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Don’t Forget Your Ice Pick: Extreme Holidays

Mark Southern scoured the globe to find the best global travel experiences to race pulses

We scour the globe to find the best global travel experiences to race pulses.

Getting Back To Nature, At Vassaliki Naturist Resort

Adventure holidays needn’t be white knuckle to be daunting – sometimes to face true fear, you have to let it all hang out.

Europe’s number one naturist resort is Vassaliki, nestled into a quiet corner of the idyllic island of Kefalonia, where a small secluded oasis of skin-coloured calm has been created for holiday makers who want to go au naturel.

Naturism is a growing trend across the world, with numbers of people travelling to naturist resorts up nearly 200% in three years. And it’s easy to see why, as the pressures of business and finances build up on successful people, stifling them in both literal and metaphorical senses. What better way to say goodbye to one way of life, and hello to another than doing the one thing you would never do in the office?

At Vassaliki, husband and wife owners Mark and Sam Taylor have cultivated a wonderful hidden gem of a resort, welcoming to both experienced and first time naturists, and it’s surprising how quickly the nerves disappear within moments of de-robing.

When we first exposed ourselves to the elements, we had a momentary bout of supreme anxiousness. However, the joys of naturism are manifold, with a genuine feeling of relaxation and calmness flowing through your veins once you overcome the fears that millennia of fashion repression have caused.

There’s an old Chinese saying that translates loosely to ‘only without clothes can our souls be free’, and all hang-ups vanish once you’ve taken the step to rid yourself of the fabric that we identify our personalities by. Here, no-one is a CEO, no-one is struggling at work, no-one is pressured into being people they are not – everyone is themselves, and it’s liberating in the extreme.

Kefalonia’s almost guaranteed sunshine, so you can lounge around by the pool, or try out some of the excellent excursions, like the fun boat trip around the thousands of empty beaches around the island. All whilst wearing nothing more than a smile, of course.

For a travel experience unlike any other you’ll go on, we couldn’t recommend this more highly, and Vassaliki’s the one resort in the world where we would advise first timers to experience the wonders of holidaying sans tan lines.

Running With The Bulls In Pamplona, Spain

It’s not to everyone’s tastes, but there’s nothing quite like angry bulls running at you in cobbled streets to put that email you forgot to send to the back of your mind.

The famous Running With the Bulls festival in the historic town of Pamplona is an annual Spanish celebration of San Fermin, and is amongst the most surreal days away you’ll ever experience. The event was originally conceived centuries ago to move the bulls to the bullring, but these days is an excuse for a seven day party, with one extreme twist.

For those looking for an animal encounter to remember listen out for the firecracker that tells you that the six bulls are free. Then run. Runners sprint through the tight winding streets that maze through the old town, whilst hundreds of tipsy fellow runners career into them, all whilst having indulged in too much sangria.

Many find the practice cruel to the animals, but no one can deny its place on this list for the heart-racing terror it induces.

Cycling The Road Of Death, Camino De Las Yungas, La Paz, Bolivia

If cycling to you means a pleasant afternoon amble on a bicycle with a basket and bell then this may not be for you. If, however, you’re a little more enamoured with the idea of extreme experiences on two wheels, then read on.

The infamous ‘Road of Death‘ in Bolivia is not named so lightly. The world’s most feared stretch of tarmac stretches for over 40 miles from the Amazon rainforest region to the Bolivian Capital city, and is considered the most dangerous road on Earth by many.

Whilst we fear the M25 for different reasons, the Camino de las Yungas snakes through mountain ranges, with sheer 600m canyons dropping out from the edge of the single track road, and accounts for 300 deaths every year.

So, with this in mind, the petrifying passage has become a badge of honour for downhill cyclists who like to feel the wind in their hair, and ideally the ground beneath their feet. Specially adapted mountain bikes are used to send their riders hurtling down the almost all down-hill track at speeds of over 40 mph, and it’s a sure-fire way to both give you the thrill of a lifetime, and the nervous disposition of an omniphobic.

Ice Climbing, Rjukan, Norway

They say a child is born with only two natural fears, with any future fears picked up by their life experiences. Those two fears? Loud noises and falling. The final death-defying holiday on our list looks the latter square in the eyes and laughs at it, although if one isn’t too careful they could end up making the former whilst plummeting to the depths below.

Ice climbing is for those for whom climbing a regular mountain seems a bit tame; The kind of person who looks at Tom Cruise’s Mission Impossible 2 opening stunt as a Sunday afternoon hobby.

You’ll require an admirable amount of courage to climb up a frozen waterfall, and no shortage of skills, but the experienced and helpful guides at Kelso Travel will ensure you go safely down as well as up the solid ice wall.

The thrill of the cold ice against your face as you haul yourself up over the icy edge is absolute, and rarely will you feel every nerve twitching in your body quite the way you do when you take a glimpse around you and see the white-capped backdrop rolling into the distance whilst you hang from what was once a running waterfall. 

White Water Rafting With Crocodiles, Zambezi River, Zambia

Widely considered the very best white water rafting experience you’ll ever enjoy, the Zambezi is thrilling for two reasons. The first is the unparalleled ups and downs rafters absorb, as they career along the explosive river. The second? The crocodiles that swim beneath the raft for anything, or anyone, that may fall out.

Don’t worry too much though, as the crocs are on the smaller side of maneating, meaning you might get nipped but you won’t be dinner. What is more likely is your knuckles will never be white as you grip onto the oar and boat with more force than you thought possible.

As you whisk along the sliding water it won’t just be your raft dropping down steep slopes, as your jaw will be glued to the bottom of your boat at the stunning vistas you’ll glide past, from thick jungle to the majestic Victoria Falls – the largest waterfall on planet Earth.

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