Obsessions of Discovery – There’s a world beyond this internet, your television, your job and your home. From the deep blue sea to the jungles between them and the far reaches of the atmosphere above, there is a world out there waiting for you to explore it. If discovery is an experience you’re as obsessed with as we are, read on to explore extreme travel: six frontier destinations for the fearless adventurer in you.
Exploring the Deep: Deep Sea Submarine Travel
The world beneath the deep blue sea is still an open frontier to humanity. Little of the depths below our oceans have been explored, but intrepid travelers can now see them firsthand. A science travel organization called Deep Ocean Expeditions has made Mir Submersibles and Deep Rover submarines available to the traveling public for rare, firsthand views of the frontier below. In 2012, a few lucky (and wealthy) passengers will be taken 12,500 feet into the North Atlantic to see the wreckage of the famed Titanic. Only a handful of craft can sustain human life at such depths, the same craft that carried filmmakers to the sea floor to film James Cameron’s Titanic. If you have zero fear, boundless curiosity and a few million in the bank, a trip like this could be open to the explorer in you.
Submarine Travel Gallery
Reaching for the Limits: Climbing Mount Kilimanjaro
Africa’s highest peak is also the tallest free-standing mountain in the world, rising from flat plains to far above the clouds. Unlike the other famed peaks of the world, from Everest to The Matterhorn and others, Mount Kilimanjaro of Tanzania can be scaled without the use of climbing equipment or advanced training. It is a walkable mountain, meaning that a traveler can ascend to its peak along hiking trails that involve little climbing. That doesn’t make Kilimanjaro an easy adventure, as this is a test of will for even the most physically fit traveler. It takes at least five days to climb Kilimanjaro, a trek that can involve extreme weather, altitude sickness and plenty of danger for the ill-prepared. Yet if you plan to scale one of the world’s most formidable heights, Kilimanjaro may be the perfect introduction to the sport.
Mount Kilimanjaro Gallery
The Jungles of Costa Rica: and Life in the Trees
This thin strip of land that connects North and South America is home to lush jungles, empty beaches and varied native wildlife. These jungles have not been beaten to the ground by industry, many of them remain wild and open to the eco-conscious adventurer. If the jungle is your final frontier, we suggest heading to Costa Rica and spending your time in the trees with the people of Finca Bellavista. Finca Bellavista is a treehouse community run by expats who wanted a simpler, more natural and off-grid lifestyle. This visually stunning treetop community features a collection of homes fixed to the trees, connected by raised paths, ziplines and otherwise. The community has rentals available to travelers who wish to join them for extended periods. During your visit, the jungle is yours to explore– and the beaches of the Pacific are a close hike in the distance.
Costa Rica and Finca Bellavista Gallery
Exploring Antarctica: the Frozen Frontier
The world’s coldest, windiest and driest continent kept humanity at bay for most of our recorded history. Over the last few centuries, new maritime and exploration technologies have allowed man to explore Antarctica— and even set foot on the South Pole itself. This young frontier is usually off-access to travelers, an area explored primarily by governments and academics. Today, a range of new settlements and structures have been opened to travelers who can afford the passage to and from this lonely continent. For roughly $60,000 USD, a traveler can head to Antarctica and make the voyage to the South Pole, staying at the Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station which is operated by the United States. If you can make the trip, try to visit the Princess Elisabeth Station, a zero emission facility operated by Belgium that runs entirely on solar and wind energy (pictured below).
The World Below: Exploring the World’s Longest Caverns
The Mammoth Cave National Park in central Kentucky is the longest cave system in the world, a fascinating underground world open to traveling explorers. This Unesco World Heritage Site may be a common tourist trap, but its length is open to fearless adventurers who wish to go beyond the beaten path. The Wild Cave Tour at Mammoth Cave takes a small group of spelunkers deep into the cave through twists, turns and tiny spaces that would inspire terror in your average tourist. If you book your own exploration, a private guide will show you the world below, exploring some of Mammoth Cave’s 365 miles of underground tunnels. If the idea of squeezing through 9-inch by 24-inch openings of deep limestone caverns excites you, you’ll be right at home in Mammoth Cave.
Mammoth Cave Gallery
Exploring the Final Frontier: Virgin Galactic Space Tourism
Space travel is no longer reserved only to Astronauts and Cosmonauts, it will soon be open to the public courtesy of Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic. Scaled Composites and Virgin Galactic recently celebrated the successful feathered re-entry of SpaceShipTwo, shown above, the vehicle that will soon take paying passengers into sub-orbital space. 400 pre-paid customers have spent the $200,000 necessary for a ticket, and are awaiting final clearance for the maiden voyage which is planned for 2011. This could be a watershed moment for space exploration, where private enterprise brings outer space to the hands of humanity.
Virgin Galactic Gallery
Extreme travel like this isn’t easy, nor is it cheap. But if you share our obsession, finding your own frontier is a right that every hard working man and woman should achieve. Through disciplined saving and careful planning, any frontier can be within your grasp. What is your travel obsession? Share it with us in the comments below. In the mean time, be sure to check out our other travel obsessions: