Itching for adventure? Here are the craziest, adrenaline-pumping high-altitude activities—from jetpacking over the Florida Keys to skydiving in Nepal.
Alexandra Baackes 1 / 11
Wanna get high? We scouted out the world’s top 10 ways to soar above sea level. From sitting shotgun in a helicopter over the Great Barrier Reef to being your own aircraft in a BASE jump over the Swiss Alps, we guarantee this roundup will leave you with vertigo— and the best <em>natural</em> high you’ve ever had.
<em><a href="http://www.mensfitness.com/leisure/travel/10-death-defying-stunts-you-ca... target="_blank">Related: 10 Death Defying Stunts You Can Do on Vacation >>></a></em>
Helicopter Over The Great Barrier Reef, Australia
When you think of the Great Barrier Reef in Australia, you probably think scuba diving. But with new helicopter tours being offered over the world’s largest coral reef system, you can join an even more elite group of people who have admired this natural wonder from above. Flights take off from Cairns and other Northeast Australian cities and include aerial views of rainforest-fringed coasts, pristine white beaches, and natch, the unique coral formations and marine life of the reef.
<strong>HOW TO GET HIGH:</strong> Contact <a href="http://www.gbrhelicopters.com.au/tourism/scenic-flights/scenic-flights-f... target="_blank">GBR Helicopters</a>, starting at $370 for 30 minutes and up to $546 for an hour.
Skydive Mount Everest, Nepal
Skydiving might be one of the most infamous ways to get high—and then get low again in record time. So how can you jump out from the diving crowds? Join the world’s most exclusive skydive over Mount Everest, at more than 29,000 feet. Hopefully you have a healthy savings account balance, because getting this high will run you a cool $15K; but if not, you’ll have time to start saving as the elite trips depart just twice per year. Worth it? We think so. This experience includes freefalling past many of the world’s highest mountain peaks and landing on the world’s highest Drop Zone.
<strong>HOW TO GET HIGH:</strong> Contact <a href="http://www.incredible-adventures.com/skydive-everest.html" target="_blank">Incredible Adventures</a>, and be sure to have your bank on speed dial to transfer that $15,000.
Hot Air Balloon Masai Mara, Kenya
Riding in a hot air balloon has a certain romance to it, no matter what the destination. But do it over the Masai Mara in Kenya and you’ll be hard-pressed to conjure a more cinematic experience. Calmly soaring over the Serengeti grasslands will give you a completely different perspective than the one you get from the more traditional safari vehicle, the jeep. If possible, try to visit from the months of April through July, when the Great Migration occurs and wildebeests, zebras, and gazelles lumber across the Serengeti, led by genetic precursors to the GPS. By grazing over the plains in a fire-fueled balloon, you’ll take part in the largest mass movement of mammals on the planet.
<strong>HOW TO GET HIGH:</strong> Contact <a href="http://www.porini.com/kenya.html?sub=balloon-safari" target="_blank">Porini Kenya</a>, $450 per person.
Hang Glide Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Rio Hang Gliding
Hang gliding, in which the participant pilots a light and non motorized aircraft, has been around for almost a century. And for nearly fifty years, it’s been an adventure traveler’s tradition when visiting Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. More than 10,000 tandem flights take off each year, and it’s easy to see why: it’s a glider’s dream to to get airborne with the tropical sea breeze in your face and the mountain air in your lungs. For those short on time, it’s a handy way to get all your sightseeing done in one go—one flight can knock out Corcovado, Sugar Loaf, Copacabana and Ipanema Beaches, as well as the iconic Cristo Redentor.
<strong>HOW TO GET HIGH:</strong> Contact <a href="http://www.riohanggliding.com/" target="_blank">Rio Hang Gliding</a>, $169 with 10% off for prepayment. Photos and videos from $37-79.
Microlight Angkor Wat, Cambodia
Arguably the world’s most impressive historic site, Angkor Wat—which once served as the seat of the Khmer Empire—is a bucket-list destination. It has survived centuries rife with war, dictators and genocide but is now threatened once again by the strain of two million annual visitors. Get high above the maddening crowds with a unique microlight flight. A fairly fresh addition to the aviation scene, microlights are small, motored aircrafts with a four-hour endurance, the ability to lift 550 lbs., and the capability to reach altitudes of nearly 10,000 feet. Flights in Cambodia include intimate aerial views of the Angkor temple groups, rural countryside, and the Tonle Sap floating villages.
<strong>HOW TO GET HIGH:</strong> Contact <a href="http://skyventure.org/" target="_blank">Skyventure</a>, from $60 for 15 minutes to $180 for an hour.
BASE Jump Interlaken, Switzerland
Happy Tour Interlaken
This is by far the most controversial way to get high—at least on this list! BASE jumping, in which participants jump from fixed points and use parachutes to break their fall, is one of the riskiest sports on earth, with one out of every 60 jumps ending in fatality. Interlaken, Switzerland, is one of the most popular places on earth to BASE jump thanks to its high mountain peaks and scenic views. However, even at this BASE hotspot, no tour operator will assume responsibility for jumpers—this is a DIY get high activity.
<strong>HOW TO GET HIGH:</strong> <a href="http://www.happytourinterlaken.com/index-Dateien/BASEJumpingPricesInterl... target="_blank">Happy Tour Interlaken</a> provides tours to “observe the jumpers” for $156 for up to four people. Discounts available for larger groups.
Paraglide Mount Fuji, Japan
Paragliding is a gentle sport: participants glide lightweight and free-flying from a harness held up by a fabric wing. But don’t be fooled by the lack of engine: paraglider flights can last hours and cover many miles. What better location for this mid-air ballet than mild-mannered Japan? Paragliding over Mount Fuji brings you to the rim of the country’s highest mountain as well as an active volcano—surely enough to provide a fix for any adrenaline junkie. And in line with true Japanese hospitality, you’ll be served a piping-hot cup of green tea upon landing.
<strong>HOW TO GET HIGH:</strong> Contact <a href="http://asagirikougen-para.jimdo.com/" target="_blank">Asagirikougen Para</a>, $38 on a weekday, $44 on a weekend.
Jetpack The Florida Keys, United States
Jet Pack Adventures
Jetpacks may seem futuresque, but you can try them right now—and you don’t have to go too far to do it. Florida is home to the world’s only Jetpack flight tour operator. Flights begin with a boat ride out to a custom flight deck, where you’ll be introduced to the ins and outs—and ups and downs (pun most certainly intended)—of the Jetlev R200. Don’t get too excited, though. The jetpack remains tethered to a boat and maxes out at 20 minutes of flight time. Still, this might just be the world’s newest, and certainly most futuristic, way to get high.
<strong>HOW TO GET HIGH:</strong> Contact <a href="http://www.jetpackadventures.com/" target="_blank">Jet Pack Adventures</a>, $250 for a two-hour experience.
Seaplane Dubai, United Arab Emirates
Seaplanes are unique in their ability to both soar high over skyscrapers or mountains and also to limbo low, right down to sea level. And Dubai is a location that takes advantage of both these opportunities. Passengers can get eye -level with the world’s only seven-star hotel, the Burj Al Arab; the world’s tallest building, the Burj Dubai; and other landmarks, including The World Islands and the Dubai Atlantis. What went up then goes down, zipping along the famous coastline before making a dramatic water landing in the Persian Gulf.
<strong>HOW TO GET HIGH:</strong> Contact <a href="http://www.arabiahorizons.com/Seaplane-Tour/" target="_blank">Arabia Horizons</a>, $329 per passenger.
Bungee Jump Macau Tower, China
Bungee Jumping has become a popular activity, with jumps set up across the globe from Argentina to Zimbabwe. But the ultimate leap of faith is the world’s highest bungee jump above China’s special administrative region of Macau. This hop will get you high—all the way up to 764 feet—and then back down again. Views of the glittering metropolis of Macau and the South China Sea will zoom past as you come within 100 feet of the ground.
<strong>HOW TO GET HIGH:</strong> Contact <a href="http://macau.ajhackett.com/" target="_blank">AJ Hackett</a>, standard jump $319, full package including photo and video $409.