17 awe-inspiring adventures

 

Signpost Soweto

Soweto bike tours, urban adventures. Image Darling Lama Productions

1. Lebo’s Soweto Bicycle Tour: This brisk cycling expedition invites you to share in this bustling township’s warm sense of community. You’ll pedal along small streets, chat with residents and might even join an impromptu soccer game. Lebo will show you historical landmarks, such as the Hector Pieterson Memorial, Vilakazi Street and the former home of Nelson Mandela (among many other attractions).

2. If dizzying heights tickle your fancy, book a date at the beautifully painted Orlando Towers. Dare to tackle the world’s highest scad freefall – a 70m unattached drop – or the 100m bungee jump. Jaw-dropping stuff.

3. Ice climbing in the Drakensberg, SA’s highest mountain range, will test your mettle. Whether you’re looking for a slightly slippery walk or an advanced challenge, three popular climbing routes at Sani Pass, Giant’s Castle and Rhino Peak offer a range of conditions and technical demands.

Ice climbing at Giant's Castle. Image by Gavin Raubenheimer.

Ice climbing at Giant’s Castle. Image by Gavin Raubenheimer.

4. Scuba dive in the clear waters of the Aliwal Shoal, a protected marine area near Umkomaas in KwaZulu-Natal. Various dives among the multi-coloured fish, turtles and sharks are available and you can also dive down to a rusty wreck named Produce.

Diving the Aliwal Shoal. Image courtesy Henry Whittaker.

5. Bhangazi Horse Safaris offers sublime horseback riding near St Lucia in the iSimangaliso Wetland Park, SA’s first Unesco World Heritage Site, in northern KwaZulu-Natal. Enjoy rides along kilometres of pristine shoreline and through the nature reserve. The guides ensure that you’re paired with a horse suited to your riding ability.

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Riding at the seaside with Bhangazi Horse Safaris.

6. Underground Adventures in the Mother City: Looking for a dark, damp and offbeat adventure? Why not disappear down a manhole into the historic water tunnels running below the streets of Cape Town. Slosh through secret channels past creepy crawlies and plant your feet firmly on the sidewalls to avoid slipping into the rushing water beneath your wobbly legs. Sit down with torch and headlamp switched off and you’ll hear the sounds of the city above.

WC_Cape Town underground tunnels (2)

Experience Cape Town’s fascinating underground tunnels.

7. Cage dive in Gansbaai with White Shark Projects. Eyeballing a great white shark is definitely one for the bucket list. Although this is not for the faint-hearted, you’ll be safely ensconced in a steel cage.

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The essential addition to any bucket list: shark cage diving in Gansbaai.

8. Zip 2000: Swing down one of the world’s longest, fastest and most extreme zip-lines at Sun City. Your ride starts 2m above ground, but falls away rapidly to 100m. You’ll be strapped in at the koppie and then it’s straight down at speeds of up to 160km/h.

10. A hot-air balloon flight over the Cradle of Humankind: The basket lifts off the ground at the crack of dawn and you’re up, up and away! These gentle giants of the sky drift sedately over the Magaliesberg range in the Cradle of Humankind World Heritage site. Back on terra firma, a champagne breakfast awaits.

Bill Harrops Original Balloon Safaris

Ballooning in the North West. Image courtesy Bill Harrops Original Balloon Safaris.

11. Kloofing and Hiking in Mpumalanga: Kloofing will challenge you to scramble over massive boulders, traverse rivers, slide down trees and jump off ledges, taking care not to twist an ankle along the way. Hike down into the Blyde River Canyon and through the kloof towards the magnificent Mac-Mac Falls. If you aren’t totally knackered after that, try the Caving by Candle Light tour at the Lone Creek cave. You’ll need overalls, a helmet, candle and oodles of guts. Explore the depths of caves and wriggle through miniscule cracks in the rocks.

12. A microlight safari: Limpopo is Big Five country. A great way to view them is on a spectacular microlight flying safari. Take off from the Hoedspruit runway, the only airfield in the country situated in the middle of a town, and soar over the vastness of the breathtaking African landscape.

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Up close and personal with snakes and other reptiles at Kinyonga Reptile Centre.

13. At Kinyonga Reptile Centre (also in Limpopo), you’ll learn about your favourite reptile, amphibian and arachnid in a fun way and be allowed to handle some of these fascinating creatures. The centre focuses on conservation and research and will introduce you to a wide variety of snakes, spiders, frogs, turtles and lizards.

14. Stargazing in Sutherland: The little Karoo town has stars in its eyes. It tops the country’s list of stargazing destinations, with the town’s elevation (2 000m above sea level), its cold climate and an absence of light pollution ensuring cloud-free nights for 80% of the year. This is why the Southern African Large Telescope (SALT) was erected nearby. Stargazing sessions are offered at SALT and through Sterland Guest House.

NC_Stargazing_Photographer Peter Haarhoff (4)

Examine the stars in Sutherland. Image courtesy Peter Haarhoff.

15. White-water rafting on the Orange River: Paddle like crazy through the rapids of one of the world’s most beautiful stretches of water on the longest river in South Africa. Savour the raw and arresting beauty of the surrounding Richtersveld desert.

16. Surfing in J-Bay: Located on the Eastern Cape’s Sunshine Coast, J-Bay is rated one of the top five surfing spots in the world and is the South African equivalent of Hawaii. Whether you’re a beginner trying out the waves at Main Beach or attempting the killer waves at Supertubes, you’re in for an adrenaline rush.

17. Eastern Cape skydive: In Grahamstown, bravehearts can participate in an exhilarating skydive with a willing partner. You and your tandem-master will jump out of a plane at around 10 000ft, merging a heady freefall with the serenity of a parachuted descent.

This is an edited version of the article by Madi Hanekom in the September 2016 issue of Sawubona. Download here, free of charge.

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