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Written by The Leap on 23 / 06 / 2015

Gap Year Advice

When you’re travelling, there are all sorts of ways to get around and see the sights that the local region is known for. Some countries are great to see by train, others by bike. You could even travel around on the back of a horse.

But viewing the sights from hundreds of metres above the ground has got to be the most impressive. If nothing else, it’ll give you a completely different perspective of the place you’ve chosen to visit.

So that’s what we’re looking at today - the best ways to see the world from high altitude, and the places to try them. From paragliding in New Zealand to taking a chopper over the Grand Canyon, there are some seriously wild ideas in today’s article. Enjoy!

1. Go Paragliding to Soar Effortlessly Through the Air

Paragliding is the simplest and purest form of flying that there is. You launch yourself off a high place while wearing an inflatable wing, which you can steer by shifting your weight and gently applying the brakes.

Bear in mind that it’s essential to take a course in paragliding in order to take it up, which will cost around £1000 at a BHPA registered school or, if you’re not sure about committing to a full course, you can opt to do a one-day taster course for £150.

Awesome places to do this include...

Queenstown, New Zealand

Queenstown is known for its extreme adventure activities and stunning scenery, making it the perfect place to try paragliding. Choose from a gentle scenic flight and an aerobatic flight, which is sure to get your blood pumping.

Dune du Pyla, France

The Dune de Pyla is considered one of the most beautiful places to paraglide in all of Europe. It is also renowned for its optimum wind conditions and pleasant temperatures in spring, summer and autumn.

Ölüdeniz, Turkey

Babadag, the mountain that towers above Ölüdeniz on the Southwest coast of Turkey, is one of the highest commercial takeoff sites in the world. A combination of breathtaking panorama and stable weather conditions make this a truly incredible place to experience paragliding.

2. Skydiving (AKA Jumping Out of a Plane)

Fancy falling out of a moving aircraft and hurling yourself towards the earth? As scary as it sounds, this is actually a very popular activity and way to sightsee.

With a tandem skydive, your instructor will open the parachute after a few seconds of freefall, thereby slowing your descent. You’ll glide gently to the ground, taking in the scenery as you go. If you want to try the sport at home before you travel, Skyline Parachuting specialises in skydiving courses for beginners across the UK - which include free charity jumps - and this is a good place to start.

Awesome places to go skydiving around the world include...

Wollongong, Australia

Wollongong is the only place to skydive over a beach in the region of Sydney. You’ll experience the thrill of freefall for a whole minute then, as the parachute opens, you’ll fly off into the wide blue yonder, before returning to earth with a beach landing.

Oahu, Hawaii

Often referred to as ‘the world’s most beautiful dropzone,’ there is no better place in Hawaii to skydive than on Oahu’s beautiful North Shore, with its pleasant year round temperatures and views over the sea. If you’re lucky, you might also see turtles swimming close to shore upon your descent.

Shyangboche, Nepal

Explore the Himalayas in the most adventurous of ways with the world’s highest skydive. You’ll take the leap from 29,500 ft. and freefall past Mount Everest on to the dropzone at Shyangboche. For serious daredevils only!

3. Take to the Skies in a Microlight

A microlight is a light aircraft, which carries no more than two people, but though it may be small, it is extremely sophisticated.

You don’t have to be a fearless adrenaline junkie to go up in a microlight, as it’s more for people who want to admire their surroundings in a unique way, rather than those who are just after a short-lived thrill.

To find out more about microlights and to book lessons, head to the British Microlight Aircraft Association's website, bmaa.org.

You can soar over valleys and castles in the south, fly over Mont Blanc and take in the Camargue, Pyrenees and Atlantic coast, as well as many other diverse and marvellous sights in France. Marine Air Sport comes highly-recommended as one of the top flight centres in the French Alps, and is based in the ski resort of Val d'Isere.

Andalucia, Spain

The south of Spain is an excellent place to microlight, as it’s rarely interrupted by bad weather. The World Air Games have been held in different points in Andalucia for this reason (and because the scenery is rather remarkable).

4. Get to the Chopper on a Helicopter Tour

For the ultimate aerial experience, there’s no more thrilling way of admiring the landscape than from a helicopter.

Helicopter tours provide visitors with truly unique views in remote parts of the country, which can’t be accessed in any other way.

Exotic locations to take a helicopter tour include...

Las Vegas, USA

At night, the bustling city of Las Vegas resembles a patch of diamonds sprinkled across a dark floor from the air. As a result, helicopter tours have become an absolute must-do during any trip here.

Grand Canyon, USA

Because of its sheer enormity, the only way travellers can fully appreciate the beauty of the Grand Canyon is by helicopter. You’ll be exposed to majestic views of Lake Mead, the Hoover Dam and extinct volcanoes, before beginning your descent into the Canyon.

Fox Glacier, New Zealand

The Fox Glacier is an 8-mile long glacier in New Zealand and the best way to experience it and its iridescent blue ice caves is by helicopter. Passengers on helicopter tours here will get a bird’s eye view of the peaks and crevasses of the glacier, as well as the impressive Mount Cook.

5. Climb a Famous Monument

If you don’t fancy any of the above, you can simply climb (or take a lift) up to the top of a famous monument to look down over the sights of a picturesque city, such as the ones mentioned below.

Awesome places to do this include...

The Shard, UK

At almost twice the height of any other viewing platform in London, The Shard offers a 360-degree view of the city and is the only place to take in over a thousand years of its history all at once.

Tour Montparnasse, France

Tour Montparnasse is the only skyscraper in Paris and, on a clear day, visitors can see up to 40km away from the 56th floor observation deck. It is also home to Europe’s fastest elevator and therefore ideal for the less patient (and lazier) ones amongst you!

Rockefeller Center, USA

Going to what is known as ‘the top of the rock’ is a must-do for anyone visiting New York, as no other vantage point offers the same dramatic panoramas, making it top of the list of the city’s sightseeing destinations.

Over to You

How have you experienced the world by air? Do you have any exciting tales to share with us? We’d love to hear them!

Tell us where you went and what you did by posting in the comments below.

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