This list is not for the faint of heart. You can lounge on the beach some other time. While you have the energy, embark on these breathtaking escapes to the most extreme places on the planet.
These adventures will have you traveling all around the globe, so make sure to bring a travel credit card that's optimized for overseas spending.
In Chile, you can bungee jump off a helicopter into an active volcano.
Gokyo Everest Trek, Nepal
Putting Mt. Everest on the list would've been too obvious, but no list of extreme adventures would be complete without mountain climbing in Nepal. Instead of heading straight for Everest Base Camp, take in more of the region with stops at local villages and alternative peaks. Routes to Gokyo Ri Peak and Kala Patthar aren't as world-famous, but they offer unparalleled views of Mt. Everest.
The trip itineraries usually call for about two-and-a-half weeks in the region. Some of the routes include a stop at Mt. Everest Base Camp, where Everest climbers can continue to the world's tallest peak. Others start looping back to Lukla after summiting Kala Patthar.
Bungee Jumping, New Zealand
Bungee jumping – known simply as "bungy" among locals – has become a major tourist attraction in New Zealand's recent history. Locals love it, too, but adventurous souls from around the world have flocked to the dozens of bungee jumping spots that have sprung up throughout the country.
Back in the ‘80s, AJ Hackett and Henry van Asch were two of the first kiwis to commercialize bungee jumping. Their original, 141-foot jump off Kawarau Bridge is still in operation. For an added sense of danger, jumpers will dip into the water before the bungee cord snaps them back from the brink of death. One jump will cost adults about $150. Child tickets are about $100.
Yukon Dog Sledding, Canada
If your love of adventure is matched only by your love of dogs, you might want to head north to Yukon, Canada. The remote territory features a massive sprawl of snowy, desolate wildlands to explore, and what better way to explore them than from behind a team of sled dogs? Yukon-based groups offer dog sled tours that run the gambit. The less-adventurous members of your group can visit the kennel and spend just two hours learning the ropes. For a real sense of adventure, book a two-week trip with winter camping stops along the way. Keep in mind, even though sled dogs will help carry the load, dog sledding is still a physically demanding experience. Make sure you're ready to work as hard as the dogs!
Rongai Route, Mt. Kilimanjaro
The Rongai Route is one of the less traveled paths to Africa's highest peak. Mt. Kilimanjaro in Northeast Tanzania is actually made up of three volcanic cones, the tallest of which is Uhuru. The Rongai Route approaches Uhuru from the north, near the Kenyan border. Getting all the way up to that 19,336-foot peak is tough, but the Rongai is among the easiest routes to the top. It's also among the most remote. Another one of the easiest routes, the Marangu, is much more popular.
Mount Hua Shan Walkway, China
Don't let the name fool you. This adventure is anything but a simple walkway. One section known as the "Plank Walk in the Sky" is barely more than a couple two-by-fours nailed into the side of a cliff. Another section will have you clutching worn metal bars to reach an isolated chess board atop one of the mountain's five main peaks. It used to be one of the most dangerous hikes in the world, but its popularity exploded in the late 20th Century. The infrastructure that followed its popularity has slightly improved the safety there.
If you find yourself in China with some less-adventurous travelers, they can still experience Mt. Hua Shan, thanks to the beauty of technology. A cable car takes tourists straight to the North Peak. That's actually a plus for the dedicated hikers too, it means less people on the death-defying walkways.
Paddle your way through the front door of the Arctic Circle with a kayaking trip in Greenland. Guides take adventurers through Greenland's icy waters for unparalleled views of icebergs. Weather will dictate your trip, so be prepared to go with the flow if stormy winds have you hiking the tundra rather than paddling through the seas. Also, this should go without saying, but bundle up! It'll be cold, despite 24-hours of sunlight during parts of the summer.
Swim with Ferocious Whales, Norway
If kayaking between icebergs doesn't get your heart pounding, throw in some giant ocean mammals. Several different types of whales visit Norway's waters in large numbers every year, making it a whale watcher's paradise. Summertime visitors will most likely see whales from the coast, but thrill seekers will want to book a boating trip. Chartered trips take tourists deep between icebergs in search of orcas, humpbacks, sperm whales and more.
Running with the Bulls, Spain
If you're trying to learn to love running, maybe it'll help to put half a dozen raging, 2,400-pound bulls behind you. Several cities in Spain, Portugal, and Mexico have their own bull-run traditions, but by far the most famous is the Running of the Bulls in Pamplona, Spain. While there's an element of danger for any runner, you will have some control over how risky you get. Runners get a head start, but the bravest runners linger behind and try to touch the bulls' horns as they run. The bull-run is the pinnacle of Pamplona's nine-day Sanfermines festival, but make sure not to tire yourself out at the parties before the big run.
Volcano Diving, Chile
We already touched on bungee jumping in New Zealand, but that was off a bridge. In Chile, you can bungee jump off a helicopter into an active volcano. If that sounds like something out of a TV show, you aren't wrong. Professional daredevils developed the jump for an MTV stunt, but if you have $16,000, the company will stage the jump for you. The volcano in question is the Villarrica Volcano, about 460 miles south of Santiago. "Could I die?" it asks in the FAQ section of the company's website. The reply: "Yes. You could."
Exploration Expedition, North Pole
When in doubt, pay a visit to Santa. Ok, you might not catch Santa on this trip up north. You will, however, explore one of the most extreme climates on Earth from the deck of a massive ice breaker. The boat will take you crashing through frozen waters until you reach 90° N, where you'll explore historical landmarks on foot. While the views, weather and, experience will be truly extreme, it will also be fairly luxurious. With a price tag of more than $20,000, I guess that's to be expected. Optional attractions like hot air balloon rides and polar plunge (diving right into the water at the North Pole) will add to the thrill seeker's experience. But if you'd rather stay on the ship and enjoy a glass of champagne, that works, too.