Project Fear, England’s woeful team of ‘Ice Wallies’, the economic meltdown, a Zika-hit Rio Olympics and the Miss Hitler 2016 Neo-Nazi beauty contest. It’s hardly surprising that the vibe in the UK last month was very much ‘Stop the world, because we want to get off.’
Sure, tolerance, respect, strong gin and a government-regulated programme of free hugs will almost certainly help to take the grimace off of Britain’s face in the long term. But in the short-term, removing yourself from the everyday drudge of reality – at least for a hot minute – wouldn’t hurt.
To that end, we’ve compiled a list of 25 frankly awesome ways to escape the post-Brexit gloom – ranging from exotic thrills where you can pretend to be Indiana Jones, to life-affirming experiences that might just see you playing golf on a mountain – that will put this whole sorry mess in a little more perspective.
Think of it as the ultimate bucket list – without the usual ‘swimming with dolphins’ bollocks. Enjoy.
BUNGEE INTO A VOLCANO
There are worse ways to go than being coated in 1,200-degree volcano lava – we just can’t think of any right now. An ingenious twist on the tedious Nineties bucket list staple, volcano bungee jumping involves hurling yourself off a helicopter’s skid bar straight into Chile’s (worryingly ‘active’) Villarrica volcano. Assuming someone has done the maths, you should stare a red-hot fiery death in the face before pinging back up. It makes the mother of all Snapchat vids, but it does cost around £12k, making it the most expensive bungee in the world. That said, the price includes accommodation at a five-star hotel. Plus, if it things do go awry, you’ll have given yourself the coolest funeral ever.
GRADUATE FROM COWBOY COLLEGE
The American West, untainted by expensive coffee, Kardashians and Facebook Messenger, is the place to re-discover your inner John Wayne. But the Arizona Cowboy College is not a faux dude ranch. During the week-long course, you’ll work under professional cowboy Rocco Wachman, who’ll school you in horsemanship, roping, de-horning and branding. It’ll be challenging, and you’ll question whether a Brit can pull off chaps and a yoked shirt. But you’ll also get to hang out with actual, Red Bull-drinking cowboys. Be sure to check it’s all covered by your travel insurance.
From £1,667 per week; Cowboycollege.com
SLEEP WITH THE LIONS
Why pay to swim with sad dolphins when you can sleep with lions? London Zoo’s new Gir Lion Lodge experience will see you ‘glamp’ overnight in a luxurious wooden abode, tour the lion enclosure by torchlight and enjoy a two-course meal. Insert ‘roaring trade’ joke here.
From £378; zsl.org
TEE OFF FROM A MOUNTAIN
If you thought golf was just an excuse for middle aged men to dress as pimps, take a look at the ‘Extreme 19th’ at the Legend Golf & Safari Park in South Africa. The 1,282ft par 3 has a mountain-top tee that can only be accessed by helicopter. You might wanna take a spare ball.
From £130 per night; Legendhospitality.co.za
GO LAKE-BOMBING IN SNOWDONIA
From toe wrestling to chess boxing, there’s no shortage of silly-sounding sports that will never be admitted to the Olympics. But very few are as enjoyable as ‘blobbing’ – an extreme activity that sees participants jump off a high platform, bounce off a massive air-filled trampoline, and bomb into a lake. The current championship record is 72ft.
From £15 per hour; Surfsnowdonia.co.uk
ENROLL IN THE SPARTAN CHALLENGE
Tougher than a weekend with the in-laws, the Reebok Spartan ‘Beast’ run will see you tackle 30 obstacles over 20km of tough Scottish terrain. If you’re thinking, ‘This looks exactly like all those other ‘muddy hell’ runs’, wait for the wall of flames – your preconceptions will vanish faster than the free beers at the finish.
From £70; Spartanrace.uk
CONQUER ASIAN OKTOBERFEST
Oktoberfest is often tacked onto many bucket lists. But forget Munich and head to China’s ‘beer town’, home to the world’s largest annual booze-stravaganza. The Qingdao International Beer Festival, held in the former German colony in Shandong Province, sees 4m drinkers don lederhosen to taste beer and sing drunkenly. The home of the Tsingtao brewery, a crisp Bavarian-inspired pilsner made with local mountain spring water, the main event is the ‘busting open’ of a Tsingtao keg the size of a terraced house. You say it’s a ‘cultural experience’, but that’s a lie. It’s an excuse to drink strong beer and let off fire-crackers.
£1 entry fee; Tsingtaobeer.co.uk
CAMP ON A CLIFF
The ‘most dangerous campsite in the world’ is located 50ft up a cliff face in Colorado. Affording spectacular views of the Rocky Mountains, it’s basically a porta-ledge roped to the cliff. You’ll climb up and ‘relax’ with a picnic before strapping yourself into a sleeping bag for the night. You definitely won’t roll over and perish.
GO ON AN INDIANA ADVENTURE
Deep in the jungles of Belize lies the ‘Cave Of The Crystal Sepulchre’. Accompanied by a government guide, tourists can (respectfully) act out their Indiana Jones fantasies by touring the cathedral-like Mayan cave full of mysterious crystallised corpses, untouched artefacts and spiders the size of puppies.
HOLIDAY IN A WARZONE
The UK’s Foreign Office often gets bubble guts at the mention of ‘war tourism’. Increasingly popular with adventurous travellers, specialist operators such as WarZone Tours aim to get your blood pumping (hopefully not out of a hole in your Kevlar vest). The firm offers a choice between areas of ‘past conflict’ and actual ‘war zones’. Think Syria, the ‘Stans, Iraq, etc. You’ll go behind the headlines and meet the locals, who are usually friendly and fed up with being stereotyped as AK-wielding kidnappers. Risks are high, but so are the rewards.
TRAIN LIKE A MICHELIN CHEF
Secretly wished you’d trained as a chef? Here’s your opportunity to join a two-star Michelin brigade – without the early mornings and knife wounds. This opportunity will see you work under the tutelage of the Belmond Le Manoir’s executive head chef during service.
TAKE A (NUCLEAR POWERED) CRUISE TO THE NORTH POLE
Forget cinemas, waterslides and ice sculptures – the Yamal is not your average cruise ship. One of several nuclear-powered ice-breakers, it takes hardy travellers on breathtaking ‘cruises’ to the North Pole. What do you mean there’s no dessert buffet? *Palms face*.
RIDE A 100MPH ZIPLINE
In the wake of Bojo’s epic 2012 zipline fail (‘Get me a rope, get me a ladder”), hurtling down a wire like a human cannonball has become uncool. But Velocity, in Snowdonia, aims to change that, with its world-first 100mph zipline. You may have to deploy a tiny parachute to stop.
SKI IN AFGHANISTAN
There are no lifts and the skis are made from planks of wood, but the scenery is truly epic and the locals welcoming. Expect to have the whole mountain to yourself unless you pitch up in February for the Afghan Ski Challenge, a backcountry ski race. The rules – and we’re not kidding – include “No weapons”.
From £1,700; Untamedborders.com
ROW ACROSS THE ATLANTIC
Chafing, sleep deprivation and biblical weather; the 3,000-mile Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge is ‘the world’s toughest row’. The next one is in December – time to form a crew and get a ‘castaway’ tan.
£407 per person; Taliskerwhiskyatlanticchallenge.com
CO-PILOT A SPITFIRE
The ace pilots of the Second World War lived and died alone in the air. But thanks to this specially-converted dual-cockpit T9 Spitfire – the only one of its kind – you can now drain the blood from your face while marvelling at the bravery of a bygone generation. The warbird takes off from Duxford and, yes, parachutes are provided.
HIRE A FESTIVAL ON A PRIVATE ISLAND
Whether you want to fill the vacuum left by the Michael Eavis’s Glasto retirement, or like getting trousered in a muddy field, the private island of Osea, off the Essex coast, can help. There, you can hold a private festival for up to 1,000 friends, with bands and food trucks.
From £25,000; Total-management.com
RUN AN ULTRA-MARATHON…
Marathons aren’t the ego-boosting physical challenge they once were. Instead, runners are increasingly turning their attention to knee-crushing ultra marathons, such as the 165km Ultra-Trail Mt Fuji. If you can resist stopping to gawp at the 360-degree views, you’ll conquer the whole thing in 40 hours. Ish.
…THEN CYCLE ONE, TOO
The Iditarod Trail International is an ultra-marathon, on bikes, with fat tyres, in the snow, across Alaska, with skis. The ‘short’ version of the race spans 350 miles. Nail that, and you can enter the 1,000-miler. Oh, and support services are kept to a minimum so as not to ‘cheat the true adventurer’.
From £492; Iditarodtrailinvitational.com
EAT LIKE A ONE-PERCENTER
Most of the ‘world’s most expensive burgers’ are fly-by-night publicity shams (caviar on a cheeseburger? No thanks). The $777 burger, however, has stood the test of time thanks to its delicious assemblage of kobe beef, lobster and 100-year-aged balsamic vinegar. Make like Rich Uncle Pennybags from Monopoly and head to Burger Brasserie in Las Vegas.
HIKE INTO A STORM
Iceland is known for its mercurial weather, hence it being the ideal location for those ‘North Of The Wall’ scenes in Game Of Thrones. A Stormhike will see you ‘meet the elements’ by hiking directly into a massive, angry weather-tantrum with a local mountain rescue dude. A portion of the fee also goes to the local rescue station.
TAKE MOUNTAIN BIKING TO NEW EXTREMES
An epic new downhill mountain biking park has just opened in Gloucestershire featuring a state-of-the-art 100-acre facility that include some monstrous championship red/black grade courses. A handy lift service will whisk your wheels back to the top.
TAKE A REAL ROAD TRIP
In later life, road trips will mean econo-box rental cars and Peppa Pig iPad apps. So before your life becomes a quest to warm up baby’s bottle, be sure to go on a grand tour of Europe – preferably behind the wheel of a priceless classic car. Hand over a frightening amount of money to Mercedes Benz Classic Car Travel, and they’ll sling you the keys to a Sixties Pagoda SL convertible and let you loose on the Cote d’Azur’s sun-drenched asphalt ribbons, stopping only to hoover up fine five-star French cuisine. They even supply a team of mechanics. All you need worry about is the playlist, which, obviously, should include Rupert Holmes’ yacht rock classic, Escape (The Pina Colada Song).
CREATE THE NEXT MARTINI
Dreaming up a completely new martini is quite a challenge. Luckily, Javier de las Muelas, one of the world’s best barmen, will lend a hand. After spending the afternoon in a secret drinks lab filled with rare, vintage gins, you’ll spend the evening sampling your signature drink in the Dry Martini Bar at the Melia White House Hotel.
Thanks to a new Norwegian invention called the Subwing, it is now possible for man to fly underwater. When towed by a boat, the Subwing – constructed from two fins that twist independently of each other – can be tilted to dive, roll or perform impressive seal-like manoeuvres.
From £216; Subwing.com