The world's 10 best fresh-air travel experiences

FREEWHEELING, MOUNT HALEAKALA, HAWAII USA

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.

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 paragliding-jungfrau.ch/wp/ 

WIND IN YOUR HAIR, LAKE COMO, ITALY

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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 bellagiowatertaxis.com.

GOING TO THE DOGS, ALBERTA, CANADA

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 kingmikdogsledtours.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 romarentbike.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 darjeeling-tourism.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. 

See lenzerheide.com.

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