There are plenty of reasons we all go camping. And, while for some, a walk to the pub and a morning coffee by the campfire is as thrilling as it gets, for adrenaline junkies, camping is about seeking out wild spots and finding those activities that really get the pulse racing.
At Cool Camping, we know that adventure can be found in every corner of the world but, that being said, some countries offer more in the way of hair-raising experiences. Thanks to a combination of organised tourist activities and, of course, the natural assets of different regions – be it mighty mountains or savage white-water rivers – different places are bound to offer different levels of high-octane holiday fun.
That’s why we have put together our brand new Adrenaline Index, ranking the best places around the world for thrill seekers to visit.
We compiled the index by analysing a variety of factors that every adrenaline junkie will deem important and we then identified which countries around the world rank the best for these factors.
This included the number of national parks, the World Economic Forum’s ranking of natural resources and outdoor tourism activities, the height of the tallest mountain, the number of off-road trails, the number of motorbike routes, the speed of the fastest rollercoaster and the height of the highest bungee jump.
Italy was ranked as the number one destination for adrenaline junkies after scoring highly in every category. Not only did it come fourth for the number of motorbike routes, but it also came fifth for off-road trails and sixth for its natural assets in the World Economic Forum’s ranking of outdoor tourism activities. Italy actually has 55 cultural sites on the World Heritage List, more than any other country in the world and making up five per cent of the entire list. A Cool Camping destination, the country also offers spectacular independent campsites and is full of good spots to pitch your tent or park your campervan.
Pocket rocket Costa Rica ranked second, holding its own amongst larger countries, with the country boasting 30 national parks – an impressive number for its modest size. In fact, according to Protected Planet, more than a quarter (28%) of Costa Rica is protected. The country also has an impressively high bungee jump, allowing thrill seekers to freefall 143 metres into the Monteverde Cloud Forest Biological Reserve. The area has the largest number of orchids in the world and is home to 91 species of migratory birds, two things to check out when you’ve got your feet back on the ground.
Taking the bronze medal spot is the USA, after scoring highly in the outdoor tourism activities, speed of the fastest roller coaster and highest mountain categories. Located in the U.S. state of Alaska, Denali (also known by its former name of Mount McKinley) is the highest peak in North America and the 13th highest in the world. And climbing it is no easy feat, with roughly only 60% of the 35,000 climbers who have attempted to summit Denali reaching the top. For those preferring speed to height, the second fastest roller coaster in the world is located at Six Flags Great Adventure Park in New Jersey, the hair-raising Kingda Ka.
It is Spain that ranks in fourth position as a result of its impressive amount of off-road trails and motorbike routes. Boasting as many as 61,200 designated motorbike routes, the mode of transport is clearly popular in the European country; it is thought that as many as 1.92 million motorbikes were circulating in Spain at the beginning of 2020. As for off-roading, Northern Spain is a popular choice as a result of the sheer variety on offer, from riding through the desert to smugglers trails that zig-zag through the Pyrenees. For anyone looking to tick off one of the highest roads in the mountain range, the road to the summit of El Pic Negre (which is actually located just over the border in Andorra) offers a breathtaking ride – both thanks to the view and elevation of over 2,640m.
Rounding up the top five is Mexico. This could be attributed to the Latin American country scoring highly for outdoor tourism activities, off-road trails and motorbike routes. For over a decade, the World Economic Forum has engaged leaders in travel and tourism to carry out an in-depth analysis of the travel and tourism competitiveness in countries around the world, and their natural resources category measures the development of outdoor tourism activities in each country. And Mexico scooped first place in this ranking, which is hardly surprising considering that the country’s diverse landscape offers activities such as rafting, caving and volcano hiking to name a few.
For thrill seekers looking to visit more than one country in a single trip, it seems that South America is the place to head. Countries on the continent secured three of the top 10 spots, with Latin America neighbours Costa Rica and Mexico being a stone's throw away too.
The results by continent are as below:
Best country for outdoor enthusiasts in Asia: China
Best country for outdoor enthusiasts in Africa: South Africa
Best country for outdoor enthusiasts in Europe: Italy
Best country for outdoor enthusiasts in Oceania: Australia
Best country for outdoor enthusiasts in North America: Costa Rica
Best country for outdoor enthusiasts in South America: Colombia
We know that you can get your adrenaline hit in many different ways so what are the best countries for speed demons and those who love heights?
Strap in and put your goggles on because Abu Dhabi’s Formula Rossa is the world's fastest rollercoaster, reaching 0 to 149.1mph in 4.9 seconds flat. Following this stomach-churning ride is Kingda Ka at Six Flags Great Adventure Park in New Jersey, and Red Force, located at Ferrari Land in Salou.
If heights are more your thing, then head to China to test your nerves on the highest bungee jump in the world – leap from the Macau Tower and freefall for 230 metres. Close behind is a 220-metre jump from the Verzasca Dam in Ticino, Switzerland, and 216 metres from the Bloukrans Bridge, Western Cape in South Africa.
To compile the Adrenaline Index, we used the following methodology. We analysed every country on the below factors:
- The number of national parks (in comparison to the country size)
- The World Economic Forum’s ranking of natural resources and outdoor tourism activities (which measures the development of outdoor tourism activities and capital of landscape, natural parks and richness of the fauna)
- The height of the tallest mountain
- The number of off road trails
- The number of motorbike routes
- The speed of the fastest roller coaster
- The height of the highest bungee jump
We searched through a variety of credible sources to find data for each of the above categories and ranked the countries from first to last based on the data found. We then added the scores together to get a total score, before ranking the countries based on this overall, final score.
Countries that we were unable to find data for were omitted from the Index.
The full dataset is available upon request.