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5 Crazy Ideas For an Extreme Activity Holiday

Jul 8, 2008
When most people think of going on an activity holiday, they may think of playing tennis in Tuscany or maybe a few rounds of golf in the south of France. But for some people, these kinds of activities are as adventurous as a Sunday tea party - even the usual extreme activities, like snowboarding, rock climbing and bungee jumping, are not dangerous enough. A new breed of extreme sport holidays has grown increasingly popular in recent years, as thrill seekers go abroad in search of new ways to achieve the ultimate adrenaline rush.

I've put together a list of the five strangest, daftest and most dangerous things to do on an extreme activity holiday. Some of these require training, equipment and experience, some of them just require the courage to go and do it! Of course, be aware that all of the activities listed below can be highly dangerous, so make sure you prepare thoroughly before you try any of them!

Bull Running

This extreme holiday is a long time favourite for adrenaline junkies - taking part in the Running of the Bulls is either the ultimate display of courage or of idiocy, depending on who you talk to. The festival of San Fermin in Pamplona, Spain, has been going on for centuries, a nine day fiesta held each year from the 6th to the 14th of July. Every morning during the fiesta, the bulls that will be killed in that evening's bull fights are let loose to run through a half mile stretch of the street, and ordinary members of the public run in front of them, dressed in white with red handkerchiefs tied around their necks. If you decide to take part in this unique and dangerous activity on a holiday in Pamplona, make sure you listen out for the rockets - the first firework is set off when the bulls are loosed, the second when they are all on the streets. When you hear the rockets, run!

BASE jumping

BASE jumping is a form of parachuting from fixed objects rather than aeroplanes. BASE stands for the four locations from with a jump can be attempted - buildings, antenna, spans (bridges), and earth (mountains and other natural features.) Those who jump from one of all four types of location are given a coveted BASE number - Phil Smith was awarded BASE #1 in 1981, and BASE #1000 was recently given in 2005.
The thrill of BASE jumping comes the fact that you typically jump at much lower altitudes than on a normal parachute jump - at many BASE jumping locations, you are only a few seconds from the ground, so it requires rapid parachute deployment and leaves little margin for error. Experienced jumpers travel around the world to find the best points to jump from - not your usual activity holiday by any means!

Wingsuit flying

You have to be an experienced skydiver with over 200 jumps beneath your belt to go wingsuit flying, but if jumping out of a plane just doesn't thrill you the way it used to, soaring through the air in a wingsuit may be the thing to do next time you are on holiday. This activity taps into man's desire to fly in a very direct way, using a specially designed jumpsuit that allows you to glide through the air - a high tech evolution of the "birdmen" of the early 20th century who built wings out of wood and canvas. Wingsuit flyers exit either from a plane or from a BASE jumping location, glide for as long as they can, then deploy a parachute. Not for the faint hearted!

Tombstoning

Its very name gives a fair indication of the dangers involved in tombstoning, so named by coastguards as being an easy way to an early grave. The concept is simple enough - find a cliff above some water, and jump into it! Tombstoning can be very dangerous - due to changing tides and hidden rocks, what looks like deep water beneath a cliff can be very hazardous, so do your research if you intend to take part in this activity.

Kitesurfing

Harnessing yourself to a kite and surfing across the water at high speed may not appeal to everyone, but this new method of surfing is an increasingly popular extreme sports holiday. Kitesurfers use a combination of a kite and small surfboard for their sport, and once you've mastered the basics, a range of jumps and stunts can be performed and larger waves and winds can be tackled. Be warned - kitesurfing can be very dangerous if you lose control or the winds grow too strong (leading to a so-called "kitemare") but there are plenty of places around the world where you can learn the sport in safe and controlled way.
About the Author
Kieron Sellens is the marketing manager of the Association of Independent Tour Operators (AiTO). With AITO's cultural breaks you can choose from tailor-made activity holidays, historical tours, musical trips and many more. The independent tour operators that AITO represent specialise in worldwide holidays tailored to their customers' requirements.
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