making your Great Wall experience even greater.