Travelers who wish to re-chart the known world are often bored lifeless by the museum tours, temple visits and laid-back hospitality offered in common or popular holiday hotspots. These vacationers who feel stifled by the urban or suburban vacation and are instead looking for an adrenaline rush might find avenues for such excitement in the most surprising of places.
Two-hundred kilometers (124 miles) south of Berlin, for example, lies the Saxon Switzerland National Park, an adventure playground that startles visitors with its high sandstone cliffs and virgin forest land. This park boasts 400 kilometers (248 miles) of hiking trails; 50 kilometers (31 miles) of biking trails and around 750 climbing locations. Visitors can go kayaking in a secluded gorge or hike up a fortress built in the 13th century that has since been used as a state prison and war camp. By far the hottest outdoor attraction in this national park is rock climbing; it is even believed to be the place where “free climbing” (a technique in which ropes and harnesses are only used to protect against falls) was invented.
From Germany, heading east and then southward, to Australia, visitors will find yet another national park that is chock full of outdoor adventures. In Kakadu National Park, located in one of the most remote parts of Australia, you will find majestic waterfalls, startling gorges and almost one-fourth of the continent’s mammal species. Local aboriginal guides can lead you through the park, showing you the crocodiles, kangaroos and bandicoots that inhabit the park, or share stories of bush life. Kakadu has a tropical climate, divided into two seasons, wet and dry. During the rainy season the area experiences more lightning strikes than anywhere else in the world, and storm-watchers can choose to watch these spectacular, raging storms from atop a waterfall or from some of the impressive, rural campgrounds in the park.
Travelers looking for the kind of thrill that tests one’s inner strength and fortitude might don three layers of “polar clothing” and their most forbearing countenance and head to the “Edge of the World.” Dronning Maud Land, Antarctica, located south of the tip of Africa, offers some of the most daunting weather conditions and desolate-seeming landscapes in the world. Though travel via air or sea into Antarctica is only permitted during the summer months and tourism is not technically legal on the continent, private groups nonetheless organize tourist-related activities. Those willing to pay exorbitant prices can go on skiing trips to the South Pole or mountaineering expeditions in the Humboldt Mountains. Otherwise, the physical isolation, almost perennially frozen waters, and frequent blizzards in the area offer to ever-questing travelers a fear factor unheard of in most parts of the charted world.