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Top 10 gap year destinations for the ultimate adrenaline rush

Written by Jenny McWhirter on 01 / 06 / 2018

Gap Year Advice

For many, seeking the ultimate adrenaline rush is just as necessary for their gap year trip as accommodation and trying the local cuisine. Here at The Leap we aim to incorporate into each volunteer program an element of adventure and adrenaline to give you the best mix of travel, volunteering and adventure.

If you’re looking to make your trip more memorable and ultimately give you the best bragging rights then look no further. These top 10 will have you screaming, shaking and finally buzzing… if adrenaline is your thing then these should definitely make it to the top of your gap year travel list.

Bolivia – Cycle Death Road

If you fancy a hairy cycle ride then head out to Bolivia. Death Road used to be the main route between La Paz and the Yungas region. However, with the construction of a main highway and the road's high death toll it has now been abandoned by cars.

If you dare, hire a bicycle and cycle the route. I would highly recommend remembering that you do have brakes for a reason and definitely avoid this spot during the rainy season (December to February) as that really is dicing with death.

Nepal – Bungee Jump and Everest

Gap year bungee jump

If you’re looking for a thrill and heights don’t bother you then Nepal has to be my place of choice.

With Everest looming over you, take the opportunity to test yourself and summit the mountain, or maybe just head for Base Camp if you’re not the technical climbing sort. From trekking across glaciers, through Sherpa villages and finally to camping at the base of the great mountain it really doesn’t get much better.

Or why not push yourself to the limit and bungee jump from a height of 160m above the raging Bhote Koshi river just a few hours outside Kathmandu. If you’re lucky you’ll be able to take in the beautiful surrounding jungle before hurtling towards the water forces your eyes shut.

If you want to enjoy all of this and push yourself out of your comfort zone then settle down a while, stay with a local Nepalese family while contributing to volunteering projects and getting a really understanding of the local culture, customs whilst giving something back.

How can I make it happen?

Las Vegas, USA – Stratosphere Tower

Vegas, it’s known for its party and casino scene and of course if you make it to Vegas you have to catch the Cirque du Soleil. But high on the list for adrenaline junkies is the Stratosphere Tower Ride that offers you the chance to be thrown 270m above the ground and 20m over the edge of the tower.

Beautiful sights of the city but certainly not for the faint-hearted.

Costa Rica – Surfing

surfing in costa rica on a gap year

You might be wondering how you can class surfing as an adrenaline rush, unless you have the skill to surf those large rollers. However, for those that haven’t tried surfing it certainly is a thrill from day 1. Even on the baby waves, expect to feel like a rag in a washing machine, you’ll be surprised how much power the small waves have.

If being strapped to a giant flotation aid and attempting to perfect that “surfer dude/babe” look is for you then there really are no better beaches than Costa Rica. Settle in, get taught by our brilliant surfer dude instructors and then try your hand at it each evening, the beach is just a 10 minute walk from your room….

Get me to the beach

New Zealand & Australia – Sky Diving

Well no adrenaline check list would be complete without a mention of the mighty Oz and NZ. With stiff competitiveness between the two countries they have by far some of the most beautiful sky diving, bungee jumping, go kart racing spots available.

If you want to soar high above the earth with beautiful undulating landscapes and Lord of the Rings country then choose New Zealand. If you’re more of the beach bum type and want to see stunning reefs, beaches and cities then Australia’s yours.

If you’re heading to New Zealand and want something a little different definitely check out the Luge at Rotorua where you can hurtle yourself down a slope in a go-kart.

Peru – Sandboarding

Sandboarding, the method? Find a giant sand dune, climb up it with a large board and throw yourself face first down the other side.

If you’re not hooked then you should definitely check out the video above. Watch the pros and they will be standing up, a land version of surfing basically. However, for those of us not so skilled a body-boarding technique is definitely the way forward.

As you start to hurtle down, sand flying everywhere, you could even attempt to beat the world record of a top speed of 92km/hr.

Huacachina has some of the best dunes in Peru for sandboarding and as you’re right on the coast you can kick back and relax after.

Whilst you’re in Peru get your fill by climbing Machu Picchu, trekking the Colca Canyon and live with local communities teaching English, what more could you want?

Tell me how...

Madagascar – Scuba Diving

The underwater world is a fascinating place but for all of those who have watched Blue Planet it can be dark, deep and intimidating. But if you want to explore beautiful corals and another world below the oceans there is only one way – scuba diving.

By far one of the most beautiful places is Madagascar with 3000 miles of coastline and lots of little islands off the mainland there really is no beating it. Grab the gear, get qualified and explore.

Once you’re qualified then why not put it to good use and help to preserve the beautiful coral reefs on the island of Nosy Be?

What are you waiting for?

South Africa – Shark cage diving

So, if diving seems a little tame for you then head over to South Africa to cage dive with sharks. Yes real-life sharks swimming around you with just a few metal poles between you and them…

Would you be able to hold your nerve?

China – Mount Huashan

Yes I’m sure you’ve seen the viral video of the climb up Mount Huashan. If you can keep your hands and legs steady on this hike then that is something to seriously brag about.

1 of the 5 sacred mountains in China, Mount Huashan is adorned with temples, tea houses and shrines. It will capture your imagination as you ascend what’s been named one of the world’s most dangerous hikes.

Weathered boards hug the sheer cliff on this 12km trek that rises 1800m above the ground. Amazingly it took 3000 years to pave the way.

If you’ve managed to keep your legs and hands from shaking on the climb, whilst you’re over in China why not check out the skywalk. This walkway is glass bottomed which allows you to take a stroll and look directly to the ground 120m below. It’s guaranteed to make you wobble but the views are beautiful.

Where's your next adventure?

So that’s it my list of top 10 destinations that should be on your gap year radar if you’re looking for an adrenaline rush. Which will be your next adventure? Please do remember that if you want to seek a thrill while abroad make sure you're covered on insurance, check out the best insurance on our advice blog.

Plan that Adrenaline Rush

If you're convinced adrenaline is just as important as accommodation then look no further. Join a Leap team and head off to get your thrills.

Check out your perfect program

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