Some wealthy people prefer to take simple vacations, similar to the rest of America, but others like to indulge in more exclusive and expensive activities. The recent case of Cecil the Lion is an example of one such activity gone awry — big game trophy hunting that will cost Minnesota dentist Walter Palmer far more than the $55,000 he paid to kill Cecil. Palmer may be looking at a trial and possible punishment in Zimbabwe, and the publicity has put all safari operations under the spotlight.
Adventure safaris range in the tens of thousands of dollars to hunt and kill anything from elephants to leopards to buffalo. However, there are plenty of other adventurous indulgences for the rich that do not involve death — with the possible exception of the adventurer, if he or she is not careful.
- Space Flight – Space tourists have flown to the International Space Station in the past for price tags ranging from $20 million to $40 million, propelled there by Russian Soyuz rockets. Those flights were arranged through Space Adventures, which offers a series of planned space tourism adventures. Possibilities range from suborbital and zero gravity flights to space station visits, space walks, and even a circumlunar flight (around the moon and back) targeted for 2018. These adventures are priced from a few hundred thousand dollars to an estimated $150 million for the trip around the moon.
At least within the zero gravity/suborbital space, there is plenty of competition for future flights including XCor, Richard Branson's Virgin Galactic efforts, and Elon Musk's SpaceX. Recent failures may push the schedule back for some of these efforts, but doubtlessly there will be a waiting list of wealthy adventurers ready to sign up.
- Mountain Climbing Expeditions – Not sure you can handle Mount Everest? Maybe you could start with the second tallest summit in the world — K2, otherwise known as "The Savage Mountain." While not as tall, K2 is considered technically more challenging than Everest.
Whichever mountain you choose, you can find deals in the range of $20,000-$65,000 for an ascent to the summit — assuming that you are in sufficient physical shape and have the cash to undertake the journey. Keep in mind that there are only certain times when climbs are available, and that there is always the potential for Mother Nature to deal out the unexpected — such as the recent Nepali earthquake that literally moved Mount Everest three centimeters southwest.
- South Pole Vacation – Say hello to the penguins for us! A cruise with a view is one thing, but an actual visit to the South Pole is quite another. Packages range anywhere from $40,000 to over $120,000, depending on the amount of time and activities involved.
If you are interested, clear out your December. As you might expect, due to weather conditions the packages have only a narrow window of availability between late November and early January.
- Deep Sea Excursion – People can go down in submersibles for under $1,000 at lower depths, but if you want to go really deep — like deep enough to see the Titanic — the luxury concierge service Bluefish can offer you that experience for a mere $60,000. You get to look over the remains of the Titanic for approximately 11-12 hours while the submersible's powerful lights illuminate the relic. Sorry, Leonardo DiCaprio is not included.
If you cannot afford any of these items, maybe it is for the best. Let others venture into space, climb mountains, and go on African safaris. Save your money for retirement and enjoy a simpler vacation instead.
Photo ©iStock.com/Vernon Wiley