looking into the abyss from devil's pool
Victoria Falls, Zambia
Just gazing at breathtaking Victoria Falls would be enough for most travelers, but the truly fearless can swim up to the edge of the 350-foot drop. Devil's Pool is a natural swimming hole on the Zambezi River with a rock lip that separates those swimming inside it from certain death, even as the water gushing around them flows over the precipice and into the void.
hiking the sheer heights of half dome
Yosemite National Park, California
Hiking up Yosemite National Park's iconic Half Dome is a bucket-list thrill for many experienced hikers, but the approach is nothing short of deadly. The most nerve-wracking part of the trek takes hikers up 400 vertical feet of sheer rock wall that can only be traversed with the help of a system of cables, poles, and 2-by-4 boards. Think you can hack it? You'll need a permit, gloves, grippy shoes, and nerves of steel, of course.
volcano boarding at high speeds
Cerro Negro, Nicaragua
If you long for a thrill that's sure to spark interesting dinner conversations, head to Nicaragua's Cerro Negro volcano. There, you can don an orange jumpsuit, grab a plywood and metal board with a rope attached, then fly down the dark basalt slope at speeds topping out around a staggering 60 mph. Adding to the thrill: Cerro Negro is still an active volcano, having last erupted in 1999. (Even the most adventurous travellers should also take into account the State Department's travel advisory for Nicaragua due to recent civil unrest.)
swimming with giant crocodiles in the cage of death
What thrill seeker can resist an attraction called the "Cage of Death"? While there's a little bit of creative license involved here (the cage is really a clear plastic tube), hopping inside means you get dunked into a pool infested with massive crocodiles at a Darwin aquarium. Some of the beasts are longer than 16 feet, and crocodile handlers like to further whip them into a tizzy with regular feeding times.
scrambling to safety at the running of the bulls
The most well-known bucket-list experience for the (very) adventurous traveler? Arguably, the running of the bulls in Pamplona, Spain. A tradition that dates back to the 13th century, the bull run is part of the festival of San Fermin in July and is open to anyone over 18 — as long as they're sober, that is. Surprisingly, the run is only a half-mile long, but that doesn't mean it's not dangerous. At least 15 people have died after being gored by the bulls since 1924.
Most of us can't get away from tornadoes fast enough, but a select group of travelers makes a beeline toward them instead. Tour operators like Extreme Tornado Tours specialize in meteorologist-led storm tours that deliberately take weather watchers as close as possible to monstrous super-cell thunderstorms and, if possible, the twisters they spawn all across Tornado Alley.
venturing into the chernobyl exclusion zone
Visiting Chernobyl is a different kind of thrill — the thrill of walking in a post-apocalyptic place you know most people wouldn't touch with a 10-foot pole. A partial nuclear meltdown in 1986 forced the evacuation of countless residents and the creation of a roughly 1,000-square-mile exclusion zone here. But tourists are allowed to visit, because even with a visit to the gates of the infamous reactor itself, they only receive a dose of radiation roughly the same as what you'd get on a one-hour flight. More dangerous might be the lack of safety barriers and crumbling buildings included on the tour.
traversing the mount hua plank walk
The infamous plank walk on China's Mount Hua looks so heart-stoppingly insane that it's hard to believe it actually exists. But it does: Planks of wood bolted to the sheer rock face of the mountain, thousands of feet in the air, with long lines of fearless hikers traversing them. Part of the journey doesn't even have boards, just footholds carved directly into the rock. Official statistics on safety are hard to come by, but some have estimated up to 100 deaths per year.
defying gravity at the cn tower edge walk
If the thought of walking on a 5-foot ledge 1,165 feet up in the air is more exhilarating than intimidating, head to Toronto. The city's landmark CN Tower hosts EdgeWalk, which allows visitors to gear up in jumpsuits and harnesses and spend a half-hour drinking in the views and defying gravity. Participants can even (carefully) lean out over the platform's edge for a truly heart-pounding experience.
cycling the hairpin turns of north yungas road
Thrill-seeking cyclists have undoubtedly heard about Bolivia's Yungas Road, a narrow route in the Andes with blind hairpin turns, few guardrails, and deadly drop-offs galore. The altitude alone is enough to keep many away: Most cyclists start their ride at over 15,000 feet. And while the road attracts thousands of mountain bikers every year, it's undeniably dangerous: At least three mountain bikers have died since 2014, and the road has claimed countless more motorists.
cage diving with great white sharks
Willingly tossing specially formulated chum into the water to attract Great Whites? Just another part of the experience when you agree to dive with some of the world's most aggressive sharks off the coast of South Africa. Participants get up close and personal with the sharks when they're dunked into the ocean in a galvanized steel cage. No diving experience is required — participants simply hold their breath.
bungee jumping into a volcano
Villarrica Volcano, Chile
It sounds too preposterous to be true, but the most fearless travelers can pay many thousands of dollars to bungee jump into one of Chile's most active volcanoes. A helicopter flies jumpers inside of the Villarrica volcano's caldera, and they plummet 350 to 400 feet toward a pool of bubbling molten lava. You even get to travel back to the airport dangling from the bungee. No matter that you could die, the website acknowledges — you'll be signing a waiver and receiving "a cool T-shirt."
braving the formula rossa roller coaster
Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates
For the ultimate man-made thrill, it doesn't get much more intense than the Formula Rossa roller coaster at Ferrari World Abu Dhabi. The world's fastest rollercoaster catapults riders from 0 to 149 mph in just 5 seconds using a hydraulic launch system much like the ones that aircraft carriers use to launch off the deck of fighter jets.
traversing the zhangjiajie glass bridge
Glass observation decks and skywalks are popping up all over the place, from Chicago's Willis Tower to swanky cruise ships. The most terrifying, however, might be in China, where the 1,400-foot-long, 900-foot-high Zhangjiajie Glass Bridge stretches across a forested canyon. Still shaking your head? Officials have driven cars onto it and pounded it with sledgehammers to assure terrified tourists that it's safe to walk on.
spinning at high speeds above the strip with insanity
When gambling isn't enough of a thrill, head to the top of Stratosphere Hotel in Las Vegas and take a ride on Insanity. Its mechanical arm will dangle you 64 feet over the tower's edge, at a height of more than 900 feet. Not enough? You'll be angled at up to 70 degrees while you spin at G-forces comparable to what astronauts feel during shuttle launches. Just be sure to savor the view of the Strip when you finally slow down.
climbing to the top of sydney's harbor bridge
Why stop at snapping photos of landmarks when you can scale them instead? In Sydney, brave tourists can climb 440 feet up the Harbour Bridge for sweeping views of the Australian capital, including the famed Sydney Opera House. Climbs proceed in nearly any kind of weather, ascending more than 1,300 stairs and several ladders along the bridge's outer arch.
bungee jumping from macau tower
Bungee jumping has long been a staple for the truly adventurous traveler, but a jump from the Macau Tower? Now that's extreme. It's the world's highest commercial bungee jump at a mind-boggling 764 feet, and if a daytime jump isn't thrilling enough, you can even do it at night. Jumpers also have the option of strapping on a GoPro to get the ultimate souvenir that will let them relive the rush again and again.
sleeping cliffside at skylodge adventure suites
Sacred Valley, Peru
Sleeping rarely shows up on a thrill-seeker's bucket list, but what about when you can catch some zzz's in a 24-by-8-foot glass pod hanging off the side of a cliff? Now we're talking. Plus, getting to the Skylodge Adventure Suites is half the fun, requiring a 1,300-foot climb up a near-vertical rock face, or a trail hike with plenty of zip lines. A gourmet dinner is also part of the experience.
wing walking atop a wwii biplane
Sure, sky diving's a scream, but for something a little more unique, wing walking may be just the ticket. Several companies in the U.K. like AeroSuperBatics offer tourists the chance to channel their inner World War II daredevil and clamor up onto the top wing of a biplane — fully harnessed, of course — and take to the skies for 10 minutes of thrills at up to 150 mph. The pilot will even oblige returning wing walkers with some serious aerobatics.
scramble across india with a rickshaw run
The Rickshaw Run is a completely different kind of thrill — or, in the words of its organizers, "the least sensible thing to do with your time off." You'll cross the entire country of India, a two-and-a-half week journey that could seem like a sedate sightseeing opportunity if it weren't for the rickshaw itself. Prone to breaking down or tipping over, it's "a wholly unsuitable vehicle." There's also the fact that there's no defined route: Just a start line, a finish line, and an entire subcontinent in between.
bobsledding salt lake city's olympic track
Outside of skiing, bobsledding is one of the most dangerous sports at the Winter Olympics. So what better way to pay homage to the titans of the track than by speeding down it yourself? You can do it during the winter at Salt Lake City's 2002 Olympic track, an "aggressive, intense, bumpy ride" that lasts less than a minute, but one that will give you bragging rights every four years from here on out.
ziplining underground through mine tunnels
Above ground, Wales offers an abundance of gorgeous green countryside. Below, there's something far less sedate: Miles of abandoned mine tunnels that thrill seekers can explore for hours during an all-day tour. One of the highlights? Nine "disgustingly high" underground zip lines, including the world's longest,426-foot "Goliath," and the world's deepest. Not enough? You also get to experience a 70-foot underground freefall, traverse decaying wooden bridges, and creep along high cliff walls.