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Action Culture

7 Adventure Tours You’ll Need a Doctor’s Note For

Are you ready for a heart-pounding adventure? Better talk to your doctor first. The following adventure tours are designed to challenge travelers physically and mentally, so you’ll need to confirm that you’re fit enough to complete them. From remote shores to steep climbs and long-distance feats, these trips are not for the faint of heart.

Climbing Mount Kilimanjaro


 The highest mountain in Africa, Kilimanjaro is one of the world’s most popular summits with anywhere between 30,000 and 50,000 climbers per year—but that doesn’t mean it’s easy. Although you won’t need any mountaineering skills to reach the summit, it’s a steep climb, and you need to be in good enough shape to walk uphill for at least six hours a day. Then there’s the altitude, which can sometimes worsen pre-existing medical conditions. That’s why it’s imperative you check in with your doctor first. On many guided tours, like Intrepid Travel’s Kilimanjaro: Machame Route, you’ll be required to fill out a self-assessment form; Intrepid Travel strongly recommends that you do so with your doctor.

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Cruising to Antarctica

Cruise ship in antarctica with penguins
Jamie Ditaranto

When you decide to travel to Antarctica, it doesn’t matter if you’re climbing mountains with a luxury adventure tour operator like White Desert or just taking a scenic cruise around the peninsula; you’ll need to get the stamp of approval from your doctor first. When I traveled to Antarctica with Hurtigruten, I was required to bring a filled-out questionnaire with a stamp from my primary care doctor. On day one of the cruise, the onboard medical team met with every passenger in person to go over their forms. Antarctica is remote and uninhabitable, and if I had any undisclosed health issues come up during the trip, the nearest hospital would have been thousands of miles away.

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Running a Marathon on Mount Everest


If trekking to the base camp of the world’s tallest peak isn’t a big enough accomplishment for you, why not add a marathon on top? Commemorating the day Tenzing Norgay Sherpa and Sir Edmund Hillary summited the mountain in 1943, the Tenzing-Hillary Marathon occurs every year at the base camp on May 29th. Extreme races like this happen all over the world, but with One World Expeditions, you can add an extra challenge on top of your trip to Nepal. Before the race, you’ll take a three-week tour that starts in the capital city of Kathmandu and includes nine days of trekking before the race. In order to participate in the race, you are required to submit a doctor-signed medical form to assure that you are healthy and show no signs of experiencing discomfort at high altitude.

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Skiing to the North Pole

Action Culture

Unlike the South Pole, which sits on land, the only thing under the North Pole is ice, which makes it pretty tough to get to. You could take a helicopter or an icebreaker to reach it, but if you want to feel like you really earned it, skiing there is also an option. With Action Culture, you can follow in the ski trails of the Arctic explorers and make your way from Canada to the North Pole, one step at a time—but the company won’t take just anyone’s money. You’ll need to apply for the trip first and supply a doctor’s certificate to prove that you are both physically and psychologically fit for 60 days on the ice. The adventure tour begins with a week of training and from day eight through day 57, the itinerary simply reads: “Ski across the dynamic pack ice of the Arctic Ocean towards the North Pole.”

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Sky Diving into the Blue Hole

Globe Guide Media/Shutterstock

In Belize, you can experience an all-day adrenaline rush with a sky-to-water dive into the famous Blue Hole. On Pelorus’ 7-Day Reefs and Ruins Experience, you’ll start the week by jumping out of a helicopter. After you fall through the sky and land in the Blue Hole, a team will be waiting to help you set you up for your next dive into the underwater sinkhole. Completing both dives in one day puts a lot of pressure on the body, so Pelorus requires all its clients “to be approved medically fit by a qualified doctor” before participating.

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Cage Diving with Great White Sharks

Dmiitry Pradun/Shutterstock

From San Diego, you can enjoy five uninterrupted days of cage diving in the shark-infested waters of Mexico’s Guadalupe Island with Horizon Charters. You’ll stay on the boat with meals prepared by the onboard chef so you can dedicate your day to shark watching. The adventure tour operator welcomes novice divers, but you’ll need to consult with your doctor first if you have any issues with hypertension, high blood pressure, diabetes, or other medical conditions.

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Climbing an Active Volcano

REI Adventures

REI Adventures offers a whole suite of adventure tours at different levels of difficulty from relaxed to strenuous. One challenging tour that you can do in a weekend is the Mount Shasta Climb, a three-day journey to the summit of an active volcano in Northern California. You’ll set up your base camp, with the help of REI’s expert climbing guides, at 9,000 feet and be given a lesson in snow mountaineering before taking on the summit. In order to avoid slippery conditions caused by melting snow in the afternoon, you’ll start your climb long before sunrise at 2:00 a.m. REI  requires that you provide medical approval before participating in this physically challenging experience.

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Jamie Ditaranto is a writer and photographer always looking for her next adventure. Follow her on Twitter @jamieditaranto.

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