Even if you’re not overweight, you eat a healthy foods and work out a few times a week, you’ll need to train specifically to achieve the physical and mental fitness it will take to reach these 8 destinations.
1. The Great Blue Hole, Belize
You may have heard of a sinkhole on a piece of land, but what about one in the middle of the sea? Here’s a landmark that recreational divers have visited since the 1970s. The Great Blue Hole is a giant sinkhole located off the coast of Belize. It’s part of a barrier reef known as the Lighthouse Reef Atoll in the Caribbean Sea. Looking down at the Great Blue Hole from an airplane, you’ll see a dark blue circle measuring 1,000 feet (300 meters) wide surrounded by light blue, more shallow water and a reef.
A boat will take you to this sought-after dive site. Since the Hole is 400 feet (125 meters) deep, you’ll need to prepare well in advance and get your scuba diving certification before exploring the caves and stalactite formations at the bottom. It’s a heart-pumping and exhilarating experience that’s not for the faint of heart, but its beauty is worth the effort.
2. Pyramids of Giza
The allure and mystique surrounding pyramids, like the Pyramids of Giza located in Egypt, have drawn people for millennia. If you had come along at a much earlier time in history, you may have had a chance to scale one of them. Now climbing the Pyramids of Giza is absolutely forbidden.
The closest you’ll come is to snag one of the limited number of tickets that allow you to tour selected areas inside the massive fortresses. At a minimum, be prepared for a half-day or day-long trip when visiting the pyramids. Although visits to the pyramids won’t leave you as exhausted as some of the other landmarks we’ve explored in this article, you will need to be in shape for the rugged areas inside the pyramid. You’ll also need sturdy walking shoes.
The tallest Pyramids is 481 feet (147 meters) at its peak. You’d be climbing up stone blocks without much to hold onto. It would probably be a good idea to strap on rock or mountain climbing gear, and you probably would want to attempt this feat with a partner or team.
3. Pikes Peak
It’s not Everest, but your chances of living to tell about it are much better. Colorado’s Pikes Peak is a famous landmark and favorite tourist destination. Maybe that’s because you can either climb it or take an easier way up — the railway or the highway. If you choose to hike, there’s a 13-mile (21-kilometer) trail up the 7,000-foot (2,133-meter) incline. No matter which mode of transit you choose, you can count yourself among a half-million people a year who tag the summit of one of the most visited mountains in North America.
4. Mount Everest
Several thousand thrill-seekers have successfully climbed the world’s highest mountain and the tallest point on Earth:Mount Everest. Located in the Himalayas, this mountain lies along the border of Tibet and Nepal. At 29,035 feet (8,850 meters) high, this mountain is known for potentially fatal avalanches and particularly deadly spots like Khumbu Ice Fall. Two hundred people have died in the process of scaling Mount Everest — 120 bodies are yet unrecovered.
For this climb, you should be well-prepared with protective gear and gadgets. You’re going to need everything a serious mountain climber requires and more. Clothing, tents, GPS, flashlights, cooking gear, cameras, batteries, oxygen, harnesses,and crampons are starters. But none of that equipment will replace what you need most — superb physical conditioning. Excellent fitness will help you withstand the frigid temperatures, harsh winds and climb up the snowy, icy, rugged terrain.
5. Mount Fuji
Hordes of people flock to Japan’s highest mountain, Mount Fuji, for a shot at climbing to the top. On any given day during July and August, the official climbing season, you can join hundreds of like-minded adventurers hiking up to the peak at 12,388 feet (3,776 meters). You don’t need special hiking skills but, as with Kilimanjaro, you do need to take precautions to avoid altitude sickness. A bus will take you to one of eight stations located at various points on the side of Mount Fuji. They’re much like rest stops where food, water and even a place to sleep is available. It will take seven to eight hours to climb from the lowest station to the top. Some people time their hikes to catch the sunrise or sunset from the summit. Night hikes are also an option.
6. The North Pole
Make way Santa and Rudolph! These days, visiting the North Pole isn’t limited to Christmas dreams or sophisticated expedition teams. You can book an airplane, helicopter, hot air balloon, a ski trip or cruise ship to the North Pole. You can even take a two month dogsled tour! Additionally, there are 100-percent-foot-powered trips available in March and April. Organizers regularly host festivals at the North Pole and some couples choose this landmark as their honeymoon vacation destination.
Traveling via skis or on foot are the two most physically demanding modes of reaching the North Pole. You’ll be exposed to extremely cold temperatures for days at a time and you’ll need to be up for long days of physical exertion minus the comforts of home. Most tour operators will require you to get clearance from your doctor that you’re healthy enough to make it through the trip — whether by aircraft, watercraft or muscle power.
7. The Appalachian Trail
The Appalachian Trail is a 2,175-mile (3,500 kilometers)path that spans a mountain range along the eastern side of the United States, from Maine to Georgia. This landmark is part of the U.S. National Park Service, so you could easily say you visited the trail by driving to one of the numerous public access points in any of the 14 states that this footpath spans. But if you want to brag that you actually walked the entire length of the Appalachian Trail, you’ll need to prepare for an adventure that will last months. Hoofing it 30 miles (48.23 meters) a day, it will take you two and half months; a more casual pace of 10 miles (16 kilometers) a day will take you more than six months.
8. The Great Wall of China
The Great Wall of China is a well-known landmark, but what you may not know is that 99 percent of it is off-limits to tourists. Just 1 percent of the 4,000-mile-long (6,437 kilometers), centuries-old structure is open to visitors.
If this is your dream, then it’s never too early to start conditioning. You’ll likely log an average of 30 miles (48 kilometers) a day for more than a year, hiking through varied terrain spanning stretches of mountain regions and marshes. What’s more, much of the wall is completely eroded. In other areas, the wall is extremely narrow. Although it can be as wide as 30 feet (9 meters) at its base, the path across the top of the wall narrows to less than 12 feet (3.65 meters) in some spots.