Where do you go if you really want to see the Earth at its most extreme? Forget a trans-galactic flight: the final frontier may be closer than you think. If you can take the pressure of a 36,000 foot dive or hold on to your hat at 120,000 feet, you could join some of the most bizarre creatures – and the most daring humans – in some of the furthest reaches on the planet. Need some inspiration for your next expedition? Join us on a whistle-stop tour of some of the most incredible sights and sounds around.
1. Climb the tallest structure on the planet
The Burj Khalifa tower is the world’s tallest structure at a phenomenal 828 metres in height. Yep, that’s nigh-on a kilometre of glass, steel and spire. The building’s occupants use 950,000 litres of water a day and can travel to the observation deck for an augmented reality view of the surrounding city of Dubai (as if the real thing wasn’t amazing enough).
The Khalifa tower holds the world record for housing the highest mosque on the planet, as well as the highest nightclub. Its elevators climb the massive structure at 40mph – that’s quite a bit faster than your average Reliant Robin. See if you can make it through this fantastic video from the very tip of the Burj Khalifa’s spire without losing your lunch.
2. Attach yourself to a space balloon
OK, that’s not the best idea we’ve ever had (and just for the record, we were kidding). But this amazing footage shows that it’s possible to launch an object into space using little more than a helium balloon and a GPS tracker. You have to love anyone who’s mad enough to try something like this in the first place, and the results are truly breathtaking, so we’re very glad they did.
This experiment has been done before and repeated since, but there’s nothing quite like the serenity of an unmanned balloon flight. From a park in New York state to the stratosphere in 60 minutes flat: the blackness of space is a little closer than you think.
3. Hang out with a snailfish
Next time you find yourself on a Pacific, spare a thought for the humble snailfish. He may look a little washed out – he doesn’t get much Vitamin D, after all – but he’s a pretty outgoing character.
Out of more than 350 species of snailfish, this particular type can withstand the enormous pressure and extreme cold of the deepest seas on the planet and is ironically known for being particularly sociable.
Why not grab a beer next time you’re visiting? All you have to do is figure out how to get five miles down below the surface. (Hate to break it to you, but you’re gonna need some bigger flippers.)
4. Start hoarding transistor radios
Fancy seeing further into the universe than anyone has ever seen? A gaggle of impossibly brainy Dutch and British astronerds made their own radio telescope with some decidedly low-fidelity equipment. Oh, and a supercomputer. It’s never as easy as it sounds when you first read the instructions, is it?
The Low Frequency Radio Array telescope, or LOFAR, is the most powerful radio telescope on the planet and is already assisting some of the world’s brightest and brainiest scientists in their study of black holes and pulsars, as well as helping them pick out laser torches pointed directly at the earth by Martians. One of those facts is not true.
5. Get yourself in a lava
Volcanoes have got themselves a bit of a bad name lately, especially with people called Michael and Stelios who own aeroplanes. It’s no wonder they’ve started hiding underwater. The vast surface of the South Pacific ocean is punctured only by tiny islands; the archipelago of Fijian land masses is a great example of ancient volcanic activity.
This incredible footage shows a volcano spewing red hot lava four thousand feet below the surface of the Pacific, creating new masses which could eventually become new blips on the atlas.
6. Get down (deeper and down)
Charismatic scientist and explorer Bill Stone reckons that the clues to space explorations lie in the depths of the planet, and he should know; Bill regularly treks into the bowels of the Earth for days at a time, encountering formidable and terrifying obstacles. By exploring some of the darkest, deepest and most hostile places on the planet, Bill’s team are inspiring technology and techniques to keep humans alive (and sane) on long space expeditions.
OK, it sounds less exciting than a mission to Mars, but this kind of exploration gives us the space-age gadgetry that will assist us in our robotic – and human – exploration of other planets. Not so uncool now, eh?
Watch Bill Stone's exciting expeditions here.
7. Go for the high jump
This isn’t just bungee – this is extreme bungee. No, we don’t mean the elastic things you used to fasten that Ikea wardrobe your dad’s roof rack. Jumping from the 61st floor of a skyscraper requires even more nerves than that crane jump thing at the Reading Festival, although the experience is probably slightly less terrifying since you don’t have to pay £10 for a dodgy burger first.
The phrase “The cord isn’t done right” should be enough to get you twitching in your seat, even if the 233 foot drop doesn’t faze you.
8. Go for the even higher jump
Joseph Kittinger is the US Airforce colonel who ensured frostbite to jump from heights of more than 100,000 feet, dropping like a stone from space at more than 600 miles an hour. His right hand actually doubled in size as his pressure suit partially failed during ascent, but he jumped regardless of the pain. The records he set (including the ultra-cool accolade of ‘fastest falling human’) still stand today, although he is acting as an advisor to the guy who wants to break it. What a gent.
This incredible footage of his record-breaking parachute jump was filmed in 1960. It makes that bungee jump look like a game of hopscotch.
9. Hog the remote
Looking to get away from it all on that next holiday? But I mean – really? Away from everything and everyone, including aeroplanes and runways? There are 300 people on the South Pacific island of Tristan de Cunha, the most isolated island on the planet. They’re British, too: when the volatile landscape erupted in 1961, they were evacuated to Southampton. Unfortunately the islanders’ total lack of immunity to common winter ailments meant that several of them didn’t fare too well. Unimpressed by free love, mini skirts and the Beatles, they scarpered back to their unpolluted volcanic paradise at the first possible opportunity.
The residents of Tristan de Cunha share one road, seven surnames and a beach called Down-Where-The-Minister-Landed-His-Things. We reckon you’d have first dibs on the sunbeds.
10. Drop a mountain into the sea
At the end of the Mariana Trench near Japan lies the Challenger Deep, the deepest sea on the planet. There’s an incredible 36,000 feet between the surface of the water and the sea floor in the Challenger Deep: if you dropped Mount Everest in and then topped it off with five Empire State Buildings you’d be somewhere near reaching the surface.
The vents at the base of the Challenger Deep churn out soft, muddy rock rather than hot lava. They’re a surprisingly common variation on the common or garden volcano, and they mean that massive earthquakes in the Mariana Trench are relatively rare. It’s also a geographical feature our deepest ocean may share with the surface of Mars.
This article was produced by Wish.co.uk – for epic days out, including driving and flying experiences, check out Wish's awesome range of experience day gift ideas.