Adventure Activities in Africa. Image: Shutterstock
Adventure Activities in Africa. Image: Shutterstock
With so many adrenaline-inducing adventure activities in Africa to be enjoyed, what better place to channel your inner Indiana Jones? The continent is brimming with exciting, and meaningful experiences that remind us to live in the moment.
A quick Google search might make it seem impossible to pinpoint the best ones, so we’ve rounded up our top 10 that you can add to your own travel wishlist this year.
“I’m sitting on the top of Kilimanjaro”, a verse by South African musician, Johnny Clegg, has become a reality for many travellers who have conquered “Kili”. Located in Tanzania, it stands as Africa’s tallest peak and the tallest free-standing mountain in the world. It’s certainly no walk in the park, and climbing it is a true feat that sits high up on the African adventures list.
With its permanent snow-cap, summiting this dormant volcano is not for the faint of heart. Several days of hard-fought hiking carries you away from the plains below, landing you at 5,895 metres above sea level—just in time to take in the most spectacular sunrise you’re ever likely to witness.
When thinking about Tanzania, you can almost hear the soothing voice of Sir David Attenborough guiding you through the rolling plains of the Serengeti grasslands. Home to a diverse group of grazers, such as the African buffalo, warthog, giraffe, Grant’s gazelle, eland, and waterbuck, this is wildlife viewing at its best.
The main attraction here, however, is the annual Serengeti wildebeest migration. This thrilling event is one of the most sought after adventure activities in Africa, occurring from mid-March through to November. It chronicles the movement of over a million wildebeest, along with zebra and eland—the sound of rumbling hooves and the powerful imagery from this spectacle continues to capture the heart of nature lovers from all over the world.
Whale sharks, along with green turtles, dugongs and manta rays, share celebrity status in the waters surrounding Mozambique. These slow-moving creatures pose no threat, typically spotted filter-feeding on krill near the surface in the Bazaruto Archipelago National Marine Park and Tofo Beach, just north of Maputo.
As long as you are comfortable in the water and can snorkel, then swimming in the company of these majestic ocean beasts is easy, safe and utterly breathtaking. Known as the biggest fish in the sea, this ultimate bucket list experience can be ticked off from June to September when they arrive to feed and mate.
Referred to by Ernest Hemingway as “the loveliest lake”, Lake Manyara continues to capture the attention of those in search of inspiration. This is your chance to encounter large herds of wild elephant families ambling through the nearby forest, as well as Lake Manyara’s famous, yet unusual tree-climbing lions (with a bit of added luck).
There is a record-breaking 500 plus species of birds here that includes ostriches, raptors and scores of pretty pink flamingos. During the dry season, the live entertainment turns up a notch, especially in the early morning and late afternoon as prowling lion, hyena, cheetah, and even the more elusive leopards provide go on the hunt.
Iconic and impressive, Victoria Falls is the most visited attraction in Zimbabwe. Justifiably so, the sheer volume of water that tumbles over the 1.6 kilometre-long cliff and plunges 110 metres into the Batoka Gorge is phenomenal. Referred to as the “Smoke that Thunders”, the fine spray of mist can be seen from 50 kilometres away with both Zambia and Zimbabwe offering spectacular views.
If it’s excitement you’re looking for, you’re in the right place. How about white-water rafting, kayaking, ziplining, helicopter and microlight flights? Or, how about bungee-jumping over the Zambezi River from the Victoria Falls bridge? It’s one of the most well-known adventure activities in Africa and continues to lure in thrill seekers from near and far. Set between Zimbabwe and Zambia, it will reward you with a good 111-metre drop!
If you can’t make it to Victoria Falls anytime soon but find yourself in Johannesburg, you can opt for one of the most unique city-based adventure activities in Africa: bungee jumping from the Orlando Towers in Soweto. It is the first one in the world to be set up between the cooling towers of a power station (a disused one of course), and it’s only a minute’s drive from the N1 highway.
So, next time you are cruising past Soweto, why not pop in? You will be pleasantly surprised at what great adventures are available on your doorstep in Gauteng- that feeling of free fall as you step off from the platform really can’t be beaten.
Mozambique isn’t a polished destination with all the glamour of some of its Indian Ocean contemporaries, but that is exactly why travellers love it. It is extremely remote and untouched, with white beaches fringed with palm and mango trees, shocking blue seas, and of course its sandy, unpaved roads. Toyota, Jeep and Landy enthusiasts with a keen sense of adventure continue to make a meal out of the 4×4 opportunities here. It’s a playground for all levels of self-drivers looking for off-road adventure activities in Africa.
Try the Golden Sands and Elephant Route which runs from Ponta do Ouro to Macaneta. It requires roughly five days of tactful driving and navigation skills, and plenty of patience, as you may find yourself having to opt for detours, especially during the rainy season.
Victoria Falls makes it onto our list of adventure activities in Africa list for a second time, proving just how much of an adrenaline hotspot it really is. This iconic destination attracts all levels of madness, especially with the infamous Devil’s Pool. When the Zambezi River water level drops in the dry months, rocky pools are exposed at the top of Victoria Falls.
Trips are offered to this one specific spot on the Zambian side where you can leap into a frothing ‘jacuzzi’ and peer over the edge of the falls to watch the water tumble and disappear into the gorge below. Apparently, no accidents have ever happened here. Not to be missed in October.
Take a walk on Tanzania’s wild side over on the eastern shores of Lake Tanganyika. Here, the Mahale Mountains National Park resonates with the evocative sounds of its residents: 900-plus chimpanzees. As Jane Goodall’s former stomping grounds, it is one of the best places on the continent for chimpanzee encounters.
The dense forested hills and grasslands are fun for trekking and taking in the African sunsets over the lake, as a “whoop” from the treetops breaks the silence… followed by several more, then comes a crashing in the branches as the troupes are on the move. Ranked among Africa’s foremost wildlife destinations, a trip to the Mahale Mountains to see the chimps is a once-in-a-lifetime adventure.
The opportunity to encounter the famous Big Five in the Kruger National Park is one of South Africa’s biggest drawcards. A self-drive from Johannesburg builds the anticipation before venturing into this wildlife mecca, with that thrilling uncertainty at what may be lurking behind each and every corner.
A walking safari will reveal the finer details that are often overlooked: a dung beetle skilfully rolling its ball, a praying mantis poised patiently on a twig. The dry winter season proves the best time to go as the wildlife is drawn out of their hiding spots to the diminishing, muddy waterholes that erupt in activity, offering some of the most thrilling scenes nature can offer us.
Remember, you don’t have to have the fitness levels of a professional athlete to enjoy these types of adventure activities in Africa. They are more accessible than you think, just bear in mind to check COVID-19 regulations and restrictions before you travel.