Image credit: Interlaken Tourismus

Adventure sports have always found a way to transform regular persons into serious adrenaline addicts, who can’t help but invite danger by voluntarily choosing to jump off a bridge suspended only by a rubber band or taking selfies while holding onto dear life (and a parachute) after plummeting from an airplane — in the name of jazzing up their life.

Although these activities have had their share of glory for decades, often exciting and fascinating many brave folks or, on the other hand, shocking the faint-hearted, they have also managed to reshape the way adrenaline junkies want to go about their next escapade.

For now though, we want to take a break from the classics and seek new playmates in the adrenaline playground. So if you are game, get out there and jump, abseil, bounce, swim, dive, fly and then land safely to tell your story.

Check out our five new-age extremes and start planning!

Leaping off waterfalls and sliding down rocks in the heart of the forest are the treats of the ultimate canyoning adventure. Image credit: CC BY 2.0 (Cyril Bèle, 2007)

Harnessing the power of the canyon
Imagine a hybrid journey comprised of rock climbing through river carved tunnels, rappelling, jumping and then sliding down waterfalls, where wetting yourself is mandatory. Experience the raw power of waterfalls, feel the tranquillity of deep forested pools and admire the peculiar sculptural rockscapes and the quaint gorges surrounding you, all with an extra galvanising effect — adrenaline.

Switzerland has long been a hotspot for canyoning, and Interlaken is often dubbed the extreme sports capital of Europe. With its dominating mountains and beautiful lakes, Interlaken is a canyoning paradise suitable for all levels and styles. Also intriguing is the Blue Canyon in Waitakere Ranges, Auckland, New Zealand, a gorgeous gorge with 18 waterfalls and plenty of mysterious pools that present spectacular jumps. Some other places where you can head for this sport are La Fortuna in San Carlos province, Costa Rica, Cape Town in South Africa, Copper Canyon in Mexico, Sierra de Guara in Spain, and Sydney, Australia.

A shark cage boat is ready to take brave divers out at sea. Image credit: CC BY-SA 2.0 (Manoel Lemos, 2008)

Fangs very much?
Getting close up and personal with sharks is not the most romantic way to spend your holiday, but the experience is enough to feed you with stories for the entire life. An intimate dive with one of the most dangerous predators in the world may be nerve-wrecking and out of a Hollywood movie, however to witness it in its natural habitat is a once-in-a-lifetime experience and something worthy to put on a bucket list. If your curiosity is already stirred, then equip yourself with plenty of courage and visit some of the best cage diving spots around the world, including the self-professed ‘great white shark capital of the world’, Gansabaai in South Africa, a small town which can sweep everyone up in the shark diving frenzy. The entire town is dotted with shark-themed paraphernalia — buildings are decorated with disused diving cages and murals fringed with white teeth, among others — that stand ready to entice you to get face to face with the world’s scariest shark. While diving with sharks comes with default heart-racing, chest-pounding nervousness, some swear it brings on a calm and peaceful mood. Generally shark cage diving is done year-round off the coast of South Africa and on Neptune Islands, South Australia; it is seasonal in Farallon Islands, California, with trips running from September through late November, as well as in Isla de Guadalupe, Mexico, where peak season is from August through to October.

Tandem hang-gliders experience a real bird’s eye view above São Conrado, in Rio de Janeiro. Image credit: CC BY 2.0 (Marcin Wichary, 2010)

I believe I can fly
In 1948, aeronautical engineer Francis Rogallo, revolutionised non-powered fight by inventing a flexible wing with fabric that spread into a fan shape with the aid of wind pressure — a kite-like apparatus which led not only to hang gliding but also to paragliding. Ultralight, this once-unfathomable device became the modern hang-glider that today keeps on tantalising adrenaline fans to feel on their own skin what it is like to be a bird. Soaring through the air with nothing but the power of wind, this is an exhilarating yet peaceful way to see the world from above. If you are ready to take the sky and wallow in the silence, head to the hang-gliding hotspots of Rio de Janeiro in Brazil, Switzerland’s Interlaken, and Auckland, New Zealand.

Dogsledding is an exciting way to experience Arctic nature and to get a heavy dose of Inuit culture. Image credit: CC BY 2.0 (Visit Greenland, 2010)

Dog days over, not
In the frigid and untamed vast wilderness of the Arctic Circle, men and dogs have been in an enduring relationship for millennia. Long distance travel in the harshest weather conditions has made dogsledding the most practical way to explore mountains and fjords and, today, still continues to be the number one form of transport in some of the most remote northern areas during winter.

Today, travellers can experience on their own what it is to sled with a pack of rowdy, yet strong, canine athletes and spice up their wilderness travel in a unique way to see the northern countries. Unleash the Eskimo in you and let the dog-power lead you to the off-the-beaten trails of the North. Tours can be as simple as a day-trip, lodge-to-lodge holidays and even dogsled camping experiences for the most intrepid travellers. In Europe, start your adventure in the Swedish or Finnish Lapland, or Finnmark, Norway (home of the indigenous Sami people); there’s also Greenland’s west coast and in all towns on the east coast, and the south-west corner of Iceland, only a 40-minute drive from Reykjavík, the capital. Over in the Americas, you can quickly become the huskies’ best friend in Canada’s Quebec, as well as in the U.S. states of Alaska, Minnesota, Montana and Maine.

Flyboarding sends you flying out of the water like a dolphin before bellyflopping you back into the ocean. Image credit: CC BY-SA 2.0 (Hans-Vollebregt, 2014)

Get set, jet pack, go!
If you consider flying like Iron Man a mere movie scene, think again, or better yet, prepare to get propelled high up into the air. Known as flyboarding or water jetpacking, this new-fangled sport was invented only a few years ago with the aim of taking one to new heights.

Designed to add ‘superhero-ness’ to your life, flyboarding combines flying with wakeboarding and defies gravity by a rapid launch in the air, with water surging and surreal twirling. While you don’t need any special skills to hover in the air, this water sport is said to have serious consequences: addiction. As it is still quite new, flyboarding can be tried out around the United States — in Florida, Texas, Arizona and Hawaii — and it is also gaining a lot of popularity in Dubai and United Arab Emirates, with more to come destinations.