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Wales. It's way more than its gentle hills, charming villages and bucolic scenes.
There's adventure to be had. Big adventure. The kind that gets the adrenaline pumping, your blood flowing and makes you glad to be alive.
With three national parks-Snowdonia National Park in North Wales, Pembrokeshire Coast National Park in South West Wales and the Brecon Beacons National Park in Mid and South Wales - the opportunities for adventure seem exponentially larger than Wales itself. Below are five adventures sure to thrill:
Coasteer in Pembrokeshire. Part climb, part scramble, part swimming. That's coasteering, and once you get past the initial terror it's addictive. The sport started in Pembrokeshire so it only makes sense to try it while visiting-when in Rome, after all. Jump from a vertical towering rock face into the water before swimming through beautiful caves or climbing up rock arches. Believe it or not, children aged eight and older can take part. Wet suit, helmets and buoyancy aids are provided.
Bike the Brecon Hills. Go bike it on the mountain. BikePark Wales was built by bikers for bikers--and it shows--with some fans saying that it ranks up there with the world's greatest bike runs. As South Wales' first full-scale mountain bike park, it offers mountain bike enthusiasts the ride of a lifetime thanks to jump trails, drop offs, tight rock sections, swooping runs and even a loop just for families. Clever trail names include Enter the Dragon and the pro-favorite, 50 Shades of Black. Pros and beginners are welcome and children under 10 can ride for free.
[READMORE]READ MORE: Cardiff, The Gem Of Wales[/READMORE]
Sleep Cliffside in Snowdonia. Explore North Wales from your lofty perch as part of the UK's first cliff-camping experience. Participants spend the day rock climbing before bedding down on a 'portaledge,' a flat ledge made of industrial-strength textiles jutting out from a cliff. You'll be lulled to sleep by the ocean below and the wind whistling past.
Freedom of Tryfan. Twin giant boulders, affectionately named Adam and Eve, perched atop a fin-shaped mountain of rock are the focal point of this adventure. The key is to make the 4-foot leap between the two, and earn the Freedom of the Tryfan. However, it's not for the faint of heart. You'll need strength, agility and a no-fear attitude when it comes to heights.
Fly over, bounce under. Snowdonia is the place for chills, thrills and zip lining. Zip World Velocity will bring you closer to sky-diving that anything else short of jumping out of a plane. You can soar down a mountain head-first at speeds of more than 100 miles per hour, meaning you'll traverse the mile-long course in well under a minute. Want more.
Try Zip World Titan that offers a four-person zip line and some pretty stunning views. Once you've taken in all the views above ground it's time to head to Bounce Below, a converted slate mine where participants can bounce and jump on giant cargo nets and slide down tunnels. Want more underground adventure? Try Zip World Caverns, where you can run an underground obstacle course and zip-line your way through a system of caves excavated almost two centuries ago.
Kristina Rundquist is an Atlanta-based freelance writer with more than 14 years experience working within the travel industry.
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