Choose your own high-stakes adventure.

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Culture
Travel

What is too extreme? This question was frequently asked by holidaymakers – and by others – after the deadly volcanic eruption in New Zealand in December. Certainly, many who explored White Island last year did not think they would put themselves in danger. But for some adventurers, danger is exactly the point; in fact, there is a whole category of vacations specifically designed to provide extreme thrills.

“Our clients are looking for high adrenaline experiences, something that makes their heart beat faster,” says Geordie Mackay-Lewis, co-founder of Pelorus, a London-based travel company that designs individual adventures. In addition, co-founder Jimmy Carroll is also involved: “We created a drug-trafficking conspiracy for a group in Cambodia. It began with urban surveillance training in Siem Reap and then moved into the jungle to pursue an international gang of gunmen who chased them with rifles until a helicopter could take them to safety.

Why do some people seek death-defying adventures like free-falling off a cliff, diving with crocodiles, or even voluntary abduction, while for others the risk threshold is no higher than reading the latest thriller on a private beach?

It seems that the penchant for thrills and taking risks is part of our DNA. The late Dr. Marvin Zuckerman, Professor Emeritus at the University of Delaware, was well known for his research on the sensation-seeking quality, which suggests that whether or not we crave new and exciting experiences and how susceptible we are to boredom is hardwired into our genes. People who are looking for sensations tend to look for stressful jobs like firefighting and emergency room work, and in turn look for extreme and risky experiences like skydiving and bungee jumping.

The good news for these high-sensitivity seekers is that there are tour operators that will cater to their preferences when they want to take a vacation from the probably stressful jobs they are likely to have.

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Read on to find more options – a fair warning: they are not for the faint of heart.

Navigating through the jungle alone

Naked and afraid? Not if you have your wits about you in this true-to-life survival adventure in the remote jungles of Guyana, South America. You will be left alone – or with a buddy – for a week in the jungle with nothing more than the clothes on your back, a machete, bow and arrow, and a few days of survival training. Thirty percent of the participants withdraw from this experience during the training phase. Can you make it all the way? Bushmasters also offers other realistic survival expeditions to remote and harsh destinations such as the Amazon jungle and the Arabian desert.

Heli-bike in Alaska

In summer and autumn you can now try out heli-biking. Olympic gold medalist Tommy Moe and other heli-skiing veterans developed the country’s first helicopter equipped with a bicycle carrier. It allows cyclists of all ages and levels to fly their bikes deep into the Tordrillo mountain range and set them down on remote trails dug into the flanks of Alaska’s volcanoes. Or you can forge a brand new path on a glacier.

Play Survivor on a desert island

Be a castaway for 10 days on an uninhabited island in French Polynesia, Tonga or Panama with a tribe of strangers from around the world. In the first half you will learn survival skills in bush boats before putting them to the test when you are left to your own devices for 72 hours before being rescued.

Sail the Drake Passage

Forget the mere crossing of the most dangerous sea in the world, try sailing. The 600 mile long stretch of the Drake Passage between Antarctica and the southern tip of South America, also known as Mar de Hoces, which is responsible for i

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