If life has become a little stale and predictable, and you’re keen to inject some high-octane excitement into it, then consider some of the following pursuits – if you dare!

There are those for whom tennis is too tame, paddle too passive, karate too kind and football too friendly. If you belong to this group, and think kite-surfing and scuba diving are yesterday’s fads, when you look at your bike and get bored, then perhaps it’s time to explore some new pursuits and get out of your comfort zone. The following selection of activities does that and more, taking you to the very edge of your daring, to the point where maybe you wish you’d shut up and stuck with telly, tea and biscuits, rather than thrusting yourself into this madness!


Wingsuit Flying

Ever watched a Bond movie and thought ‘I can do that’? Well, manned flight has been a dream ever since Icarus tried it, and achieving the freedom of a bird without the need for aeroplanes and engines remains an intrinsic human desire. In the 1960s, it was believed we’d soon all be buzzing around on any of a variety of flying gadgets, but in the mid-1990s Frenchman Patrick de Gayardon actually succeeded in doing just that by creating the first effective wingsuit.

A veteran skydiver, skysurfer and base jumper, he initiated a revolution that has seen ever more advanced versions of the wingsuit used by daredevils who jump out of planes, off cliffs and buildings to freefall for what seems like ages before deploying a parachute. More recently, jetpacks have been added, creating spectacular scenes as Swiss pilot Christophe Dubois flew in formation with the French air force’s aerobatics team, the Patrouille de France.


What the above does to mainstream kayaking, this discipline does to scuba diving. And a discipline it is, for freediving involves holding your breath in a controlled way for much longer than is medically advisable, as you explore the depths without breathing gear. There is a historical precedent for it, perfected by generations of sponge divers in the Greek Aegean and pearl hunters in the Persian Gulf and Japan, where women traditionally excelled at this dangerous way of making a living.

Today’s daredevils don’t do it for money, but for thrills, and they push the limits with the depth and length of their dives, which typically take place in the open sea. One cannot underestimate the danger of this undertaking, which like so many of the extreme sports takes not only maddening courage, but also a great deal of skill. In fact, freediving requires an immense amount of preparation and training, as proved by Austrian world record holder Herbert Nitsch, who reached a depth of almost a quarter of a kilometre! The elite in this field hold their breath upwards of 15 minutes, so maybe most daredevils should limit themselves to fun disciplines such as underwater football, rugby, hockey and of course synchronised swimming.

Volcano Parachuting

Okay, some people just seem to have a thing with volcanoes. I do too, but it doesn’t involve close encounters of any kind, more of a distant admiration. Not so for adherents of this crazy hobby, which sees participants actually aim for the caldera of a volcano! It’s a mad thing to do, but one that’s sure to get the blood pumping and neurons firing, and of course it’s pretty much limited to experienced, skilled skydivers who have a good chance of landing where they intend to – near but not in the midst of the gaseous volcano.

Downhill Longboarding

If you feel you’ve outgrown your skateboard, been there and done that but can’t get yourself to throw out the old faithful board with which you’ve had such adventures flying up ramps, turning on your heal and sliding down railings – or at least, trying to – then maybe this madcap pastime is something for you. Longboarding entails finding a road with a long, winding descent, donning some pretty tough gear, gloves, kneepads and a motorbike helmet before launching yourself downwards at ever-increasing speeds.

First you’ll have to master staying on the board, then navigating the sweeping and at times hairpin bends without flying off into the surrounding countryside, and then you’ll need the good fortune not to meet any cars and trucks along the way. Needless to say, this is not an activity that is officially sanctioned, but makes it all the more enticing for those who take a sporting approach to a death wish.

Volcano Boarding

Now all the extreme endeavours mentioned so far require skill, reckless daring and in many cases years of training, but volcano boarding is perhaps the maddest of all. It involves careening down the side of a volcano – usually an active one – at high speed. Coming to a halt at the right moment is highly recommended for practitioners of this rather more fire-born version of the sweet sledging we used to engage in as kids whenever snow presented itself. With the earthly fires of a smouldering volcano not too far below you, this kind of snowboarding is altogether a little more ‘hellish’.

Cave Diving

The next adventurous endeavour adds a touch of Jules Verne’s Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea to your usual scuba diving experience. Strap an oxygen tank to your wetsuit and load up on a full dose of guts as you enter a dark, dank, gloomy cave and disappear into its icy, inky black water. Yes, you’ll have a strong light to guide the way, but it remains a precarious exercise as spaces between sharp rocks and dark, narrow passages create a tremendous sense of claustrophobia that is in this case not based on an irrational fear, but rather a very real danger. Get lost or stuck in one of the underwater chambers deep in the earth’s bowels and you may not have enough oxygen in your tank to wait for rescuers, ensuring that this is more of a feat of exploration than a sport.

Extreme Kayaking

Also known as whitewater kayaking, this endeavour takes gentle paddling down a stream, lake or shoreline, and propels it into the wild, foaming waters of mountain rivers, rapids and even waterfalls. This white-knuckle ride not only involves trying to stay afloat and not drown, but while doing this you’ll be fully focused on not crashing headlong into boulders or scraping yourself open on sharp branches and rocks.

Make like the Siberian Samoyed have done for millennia, but with 21st century turbo torque added for an extra dose of survival-based excitement. Let’s face it; no-one too sane embarks upon feats like this, so sports of this kind will mostly appeal to adrenalin junkies willing to risk it all for the thrill of the ride. Extreme kayaking is fast, exhilarating and potentially hazardous, so careen down fast-moving rapids full of hard obstacles or launch yourself down dizzying falls into the cold, deep wet, hoping to emerge the right way up. If you do, you’ll feel born again and glad you dared to do anything as silly as this.

Wing Walking

Most of us have seen it in early black and white movies, but being attached to the wings of a classic propeller biplane as it frolics and does loop de loops in the air remains one of the strangest and gutsiest things a person could do. Like an aerial acrobatics or circus act, it looks as graceful as it is dangerous, as the ‘victim’ strapped to an aeroplane practises gymnastics at 300km/h speeds and accompanying G-forces. Wing walking is not as common as it once was, purely because it is almost impossible to do it legally, but for those with no fear of heights and a strong stomach, it has got to be fun.

Cheese Rolling

If you’re going to be madcap and anarchical about your sports activities, why not try something that is silly, fun, crazy and more than a bit challenging but not quite on-the-edge dangerous, like cheese rolling? I know, it sounds a bit ‘uncool’, but you won’t think so as you chase down a grassy hill like a lunatic, in pursuit of a rolling wheel of cheese. This activity has more of playground anarchy about it than organised sport, which makes it all the more fun. I think it should become compulsory for adults at least once a year as a fantastically stress-busting way to stop taking yourself seriously and join in with the other village idiots in hilarious community spirit. Here’s to extreme endeavours that are more accessible to mere mortals!


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