Fear Factor
Credit: Anne-Marie Weber / Getty Images

From zip-lining through darkened caverns to plunging off steep gorges, thrill sports are more terrifying than ever. After you've paid the (often steep) fee, it might seem like the worst outcome would be video proof of you bellowing your terror out in soprano. There is something more humiliating though: chickening-out when you reach the ledge. On the Zambezi River where fearful rafters are the norm, Trish Mambinge at Shearwater Victoria Falls explains that people back out all the time, "either at the briefing, when they get to the top of the gorge, or even as they get onto the raft."

While there's no shame in cold feet — some places even award chickening out certificates or sell t-shirts that proclaim you 'almost' made it — most companies train their staff to help fearful adventurers. Charli Beale from the Sydney Bridge Climb encourages you to tell staff if you're nervous. Once identified, staff give extra attention to panicky people—with tips for breathing, by using distraction and offering extra encouragement, "We might say something like 'let's just see if we can get to the next spot' while describing what we'd be doing to get there and the amazing things we'll see."

The 9 Extreme Activities You're Most Likely to Back Out Of:

  1. Bungee Jumping (Bloukrans Bridge South Africa): 1 in 5 chicken out
  2. White Water River Rafting: 1 in 50 will chicken out on the Zambezi River.
  3. Auckland Skyjump: 1 in 50 back out
  4. Luge Run: 1 in 25 doesn't do the second run at Whistler.
  5. Cage Dive with Sharks South Africa: 1 in 75 decide to view the sharks from the boat
  6. Abseiling or Rappelling: 1 in 500 decides they won't go down the cliff after all.
  7. Parachuting: 1 in 1000 first timers chicken out
  8. Bobsled: 1 in 2,000-3,000 refused to enter the sled.


One in five people don't make it off the ledge at the Bloukrans Bridge in South Africa.