South Africa: adventure heaven!

South Africa offers 3 000 kilometres of coastline along with breathtaking mountains – often side by side. The country’s diverse terrain, together with an ideal climate for outdoor activities, make it a rich hunting ground for adrenaline seekers.

SA offers world-class climbing, surfing, diving, hiking, horseback safaris, mountain biking, river rafting – and just about any other extreme activity you can name, all supported by dedicated operators.

We’ve got some of the best, and most diverse, rock climbing in the world. The cliffs are big, wild – and still being discovered. Cape Town is particularly well endowed, but the action is far from limited to the Western Cape.

River trips range from mostly scenic to grade five whitewater washing machines. The art of canyoning – known as kloofing in South Africa – is another hot favourite, with both self-guided and escorted trips on offer.

There are over a hundred listed paragliding or hang gliding launch sites – and many more less well known – with schools in every centre. Also up in the air, there are many opportunities for helicopter rides, balloon flights, aerobatics, skydiving and microlight flights.

Thousands of kilometres of hiking trails wind around the country in desert, forest, mountain or coastal terrain, many with mountain bike trails adjacent.

There are wonderful easy horse trails through vineyards, on the beach or in the mountains and – for the more adventurous – horseback safaris in big game country.

And if it’s a very quick high you’re after, the 216 metre Bloukrans bridge on the border of the Eastern and Western Cape has the highest commercial bungee jump in the world.

Or you can abseil over crashing waves at the western head at Knysna, hang out a kilometre high over Cape Town, do a combination abseiling and canyoning trip on the Storms River Gorge, or rapp jump down buildings in Durban or Johannesburg. Gravity pulls in spectacular fashion in South Africa!

Adventure tour operators: multi-activity

Active Africa Adventure Tours offers Western Cape-based adventure tours covering the full adrenaline spectrum.

The Adrenaline Adventure Activity Guide lists stuff adventurers can do on the KwaZulu- Natal South Coast: abseiling, archery, deep sea fishing, scuba diving, hiking, microlighting, kayaking, whitewater rafting and more.

Adventure Purists offer various adventure package tours which include a variety of activities across South Africa. is the website for South African enthusiasts of adventure racing – a new sport made popular by the Eco Challenge television series. The site offers news, upcoming events, advice, features and more.

Ashanti Travel Centre , based in Cape Town, offers a wide range of packages for adventure junkies, including kloofing, scuba diving, bridge and bungi jumping, great white shark diving, kite boarding, paragliding, sandboarding, skydiving and abseils off Table Mountain.

Cape Sports Centre on the Langebaan Lagoon caters for kitesurfers, windsurfers, mountain bikers and kayakers. They sell and rent equipment, offer lessons and tips, and provide various adventure packages.

Downhill Adventures offers a wide variety of exciting experiences. Take your pick: sandboarding, mountain biking and cycling, surf school and surfing lessons, tandem skydiving, shark cage diving, quad biking, kite surfing, paragliding, abseiling, sea kayaking, helicopter rides, kloofing, hiking, team building and corporate incentive groups.

Eden Adventures, located in the heart of the Wilderness National Park, offers canoe hire, kloofing, abseiling and a combination of both in the beautiful Kaaimans Gorge on the magnificent Garden Route. Another option is abseiling at Robberg in Plettenberg Bay, another spectacular site. Teambuilding and specialised tours can also be arranged.

Executive Adventures SA specialises in a wide variety of adventure sports, as well as in other areas, such as Wine and Garden route tours, tours of South Africa’s World Heritage sites, historical battle tours, cruise ship tours and sports tours. They present a tantalising smorgasbord of choices, on land, motorised and non-motorised, in the sea, and in the African skies.

The Exploration Society of Southern Africa – A non-profit organisation founded in 1988, Essa provides a platform for “the conceptual and physical exploration of the Southern African landscape”. The society organises expeditions, holds discussions and presentations by world-class adventurers – and throws good parties.

Extreme Scene operates out of Cape Town and offers a sensational number of options, on land, sea, and air. Unusual options including taking a flip in a jet fighter, or taking it more slowly in a Tiger Moth. Crocodile cage diving, which uses the same principles as shark cage diving (also available), is also on offer, as is whale watching and shark breaching. But there is much more, which a visit to the website will reveal.

Felix Unite Adventure Travel is a comprehensive adventure tour operator, providing trips throughout Africa.

Kamala Game Reserve in the Eastern Cape offers the Sheercliff Adventure Centre, with a wide range of adventure sports: a gorge glide, abseiling, mountain biking, rock climbing, hiking, paragliding and the 4×4 Samil mountain ascent.

Mazda Adventure Zone offers information on numerous adventure activities – on land, sea, and in the air – including by region, and also provides accommodation links.

Oribi Gorge Resort near Port Shepstone in KwaZulu-Natal has the Wild Five: abseiling, whitewater rafting, the Wild Slide (a foofy slide 120m along a steel cable 160m above the ground), the Wild Swing 100m into a gorge, and hiking and mountain biking.

Otters Den, a river lodge on an island in the Blyde River at the foot of the Drakensberg near the Kruger Park, offers whitewater rafting, hot air ballooning, kayaking and abseiling.

The SA Orienteering Federation is the controlling body for the sport of orienteering in South Africa, with a number of affiliated clubs.

Stormsriver Adventures operates a wonderful, somewhat strenuous trip called the Stormsriver Challenge: abseiling, tubing and mountain biking.

Townsend Adventure Lifestyles offer customised tours which can include lloofing/canyoneering, rock climbing, abseiling, hiking, caving, mountain biking, 4×4 trips, team building, corporate team building, and schools tours. They operate mostly in the Magoebaskloof in Limpopo.

Travel Unite is a Cape Town-based adventure tour company operating in southern Africa.

Wildthing Adventures, based in Gauteng, specialises in both soft adventures for all age groups – from eight years and older – and more adrenaline-pumping activities. These include canoeing, rafting, bridge jumping, mountain biking, abseiling and overland rafting expeditions.

SAinfo reporter and South African Tourism

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