Bungee jump off the Kawarau Bridge, New Zealand
Flinging yourself off a ledge attached to nothing more than a springy cord may seem like madness, but kamikaze Kiwis love nothing more than a rush of adrenaline.
New Zealand is the home of commercial bungee jumping, and the 43m-high Kawarau Bridge in Queenstown is the original jump spot. 1,2,3 and you’re off, forwards or backwards, with a dip in the river if you so desire.
if you can’t afford to hop aboard Virgin Galactic’s space flights (a mere snip at US$200,000 a seat [£140,000]), this is the closest you can get to space travel. Board a plane at Florida's Kennedy Space Centre, try to hold on to your breakfast through a series of parabolic flight manoeuvres and then you can fly, float and flip in zero gravity to your heart’s content.
Astronauts prepare for space missions in this way, and Hollywood has used these specially adapted craft for movies such as Apollo 13
Witness a total eclipse, 2009 Asia
Shiver in the moon's shadow and goggle at the sun's ghostly corona during a total solar eclipse and you’ll never forget the experience. Britain won’t see a total eclipse for many decades, so be prepared to pack your bags: on July 22 2009, a total eclipse will be visible along a narrow corridor from India through Nepal, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Burma, China and Japan's Ryukyu Islands
Fly a supersonic MiG jet, Russia
Fulfil those Top Gun fantasies you’ve been harbouring since adolescence. Break the sound barrier and slice through Russian airspace in one of the country’s top-grade military jet fighters. A few select agencies now offer travellers the chance to fly the classic MiG-29 or more advanced MiG-31 from Moscow and Nizhny.
Ride the world’s biggest rollercoaster, USA/Japan
Actually, you have a choice of two: the world’s tallest and fastest, or the world’s longest, ride. For the former you’ll need to head to Six Flags Great Adventure park in Jackson, New Jersey, and take a spin on the Kingda Ka. This metal monster reaches a speed of 206km/hr and climbs to a height of 140m.
Meanwhile for the longest ride in the world, strap yourself into the Steel Dragon 2000, in Nagashima, Japan – a mere 2,479m of track along which to maintain stomach control.
Spend summer solstice above the Arctic Circle
Need proof that the Earth is round? Stay awake for 24 hours of daylight, and watch the sun as it circles in the sky above the Arctic Circle during the summer solstice. Seeing the “midnight sun” is truly disorientating, and various events mark the occasion, from fun runs and cruises to all-day parties (well, they could hardly be all-night could they?). Some of the best locations include Hammerfest, Norway; Fairbanks, Alaska; and Inuvik, Canada
Visit a live volcano, Costa Rica/Hawaii/Réunion
Smell the sulphur, feel the earth tremble and watch as molten lava spews from the ground. This once-in-a-lifetime experience is not for the faint of heart. But to see the Earth recreating itself right in front of you is an awe-inspiring sight, never forgotten.
Popular erupting volcano hikes include Hawaii Volcanoes national park, which is safe enough to bring the family along but active enough to see molten lava flowing into the sea; a more fearsome trek through Volcán Arenal national park in Costa Rica, which contains one of the most active volcanoes in the world and is also celebrated for its hot springs; and Piton de la Fournaise Volcano on the island of Réunion, east of Madagascar, which erupts in fountains of lava with surprising regularity
Travel overland, London to Sydney
If you dream of swapping Bognor for Bondi, but your eco-conscience is getting in the way, skip the plane and let the OzBus take the strain.
In 13 weeks, you will drive – and occasionally float – from Britain to Australia via the classic European cities of Prague and Budapest, through Istanbul and the dazzling salt deserts of Iran to the colossal Taj Mahal, Thai islands and the mighty Australian outback. Complete the course and you’ll have “real travel” bragging rights for life
Take the plunge skydiving, the Himalayas
If you are going to risk your life jumping out of a plane, you might as well do it somewhere truly spectacular. So how about Mount Everest? Incredible Adventures is one company that offers no-experience-required tandem jumps in front of Everest, landing on the world’s highest drop zone
Dance the tango, Buenos Aires
Think you can do better than the contestants on Strictly? Sultry, sensual and intense, this dance is said to have evolved in the brothels and impoverished barrios of Buenos Aires in the late 19th century.
Put yourself through your paces by combining Spanish classes with tango lessons in the Argentinian capital for the complete Latin experience.
La Tomatina, Buñol, Spain
Better not wear your best clothes to this party. Every August the small town of Buñol in Spanish Valencia hosts the world’s biggest, squashiest and best known food fight – La Tomatina. Tens of thousands of revellers roll around in the pulpy tomatoes for which the area is famous, propelling armfuls at anyone within range.
La Tomatina started as an innocent food fight between friends in the 1940s – but it quickly spread to city officials and pedestrians, and has been celebrated annually ever since
Ride the world’s biggest waves, Tahiti
Beginners can sit this once-in-a-lifetime surf experience out. Favoured by the top big-wave surfers, the waves at Teahupo’o reef in Tahiti are among the world’s largest. The deadly reef below only ups the ante.
In 2000, the tow-surfing daredevil Laird Hamilton mounted what is considered to be the biggest and most difficult wave ever ridden here, as documented in the film Riding Giants.
Glide in a hot-air balloon, Cappadocia
Every “things to do before you die” list ever compiled will include taking a hot air balloon ride. But we would take that concept further and insist that you drift over some of the world’s most extraordinary scenery. One such ballooning route is over the surreal fairy chimneys of Cappadocia, in central Turkey. These conical pumice towers mushroom out of a 1,500-square-mile volcanic plateau – and many have been hollowed out to create cave dwellings.
Snorkel with orcas, Norway
Between October and January, shoals of herring swim up Tysfjord in northern Norway, pursued by pods of orcas (killer whales). The whales round up the fish before stunning them with their tails. You can watch these awesome creatures in action from inflatable zodiac boats, then don a dry suit and snorkel to join them in their own habitat.
Climb Sydney Harbour Bridge, Australia
Top off a visit to one of the world’s most beautiful cities with a windswept shinny up unmistakeable Sydney Harbour Bridge. Clamber around the upper arch by way of narrow catwalks and ladders to enjoy 360-degree views of Sydney Harbour, the ocean and the Opera House from a height of 134m. You can even sign up for a night climb, and lap up the sight of Sydney's lights reflected in the harbour; just watch your footing.
Try canopying, Costa Rica
There is no better place to live out your Tarzan fantasies than the wildlife-rich Costa Rican rainforest. The ever-more popular sport of canopying – swinging yourself from tree to tree through dense rainforest – is catching on across the American continent. It gives you an unforgettable perspective on the local wildlife: take a canopying ecotour in Rincón de la Vieja national park, for example, and you’ll swing past bemused monkeys and myriad colourful birds. Another canopying hotspot can be found in southern Chile.
Stay in an ice hotel, Sweden
Each winter, sculptors, artists, architects and designers create a new hotel using ice from the Torne River, 200km north of the Arctic Circle. There are many imitators these days, but this is the original frozen palace.
Cosy up on reindeer skins in a fantastical art suite, where the temperature hovers at around -5°C (positively balmy compared with outdoors). And if you’re searching for a novel wedding venue, why not tie the knot in the ice church?
See orang-utans in the wild, Borneo
Along the Kinabatangan river in north-eastern Borneo, you can glimpse a plethora of exotic wildlife, including black hornbill birds, troops of proboscis monkeys and, for the eagle-eyed, gangly orang-utans, whose nests sit high in the rainforest canopy. These fascinating creatures are the world’s largest tree-dwelling animals, unique among great apes for their arboreal lifestyle and found only on the islands of Sumatra and Borneo.
Population estimates have dropped from 27,000 to 15,000 in the past decade, so for guaranteed sightings, head to the Sepilok Rehabilitation Centre, where around 60 to 80 orang-utans live in a forest reserve
Cycle the ‘world’s most dangerous road’, Bolivia
Only people with a good sense of balance – and head for heights – need apply for this risky but thrilling mountainside ride. It also helps if you’re untroubled by ever-present reminders of death: countless skeletal bus carcasses line the steep sides of this absurdly narrow, cliff-hugging road near La Paz in Bolivia, which has earned the title of the world’s most dangerous road.
But daredevil mountain bikers with an eye for awe-inspiring views find the “Death Road” challenge hard to resist. The 60km mostly dirt road drops through the Andes from an altitude of 4,700m to 1,200m, giving way to lush cloud forest.
Ride the trans-Siberian railway across Asia
Before you leave Moscow, be sure to pack a bottle of vodka and a hefty tome, as you are about to cross the entire Asian landmass by train.
You have three options to complete this once-in-a-lifetime trip: Moscow to the eastern port of Vladivostok (9,258km in seven days on the trans-Siberian line); Beijing via Manchuria (8,986km in just over six days on the trans-Manchurian line); or Beijing via the Mongolian steppe and the Gobi desert (7,621km in six days on the Trans-Mongolian line).
Eat or sleep underwater, Maldives/Dubai/Fiji
Get a sense of what life as a goldfish must be like. Try out one of a small but growing number of underwater venues around the world, and gaze trance-like at marine life gliding by the windows.
The world’s first underwater restaurant is 5m below sea level at Ithaa, the Maldives – surrounded on all sides by shoals of fish, coral, rays and shark. Small-scale underwater hotels also exist – but the real humdingers are still under construction. A subaquatic palace, Hydropolis Dubai, is meant to open in 2009 and another, Poseidon of Fiji, in 2011.
Ride the Cresta Run, St Moritz, Switzerland
For three-quarters of a mile of heart-pounding, knee-bashing insanity, lie stomach down, head first on a toboggan and rattle round 10 corners over a 157m drop. The Brits built the first Cresta ice run in 1885, and it’s the undisputed home of head-first, millimetres-from-the-snow so-called skeleton racing. A new natural ice run is created each year.
Play elephant polo, Nepal
A sport in which Scotland are ranked world No 1 and England are the current world champions? Clearly this isn’t football or cricket. No, these are the World Elephant Polo Championships, held each December in southern Nepal.
Watch out for those sneaky elephants, though. They’ll do anything to stop their opponents, but the rules clearly state no standing on the ball and no lying in front of the goal. To join in, sign up with the World Elephant Polo Association.
In pictures: shopping meccas of the world
Wing-walk on a bi-plane, Gloucestershire
Strap yourself on to the wing of a classic bi-plane and relive the glory days of aviation, looping through the sky with nothing but goggles and leather to shield you from forces of up to 4G and 150mph wind pressure.
Wing-walking was particularly popular in 1920s America, and is harder to experience these days thanks to strict regulations. But several places offer the chance to determined daredevils – including RFC Rendcomb Airfield, Gloucestershire.
Glide in a hot-air balloon, Cappadocia
Every “things to do before you die” list ever compiled will include taking a hot air balloon ride. But we would take that concept further and insist that you drift over some of the world’s most extraordinary scenery. One such ballooning route is over the surreal fairy chimneys of Cappadocia, in central Turkey. These conical pumice towers mushroom out of a 1,500-square-mile volcanic plateau – and many have been hollowed out to create cave dwellings
Track gorillas in the wild, Uganda
Peek through the dense foliage of the tropical cloud forest surrounding the Virunga volcanoes or the Bwindi Impenetrable Forest to encounter families of mountain gorillas. These giants are endangered, with only around 700 remaining in the wild. So finding them is a particularly acute thrill.
Tracking permits are limited and time spent with the gorillas is restricted to one hour, making this experience extra special. Look out for the rare set of twins in Bwindi, born in early November last year.
Trek the Inca Trail, Peru
Follow in the rocky footsteps of the most well-known of all ancient pre-Columbian civilisations, the Inca. This classic hike rollercoasters through the Peruvian Andes from the Sacred Valley to the mountaintop lost city of Machu Picchu, reaching breathless altitudes of 4,200m.
Its 45km length is scattered with extraordinary ancient ruins; it passes through awesome mountain scenery and dips down into misty wildlife-rich cloud forest. But the highlight is undoubtedly arriving at Machu Picchu as the sun rises – the only time of day when you can have the magical site all to yourself before the tourist hordes arrive.