All of my four limbs were in the air as if suspended in zero gravity, while the rest of me was held down by the seat belt. From my mouth came near-hysterical laughter, and the world as I saw it from the window seemed upside down. Yet, when asked if I wanted to go again, I clapped my hands like a little kid, and even had a go myself at tipping the car over the edge of a sand dune at a dizzying 30 odd-degree angle. Despite a few bruises, it was my jaw that hurt most afterward from shrieking with amusement.
Dune-bashing — the crazy driving across desert sand dunes in a 4WD with deflated tires and a reckless attitude — is one of the greatest modes of elevating your adrenaline levels when in Dubai. To really get the most out of the experience, it’s best to go with an experienced driver, who knows how to drive at angles which would make any normal driver roll down the dunes sideways, and dares to approach speeds that get the most out of the experience.
From the desert to the sea, I followed up this heart-pumping adventure with another to cool down: A watery slide down the Leap of Faith at the Atlantis Aquaventure Waterpark. A near vertical drop, at 60 km/h in three seconds, and, as if I had time to look, I shot straight past some bewildered sharks along the way before landing somewhat inelegantly in the pool at the bottom. Talk about heart leaping out of chest. The waterpark is home to some thrilling rides, including Anaconda, the world’s largest tube-waterslide where you slip and slide at 30 km/h through light and darkness, twisting and turning as you go. For afterwards, there is a lazy river to catch your breath.
Dubai is one of those cities where nothing is impossible. The opposite is true, in fact. Here the tallest, steepest, fastest, deepest, are part of day-to-day life, and make for the most fun you can have on a city vacation if you are a bit of a thrill-seeker.
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Deepest, higher, highest
While most destinations along the Arabian Gulf offer interesting scuba diving spots, complete with fish and turtles, in Dubai, you can go one better. Or different, at least. Opened in summer 2021, Deep Dive Dubai plays host to the world’s deepest pool for scuba diving. At first sight, the pool area looks like any city’s indoor swimming pool, but the floor of this one is a long way down, some 60 meters (just under 200 feet) down. This scuba location might not have real life turtles, but instead there is an underwater city, with rooms you can explore, cars and motorbikes, a workable foosball table and billiards, and walls decorated with street art murals (should that be underwater art?). Whereas elsewhere you might get a kick out of finding Nemo, here a deep dive offers you an entire different world. And while you don’t have to be certified, you can take a course right there. As a newbie, you might not be able to go record-breakingly deep, but if you are experienced — this certainly is an experience like no other.
Depth not your thing? How about heights? Within touching distance of the world’s tallest building, the Burj Khalifa, you can walk along the edge of a platform on the 53rd floor of the Address Sky View Tower. Some 220 meters high (722 feet), all that connects you to the building is a harness. Okay, a strong harness and a steel rope, but seriously, the Edge Walk is scary. That said, from this height you have great views (if you dare to open your eyes), and after you have once edged your way around the platform, you can continue the thrill by taking the glass slide, attached to the outside of the building, down to the 52 floor.
Want to go even higher? There is always jumping out of a plane with Skydive Dubai. Not only do you get even better views than from the 53rd floor, you can see the entire city spread out below you, all the way to the desert’s edge, though, more importantly, you’ll be jumping out of the plane right above one of the man-made palm islands of Dubai. Palm Jumeirah, with the iconic Burj al Arab Hotel just along the coastline, is a sight like no other, and whether you are experienced and take the leap from 13,000 feet altitude, or opt for a tandem jump from 6,000 feet, you will have plenty of time to enjoy the views on the way down.
Down to earth
While jumping out of a plane is certainly an adventure, there is nothing like driving at speed around an F1 course. Bahrain’s course offers a great thrill, but is a little too far from Dubai, so why not pop across to Abu Dhabi’s Yas Marina Formula 1 Circuit for a ride in an Aston Martin at speeds of up to 300km/h (186miles/h)? It is certainly an experience like no other and leaves you feeling high on a rush, and a little wobbly, for quite a long time afterwards. So, maybe you want to ride down the world’s fastest roller coaster at Ferrari World right next door and scream your head off before you drive yourself around the F1 circuit at breakneck speeds. Whichever one you do first, you will certainly satisfy your inner Lewis Hamilton, and pump up those adrenaline levels without needing to take to the air.
If you are still jonesing for more thrills, how about trying your hand, and feet, at parkouring? At Bounce, there are trampolines for the little ones, but for the bigger adrenaline junkies, there is a parkour course that allows you to test your agility to the limits. And even without the fear of falling off buildings, it is an awesome mix of exercise, fun and utter thrill.
After driving off road, getting soaked, being at the highest and deepest points of Dubai, driving at speed and jumping around, to finish off, you could simply zip around the world’s longest urban zipline. Suspended high above the Dubai Marina district in a so-called ‘Superman’ harness, allowing you to lie down face forward, as you speed along at up to 80km/h (50 miles per hour). Despite it being the longest urban zip line, you will wish it would continue on for longer. But that’s pretty much Dubai in a nutshell.
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