So, you’re an adrenaline junkie looking for your next fix? There’s no need to despair; Gonzo has got you covered. Here are some alternative activities to whet your appetite. You may have come across them before, but they beg to be bastardised to fit your adventurous needs. All you need is a little imagination.
Growing up in South Africa, I became accustomed to off-roading. We spent weekends trying to pull our 4×4 out of ditches. I distinctly remember getting stuck in a river crossing and having to escape a swiftly flooding car.
This was nothing next to ‘dune-bashing’. We fled the stifling consumerism of Dubai city and headed to a place so desolate it would be at least a month before a mall would be built on it. The next thing I knew I was hurtling down a near vertical drop, my fingers digging deep into the head rest in front of me, trying to figure out whether to laugh, scream, or wet myself.
Once the sun began to dip, we set up camp amongst the dunes. We sat by the campfire, embers glowing, a storm of stars raining down upon us; we talked of desert bandits and ancient explorers, our stomachs full of beer, and our minds full with thoughts of the days exploits.
The next morning, on our way out through the dunes, we got stuck and nearly sent one of the cars tumbling down a sandy ridge. As I hoisted myself out of one side of the vehicle, trying my best not to shift my weight too much and risk the vehicle toppling, I looked at my brother, still sitting inside. His face showed fear, but yet there was an unmistakable glint in his eye. Despite the peril, I thought to myself, and the screaming and the near pants-wetting terror, this was awesome!
Easily one of the best experiences of my life was tearing around on a little 50cc-er in torrential rain trying to get back to the farmhouse in Botswana before the Limpopo River did. I was 11, and at that time certainly not as scared of thunderstorms as I am now. However, I was slightly too nervous to fully take control of the 100cc dirt bike we had, so opted for the relative safety of the quad bike instead.
Quad bikes were initially developed in 1893 by Royal Enfield as a viable alternative to the horse and cart, albeit with three wheels. Later updated to the more stable four wheels that we see today, quad bikes have become the go-to action machine of stag parties and adventurers alike. If the above dune-bashing sounds too reserved for you, then I suggest hiring out a quad bike and hitting the desert instead. Or the mountains. Or the forest. Almost whatever you throw at these things, they handle with the charm of Bryan Habana: graceful and fluid, yet rugged and dirty. Just make sure you don’t fall off.
Coasteering is a sort of cross between mountaineering and scrambling, but it all takes place, as the title suggests, along the coastline. The concept first formed a following in 1973, and has been popular along the Pembrokeshire coastline for some time, but only really took off as a guided recreational activity in the 1990s.
Personally, I feel this type of activity is only feasible as a necessity in order to reach (or escape) some secluded cove or other, but for adrenaline junkies, the existence of the activity alone is reason enough. There are over 100 activity centres along the cliff coasts of western Britain, and it is also practiced in New Zealand, Australia and North America.
So what are you waiting for? Grab your wetsuit and crash helmet and be prepared for a punishing day in the great outdoors.
Waist deep in a hypothermic river, your breath forms an icy cloud of vapour in front of you, your hair and faced caked in mud, legs a combination of warm jelly and frozen lumps of lead. It’s June in Queenstown, New Zealand and you’re talking part in a Mule event. Why? Because you’re a little bit mad, and that’s why you’re grinning like a loon. Tamsin Thompson is one of over 100 competitors stupid, sorry, brave enough to attempt the 10k elite course in the winter. I asked Tamsin why she chose the winter event over the equally tough but slightly sunnier summer event? “Well it was sooner than the summer one, and I got to buy some bright new trail shoes too. Plus, I’m ‘ard as nails.”
In the UK we have Tough Mudder: 10-12 mile endurance events taking place throughout the country. However, the company offers its unique experience the world over, so you can get your dose of mud running from Lake Tahoe to Tokyo.
Don’t be fooled, this isn’t just a glorified treasure hunt in your local park armed with your iPhone and a geocaching app, if you take this stuff seriously, you can find yourself in some of the remotest places in the world hunting out some else’s cache armed only with your GPS and some hopefully accurate coordinates. It all kicked off in 2000 when the ‘selective availability’ for GPSs was lifted, and geography enthusiast the world over couldn’t wait to find out how accurately they could direct others to bizarre locations. The only real rules are: sign the logbook when you find your cache; if you take something, leave something of equal or greater value; and share your story. Find out more here.