Top Five Must-do Escapades

We round up amazing travel experiences that you’ll be boasting about to the grandkids for years to come
Sunday , 24 June 2012
Going under in South Africa
Going under in South Africa
Accelerated freefall in Spain
Accelerated freefall in Spain
On yer bike in Mexico
On yer bike in Mexico
Saddle up across the world
Saddle up across the world
La Dolce Vita in Italy
La Dolce Vita in Italy

Going Under
What? Cage diving with nile crocodiles
Where? The Cango Wildlife Ranch and Valley of Ancients in Oudsthoorn, Eastern Cape, South Africa.
Shark diving is so passé. The new thrill for adrenaline junkies is to get up close and personal with a four-metre-long Nile croc.
At the Cango Wildlife Ranch, the only place in the world that offers this nail-biting experience, you’ll be lowered in a steel cage, while the carnivores circle mere inches away from your quivering body. You’ll feel a lot less long in the tooth when confronted with the sharp gnashers of these predators. Trained to associate the cage with food, there’s nothing quite as terrifying as the moment they snap their deadly jaws right in front of your face.
And you needn’t worry that you are upsetting these huge, scaly beasts - as the Cango Wildlife Ranch has an endangered species breeding facility, the well-being and welfare of all its animals is paramount.
The charming African Sky Hotel & Resort (Dhs415 per night; africanskyhotels.com) is tucked away between the Outeniqua and Swartberg Mountains and is close to the Cango Wildlife Ranch. So what’s stopping you? Book your adrenalin rush now.
Park entry is Dhs127 and cage diving is an extra Dhs49. See cango.co.za for more details.

Accelerated Freefall
What? Accelerated freefall
Where? Madrid, Spain
Who hasn’t dreamed of making like Tom Petty and ‘freefalling out into nothing’ in order to ‘leave this world for a while’?
The closest thing to human flight, freefalling allows a jumper to move forward, backwards, up, down and all around in the sky – who knew your body was this flexible? You can dive vertically over 320 kph or achieve horizontal movement over the ground up to 100 kph.
Freefall Uni Spain (freefalluniversity.co.uk) is a skydiving centre 30 minutes from Madrid, which specialises in Accelerated Freefall Skydiving courses. With its temperate, wind-free climes, it’s the perfect location to get to grips with this sport.
It also offers skydiving, freeflying, wingsuit, parachute handling and base jumping courses for the skydiving community at its dropzone in Madrid, but for novice thrill-seekers, it’s recommended you start with freefalling.
An AFF course is the fastest, safest and most enjoyable way to learn to skydive. The experienced instructors here equip you with all the skills and experience to guarantee your safety.
So it’s time to take a deep breath and take the plunge. The Accelerated Freefall Skydiving course is Dhs9,135 and this includes tuition, transfers and seven nights’ accommodation.

On Yer Bike
What? Ski biking
Where? Sipapu Ski and Summer Resort, New Mexico.
What do you get when you cross a mountain bike with a snowboard? Fun times! Avid bikers no longer have to hang up their wheels as soon as the snow hits the ground. A rare extreme sport, ski biking is ideal for those looking for their next big thrill on the snow.Combining mountain biking, skiing and snowboarding, they look like ordinary bikes, but swap wheels for skis designed to use the force of gravity to descend snow covered mountains. Allowing you to navigate the mountain with a greater degree of control than with other snow-riding tools, ski bikes have an exemplary safety record. But before the foolhardy start to tune out, they are also renowned speed machines: The current ski bike speed record is 201kph!
Home to the longest ski season in New Mexico (November to April), Sipapu Ski and Summer Resort is a “ski bike friendly” resort, giving you the freedom to tackle the slopes on your own ski bike or to hire one.
Accommodation at Sipapu is around Dhs121 per night and ski bike hire is Dhs106 a day. See sipapunm.com.

Saddle Up
What? A ranch holiday
Where? USA, Canada, Argentina, South Africa and Botswana
Strap on your chaps, polish your riding boots, don your Stetson and yell yee-haa! It’s time to stop watching back to back Westerns on your sofa and to live out your cowgirl fantasies for real.
From horse trails to hikes and cattle herding, throw yourself into your very own version of City Slickers. Whether you opt to ride across North America’s prairies, safari through the African savannah or embark on a taxing adventure with Argentina’s gauchos, Ranch Rider (ranchrider.com) offer the ultimate horseback holidays.
You’ll be afforded the unique opportunity to sample life on a real working ranch with experiences including driving the herd to fresh pastures, or gently trailing beside magnetic mountain ranges and craggy canyons. The perfect antidote for stressed out city dwellers, Ranch Rider offer a range of bedding down options from simple camps to swanky hotels.
Holidays are priced from Dhs3,500 for a week’s accommodation, meals and ranch activities.

La Dolce Vita
What?
Ferrari tour
Where?  Italy
Grab your best friend and embark on a Thelma and Louise type adventure in style. Exploring Italy just got even better! With Hermès scarves and Chanel sunglasses in place, roll down the windows and smile smugly as you and your accomplice slip into your very own Ferrari 430 Spider F1 and zip through snaking city streets. Alternatively, why not revel in a leisurely drive through the rolling countryside of Tuscany in a 612 Scaglietti F1?
Red Travel Italia (red-travel.com) customise one-of-a-kind luxury tours that allow you to take the wheel for the vacation of a lifetime. As you get to grips with your luxurious new toy immerse yourself in the best of Italy with access to exclusive wine-tasting tours, historical five-star hotels and fine dining in Italy’s choicest restaurants. Red Travel Italia even throw in hot air balloon rides and yachting trips for those who just can’t get enough of the high life.
Expect to pay Dhs21,800 for a four-day trip, plus Dhs760 for insurance and a Dhs15,000 deposit.

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