Five extreme travel destinations for thrill-seeking eco-adventurers
For the first part of the feature article, Going Places unearthed the most extreme travel destinations on the planet for the thrill seekers and those who dare to transgress their limits in the notion of travelling.
A recorded temperature of -36°C makes this small Russian town one of the coldest inhabited places in the Northern Hemisphere. Oymyakon is a three-day drive from Yakutsk with a population of 500. The town’s tourism board promotes Oymyakon as a perfect destination for adventure travelers wanting to taste the extreme, offering popular sports such as skiing, ice hockey and ice fishing. It has only one hotel currently and a local hot spring, which you have to break through the thick crust of ice rimming the warm water before accessing. Other attractions include the Pole of Cold Stella (a thermometer pole showcasing the impossible temperature), the Bull of Frost monument and swimming in the never-freezing river, if travelers would feel brave enough. Be sure to be well-dressed for the extreme cold so that you live to tell of your adventures in what is one of the coldest places on Earth.
Death Valley, United States of America
Situated in the Mojave Desert of Eastern California, the Death Valley is described as the lowest, driest, and hottest area in North America. Death Valley's Furnace Creek holds the record for the highest reliably reported air temperature in the world, 56.7 °C. Even with its potentially deadly landscape filled with dangers such as venomous rattlesnakes, black widow spiders, scorpions and the crippling sheer heat, Death Valley is not without its charms. The pollution-free skies make it one of the best stargazing spots in the world and camping is a common recreational activity for the outdoor-bound. Choose to join a ranger-guided tour or explore the sweeping vistas backpacking alone or in a group. Despite its morbid name and dangers, a great diversity of life survives in Death Valley including bobcats, bighorn sheep, kangaroo rats and the Devil's Hole pupfish, just don't forget to hydrate constantly.
Mount Chimborazo, Ecuador
Mount Chimborazo is a 20,000-over-foot inactive volcano that is sitting on a massive bulge on earth’s crust making it 1.5 miles higher than Everest. This also means that standing atop of it will place you the closest to outer space man can ever reach on foot. The mountain has several climbing routes and is a perfect place for avid vertical adventurers with the best seasons being December – January and July – August. Like any other peaks in the world, adventurers of Mount Chimborazo should take additional precaution of cold environments as its vertices are covered in glaciers and quality climbing equipments are imperative.
Angel Falls, Venezuela
Located in the Guayana highlands and 15 times higher than Niagara Falls with 979m of uninterrupted waterfall, it is one of Venezuela’s top tourist attractions. Despite the whopping height of Angel Falls, river trips are available for those who want an experiential tour, which generally take place from June to December – when the rivers are deep enough. Tour packages are available for those opting for guided trips and accommodation is available in the forms of lodges, camps and hotels. Helicopters can also be rented if you would like to explore the natural vicinity from the skies, or to capture stunning photographs from a bird’s-eye view perspective.
Gansbaai, South Africa
A two-hour drive from Cape Town brings you to Gansbaai, the place where you’d find Great White sharks rushing beneath the undulating seawaters. Dangerous as it is, Gaansbai leveraged on the dense population of the aforementioned predators for a touristy treatment, bringing tourists and daredevils the Shark Cage Diving activity. This unique tourism endeavour is aimed at experienced divers who would like to risk a bit of luck engaging with the Great Whites in close proximity within a caged contraption. As such, a professional touring company is highly recommended. If you choose to stay clear of the sharks, whale watching is another common activity for lesser thrill seekers.