Canyoning in the Pyrenees

Delve into the heart of the high Pyrenees, making your way through a network of canyons and waterways. After a crash course in rope skills, you’ll start in the French mountains, laced with rivers roaring with the run-off from melted snowcaps.

Abseil vertical canyons and hurtle down water chutes and waterfalls, then dry out in a sunlit gully beyond the Spanish border. Here you can dive into warm, blue swimming holes, scale rock faces and unwind with a bottle of local wine or two. Feel your heart in your mouth with a final, 150-metre free-hanging abseil down the Foratata Canyon.

Film Your Own Personal Blockbuster

A comet is about to strike Finland and will wipe out humankind. But you know how to stop it. Be the hero in your very own movie with The Hollywood Experience and create the ultimate travelogue of your Nordic adventures. High-end Finnish tour company Luxury Action has teamed up with Studio Jones to offer film-lovers the chance to star in a personal blockbuster.

Car chase? Can do. Journey to Narnia? Check. Sole survivor of a zombie apocalypse? Tick. Share your action dreams with the team and they’ll twist and tweak a storyboard to your liking. Once the narrative is complete, zip to location and work your magic in front of the camera. The catch? Holidaying like a movie star requires an income to match – the cost of scriptwriting alone starts at about US$11,500. That’s before the camera even starts rolling.

Bubbledogs’ Gourmet Fast Food

Quaffing champagne with hot dogs is akin to serving foie gras with Fanta; they’re not exactly culinary cronies. But a London eatery has sent convention to the dogs, teaming the fast food staple with boutique bubbles. Bubbledogs is capitalising on London’s new-found fascination with gourmet fast food, serving up delectable hot dogs with grower champagne.

It’s no meal for mutts. The house-made pork, beef and vegetable hot dogs are made with 100 per cent British produce, freshly baked buns and a lick of condiments and spices. The Trishna Dog – with mint, mango chutney and coriander – has been running out the door. Then there’s the K-Dawg – a mean mongrel of kimchi, fermented red bean paste and lettuce – a mix not to be messed with.


You might think that getting punched repeatedly in the face by an opponent would be detrimental to your concentration levels and overall cerebral fitness – and generally speaking you’d be correct – but chessboxing gives participants the chance to show off both brains and brawn. The hybrid sport sees appropriately weight-matched opponents swinging haymakers in the boxing ring then glaring across a chessboard at each other in alternating rounds. A knockout or checkmate move decides the contest. The concept was conceived 35 years ago, and was once seen as part novelty sport, part joke – we dare you, however, to laugh in the face of Nikolay Sazhin, a world champion in two heavyweight divisions, or Ruthie Wright, a school teacher who became the women’s flyweight champ.

The burgeoning sport now attracts big crowds at venues in London’s Kings Cross, Berlin and Kolkata in India. We’d like to see Kasparov go toe to toe with Deep Blue in the ring, or watch as Tyson chews over the intricacies of the Ruy Lopez strategy. Intrigued? You can try out a class yourself at the Islington Boxing Club or get along to the Chess Boxing Championship in London.

Free-falling from Denmark’s Sky Tower

Forget bungie lines and safety ropes as you drop unencumbered towards the ground at Tivoli Friheden, a theme park in Aarhus that operates Europe’s only SCAD (suspended catch air device) tower. Strapped into a padded harness and helmet, you might feel secure as you take in the gorgeous sight of the bay, but all bravado will leach away as you dangle at the mercy of an operator and a distant net. Basically, you’ll be dropped to plunge 30 metres to your bouncing lifesaver below in just three seconds. If hitting 4G forces while falling at 90 kilometres an hour doesn’t sound terrifying, learning that researchers use these structures to simulate near-death experiences should be enough to shake you.

Learn about the birds and the bees at a sex machine museum

If you thought that electric ear cleaner you found in Aunt Vera’s knickers drawer all those years ago was a frightful gizmo, Prague’s Sex Machine museum will blow your, er, mind. Get your rocks off exploring the museum’s three floors bursting with more than 200 erotic mechanical appliances. There’s a contraption to titillate every taste and sordid fantasy. How about a brass vibrator circa 1869, an electric anti-masturbation machine from gay Paris (1915), or an 1880 voyeuristic chamber pot, complete with mini peep mirror?

If voyeurism is your thing, bypass the pleasure contraptions and head straight to the cinema for your fill of old erotic films, then saunter through the art gallery. It’s one of the few galleries in the world where you don’t have to hide the fact you’re staring at the nudie bits.

Almonds and Corals Hotel

Considered one of the most stunning spots in Costa Rica, Gandoca Manzanillo Wildlife Refuge boasts more allure than just powder-white sand. On one side of its beaches you’ll find wetlands and lush rainforest, while the other side borders the Caribbean Sea, with its thriving coral reefs, manatees and dolphins. Scattered through the forest are 24 tents raised on wooden platforms. Walkways wind through the trees – look for howler monkeys, sloths and tapirs – and lead down to the beach.

During the day, book a massage at the Jungle Spa Pavilion or choose from a range of excursions offered nearby, including horse riding, canopy zip-lining, kayaking and diving. If the company of nature isn’t entertaining enough, you can relax in your personal hammock and hot tub.

Tree House Lodge

Experience pura vida (the happy life) Swiss Family Robinson-style when you visit the villas of Tree House Lodge, set in a lush jungle with the Caribbean at your doorstep. The super eco-friendly guesthouses were built using recycled materials (the wood is sourced only from fallen trees), and are solar powered.

Check out the Beach Suite, decked out with a massive bathroom that’s a psychedelic mix between a space pod and a seashell. Spend your days snorkelling and practising yoga on the beach, or hang out in a hammock with monkeys and sloths perched nearby.

Make like Tarzan and Jane on a jungle canopy mega swing

Give your zip-lining mates the look. You know, the one that says, “That is seriously lame.” While they spend their days zooming horizontally across the lush tropical canopy near Monteverde, you can get in on the original King of the Jungle act.

Beat your chest, grab the rope (alright, we know you’re wearing a harness) and fling yourself off the platform built 45 metres above the jungle. There’s no dismounting on the next tree though; modern-day Tarzans (and Janes) make like a human pendulum, swinging 150 metres before being deposited softly on the ground.

Anantara Xishuangbanna

Tucked between banana palms and the curving Luosuo River rests Xishuangbanna’s first five-star retreat. Its elegant design bows to neighbouring Thailand, blending ornate gold and wood with all the comfort of a modern hotel. Built over tranquil ponds and fronting the river, the hotel’s spa honours the water revered by the local Dai culture. Select an Anantara specialty or Chinese remedy and melt into your surrounds.

Explore the tropical forests of Xishuangbanna – search for elephants, and visit Dai villages and tea plantations – or stay on site to join a cooking class, Tai Chi or traditional tea ceremony and indulge in some gastronomic delights. Each private villa has its own plunge pool, providing instant relief from the heat, while you can also opt for a cocktail under the shade of a brolly by the central pool and deck.