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The world’s 10 best high-speed travel exper­i­ences

Paragliding over Grindelwald in Switzerland.

Paraglid­ing over Grindel­wald in Switzer­land.

There is noth­ing quite so rap­tur­ous as the rush of wind against your cheeks.

JUMPING OFF CLIFFS, SWITZERLAND

Tan­dem paraglid­ing is about the best fun you can have trussed in a har­ness. Set it against the Jung­frau, the Eiger and the Monch – some of the highest peaks in Europe – and you’re rid­ing with angels. The Paraglid­ing Jung­frau oper­a­tion takes you above the towns of Grindewald and Lau­t­er­brunnen, in deep-hewn val­leys you’d be happy to have as your screensaver. Expect 15–20 minutes of con­trolled  pirou­ettes against steel-col­oured moun­tain flanks and leap­ing water­falls. Yodel­ling option­al.

See paraglid​ing​-jung​frau​.ch/​wp/

FREEWHEELING, MOUNT HALEAKALA, HAWAII USA

Sun­set at Haleak­ala Nation­al Park. 

Down­hill cyc­ling on the swoop­ing Mount Haleak­ala road is the ulti­mate two-wheel schuss. From the entrance to the nation­al park, at more than 2000 metres, it’s high gear all the way to the town of Haiku at close to sea level – more than 35 kilo­metres with just the merest dab on the ped­als required. Avail­able either as a group tour or glide-at-your-own-pace inde­pend­ent tour. Wear lay­ers you can peel; it’s cool at the top, and freez­ing if you opt for the early morn­ing trip to watch sun­rise over the 3000 metre crater.

See bikemaui​.com.

THAI FLY, BANGKOK

The cap­it­al’s motor­cycle tax­is can be found on prac­tic­ally every street corner, their drivers eas­ily iden­ti­fied by their orange safety vests. For cov­er­ing short dis­tances in a hurry, noth­ing beats them. Expect an express ride with your urb­an cow­boy, weav­ing between lanes of grid­locked traffic, down nar­row alley­ways and onto the pave­ment when required. Fix the fare before and wear a hel­met, the fines are sav­age and cra­ni­al safety beats a well-coiffed head.

WIND IN YOUR HAIR, LAKE COMO, ITALY

Among life’s zest­ful, lus­cious exper­i­ences, a water taxi on Lake Como – sum­mer play­ground of George Clooney, Richard Bran­son and sev­er­al Rus­si­an olig­archs – ranks high. You’ll zoom across the lake and dis­em­bark in a movie-star moment at Como, the fab­ulous Villa d’Este Hotel or pos­sibly one of the lakeside vil­lages, and the pier at Bel­la­gio is prime. Stand up so you can be prop­erly seen and arrive with tousled hair.

See bel​la​giowa​ter​tax​is​.com.

GOING TO THE DOGS, ALBERTA, CANADA

Dogsled­ding in the Cana­dian Rock­ies. 

Dog sled­ding is a heart­warm­er straight from the deep freeze, a bra­cing but snug jour­ney through a winter won­der­land hauled by a strain­ing team of Alaskan huskies, the prime movers of the can­ine world. King­mik Dog Sled Tours is the only oper­a­tion of its kind in Ban­ff Nation­al Park, offer­ing winter trips through the pine-and-peak  snowscapes around Lake Louise, the icon for tour­ism in Canada’s Rock­ies. Mush!

See king​mik​dogsled​tours​.com.

STAND AND INHALE, TASMANIA

On Tas­mani­a’s west coast, Cape Grim is frisked by some of the world’s clean­est air. The pre­vail­ing west­erly breeze that arrives at this north­west­ern point of the island state has come all the way from Argen­tina without tast­ing land, which is the reas­on CSIRO’s Cape Grim Baseline Air Pol­lu­tion Sta­tion is sited here. Stand on the rocks and suck it up.

BUZZING ROME

For a turbo-charged cock­tail of thrills, throw­ing your leg over a 125cc Vespa and mix­ing it with the Roman traffic has few rivals. And there is no bet­ter view of the Colos­seum than on the lean around the cobble­stones of Piazza del Colosseo, throttle open. You are not cast­ing for a remake of Roman Hol­i­day, and a nice scarf will not keep you safe. Wear pro­tect­ive cloth­ing and watch out for potholes and tour­ists.

See romar​ent​bike​.com.

ALL STEAMED UP, DARJEELING, INDIA

Painted a Thomas-the-Tank-Engine shade of blue, the toy train that huffs and puffs its way up to this Indi­an hill sta­tion is one of the world’s engin­eer­ing mar­vels. Most after­noons the train makes the two-hour run between Dar­jeel­ing and Ghum, the highest rail­way sta­tion in India at 2225 metres. The train travels at about walk­ing pace, and so cap­tiv­at­ing are the views of tea plant­a­tions and Buddhist temples against the back­drop of Him­alay­an peaks, that at any giv­en time there are more heads out­side the train than in. Beware of burn­ing embers from the engine; they can set your  hair on fire.

See dar​jeel​ing​-tour​ism​.com.

LONG TAIL BOAT, LUANG PRABANG

The watery equi­val­ent of a drag­ster, long tail boats make the 300-kilo­metre jour­ney along the Mekong from Luang Pra­bang to Ban Huay Xai in about six hours, against the cur­rent. Pro­pelled by a thun­der­ing, four-cyl­in­der engine, these wickedly fast boats make a noise like a string of explod­ing fire­crack­ers, and the jour­ney is not for faint hearts. Sev­er­al times the boat shoots rap­ids, whizz­ing past jagged lime­stone spears that make nav­ig­a­tion a risky affair, par­tic­u­larly toward the end of the dry sea­son.

COOL RUNNINGS

Straight from the adren­al­in lab, the Pra­daschi­er Tobog­gan near Chur in Switzer­land is billed as one of the world’s longest tobog­gan runs. The two-per­son tobog­gans are fixed to an elev­ated steel track which drops 480 metres in a series of 31 loop­ing, swoop­ing curves over 3100 metres, with a wild ride guar­an­teed. Speed is con­trolled by a hand brake.

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