5 mins

10 South African adventures – how many would you try?

Croc diving? Dune boarding? Walking with lions? Test your appetite for adventure against South Africa's biggest thrills

Diving with this croc.... We're not too sure (Yarin Jeremy Kirchen)

Last year was all about football in South Africa, but in 2011 a host of other activities are jostling for attention. Here are 10 of the most adventurous – how many could you handle? Add up the ones you'd try and then check out your adventure rating at the end…

1. Crocodile diving, Oudtshoorn, Western Cape

Adventure rating: 5

Sure, you’ve heard of shark diving – head to coastal towns along the Eastern and Western Capes if you’re that way inclined – but what about crocodile diving? When you’re lowered into a clearwater pool and come face to face with five very inquisitive crocs, keep in mind that their bites have a pressure of over two tonnes per square inch. Thankfully, there’s a purpose-built metal cage between you and your razor-toothed companions.

2. Coasteering, Cape Town, Western Cape


Adventure rating: 4 

Grab your wetsuit and climbing shoes – the new sport of coasteering will see you clambering over rocks, diving into the ocean, and swimming your way from cliffs to coves – a great way to explore South Africa’s rugged Atlantic coastline. Head to Cape Town for a slightly warmer experience – its microclimate takes the edge off most coastline chills.

3. Canoeing, Orange River, Northern Cape


Adventure rating: 4

Whether you’re a novice or a white water buff, a guided canoe trip is a fun way to see the ragged mountains and rock formations of the Northern Cape – and, if you’re up for it, you can sleep under the stars on an overnight expedition. Most tours are based around Augrabies Falls National Park, but other good bases include Upington and Richtersveld Transfrontier National Park.

4. Zipline canopy tour, Tsitsikamma Forest, Eastern Cape

Adventure rating: 2

What better way to see the magnificent indigenous forest of Tsitsikamma than from 30m up, dangling from a zip wire? Glide over the tops of yellowwoods, spot Kynsna loeries and vervet monkeys, and watch out for the 36.6m-high ‘Big Tree’, still standing tall after 600-800 years. The trip takes roughly 3 hours, with 10 zip lines stretched between 10 wooden platforms.


5. Dune boarding, Aston Bay, Eastern Cape


Adventure rating: 4

If there’s one thing that South Africa’s will never be short on, it’s sand. The premise of duneboarding is simple: find a dune, trek to the top, strap your feet onto a specially-designed board, and whoop your way down in a golden cloud. And if you come a cropper, you can look forward to a delightfully soft landing - with no cold snow down the back of your neck.


6. Trekking, Wild Coast

Adventure rating: 3

Sweeping white beaches, green hillsides and wave-battered headlands make for some spectacular hiking – and the range of trails means you can pick a route to suit your ability and schedule. Tackle one of the short scrambles if you’ve only got a couple of days to spare, or head off on a lengthy expedition for a real taste of life in the wilderness. If you’ve really got a taste for adventure, try the Drifter’s Trail, a five-day trek from Msikaba to Port Johns.


7. Soweto Bike Tour, Johannesburg, Gauteng

Adventure rating: 2

Get closer to the realities of life in the Soweto township on a cycling tour. Pedal past shebeens, schools and churches, and visit Vilakazi Street, previous home of Desmond Tutu and Nelson Mandela – the only street to have housed two Nobel Peace Prize recipients. The route itself isn’t too challenging, but this is a great way to combine action with culture in South Africa’s largest city.


8. Horseriding, Barberton Mountains, Mpumalanga

Adventure rating: 3

For high adrenaline, multi-day safaris through rich savannah, head to Mpumalanga’s Barberton Mountains. An expedition by horseback is a great way to get a feel for the landscape and get better views of the wildlife – but if a close encounter with lions and eles is a little too, erm, close, try cattle ranching in the Waterberg or wine tasting on horseback in the Cape.


9. Walking safari, Addo Elephant National Park, Eastern Cape

Adventure rating: 3

Ditch the 4x4 and walk out into the bush for an unrivalled view of the game and its habitat. The thrill of spotting an elephant and stalking it on foot is simply magical, there are plenty of other residents to look out for. Peer into the treetops to spot hornbills and African firefinches, and watch warthogs, kudu and eland pick their way through the thicket.


10. Kayaking, Maputaland, KwaZulu-Natal

Adventure rating: 4

Join a sea kayaking tour in Maputaland and you’ll find yourself among hippos and crocodiles – with some magnificent coastal scenery to boot. It’s likely you’ll have the views to yourself, too, as Maputaland is well off the tourist track. If salt water snappers don’t float your boat, head to the Garden Route’s lakes and lagoons, or paddle alongside the dolphins and seals of Plettenberg Bay.

How do you rate?

1-3 Slow and steady, that’s your motto – and with scenery like South Africa’s, who can blame you for wanting to enjoy the view?

4-7 You’re raring for a challenge, preferably a new one every day. You’re going to love this dizzyingly diverse nation

8-10 You’re a connoisseur of adrenaline, a non-stop whirlwind of activity. Take a deep breath and book a flight south, pronto…


Did you know?

The Great Karoo is the largest natural ecosystem in South Africa – and one of the world’s great scientific wonders

Did you know?


The Eastern Cape is home to Bloukrans Bridge, the longest commercial bungee jump in the world – a whopping 216m

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