Six Months of Travel: Top 5 Adventures

Here’s the list of things our moms wish we weren’t doing.

5. Surf Camp

Location: Punta Hermosa, Peru

Cost: $550/person/week (all meals, equipment, transport included)

Adventure Rating: 2 of 5

I’d articulated wanting to learn to surf but it was Jess who found “My Surf Camp Peru” an hour south of Lima. The owner/instructor Victor took us to his favorite spots in and around Lima taking us from beginners who could barely paddle our boards to beginners who could barely stand up on them. Turns out surfing is exhausting, difficult to learn and incredibly fun.

We met a wide swath of other travelers while staying at his house near the beach and enjoyed his mom’s home cooking.

And for fun, here's a quick time lapse of sunset from the beach near the camp.

4. Rafting in the Sacred Valley

Location: Cusco, Peru

Cost: $55/person for a full day with transport and meals

Adventure Rating: 3 of 5

 This day trip out of Cusco with Activities Peru took us south to the Sacred Valley where we ran almost 30 km of the Chuquicahuana river. We faced level 3 and 4 rapids in a six person paddled raft. Our guide was a Cusco native who had formally been a river guide in Colorado. The water was cold, the rapids were intense and the setting was picturesque. 

3. Driving in Namibia

Location: Windhoek to Sesriem, Namibia

Cost: Car Rental $34/day plus gas and accommodations

Adventure Rating: 3 of 5

We still cannot believe that Avis Rent a Car didn’t end up making us buy the car we drove through Namibia. Our 4 door VW Vivo was South Africa’s equivalent of a Dodge Neon. We drove it over, around and through many of the worst roads I have ever seen. Our drive to Soussusvlei was far more dangerous than anything we did there. The dirt tracks we drove were (at their best) bone-jarring, gravel highways through hundreds of miles of uninhabited desert. We frequently drove for hours without seeing another person or car. If we had broken down (as we absolutely should have) we would have been stuck in the desert with a seriously insufficient amount of food and water and shelter and cell service and survival skills. We were literally the only non-4X4 vehicle we saw in over a week of driving.

So was this an adventure activity? We realized too late that it was.

Below you can see what our nine hour drive between Soussusvlei and Ai Ais looked like.

 

2. Bungee Jumping the Bloukrans Bridge 

Location: Storm's River, South Africa

Cost: $80

Adventure Rating: 4 of 5

I knew I wanted to bungee jump this year, but I wasn’t aware that the world’s highest bridge bungee jump was directly on our route through the Garden Route in South Africa. With a shockingly small amount of safety training or sober cautionary advice, Face Adrenalin led me and five other jumpers out a cat walk to the underside of the Bloukrans bridge 216 meters above the river.

Jumping was surprisingly easy. I felt very able to cordon off the emotional part of my brain when peering over the edge. What I hadn’t anticipated was the sensation that followed the first 30 feet of free fall when I was accelerating to 200 MPH and my brain  advised me through an astonishing burst of adrenaline that I was just about to die. I didn’t, but it’s the closest thing I can imagine to it. The worst part is hanging upside down at the end waiting for the guy on the rope to come down and pull you up. You're sure you can feel yourself slipping out the entire time. Overall, an awesome experience I would definitely repeat.

 

1.     Death Road Downhill Biking

Location: Outside La Paz, Bolivia

Cost: $150

Adventure Rating: 5 of 5

The night before we were set to bike Death Road, Jess was feeling anxious over how dangerous the activity would be. I assured her that it was just marketing and that no one died on the road. The day after we biked, a woman died. In fact, in the 70’s when the road was the primary route north from La Paz, it averaged a death a day. A truck driver, a motorcyclist, every once in a while an entire bus of locals.

The road descends from 3,600 meters or almost 12,000 feet over 60 kilometers in just four hours of biking. The incredible view the road consistently affords is precisely due to the fact that the drop off is so precipitous. The day we road it, no biking groups had a follow vehicle due to one of the frequent land slides that block the road to cars. The first follow vehicle to encounter the landslide in the morning was forced to back up for over 15 kilometers because the road is too narrow and the cliff to close to even turn the van around.

We thought our equipment, guide and the tour itself was exceptional, but that doesn't mean accidents don't happen. Our guide had been on the road for numerous previous injuries as well as several deaths. He told us that most people die waiting for the ambulance which is more than an hour away.

Jess flipped her bike twice and still has a few nasty scars on her elbows and knees. The experience was amazing, but this is one I would be hesitant to take on again.