Venture travel is a core feature of the modern African tour circuit and every year there are ever more creative options available. From whitewater rafting to cage diving, from walking with lions to summiting Kilimanjaro, here is a selection of some of the BootsnAll favorites:
10 — Walking with Lions
Situated a few miles south of the small central Zimbabwean town of Gweru is the local conservation facility Antelope Park. Geared primarily towards lion protection, conservation and research this is the home of African Lion Environmental Research Trust (ALERT) and the world’s first Lion Rehabilitation and release into the pild programme.
However, apart from great camp and general wildlife facilities, Antelope Park offers a unique opportunity to get out and walk in the surrounding bushveld with a small group of adolescent lions. This might sound tame, but for a layman strolling across the savanna with even a young member of earth’s primary predator family is a thrilling if somewhat unnerving experience. These animals are big enough to know you over and old enough to scare the c**p out of you with a playful charge…
9 — Table Mountain Abseil
One of the defining physical features of southern Africa is Cape Town’s Table Mountain. At a mere 3563 ft it is hardly a behemoth as mountains go, but rising almost from sea level it is an impressive mass with sheer sides falling away from its signature flat top summit.
There are a variety of venture sports associated with Table Mountain but the commercial abseils — the highest commercial options in the world — offered by a variety of outfitters in Cape Town arguably mark the pinnacle of global adventure mountain sport.
To add to this the scenic backdrop of plunging off the sheer walls of Table Mountain are unparalleled anywhere in the world. Cape Town is one of the world’s premier cities and this is surely one of the most unique ways to see it.
8 — Motor Cycle Tours South Africa
Like the US South Africa is premier motorcycle country. With a combination of a superb blacktop road network and huge back-country potential there is nowhere better to hit the open road on two wheels.
There are a variety of commercial motorcycle tour companies based in South Africa that offer a handful of local tour and route options, including self-designed options, with routes that spill over into Botswana and Namibia. Both of these countries are characterized by big skies, plenty of sunshine and vast networks of well maintain roads.
For the motorcycle enthusiast this is the last word. For the general travel and venture junkie there is no better way to challenge your limits than a week or so of overland motorcycle exploration on the last frontier of venture travel.
7 — Festival in the Desert
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Fast becoming a major fixture on the global World Music circuit, the Malian Festival in the Desert – or Festival au DÃ©sert – is more than an offbeat celebration of local music. It is a cultural event that showcases the extraordinarily diverse musical culture of Mali as well as the World Music phenomenon generally. It also marks a moment in history when the nomadic and sedentary groups of Mali opted for peace.
Held usually in January, the Festival in the Desert is one of the most important dates on the African music calendar.
6 — Serengeti
There is one location in Africa that accurately defines the popular image of the open plains and the thundering hooves. The Serengeti National Park of Tanzania is an iconic name in conservation circles and is without doubt one of the most accessible, best preserved and most beautiful of all African wildlife parks. This expansive area of grass plains and acacia woodland hosts one of the most diverse populations of African wildlife on the continent. Activities include the usual fare of game drives and wildlife spotting, but also hot air balloon safaris, and in certain places out-of-vehicle walking trails.
If there is one African eco-travel destination that you visit in your lifetime then make it the Serengeti
5 — Diving
Africa offers some of the best diving venues in the world. From the Egyptian Red Sea resort of Sharm el Sheik to the temperate waters off Cape Town the options are almost unlimited.
The two opposing ends of the continent offer the best options. Egypt and South Africa are the two most developed African countries, and so their service and safety standards are good. In between Kenya, Tanzania and Mozambique all offer varying standards of facilities and reef preservation. Along the tropical east coast Kenya offers the most variety, but Tanzania the best reef sites. Mozambican reefs have been damaged in the past by irresponsible exploitation and are sometimes disappointing.
Excellent freshwater diving options are available in Malawi.
4 — Kilimanjaro
Kilimanjaro is a great introduction to big mountains. At 19300ft it is a monster by any standards, but situated just south of the equator, and with a generally forgiving gradient, if you have it in you to climb one of the world’s biggest then this is a good one to start with.
Kili is one of Africa’s principal destinations. It is well served by climb outfitters both local and international. Guiding and safety standards are generally high although some care need sto be taken in selecting your outfitter. A variety of routes of varying difficulty are available along with a mass of data and advice from past climbers.
Check out the BootsnAll Kililogue site
3 — Zambezi White Water
There is a lot of rivalry out there for the title of world’s wildest white water rivers. The competition is impressive. From the Nile River in Uganda to the Colorado River in the USA the claims are many and varied, but anyone who knows anything will agree that on a wild day it comes no wilder than the Zambezi River at Victoria Falls straddling Zimbabwe and Zambia in Southern Africa.
The Zambezi has a well earned reputation. During the low water season the runs are a potboiler of crazy action that leave some first timers wondering how a ride like this could be legal. Fatalities occur but are mutely publicized and a number of international and local brand names offer the river as an absolute must-do on any African overland fixture.
Both Victoria Falls and Livingstone are firmly fixed on the African tourist map. You have not been to Africa if you have not rafted the Zambezi.
2 — Gorillas
A handful of conservancies and parks circling the Virunga Highlands of Central Africa protect and showcase the last dwindling communities of the African Mountain Gorilla. Less than 700 of these creatures survive in the wild. Of these most remain threatened by war, human predation and habitat loss.
The best sites to visit and interact with the gorillas are found in Rwanda and Uganda. Uganda has the widest variety, the best standards of conservation and the easiest access. Rwanda on the other hand has a more authentic backdrop and is a truly African experience.
1 — Shark Diving
Anyone travelling south of the equator with a drop red blood in their veins at one time or another wind up in Gansbaai. This unassuming eastern Cape hamlet hosts South Africa’s, and Africa’s premier adrenalin activity.
The Dyer Island group situated a few miles south of Gansbaai is home to a colony of some 50 000 cape fur seals and a similar number of African penguins. This is a veritable shark delicatessen which predictably attracts a solid concentration of great whites into an easily accessible zone. Add a bit of South African madness and some carefully designed cages and you have the recipe for Africa’s top adventure activity.
Gansbaai has cultivated a well deserved reputation as the top world shark diving destination. A variety of local and Cape Town based outfitters offer cage diving trips into the famed Shark Alley. Don’t miss it!