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Safari escapes in Iceland…and more holiday ideas

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Some people like to travel at a leisurely pace enjoying different places, people and cultures. But this slow pace is not for everyone. They are the envelope-pushers of the world who need the high of pushing their bodies to the extreme and getting the adrenalin high of another achievement.

From time immemorial, humankind has been climbing mountains, fighting dense forests and riding oceans in search of new pastures and quenching the thirst of conquest. With the mysteries of the earth now almost all revealed, adventure seekers try to satisfy this lust for the next big thrill with extreme sports. The more dangerous the better—whether it be the terrain, the climate or the oceans.

Snow-bound destinations are a popular attraction for the thrill-seekers looking for the unique experience to test their limits. Here is a list of 6 snow-bound places on earth to try out your adventurous spirit.

Skydive over Antarctica

Antarctica is the highest continent in the world. Snowbound all-year-round, it is dry and extremely windy. The South Pole is on an icy plateau 2,835 meters 9,301 feet above sea level and the air is relatively thin. Its majestic landscape is a great attraction for skydivers.

The season is November to February, average mid-season temperatures range from 10°F to 25°F (-12°C to -4°C). It can get quite warm on a sunny windless day but on windy days it can be chilly. Jump temperatures can sometimes go as low as -31°F (-35°C).

The Antarctic Peninsula is easily accessible from Argentina and Chile, or one can go to the next most popular destination on the continent, the Ross Sea, which is a 10-day sail from New Zealand or Australia.

It is the ultimate destination for experienced jumpers. The base camp is at Union Glacier.

Before venturing on the trip, make sure you book the jump through a recognized adventure sports company with all safety and experience certifications in place. Only experienced skydivers allowed.

The trip duration is generally 8-10 days. It can cost unto $30,000.

Iceland weekend safari

Iceland is defined by its dramatic landscape of volcanoes and gigantic glaciers.

If you are an explorer and want to know how the Vikings got their reputation of hardiness and valor then taking a tour around the volcanic landscape may just be the answer. There are many tour companies that offer safaris around the place.

One can take a trip to the Volcano Huts in Southern Island’s Husadalur Valley, which erupted in 2010.

The tour is done in a 4x4 super jeep, where your GPS is your most trusted guide. If you are lucky, you can catch the Northern Lights too on the weekend trip, which can be extended to a week if you want.

The icy landscape interspersed with dark mountains and boulders is believed to have inspired JRR Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings. Trek through streams, wild fauna and find majestic icy streams.

Iceland wilderness tours are offered by many tourist companies and a five-day tour can cost $2500 pounds per person.

Dog sledding

Dog sledding is a popular sport in the Arctic region of Russia, Canada, Greenland, and some European countries. Alaska is the highest-profile state for dog sledding in the United States.

Most operators offer a few hours to multi-day excursions of three or more days of sledding.

It is important to familiarize yourself with the dogs, learn how to handle them and get some training in handling the equipment too. Most important, learn the commands to control the dogs.

For first-timers, the trip is done at a leisurely pace but veterans can cover around 50 miles a day.

If interested, the tour operators can teach you how to build snow shelters and tents.

Do due diligence and find out about the operator’s track record and the dogs they keep. If you want to do the more rugged terrain then choose Canada or Russia.

But be warned, one needs to be very fit and athletic to undertake the tour.

Level of preparedness varies from country to country. Prices vary according to the number of days, services offered and the country you choose.

Ice climbing

Ice climbing is an extreme sport that involves climbing glaciers and frozen waterfalls. Fast becoming a popular sport with adrenalin junkies, it is a dangerous sport and requires training on smaller peaks or indoor ice walls before anyone can take it up.

One can go ice climbing on the Dolomites, Italy; Lofoten Islands in Norway, very near the Arctic Circle; Frontier Range, France; and Mulafjall in Iceland.

Ice Diving 

Ice diving is a team sport and involves diving under an ice covering into treacherous icy waters. It is a dangerous sport, but many consider it very rewarding as one can see the rarest of the rare flora and fauna under these almost pristine and unexplored waters.

Temperatures beneath the ice are generally between 0°C and 4 °C.

You cannot undertake ice diving without undergoing a PADI certified Advanced Open Water Diver course.

Good places to ice dive are the White Sea in Russia (the only sea that freezes over), McMurdo Sound in the Antarctica, Sifra Rift in Iceland, and the Sassolo Lake in Switzerland.

Ice Caving

Ice caves form in Iceland at the beginning of the winter, and many tour operators start the season exploring for the same. They are a beautiful sight with blue interiors and ice sculpture formations.

If interested, one can join such expeditions. The operators provide all the equipment and some light training on how to walk on ice.

Ice caves are accessible only in peak winters between November and March. There are hourly tours and multi-day expeditions available.

The tours start from $30.

For people who hate to hibernate in the winters, there are more innovative and hybrid sports like ice yachting, snowkiting—a mixture snowboarding and kitesurfing, and snow kayaking.

Adventure sports are not for the faint-hearted. One has to be in peak physical condition and have the willingness to push the body to the limit. It requires constant training. A little bit of emergency and medical training is a good kill to acquire too.

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