From bungee jumping in China to para-gliding in Peru, these gravity-defying activities will get your heart pounding
“Relax, keep your eyes open, and don’t be alarmed if you have an uncontrolled bowel movement the first time — it happens,” advises the not-quite-half-joking skydiving instructor as the jittery would-be jumpers cling to the rim of the open cargo door. While many other sectors of the tourism industry are lagging, the adventure business is booming. What used to constitute fringe activities by a band of “crazies” is increasingly regulated, mainstream and safe enough that families or co-workers can now go zip-lining or bungee jumping together (which is pushing the fringe to new and much more dangerous, incontinence-inducing extremes).
Many cultures have rites of passage that could qualify as extreme sports. Bungee jumping is rooted in the ritual jumping in Vanuatu that takes place as a fertility rite during the yam harvest. Young men climb to the top of a wooden tower to dive off with vines tied around their ankles, hoping to just graze the ground. In the 1970s, Oxford University’s Dangerous Sports Club tested the idea from a bridge with more modern equipment and the new sport spread to New Zealand, the spiritual home of the world’s adrenaline junkies and their boundary-expanding guru, A.J. Hackett.
We now know that these kinds of experiences trigger a fight-or-flight response, bathing our brains in adrenaline and dopamine. A drug-like rush ensues: People who engage in these activities on a regular basis report an ephemeral and transcendent sense of timelessness and immortality. While some consider it a Freudian manifestation of the death wish, there is an increasing body of research that suggests that safely creating these discrete experiences of “controlled danger” provides a beneficial release for the sensation- and novelty-seekers among us who feel stifled by an increasingly sedentary and virtual existence (which is fraught with its own health risks).
It’s certainly not for everyone, but odds are there’s a zip line, bungee jump and/or skydiving center within driving distance of where you live. These 14 may not be the biggest or scariest, but they are all set in beautiful places that were recommended by our writers — we don’t directly endorse any of them — caution and common sense are always advised! You can find more places to jump on Trazzler.
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A photo taken Monday captures Vice President Joe Biden's response to a Milwaukee second-grader's innovative proposal to end America's epidemic of gun violence. This guy!
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Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., flanked by a grouper-eyed Michele Bachmann, addresses the IRS' admission that it targeted Tea Party groups in advance of the 2012 election. In an op-ed for CNN Thursday, the Kentucky senator slammed the president for his faux outrage.
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Ousted IRS chief Steven Miller is sworn in on Capitol Hill Friday. Miller testified before the House Ways and Means Committee on the extra scrutiny the agency gave conservative groups applying for tax-exempt status.
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Attorney General Eric Holder pauses as he testifies on Capitol Hill before the House Judiciary Committee Wednesday. Holder is under fire, among other things, for the Justice Department's gathering of phone records at the Associated Press.
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O.J. Simpson sits during an evidentiary hearing at Clark County District Court in Las Vegas, Nev., Thursday. Simpson, who is currently serving a nine-to-33-year sentence in state prison for armed robbery and kidnapping, is using a writ of habeas corpus to seek a new trial.
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Major Tom to ground control: On Sunday astronaut Chris Hadfield recorded the first music video from space, a cover of David Bowie's "Space Oddity."
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