At its heart, adventure travel is about testing limits—of altitude, temperature and, at times, good sense. Here, some thrill-seeking pros explain the urge to take things to extremes.
Illustration Dave Murray
LOOKING FOR LAVA
Volcano Live: John Seach
“I’m a chemist by training. People think that I’m an adrenaline junkie, but this is more about seeing one of the most fascinating and amazing sights in nature.
There are 1,500 active volcanoes in the world, and 50 to 60 eruptions on average every year, so there’s a good chance we’ll see lava. We go in small groups of two to eight; trips last between four and eight days. It can be a spur-of-the-moment thing: I’ll put a note up on our website that we’re leaving in 48 hours.
I’ve been to over 200 volcanoes, and no two are the same. These are the most powerful natural events on the planet, and the most impressive thing you’ll ever see. You’re in this moonscape but it’s alive—these earth-shattering noises, colors like nothing else anywhere. It’s beautiful.
And getting there is half the fun—you might spend the night in Paris, then spend two days trekking through a jungle in the Philippines, sleeping in tents or village huts. Some tours are easier than others. We try to match them to the customer.
I don’t take people into real danger zones. It’s about finding a place where you feel comfortable. Volcanoes can be terrifying—the sights and sounds and smells, as well as the heat. People don’t realize how loud an erupting volcano can be. Then there are the quakes. They’re amazing.
I took a film crew along once, and the cameraman took one look and asked to be sent home. Another guy just started running. We advise people not to do this. If an eruption gets violent, you stand your ground and look up at the lava flying around. That way you can … well, you can’t avoid it, but at least you can see where it’s going.
I’ve never had an accident, but when you’re on a volcano, you can never say you’re 100 percent safe. It’s about having situational awareness—knowing when to say, “OK, it’s time to pull back.”
Booked by the likes of Coca-Cola and American Express, the corporate team-building courses offered by the Firewalking Institute of Research and Education allow participants to say, hand on heart, that they would walk across hot coals for their boss.
Sands of Dubai
Desert Safari Dubai tours have something for everyone, from 4×4 dune bashing to desert camp dining and dancing. And if you’re willing to take a stroll away from camp, you can get a sense of the sublime, life-threatening beauty of it all.