Adventures in Africa
Yes, ‘Africa is not for sissies’, as the famous saying goes, so what are the hard and soft adventures on offer for those with serious ants in their pants?
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There are not many places where you can cage dive with sharks, climb an icy glacier (in winter) or take on an epic bike race through the winelands on Africa’s southern tip. That’s why people come to Africa – to challenge themselves, the elements and to let the dictates of nature show their hand.
SHARK CAGE DIVING
South Africa is famous for its shark cage diving in a place called Gansbaai, along the Western Cape coast. Adventure-seeking visitors to South Africa always have this as one to tick off on their bucket list, but what many don’t know is that you can also go diving with tiger sharks in South Africa. The best place to do this is on the Aliwal Shoal on the KwaZulu-Natal coast. Diving with whale sharks is also an option when visiting the islands of the Seychelles.
MOUNTAINS AND MAGIC
There are plenty of mountains to climb in Africa. You could start with abseiling from Table Mountain and then perhaps progress to taking the ultimate hike to the top of Mount Kenya and/or Mount Kilimanjaro. The Great Spitzkoppe in Namibia is also an option, or you climb the imposing Batoka Gorge in Zimbabwe, or Uganda’s Ruwenzori Mountains. Don’t disqualify the Drakensberg Mountains in KwaZulu-Natal – the entire uKhahlamba Drakensberg National Park has been declared a World Heritage Site. During the cold winter months, climbers get to climb frozen waterfalls in this part of the world. For something to tell the grandkids, The Hand of Fatima in Mali might be hard to get to, but it’s infinitely worth it for some of the best mountaineering in the world.
Adventure specialist and author, Jacques Marais, reckons that rafting the White Nile River from Uganda is an adrenaline rush you can’t afford to miss. In his book, Great African Adventures Hammam spa treatment(Published by STRUIK), he says, ‘All around you, tropical forest cascades onto the water’s edge, forming a dense riverine jungle where wary antelope wade and crocodile lurk. This is the ancient White Nile, a wide, tugging, liquid snake, sometimes bucking and roaring as, from its source in Uganda, it forges its way through the Great Rift Valley.’ Marais also recommends rafting the Zambezi (in the Victoria Falls region), as well as navigating the waters of the Orange River in South Africa’s Northern Cape Province and Namibia.
You can go for the soft adventure of learning to surf at one of the surf schools in Jeffreys Bay, known as the surfing capital of South Africa. It’s pretty much anything goes and mum, dad and the kids can all participate. But, if you are a surfer of the professional type, then surfing Dungeons in Cape Town’s Hout Bay might be on your agenda. According to surfing experts, Dungeons is our answer to the huge waves in places like Waimea Bay, Hawaii.
HIKING THE FISH RIVER CANYON
One of the places on any every hiker’s bucket list has to be Namibia’s Fish River Canyon. The trail begins near the small town of Hobas and meanders for over 85km with breathtaking scenery as part of the deal. It’s not easy, but if you’re a serious hiker it’s definitely one for the list. Other great hikes include the Otter Trail along South Africa’s Garden Route.
HIGH ON LIFE
Canopy tours and bridge walking are a fun option for those who want a little bit of a softer adventure. The good news for those visiting South Africa is that the canopy tour at the Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden in Cape Town will soon be complete. However, in South Africa there are numerous canopy tours available in the Tsitsikamma, Magaliesberg and KwaZulu-Natal Midlands. The Kakum Forest Canopy Walkway in Ghana is an absolute must if you’re visiting this part of the world – being suspended on a walkway above the green lung of the forest is exhilarating.
If you’re of the bungee persuasion, then of course you have to try out the jump at Bloukrans Bridge, known as the highest commercial bungee jump in the world at 216m high. The bungee jump from the bridge at Victoria Falls is also a highlight, although no one will easily forget a certain Australian tourist dealing with the fact that her rope broke and she plunged into the water below. Miraculously, she survived with her body intact and her ego only a little bruised.
GETTING THE HANG OF IT
Paragliding from the slopes of Cape Town’s Lion’s Head seems to be a win with holidaymakers to the Atlantic Seaboard, although they generally need to get the locals to show them how. Base-jumping in Cape Town is also pretty popular. For the softer option, hot-air ballooning over the winelands or over the bushveld is a more genteel way to experience adventure; it is also popular in Namibia.
Taking a mokoro (dugout boat) or kayak journey is a great way to enjoy nature’s fine offerings. Nothing beats the romance of a mokoro out in the Okavango swamps. Sea kayaking safaris are also on offer around Lamu Island, off the coast of Kenya, and in places like the Seychelles, Mauritius, Madagascar and Mozambique. Another spot that is well known for ocean paddling is South Africa’s False Bay, but adventurers should keep a keen eye out for sharks.
20 AFRICAN ACTIVITIES/EXPERIENCES YOU DON’T WANT TO MISS
- Gorilla trekking in the Congo.
- A dinner on the beach, Mnemba Island.
- Whale watching in South Africa.
- See the flamingos at the Ngorongoro Crater.
- The Serengeti during the Great Migration.
- The Festival of the Desert in Douz, Tunisia.
- Crocodile cage diving in the Karoo.
- Go on a 4×4 trail in the Cederberg, Namibia or Dakar.
- Experience the magnificent Sardine Run in KwaZulu-Natal.
- Hike to the White Lady of the Brandberg in Namibia.
- Do the ABSA Cape Epic (mountain bike race).
- Go fishing in the Bazaruto Archipelago.
- See the Great Zimbabwe ruins for the first time.
- Fly over the South Luangwa Valley in a light aircraft.
- Eat fresh crab straight off the boat on Wasini Island off the coast of Kenya.
- Meet the Himba people of Namibia and learn a bit more about their culture.
- Stay with the Khomani San in the Northern Cape and learn about their survival techniques and ancient ways.
- Go pony trekking into Lesotho.
- Attend the festival of the masks in Burkina Faso.
- Attend Afrika Burn in the Tankwa Karoo National Park.
Image by: Lion Sands & More Hotels