Category Archives: Sports and Activities Abroad

Fastpacking – Trail Running Holiday Guide

Pack light, move fast, see more than most would on a hiking holiday. Fastpacking is fast becoming the way to enjoy an outdoor adventure – even for those who don’t have trail running experience. The principles are simple, and there are even holiday companies headed by experienced runners just waiting to take you on an adrenaline-fuelled adventure. Intrigued? Read on to find out what it’s all about…

Image Courtesy of Run the Wild © Simon James

What is fastpacking?

Think fast backpacking, think endurance trail running, think about covering a day-long hike before it’s even brunchtime. Fastpacking is all about covering ground quickly, which means you get to see more over the course of your holiday. To do this, you have to pack light – you need to be able to run with everything you need to survive.

How fit do you need to be to fastpack?

It depends on what adventure you are hoping to go on! Run the Wild say they have a running adventure for everyone – for those who are starting out, right through to pro packages. Their bespoke guiding service means that all abilities can be catered for, from those who have never run before to runners just looking to elevate their technique. While you don’t have to have done much running before, they advise that to take part in their scheduled adventures, it does help if you can run at least 10km, and for more challenging adventures they like to have a chat about your experience and ability to ensure that you get the best out of your trail running adventure. They also host “technical series” events, which are aimed at improving understanding on all aspects of trail running through demonstration and instruction.

Fastpacking packing tips

The key to having an enjoyable journey is keep your kit lightweight, simple, but sufficient for survival – including in the event of an emergency! Pack weight is vital – you need to be able to run!

Lightweight waterproof day sack – 10 to 30 litres depending on the length of your adventure. Get one with a breathable mesh back, side pockets for storing energy-boosting snacks to eat on the go, and with an integrated hydration system. Sternum and waist straps are essential to keep your pack secure while you run!

• Layered clothing – The number of layers will depend on your destination, but do invest in quick-drying base layers, a warm but light longsleeve top, and a breathable jacket. Spare socks and a woolly hat might seem like an extravagance when packing light, but you’ll be glad of them when you relax at the end of the day.

• Food – What you pack depends on whether you’ll be cooking. Lightweight foods such as pasta and cous cous coupled with compact proteins such as tuna and nuts are a good option. Always pack some herbs as they can transform the taste of a dish and will add nothing in terms of weight to your pack. Pack some high-energy snacks to eat as you run too. P.S. Don’t forget your water!

• Shelter – Pack an ultra-light tarp shelter and a sleeping bag. Make sure you go for lightweight products, but ones that that will stand up to the elements you’ll be facing.

• Essential Accessories – First aid kit, pocket knife, head torch, whistle and mirror (for SOS situations), compass, lighter, ziplock bags (for carrying any waste away with you), repair tools such as duct tape or rope. Pack a water purifying system such as a Lifestraw, Lifesaver, or Aquimira so that you can hydrate healthily should your own supply run out.

• Travel Insurance – Any adventure that takes you off the beaten track (even if it is a well-worn path) requires adequate travel insurance. Trail running carries more risks than a casual hiking holiday, and your policy is the thing that will get you the urgent medical care you need, and back home safely without breaking the bank.

Fastpacking Etiquette

Before your journey make yourself familiar with the 7 principles of Leave No Trace (LNT). It provides information on how to be a responsible wild camper, from how and where to light a fire, wash yourself, and go to the toilet through to how to cover ground in pristine areas to minimise your impact on the local environment. It is worth noting that non-runners also use these trails, and will appreciate a little courtesy when it comes to passing on a path.

Best Places for A Fastpacking Holiday

Easy – the wilderness, and places with well-maintained long-distance footpaths – New Zealand is an excellent example. Countries that support a good network of paths with rest huts and campsites are great for fastpacking too – these can be found in just about any climate that you want to explore from Canada to Columbia, Japan to Germany, and everywhere in between!

Image Courtesy of Run the Wild © Simon James

Like the idea of a trail running holiday but want to hone your skills first?

Simon James, at Run the Wild says “Just try it! Trail running is such a great way to explore the wilder parts of the areas we live. Even living in an urban environment, parks offer a great place to get to experience the freedom that trail running involves.” They are also on hand to guide you on your fastpacking journey as they arrange trail running holidays in both the UK – Chiltern Hills – and France – near Chamonix in the French Alps.

“The Chilterns are just 30 minutes north of London and so very easy to access for most people who want to get into an accessible wild place, as an AONB (area of outstanding natural beauty) which is really hilly, it has a lot to offer! The Alps are on a whole other level, with glaciers pouring down towards the valley floors, and summits pushing up into the clouds, it really can take your breath away. Trail running here is addictive and once you have tasted it you will want to come back for more! The Tour du Mont Blanc is one of our more popular longer distance trails, circumnavigating Mont Blanc in around 6 days.”

Top 5 Places To Go Hot Air Ballooning

Image by 3dman_eu CC0

Serengeti National Park, Tanzania

A novel way to see the wildlife, and from a POV most only could dream of! Tours to see the bigger picture of the park can be arranged to spot hippos, wildebeest, zebra, lions and giraffe all from the relative silence of your hot air balloon.

Image by vasukibelavadi CC0

Cappadocia, Turkey

The natural splendour of the volcanic spires and pillars found in central Turkey’s Cappadocia region are best appreciated from the sky. Dubbed “fairy chimneys” these ethereal formations are now home to hipster cave-dwellers and have spawned a host of fairy-chimney hotels.

Image by SashSegal CC0

Château-d’Oex, Switzerland

Seeing snowscapes from the silence of a hot air balloon is undeniably spectacular, but witnessing hundreds of other balloons passing over the snow-capped peaks of the Swiss alps is a sight not to be missed. Book your tour in late January during International Hot Air Balloon Week if this is on your bucket list!

Image by Sam Nabi CC by SA 2.0

Napa Valley, California

Panoramic views of rolling hills, vineyeards, Mt St Helena, the Mayacamas Mountains, and even hipster haven San Francisco make Napa Valley the place to go for a hot air balloon ride.

Image by derwiki CC0

Atacama Desert, Chile

Viewing the driest place on the planet at sunrise is probably one of the most magical experiences you could have in a hot air balloon. As the sun rises over Valle de la Luna, known for its moonlike landscape of dunes, mountains and rock formations you’ll witness a spectacular array of colours.

Image by poLiMetralleta CC0

 

Did you know? Recreational ballooning is automatically included on our travel insurance policies! For a full list of sports and activities we can cover visit our sports and activities travel insurance page!

How To Find A Reputable Yoga Retreat – Tips For Newbie Yogis and Yoginis

Whether you are yearning to lie in Savasana in tropical surroundings, or sit in Sukhasana on a faraway sandy beach, you probably have one question that is stopping you from investing in that (probably pricy) yoga retreat… “How do I know it is a decent one?” We share some top tips and questions you should ask to put your mind at ease before laying down your deposit…

The only way you’ll know if it’s a decent retreat is to do some investigating. 

  • Have they ever run a retreat before?
  • Are they organising it all themselves or do they have a host?
  • How long have the people running it been running retreats?
  • How long has the teacher been teaching?

There should be reviews for you to read from previous retreats run by the host and teacher. Although there has to be a first time for every yoga teacher or retreat organiser, it is unlikely you’ll find that dream retreat if both yoga teacher and retreat host are new to the scene.

You should always find out a thing or two about the yoga teacher – unfortunately the rise in yoga’s popularity has not been governed very well, and it’s not unusual to hear of people starting their yoga teacher training with less than 6 months yoga experience themselves, and once qualified taking themselves and students off on a cheap yoga holiday.

So, how do you know if the teachers are properly qualified?

  • The teacher should have at least 2 years self practice before going onto a yoga teacher training, checking out their Facebook and Instagram history is one way to see if they have been following the yoga path for a while.
  • Find out who they studied with, and whether it was a properly recognised 200 hour Teacher Training course, governed by The British Wheel of Yoga, Yoga Alliance, or equivalent.

Yoga Teacher Faye Riches says “Don’t be afraid to ask about their experience – you are about to part with a lot of money hoping for a trip of a lifetime, not one that is a disappointment!  You may want to know whether their Teacher Training was contact hours with a teacher, or a course online, and whether they are continuing their education. A teacher who has all the relevant experience and qualifications needed to be able to take a group of students away will not mind sharing their history, and who they have done training with. Faye has over 10 years experience as a teacher and pairs up with retreat specialist Reclaim Your Self who has over 12 years experience, a combination that has kudos – this year they have been listed in The Times top 20, and Guardian top 25 retreats in the world.

Make your first retreat a local one with your current teacher

To get a better idea of what to expect from a retreat, and therefore what to ask about someone advertising an overseas yoga retreat, go on a local one run by, or at the very least recommended by your current yoga teacher. If you already know the teacher, you already know that you enjoy their style of teaching, the price is a lot more palatable, and the duration is generally shorter – removing any anxiety you may be holding about whether a week-long yoga holiday is the right option for you.

 

We have comprehensive cover at competitive rates for one-off trips, and annual policies so you can enjoy your retreat without worrying about your travel insurance!

Cricket In The Caribbean – A Sunny Spring Break For Sports Fans

Image by rhodes8043 CC0

Image by rhodes8043 CC0

Worried that the grey British weather will leave you feeling as mad as a March hare by the end of the month? Fear not – you still have four weeks to get yourself to the England v West Indies Tour where the sound of wood on willow is extra relaxing thanks to sea, sand and sun!

There are also lots of gorgeous beaches to explore, natural sights to see, and plenty of rum to be drunk too. Here’s our guide to the most relaxing break in the world this spring!

Where and When

The England v West Indies tour 2017 takes place in Antigua on the 3rd and 5th of March at the Sir Vivian Richards Cricket Stadium and at the Kensington Oval in Barbados on the 9th March.

What to do (other than watch cricket)

Whether you travel independently or plump for a package, you’ll have a few days between matches to explore everything the Caribbean has to offer. Here are some of our favourites…

Swim with turtles – You can book a private trip or go on a group feed and swim excursion to the nearby turtle sanctuary. The 2 hour eco-adventure starts in Bridgetown, Barbados where you’ll be whisked away in a boat, giving you beautiful views of the south coast on the way to Carlisle Bay. Guests get to feed these magnificent beasts, and brush up on their underwater photography. All snorkelling equipment is provided, and you’ll be given some light refreshments on your return journey. Prices start at about £45.

Explore Harrisons Cave – It might seem a shame to head underground when you have sunny skies above, but Harrisons Cave is a treat not to be missed! A glass lift and tram ride ensure it won’t sap too much energy, and you will get to learn a lot about the local history as well as the geology on the journey. You can book a tour for about £100 that includes visits to the other natural wonders in Barbados such as Hunte’s Gardens, The Flower Forest, Barbados Wildlife Reserve, and Bathsheba.

Drink Rum at St Nicholas Abbey – No trip to the Caribbean is complete without a drop of Rum, and St Nicholas Abbey is just the place to go to sample some. The working distillery dates back to the mid 1600s and is a working example of a 19th century sugar plantation, with the original mills crushing the sugar cane. You can join a historical tour around the house and museum then spend your own time exploring the grounds. Various packages are available starting at about £65.

How to get there – Independent Travel vs Tour Packages

Flights to just Barbados with Virgin are in the region of £700 per person return. The flights between Antigua and Barbados are around £400 with Caribbean Airlines.

To enjoy a week in a luxury beachside hotel you can expect to pay £3,000.

English Cricket Tours have a two-centre package with 6 nights in Antigua, all-inclusive at the beachfront Halcyon Cove followed by 6 nights in Barbados from £2700 per person. This includes flights, accommodation, transfers from the airport to the hotels, and inter island flight. Even though tickets to watch the cricket are extra, this seems like quite a bargain! For more information visit englishcrickettours.co.uk or call 0208 932 4565/0203 667 1613.

Travel Insurance!

Don’t forget your travel insurance – if it is your only trip of the year, we can offer excellent deals on our single trip insurance, or if this is part of your annual globetrotting adventures you’ll need our annual multi trip insurance. We also have family policies where kids go free. Call 01892 833338 for more info, free quotes or to arrange last minute cover.

The Most Common Snowboarding Injuries (And How To Avoid Them)

ossur-image-3-ski-mega-blog

Image courtesy of Ossurwebshop.co.uk

Snowboarding is often seen as skiing’s younger, cooler and more daring counterpart. It began in the 1960s, when engineer Sherman Poppen fastened two skis together to help his daughter learn to ski, and was soon taken up and developed by skateboarding enthusiasts and winter sport fanatics alike.

Today, snowboarding is hugely popular around the world and is a recognised Olympic sport. It is also a high-risk sport – you are after all hurtling down snowy slopes. Safety gear and common sense can go a long way to preventing or minimising injury, but accidents are always going to happen at some stage.

The kind of injuries common in snowboarding are different to the injuries you’d expect when skiing – this is largely due to the differences in equipment. Skiing is notorious for leg injuries, whereas with snowboarding, you are more likely to incur an upper body injury. In fact…

The most frequent snowboarding injuries are to the wrist

Beginner snowboarders fall a lot, and they need to learn not to try and break the fall with their wrist (which is a natural thing to do). Also, beginners often don’t bother with professional instruction and this can mean learning to fall the hard way. Experienced snowboarders know that!

In addition to wrist injuries, falling onto an outstretched hand can transmit the force along the arm and cause a shoulder or elbow injury. Around 60% of snowboarding injuries are to the arm, wrist, hand or thumb.

Wrist injuries can be serious

A complicated wrist fracture can increase the chances of osteoarthritis and long-term disability. It generally takes up to eight weeks for a broken wrist to heal, but it can take much longer. This can be really frustrating, as being unable to fully use your arm and hand while you wait to heal can really curtail your everyday activities. If you don’t allow your injury time to heal, however, you can cause permanent damage.

How To Avoid A Wrist Injury

Wrist injuries can be avoided by proper safety gear. Wrist guards for snowboarders are widely available and also affordable.

Head injuries are common too

Injuries to the head and face are also more common among snowboarders than among skiers. In fact, the risk for head injury among snowboarders is nearly twice that for skiers. Head injuries can be caused by a fall or by a collision. Beginners especially can fall backwards and hit the back of their head, or occiput. Snowboarders can fall forwards or backwards more easily than skiers in their fixed bindings.

Head injuries are thankfully rarely serious

But when they are serious, they can be tragic. Death or permanent brain injury can result from a fall or a collision, and that is why helmets cannot be recommended highly enough. It’s difficult to estimate the recovery time for a head injury. Cuts, bruises and broken noses will usually heal quite quickly, but concussion can have lasting consequences, and other serious head injuries even more so.

How To Avoid A Head Injury

Wear a helmet. While they won’t make you invincible, they can protect against a more serious injury.

Spinal Injuries

Like head injuries, spinal injuries are more common among snowboarders than among skiers, but still thankfully very rare. The two most common causes are a jump that goes disastrously wrong, with the jumper landing in an awkward position, or a really violent backward fall where the force of the fall is transmitted to the spine. It’s hard to estimate the recovery time from a spinal injury, as they vary in severity so wildly, but the damage can be permanent and disabling

How To Avoid a Spinal Injury

Jumps are the second most common cause of snowboarding injuries, after falls. The best way to avoid a spinal injury is not to attempt a jump or trick that is way beyond your skill level.

Knee Injuries Account For 16% of Snowboarding Injuries

Knee injuries are much less common among snowboarders than among skiers. Harder boots give a higher chance of knee injury, although they offer more protection to the ankles. Surprisingly, nasty knee injuries to snowboarders take place on ski lifts as well as on ski slopes. Getting onto a lift involves having one foot fastened into the board and pushing with the other, so the possibility of a sprain is quite high. Twisting causes a big number of knee injuries among boarders.

Collisions are more likely to cause knee fractures, and twisting injuries to cause ligament damage or strains to the knee

Damage to the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) is the most common form of ligament injury, with 40% of all ACL injuries attributed to extreme sports. This is the same ligament which many professional footballers injure and depending on the severity can involve surgery and around nine months on the side-lines, not to mention a weaker knee and an increased risk of osteoarthritis in the future (not good).

Both ligament injuries and fractures are serious and have a long recovery time involving physical therapy and medication. Sometimes even an operation is needed, depending on the severity of the damage.

How To Avoid A Knee Injury

A well-designed knee brace is designed to offer protection, typically manufactured from materials such as carbon fibre (strong and lightweight), as well as offering stability so that you can handle the twists, turns and jumps on the slopes. Modern knee braces for extreme sports are lightweight and non-corrosive. If you can water ski wearing one, you can certainly snowboard! Protection is always better than cure and this is why many of the professionals can now be seen sporting them.

Common Ankle Injuries

Ankles are also an area to watch out for. Snowboarders are quite vulnerable to ankle sprains and fractures. In fact, a lateral fracture of the talus is referred to as “snowboarder’s ankle”, as it is rarely sustained in any other way. Soft boots are easier to walk in and make you feel more flexible, but they do leave you more open to this kind of injury.

Sprains are more common, than fractures, but it’s important to get even minor sprains treated

Sometimes a fracture can be misdiagnosed as a sprain, leading to unpleasant consequences down the line. Snowboarder’s ankle doesn’t always show up on an X-ray, so if the pain from a sprain lasts longer than six or seven days, you need to visit your doctor again and get it checked over. A simple sprain should be almost healed after about a week and should certainly be able to bear weight, even if it’s still sore or tender.

How To Avoid Ankle Injuries

Opt for harder boots, but be aware that it might make an injury to the knee more likely, and restricts your flexibility for tricks.

Bumps and Bruises

Common places for bruises caused by snowboarding are abdominal bruising, facial bruising and, sad to say, bruised buttocks are also painfully common. Your buttocks are your body’s shock absorbers, especially when falling over backward on a snowboard, but they will bruise and those bruises can be painful. Fortunately, the pain should only last a few days and the colour will fade as well.

The only way to avoid bumps and bruises from snowboarding is not to go snowboarding

There are few rules and regulations regarding what you can wear on the slopes (helmets are only compulsory in a few countries) increasingly, however, people are realising that safety gear is an important part of any winter sport, and snowboarding is no different. Hopefully, a raised awareness of the consequences of injuries will lead to more safety gear being worn, and fewer snowboarders being injured.

Wintersports Travel Insurance Offers Extra Protection On The Slopes

If you are badly injured while snowboarding, you may need helicopter assistance with getting off the mountainside, and may even need to get back to your home country for treatment which is why you should make sure that your travel insurance covers you for the activities you plan to do – even if you are holidaying in the EU. Wintersports insurance from worldwideinsure.com provides cover for equipment, cancelled flights, medical assistance and repatriation for all destinations including even if you want to go off-piste.

Top 5 Surfing Destinations

Not sure where to head this summer to catch some decent surf? Fear not! British Surfing Champion Jonny Wallbridge has a massive wealth of knowledge when it comes to enjoying the waves of the world.

Born on the island of Guernsey, which measures a mere 30 square miles, Johnny Wallbridge has always been surrounded by water. It’s, therefore, perhaps unsurprising that he took up surfing at the age of 14 and didn’t look back. Since then he’s become a British Surfing Champion, has travelled the world in search of bigger, better waves, and has even opened his own surf clothing and accessories shop, Yakwax.

Here are his top five places to go…

Image courtesy of Jonny Wallbridge

Image courtesy of Jonny Wallbridge

1. Indonesia

July and August are prime months to chase waves off the coast of Indonesia. From Bali to the Mentawaii Islands, the conditions are perfect almost every day. Indonesia — or “Indo”, as it’s commonly known within the surf community — is well-regarded for having some of the best waves on the planet thanks to the consistent swells, light winds, hot air, and fantastic water temperatures.

Some of the most popular surf spots in Bali can be found on the Bukit Peninsula and include the likes of Uluwatu, Padang Padang, Bingin, Impossibles, and Balangan. Alternatively, if you have some money to spare, charter a private yacht from a reliable company like Pulau Luxury Charter and sail through the Mentawaii Island chain in search of perfect, uncrowded waves that you spend dark winters dreaming about.

2. Mexico

During the summer months, Mexico gets pummelled by consistent southwest swells that march across the Pacific. Thanks to the steep continental shelf that sits off Mexico, the power of the waves is magnified, making the country home to some of the most intense beach breaks in the world. If you’re willing to take some risks to catch the best barrel of your life, spots like Puerto Escondido and Pascuales should definitely be on your list.

If you don’t have much experience of surfing abroad, an organised camp or tour might be for you. Surf Las Palmeras is a camp in Salina Cruz, southern Mexico, and offers packages that include everything you could possibly need. It’s a brilliant option if you’ve never been to Mexico, as you’ll be guided towards all the best spots.

Boards WWI

Image by Patsacha.

3. South Africa

Back in 2015, three-time world champion surfer Mick Fanning made headlines after being attacked by a great white shark while surfing in South Africa. These waters aren’t for the faint-hearted, but that just adds to the rush of surfing in them.

Seasoned surfers put the dangers to the back of their mind to take advantage of the world class waves that J-Bay, which is considered to be the best right hand point break on the planet, provides. Although, according to National Geographic’s list of the World’s Best 20 Surf Towns, Muizenberg, South Africa, is an ideal place for beginners to start out, so the area can truly suit anyone.

Image courtesy of Jonny Wallbridge

Image by Helloolly.

4. Guernsey

Of course, this list wouldn’t be complete without the place where it all began: Guernsey. While the island itself is relatively small, it boasts some stunning coastal scenery and a very tight-knit surfing community. It might not attract the crowds that more exotic locations do, but it has a lot of heart and, no matter where in Guernsey you go, you’re never too far away from a fun surfing spot.

If you’re unfamiliar to the area, Vazon Bay is the best place to start. It’s the most popular surfing spot and is also home to Guernsey Surf School, the only of its kind on the island. There’s even a handy beach café nearby where you can refuel after a session.

Image courtesy of Jonny Wallbridge

Image by Dongpung.

5. Oahu, Hawaii

North Shore, Oahu in Hawaii is one of the most celebrated surfing locations on the planet. In the winter months its world-class waves play host to a range of professional competitions and attract serious, international surfers who fancy a challenge.

During the summer the water becomes a lot calmer, making this the ideal time for more casual surfers, beginners, or those who are just looking for a relaxing holiday, to descend upon the coast. Oahu’s official travel website is a great place to learn about what happens on the island throughout the year if you’re considering a visit.

Surfing in itself is an exhilarating sport, but your overall experience depends on choosing the perfect location. From someone who’s travelled the world with his surfboard in tow, these five are fantastic places to start.

WorldwideInsure.com automatically cover loads of sports and activities on their travel insurance policies, including surfing, scuba diving, windsurfing, canoeing and water skiing. For more info, get in touch on 01892 833338 or visit WorldwideInsure.com for a fast online quote.

Make Your Next Holiday Hike Via Ferrata

honsiter via ferrata  image 1Image courtesy of honister.com

If you usually seek sensational scenic views on a mountain hike while on holiday you should try taking the Iron Road instead. Via ferratas are climbing routes that can require relatively little experience, and use the most basic equipment, yet offer views usually reserved for only the most experienced of mountain climbers.

Via Ferrata Explained

The Italian term translates literally as Iron Road, with routes that have iron rungs, ladders, pegs and cables as climbing aids to help climbers traverse steep and rocky terrain. Some routes are “Easy” consisting of a reasonably straightforward path offering a challenging walk rather than a climbing experience, whereas others are “Extremely Difficult” where overhangs and high exposed routes are the norm. This makes via ferrata suitable for all ages (including children) and abilities.

via ferrat at honister lake district imageImage courtesy of honister.com

Equipment

You’ll need a helmet to protect your head from any falling rocks as well as in the unlikely event of a fall, and a via ferrata set. This is quite simply an energy absorber with a special double carabiner, and in some cases a harness.

via ferrata honister slate mine imageImage courtesy of honister.com

Why do these “Iron Roads” exist?

Via ferrata in some locations is linked to WW1 activity, as a route to help soldiers pass through otherwise inaccessible terrain simply and in relative safety. They do however exist all over the world, acting as a safe passage for locals, and attractions for tourists!

Popular Destinations for Via Ferrata Fun

Via Ferrata Travel GuideDolomites, Italy by Meganne Christian CC BY-SA 2.0

  • Italy
  • France
  • Switzerland
  • Norway
  • Spain
  • Canada
  • China
  • Mexico
  • New Zealand
  • Peru
  • USA

Via ferrata is also available in the UK. Honsiter Slate Mine in the Lake District has two types of via ferrata activity – normal and Xtreme, following the miners’ track up the face of Fleetwith Pike.

honsiter via ferrata image

Image courtesy of honister.com

Make sure you have via ferrata insurance for your holiday! Just add Rate 2 to your single or annual travel policy!

Top 10 Adrenaline Fuelled Activities For Your Bucketlist

Looking for a way to put the excitement back into your out of office adventures? You won’t go far wrong with these extreme sports and activities on your bucketlist – as long as you have a head for heights and frights! 

1: White Water Rafting 

White Water Rafting in California. Image by Kaydin Carlsen CC by 2.0

2: Via Ferrata

Via Ferrata Image courtesy of honister.com

3: Sandboarding

Sandboarding in Namibia. Image by Luke Price CC by 2.0

4: Canyoning

Canyoning in Utah. Image by Cyril Bele CC by 2.0

5: Bungee Jumping

Bungee Jumping in Switzerland. Image by Alan Light CC by 2.0

6: Ice Hiking

 

Ice Hiking “Wolverine”, Helmcken Falls Spray Cave in British Columbia, Canada. Will Gadd and Brit Tim Emmett discover a new universe of ice climbing where a 500 foot waterfall sprays the underside of a gargantuan cave with fantastical ice formations.

7: Skydiving

Skydiving. Image by Philip Leara CC0 1.0

8: Zero Gravity Flight

Zero Gravity Flight in the USA. Image by Steve Jurvetson CC by 2.0 

9: Bull Riding

Bull Riding in California. Image by Peasap CC by 2.0

10: Shark Diving

Shark Cage Diving in Hermanus. Image by Hermanus Backpackers CC by 2.0

GET SPORTS TRAVEL INSURANCE! We cover loads of activities including Shark Diving, Via Ferrata, Dude Ranching, Canyoning, Sandboarding, White Water Rafting, and Bungee Jumping in the UK and overseas. Call 01892 833338 if you’d like to know more, or get an online quote.

 

Heli Skiing – Exposing The Thrill For First-Timers

Southern Lakes Heliski

Courtesy of powderhounds.com

If you like living life on the wilder side, chances are heli skiing is on your list of Awesome Travel Adventures, and if it’s not – it should be! We caught up with a couple of heli ski operators to find out more about the tantalising temptation of pure powder.

What the Heli ski?

Heli skiing is pretty self-explanatory, it involves a helicopter and skiing. Contrary to many people’s ideas, you do not take to the slopes by jumping out of a helicopter (a la 007), the helicopter takes you to some of the best untouched powder snow out there, and lands safely to let you out. Heli skiing isn’t an extreme sport, just for daredevils or stunt skiers – it’s suitable for strong intermediate to expert powder riders, and there are even some heli skiing operations that are well suited to first timers.

Harris Mountains Heli Skiing www.powderhounds.com

Harris Mountains Heli Skiing Courtesy of powderhounds.com

How good do you need to be to heli ski?

If you’ve never tried skiing, you’ll definitely need to get a bit of experience under your belt to take on heli skiing. At a minimum riders should be able to ride a red run in any condition at a ski resort, although some operators say that experience on an ungroomed black run at a ski resort and feeling comfortable on tree runs is the best place to be before trying it out. If you aren’t sure, you could always take a soft approach by booking a day heli skiing as part of your wider ski holiday. Day heli skiing is a convenient and a relatively low cost introduction. Be warned – this teaser is likely to leave you wanting more!

“Heli skiing is for those who love skiing or boarding powder but are tired of the tracked out slopes at the ski resorts.” Lyndell Keating, Powderhounds

Get fit to get the most out of it!

A pre-season fitness regime focusing on legs and lungs will add to your heli skiing enjoyment, because guess what – if you are a powder virgin, you are going to find taking on the deep stuff pretty tiring! When you get there, and the conditions are perfect, nothing will be more frustrating than your body preventing you from making the most of an adventure you have spent years dreaming about.

Southern Lakes Heliski

Southern Lakes Heliski Courtesy of powderhounds.com

When and where to go

The heli ski season varies significantly depending on where you want to go. For Canada and the lower 48 of the US, the peak heli ski season is February, with operations generally running from December to early April. The main Alaskan heli skiing season is March to April, when there are adequate daylight hours. The New Zealand and South American heli skiing season is from July to September, with the peak season being in August. In Europe, January & February is usually colder, with more fresh powder about, but inclement weather can stop play. March and April on the other hand tends to have more ‘bluebird’ days and the alpine terrain is generally more accessible.

An adventure worthy of a bucketlist?

We believe so!  Heli skiing should be on every serious skiers bucket list – it is a realistic aspiration that is easy to fulfil. This is what operators Powderhounds and Scott Dunn had to say on the subject…

“Heli skiing or heli boarding should absolutely be on the bucket list of every avid powder hound or adventurous skier or snowboarder. The helicopter rides are amazing in themselves. The spectacular vistas up high in the remote mountains are intoxicating and then the trip down in the virgin powder is often sublime. Heli skiing is the ultimate skiing or boarding experience.” Lyndell Keating, Powderhounds

“There comes a time in every skier’s life when you feel the need to try something new and experience something quite unlike anything you have ever experienced before. The adrenaline starts pumping with the sound of the first thud of the rotor blades and you are whisked off on an exhilarating ride to places where vast fields of beautiful virgin powder lie in wait. Gliding through blankets of pristine powder away from the crowds in the heart of the mountains is something that every skier should experience, at least once.” Kirsty Edwards, Scott Dunn

Harris Mountains Heli Skiing

Harris Mountains Heli Skiing Courtesy of powderhounds.com

What are you waiting for? Book it!

Canada, Alaska, US, New Zealand, South America and Japan heli skiing packages from PowderHounds.com

Heli for First Timers (Canada) from PurePowder.com

European heli skiing trips from ScottDunn.com

Scott Dunn offers a 7 night stay at Chalet Chinchilla in Val d’Isere, France from 1,985 per person based on six sharing and including return British Airways flights, luxury coach transfers, private chef and chalet host. 1 day heliski packages departing from Scott Dunn’s chalets in Val d’Isere start from £360 (€429) per person (based on a private group of four). 

 

DON’T FORGET YOUR HELI SKI INSURANCE! Extend your worldwideinsure.com wintersports insurance to include heli skiing, and you can go play in the powder knowing that we’ve got you covered should your holiday not go to plan. Call 01892 833338 if you’d like to know more, or visit our homepage to get an online quote.

The Dakar Rally – A Tour For The Uninitiated

With the 2016 Dakar Rally drawing to a close, we thought we’d take a virtual trip round the circuit (to avoid getting sand in our shoes) to bring you the most heavenly of highlights that Argentina and Bolivia have to offer. On your marks, get set, and…

Rally Dakar 2009 7

By Dakar organization [Public domain], via Wikimedia CommonsGo to Buenos Aires!

Go to Buenos Aires! – A megacity and epic epicentre of everything in Argentina. Not only is it one of the busiest cities in South America, it also boasts sun, sea, and spectacular countryside. In Buenos Aires traditional lifestyles stand side by side with ultra-modern and elegant existences. Glitzy nightlife is matched by tranquil retreats. It is like the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, with something for everyone who comes to visit.

Uyuni – Welcome to the home of the highest and largest salt flats in the whole world! Uyuni has been dubbed the Capital of the Dakar, but it is the salt flats that draw most tourists to the area. It is a seemingly endless desert, and by all accounts achingly beautiful, earning it a place in a Top 10 Most Beautiful Places in the World list. One of the best times to experience the beauty is actually during the Dakar Rally, as during the rainy season, which runs from December to February, the flats reflect the skies above producing almost miraculous illusions. The rally organisers describe it beautifully… “giving the impression that the sky melts into the earth and grants an inexplicable feeling impossible to describe unless you have witnessed it.” Now who wouldn’t want to experience that!

Salta– Welcome to the wild! Salta mixes it up with mountains, ravines, thermal pools, volcanoes, snow, jungle and rivers – just the sort of terrain you might be looking for when racing! The extreme terrain also attracts people seeking extreme sports, so if you aren’t on the circuit enjoying the high-octane activities of rally driving, you can give your adrenaline a boost with bungee jumping, zip lining and mountaineering.

La Rioja – The most popular road in Argentina, Route 40, passes through this spectacular location, which is alive with colour, and home to delicious homemade wines and produce from walnut and olive groves. No wonder they say you should take a couple of days to drive through – no chance of a tipple unless you plan to stop for the night! La Rioja is also home to Talampaya National Park, a world heritage site abundant with natural wonders that are volcanic, mountainous, and on occasion hot and wet.

San Juan – Silence is golden in the countryside surrounding San Juan, and the clear starry nights are spectacular too. The vast and open space has remained untouched by the hands of humans, which allows visitors to really soak up the Jurassic (or more accurately, Triassic) atmosphere, as this is where the oldest known fossils in Argentina can be found. San Juan the City on the other hand is an oasis, quite literally – the streets of this modern city are lined with avenues of trees irrigated by water from the surrounding mountains.

The Dakar Rally Route
Day 1: Buenos Aires – Villa Carlos Paz
Day 2: Villa Carlos Paz – Termas de Río Hondo
Day 3: Termas de Río Hondo – Jujuy
Day 4: Jujuy – Jujuy
Day 5: Jujuy – Uyuni
Day 6: Uyuni – Uyuni
Day 7: Uyuni – Salta
Day 8: Rest day in Salta
Day 9: Salta – Belén
Day 10: Belén – Belén
Day 11: Belén – La Rioja
Day 12: La Rioja – San Juan
Day 13: San Juan – Villa Carlos Paz
Day 14: Villa Carlos Paz – Rosario

If living life on the extreme side is your idea of having fun on holiday, get in touch with us here at WorldwideInsure.com – we provide cover for a wide range of adrenaline-fuelled activities whether you are doing them for fun or as part of a competition!

 

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