Vacation with a twist

A meaningful holiday that leaves a permanent imprint in your memory is what most travellers hope to achieve in order to get the bang for their buck. These days, eating, shopping, sightseeing and snapping pictures are no longer sufficient to satisfy the discerning traveller. There is even talk about organising space tours and making the moon a tourist destination for those who take the notion of unforgettable holiday to the extremes.

But one does not have to look outside Earth when our planet has such a diverse selection of natural resources that it is hardly possible to explore and enjoy all of it in a lifetime. Here are some bizarre yet feasible wild holiday adventures that you may consider for your next vacation!

For fans of disaster films like Twister and adrenalin junkies who prefer an adventure over a relaxing vacation, storm chasing will get your adrenalin pumping in no time! Storm Chasing Adventure Tour organizes tours in Tornado Alley in America for those who want to get up close and personal with mother-nature’s wrath, chasing real-life twister!

The popularity of this tour has earned itself features on popular television channels such as Discovery channel, CNN, National Geographic and Fox News just to name a few. If you sign up for the tour, you will be a part of the storm chasing team that gathers air data and sends timely weather information back to the National Weather Service. The team will then stake out the place where the twister is set to pass by from a safe distance so that they can admire nature’s wrath without endangering their lives. Do note that on such tours, there is no guarantee that you will experience a real twister storm during the period of the tour as this is really dependent on the weather for the day.

Cost: 2400 USD (approx. 3000 SGD) for a 6-day tour
For more information, visit: http://www.stormchasing.com

volcanoboarding

If chasing twisters is not challenging enough, try ash-boarding, also known as volcano boarding! Surf down the thick ashes spouting out of Cerro Negro located in Central America’s youngest and most active volcano. Hike up the 728m tall volcano to reach the blazing crater and glide down the soft ash on a “snow-board”, made of a plank of wood and metal base.

The sport was founded in 2005 by an Australian tour guide Darryn Webb who discovered the potential of ash boarding on the soft ashes that spouted out of the volcano. At the start of the sport, you’ll be handed a pair of goggles and the ash boarding board, and then you will take a 45 minute hike up the volcano, and surf down with much dirt flying in your face!

A piece of advice to those who would like to try this sport: no matter how exhilarating the experience, try not to scream or the dust and ashes will fly into your mouth. This sport is not for the dainty, as you may suffer from scrapes and scratches from rocks that graze your limbs while you slide down at a whopping speed of up to 50kmph.

Tierra Tours does a wholesome volcano boarding tour, complete with transport, equipment, a guide and even fruits.

Cost: 35 USD for 5 hours (approx. 45 SGD), minimum 2 people
For more information, visit: http://www.tierratour.com/store/index.php?route=product/product&filter_name=volcano&product_id=56

tectonicdiving

If volcano boarding is too dirty for you, you can frolic in clean waters when you go on a tectonic diving adventure in the Silfra crack, Thingvellir Lake, National Park Thingvellir, Iceland. Tectonic comes from tectonic plates, massive, irregularly shaped slabs of solid rock that constitute earth’s landmass. Each continent consists of a huge tectonic plate for instance. When you go tectonic diving, you are essentially diving between two tectonic plates.

The Silfa crack is a rift formed by two tectonic plates from two different continents, the American continent and the European continent moving apart from each other. Research has shown that these two plates move apart from each other at a rate of 2cm each year. While you can’t actually see the land masses moving, the geological uniqueness of this site still makes it a swell place to dive in. In fact, National Park Thingvellir has been declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.

More importantly, the waters are so clean and pristine that you can actually drink the water as you dive! The water is so clear because of the low temperature of the water that ranges from two to four degrees Celsius all year round. Beginners and first-timers can enjoy themselves with peace of mind, knowing that they won’t swim into an obstacle by mistake.

Don’t worry about the cold temperature as you’d be given the option of wearing a dry suit which prevents your body from coming into contact with water and allows you to wear warm clothing during the dive.

Cost: 29990 ISK (approx 300 SGD)
For more information, visit: http://www.dive.is/Diving_Iceland.php?page=Diving%20Silfra

mudspa

If you have a weak heart or don’t like much physical activity, fret not. You can try a relaxing mud spa at the mouth of a mud volcano! While beauty salons and hot springs resorts offer mud spas, the lands around volcanoes are always known to be fertile thanks to the volcano ash that spills from the volcano. For the record, igneous rocks from volcanoes are rich in potassium, a mineral that is essential to every biochemical function of the body as it helps grow new cells.

One of the best places to try this is at Volcan de Lodo El Totumo in Nothern Columbia, near the port of Cartagena, Colombia, Spain. The volcano is 15 metres high and its rich mineral mud is of a comfortable consistency that allows you to float in it while enjoying the goodness this mud does to your skin. It is recommended that you do not wear an expensive bathing suit as it will be covered in thick mud that is difficult to wash off completely. After a heavenly soak, you can head to a lagoon filled with warm water where attendants will help to remove the mud off your body with buckets of water.

However, if you are hoping for some quiet time alone, this may not be suitable for you because the place is always filled with tourists. It’s a great way to have some safe, clean and good fun with your fellow travellers though.

Cost: Free admission, but you may be expected to tip the staff, and pay for the tour if you booked one. Most hotels in the vicinity of the volcano will organise tours to it.

Nature has much to offer us for education, enjoyment and health. Quoting Jawaharlal Nehru, India’s ex-Prime Minister “We live in a wonderful world that is full of beauty, charm and adventure. There is no end to the adventures that we can have if only we seek them with our eyes open.” These quirky vacation ideas are not only great conversation starters, but will help you better appreciate and protect nature’s wonders.

Disclaimer: All information is accurate at time of publishing.

– This article first appeared in a lifestyle magazine.