The World’s Most Epic Destinations

STORY BY Megan Hughes 25th July 2018

The world is full of amazing destinations, many of which we’ve noted down for our “must-see- sometime-in-our-lives” personal destination bucket list. For some people though just going to look at an incredible waterfall or an amazing mountainscape just isn’t enough; they have to do something whilst they’re there that no one has done before – often involving a kayak, a mountain bike, ice crampons or some other piece of extreme sports kit.

So here we profile 10 of the world’s most amazing places, spread across seven continents, and also some of the sports and adventure achievements made at them.

Mount Kilimanjaro (Tanzania, Africa)

Kilimanjaro is a favourite for charity treks, but at 5,895m high this dormant volcano is no walk in the park. National Geographic Adventurer of the Year Will Gadd, had long been on a quest to climb ice on every continent in the world, and had decided to climb Tanzania’s ice glaciers years ago. He hadn’t set an urgent deadline to do so until he learned that more than 90 percent of the ice on top of Kilimanjaro had already melted.

In fact, the entire 20-square kilometer peak of Africa’s tallest mountain was once covered with ice, but intense melting has left behind nothing but a handful of rare ice formations that will likely be completely gone in as little as five years.

Faced with the daunting first task of acclimatising to the altitude, Will commented, “at 6,000m it’s challenging to even walk. Even before we reached the glaciers, I was gasping for air like a fish out of water. We would have to collapse just to breathe sometimes.”  This was special and extremely important because it was the last ice of its kind. I felt so very lucky to be there .”

Cliffs of Moher (Ireland, Europe)

You’ve seen them in films as The Cliffs of Insanity (inconceivable…) in The Princess Pride and as the  setting for Harry Potter and Albus Dumbledore hunting horcruxes, but the entirely vertical cliffs on the Irish west coast, including the fabled blowhole of Serpent’s Lair on Inis Mór, are part of a UNESCO Global Geopark.  The cliffs stretch for five miles as the crow flies, reaching their maximum height of 214m, just north of the 1835-built O’Brien’s Tower.

Last summer Australian Rhiannan Iffland and Britain’s former Olympian Blake Aldridge decided to perform some dives by the cliffs, believed to be the first cliff dives in an area where usually Atlantic puffins and more than 20 other bird species fly high above the water.

Southern Patagonia (Argentina, South America)

Southern Patagonia is a beautiful area with locations like the Torres Del Paine national park that boasting incredible mountains, glaciers, lakes, and rivers.  People visit to hike the partial or full circuit around the remarkable granite peaks and just take in the amazing views, but before 2013 no one had ridden the glacier-filled waters of Patagonia on a wakeboard before.  On their trip five years ago Parks Bonifay, Adam Errington, Cutun Martin and Tomas Karagozian went to Argentina to attempt the feat, successfully writing a new chapter in wakeboard history.

Palouse Falls (Washington State, USA)

Standing an incredible 57 metres tall, the Palouse Falls in the US state of Washington are even higher than the legendary Niagara Falls. Extreme kayaker Rafael Ortiz recently paid them a visit – and became only the second person ever to paddle over the edge. The impact of hitting the churning white-water at the bottom was so intense that the Mexican was catapulted out of the kayak.

“You can steer the kayak with your body a bit for the first 30 or 40 feet, but then the water takes over,” he explained.

Cappadocia (Turkey, Asia)

With its name meaning “Land of Beautiful Horses” in Persian, Cappadocia has been a cultural crossroads between Europe and Asia since the first settlers arrived in the region during the first Palaeolithic era.  Multi-world champion Petr Kraus from the Czech Republic spent ten days exploring the UNESCO World Heritage Site in Central Anatolia on his bike.

“The thing that makes Cappadocia so beautiful is the struggle of volcanic rock against wind and water. I found something of myself in the beauty of Cappadocia,” explained Kraus, who continued, “The ground in Cappadocia has been hardened by wind and rain over many millennia and today resembles a huge bicycle track. It is extremely challenging for doing tricks, but the incredible chimneys and other rock formations are so beautiful. It’s like nature designed the perfect place for my sport.”

Aldeyjarfoss (Iceland, Europe)

Iceland is a waterfall kayaking mecca. It is an island with a huge glaciated icecap in the middle that melts during spring and summer months sending waterfalls off in every direction towards the sea. Aldeyjarfoss is Iceland’s most famous waterfall in Kayaking circles and for a few years from 1996 held the Guinness World Record for the highest free-fall in a kayak. Shaun Baker broke the world record for the longest freefall there then when he ran the 19.8 m drop.  It has only been paddled by a handful of kayakers and is renowned for dishing out serious beatings including broken bones.

Ulvetanna, Antarctica

Antarctica is on average the coldest, windiest, driest, and highest of the seven continents. This desert continent is, however, stunningly beautiful and home to millions of penguins. In December 2010 it also received a visit from Russian Valery Rozov as part of a B.A.S.E. Jump Expedition to the 2,830m-high Ulvetanna mountain (which means “the wolf’s tooth” in Norwegian) a sharp peak first mapped in the 1950s and climbed in 1994. Rosov is reported to have flown for 45 seconds before deploying his parachute.

Banaue Rice Terraces (The Philippines, Asia)

You may not have heard of the Banaue rice terraces of the Philippines, nor of a sport called ‘ wakeskating’ but the famous rice terraces of Banaue are one of those places sometimes named “the Eighth Wonder of the World” and wakeskating seems to be a lot like wakeboarding but on a smaller board.

Professional wakeskaters Brian Grubb and Dominik Preisner travelled there for what was described as, “an epic winch session” covering four pools with a total length of 80 meters. Respect for the environment was a priority the team insist, saying they made certain that the plants and wildlife weren’t disturbed during the event.  “The whole project was a real adventure for us and the team. It is still incredible that we were wakeskating at such a fascinating place!” commented Brian.

Victoria Falls (Zambia and Zimbabwe, Africa)

It’s the world’s largest waterfall by total area. Located between Zambia and Zimbabwe, Victoria Falls is a sightseeing classic, transporting an astonishing 1,088 cubic meters per second of water down an 110m cliff. Cliff divers Orlando Duque and Jonathan Paredes decided to dive off it, launching themselves from a spray-soaked ledge in the shadow of Victoria Falls, whose indigenous name is Mosi-oa-Tunya, “the Smoke that Thunders”. They first attempted lower jumps (21m, 22m and 24m) before tackling the ultimate 30m dive.

Both usually dive from a height between 26.5 and 28m when competing on the Red Bull Cliff Diving World Series. With 13 world titles and two Guinness world records, Colombia’s Duque has already dived near the Statue of Liberty and off a 28m high tree branch deep in the Amazon jungle. Mexico’s Paredes won his first World Series stop in 2015 and recently placed second at the High Diving World Cup.

“Diving in a place like this just shows you the power of Nature,” said an ecstatic Duque straight off the water after a successful jump.  “I have the chance to go up there and find a place to jump. It doesn’t get any better than that.”

Bromo National Park (East Java, Indonesia, Asia)

Mount Bromo is perhaps the most well-known volcano in East Java’s Bromo Tengger Semeru National Park, thanks to its accessibility and epic sunrise views. Three years ago, Austrians Dominic Roithmair and Marco Fuerst went to skydive with the Indonesian flag over the active volcano.

“You can’t feel the heat,” said Marco Waltenspiel, one of the pilots of the plane the pair jumped from, “but you can smell the sulphur.”

Dominic and Marco leapt out of a helicopter at over 13,100 feet for the scenic, stunning flight down to the volcano, which sits 7,200 feet above Jakarta.

All Image Credits: Red Bull.

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