Five top adventure activities in South Africa

For most people, boarding a plane to South Africa is adventure enough. After all, if you believe all you hear about our beautiful country, you’ll be running from lions in the streets, dodging bullets in your hotels and (for the men) holding on to your tackle in case someone decides to steal it. Yes, South Africa is one of the most dangerous countries in the world.

Except, it’s not. Sorry to disappoint you, but while there are parts of Johannesburg you shouldn’t walk through alone at night, it’s no different to other major cities like New York or London. Be sensible, be aware of your surroundings and you’ll find that South Africa will serve up a plethora of adventures perfect for the young at heart.

Bungee jumping
For travellers with no fear at all, South Africa is home to the highest bungee jump in the world. At 216 metres, the Bloukrans Bridge bungee jump will separate the men from the boys and the women from the girls. Located along South Africa’s beautiful Garden Route, the Bloukrans bungee is situated about five hours outside of Cape Town. If you can’t face the thought of the plunge, why not sample the bridge walk? This walk takes you out to the jumping platform and, if the urge takes you, you might just upgrade the walk to a jump. Advance booking for the bungee jump is highly suggested.

You don’t need to be anywhere near the sea to sandboard in South Africa. Johannesburg has an extensive gold-mining heritage and, as a reminder of this, the city is scattered with huge, sandy mine-dumps…perfect for sandboarding. If you’ve never come across sandboarding, it’s identical to snowboarding, except it takes place on sand instead of snow (doh!) and as Johannesburg weather is pretty warm, you can wear far less clothing.

Indeed, when you’re heading out to Benoni (yes, the suburb that actress Charlize Theron and Charlene, Princess of Monaco hail from), pack plenty of suncream, a hat and a cool-box full of beverages. The location is remote as far as food and drinks go, so pack plenty of your own.

Shark-cage diving
Great white sharks are one of nature’s most finely tuned hunting machines and in the Gansbaai area of the Western Cape, a cage diving experience allows you to get within touching distance of these magnificent beasts. If this is not enough adrenalin-inducing adventure for you, consider adding on a shark-breaching trip to your day. Incredible video footage has shown Great White Sharks breaching out of the water, like whales, as they hunt and catch cape fur seals. Located approximately 2.5 hours outside of Cape Town, this must be the ultimate South African adventure.

A “Big Five” Safari
No trip to South Africa would be complete without at least one safari game drive. Whether you select a national game reserve like the Kruger Park or the Pilanesburg, or a private reserve such as Shamwari, make sure that the reserve stocks the Big 5 – elephants, lions, rhinos, buffalo and leopards. An organised game drive will give you the best chance of success in spotting the elusive Big 5. Rangers are often in radio contact with each other, passing on information on latest sightings and predator kills. And, if you’re not sure of the adrenalin rush of a safari, just wait until that grumpy, lone elephant starts flapping his ears and mock charging your vehicle…

White-water rafting
Whilst the Zambezi River on the Zimbabwe/Zambia border offers Class 5 rapids and an excellent chance of being “dunked”, many South African rivers offer great white-water rafting experiences between November and May. We white-water rafted part of the Orange River in the Northern Cape many years ago, but with river rapids in many of the South African provinces, you’ll be able to find a rafting destination with relative ease. If you’re looking for the big gun rapids, head for the Tugela River in Kwa-Zulu Natal or the Blyde River in Mpumulanga. Both are guaranteed to get your heart pumping faster!  

About the author: Clare Appleyard is a fun-loving corporate refugee living in Johannesburg, South Africa. As a travel activist and diamond entrepreneur, she is fortunate enough to have visited 5 of the 7 continents on her travels, and plans on growing that list. Clare owns both a diamond business and a travel business and frequently shares her love of travel on her blog EarthTravelUnlimited.

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