MAPPED: The ultimate adrenaline-soaked itinerary for South African thrill seekers

2019-03-12 20:00 - Gabi Zietsman
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South Africa is a real adventure, just waiting to be planned.

From our incredible coastlines and mountain passes all the way through to some of the most innovative urban attractions, this is an adventurer's playground supreme.

Not only that, but we attract some of the top competitors in the world to take on our challenging terrain - and we as locals should take some time to appreciate what we have.

Check out this adrenaline-soaked itinerary for setting an adventurous pace to your holiday escapes. 

READ: Expedition Earth: One couple's journey to circumnavigate the earth by car

Abseiling Table Mountain, Cape Town

With the Atlantic ocean below you and stunning views of Lions Head, Camps Bay and Robben Island around you, it is hard to beat the 112m abseil off Table Mountain.

It is one of the largest commercial abseils in the world and a must for adrenaline junkies. Since the overall experience only takes about an hour to complete it still leaves plenty of time in the day to experience the other thrills available in the Mother City. 

Bungee jump at Bloukrans Bridge

The views of the Bloukrans Valley from Africa’s highest bridge are all majestic and tranquil - but throwing yourself off more than 200 metres down towards the river below certainly is not.

Recognised as the ‘highest bungee from a bridge’ in the world, Bloukrans Bungee is sure to give you a head rush of note and all aspiring adventure travellers need to give this one a try. 

Shark cage diving at Gansbaai or Mossel Bay

There are a number of shark cage diving companies operating mainly in the Great White waters of Gansbaai and Mossel Bay along the Southern coast of SA. These places - because of their proximity to islands which host prey - have some of the highest concentrations of sharks in the world!

What's awesome about these dives, is the fact that during the experience humans are caged - and not the animals. But please note that there's been a decrease in Great White numbers, so be prepared for a no-show.

WATCH: Take a bite out of a Gansbaai weekend escape

Kite surfing up the West Coast

Love surfing? Why not take it to the next level in Langebaan? In this little seaside town is the perfect beachside location on the warm windy waters of the Langebaan lagoon.

Professionals will assist you with your first kite experience, helping you nail that first jump as well!

Insane ziplining in Hottentots Holland

This is definitely not for those with a fear of heights. Operated by the Cape Canopy Tour company, the zipline in the Hottentots Holland mountains has staggering heights where you'll zipline between mountains.

You might spot soaring eagles, gawk at beautiful panoramas of Cape fynbos and you can take home a video of your petrified face!

Get super high with helicopter rides

The best way to see South Africa's amazing cities is undoubtedly from the sky, which means helicopter rides are highly recommended.

Although you can opt for the usual sedate private helicopter tours, these won’t exactly get the adrenaline flowing. Instead, go for something like the Huey combat flying trips in Cape Town where you are whisked around in a Bell UH1 Huey Helicopter. It is one of the most famous and widely used military helicopters to date and this series saw a lot of action in Vietnam in particular.

WATCH: Why a sightseeing-flip in a helicopter is worth your time and money

Caving the Cango

Caving provides a real adrenaline rush and the Cango Caves is no exception. Head to the Swartberg Mountains, 30 kilometres north of Oudtshoorn, to explore hidden chambers of these 20-million-year-old caves, cut deeply into the solid limestone rock layer.

But don't for one second think you'll only be taking a scenic tour of the ancient stalagmite formations on the subterranean tours.

Kloofing down Suicide Gorge

Kloofing combines elements of hiking, rock climbing, cliff jumping, sliding and swimming while traversing deep ravines and gorges. The most popular spot in South Africa is Suicide Gorge in Hottentots Holland Nature Reserve near Grabouw.

It should be mentioned from the outset that once you start down the first jump, there is no turning back as the only way out is to go forward.

Kayaking the Orange River

The biggest and most popular river expedition in SA, taking on the Orange River over an average trip of four days is a bucket list must.

Make sure to book with experienced river guides that will also make food for you - so that you really relax after flexing those muscles the whole day.

SEE: Remember your paddle: Where to spend a weekend on SA's rivers

Discover fossils in Sterkfontein Caves

The Cradle of Humankind World Heritage Site, near Maropeng, is filled with fascinating discoveries and going caving in these limestone caves, means you can explore the places where the likes of "Mrs Ples” and “Little Foot” were first discovered.

Certainly an interesting experience for the whole family.

Check the views from Hartbeespoort Aerial Cableway

Take the ‘Harties Cableway’ for an exhilarating ride on the longest mono-cableway in Africa and some fabulous view of the Hartbeespoort Dam and Magaliesberg mountain range.

Great for nature lovers who will enjoy hiking the area, but there's also an educational KidsZone and walkway ensuring a fun experience for the whole family.

Zip down the granddaddy of zips in Sun City

If you want to experience the Zipslide that started it all, you will have to make the journey down to Sun City for the Zip 2000.

While no longer the holder of the longest or highest zip line title, this 2.4-kilometre ride has average speeds of 120km/h and can even reach speeds of up to 160km/h.

READ: Climb like a spider with Sun City's newest attraction 

Fly high in the skies on a balloon safari

This is an experience that has become quite legendary. Soar above the Cradle of Humankind, the Magalies River Valley and the Hartbeespoort Dam during a chilled balloon safari.

Passengers assemble at dawn in the Skeerpoort balloon launch area for a snack of hot drinks and biscuits before embarking on the hour-long ride.

All the adrenaline in Blyde River Canyon

The Blyde River Canyon Nature Reserve is the world’s third largest canyon and exceptionally beautiful.

Home to the aptly named God’s Window, this wonder situated near the Kruger National Park offers adventurers hiking, biking, fishing, abseiling, white-water rafting, boat trips and much more.

Take a leap of faith at the Big Swing in Graskop

Your courage will be tested at this 68-metre freefall swing at 180km/h into the Graskop Gorge. If the adrenaline proves too much, you can also opt for a 135-metre zipslide across the gorge past the Graskop Falls.

You can also take the glass lift down to the bottom, but the slide will give you more bang for your buck.

WATCH: New gorge lift thrills thousands in Graskop + SA’s new attractions to check out 

Try bouldering in the Cederberg

Bouldering is a great outdoor activity for any age and doesn't require any ropes or harnesses. The craggy crevices of Cederberg are host to the most world-famous Rocklands - THE place to get the best bouldering experience in the world.

It has a tight-knit climbing community with lots of marked trails, but a lot of care is put in by the community and CapeNature to ensure that everyone climbs in a sustainable manner.

Glide through the trees of Tsitsikamma

A canopy tour in the Stormsriever Village is fun for the entire family, and the kids will love ziplining in the forest between trees, 30 metres above the forest floor.

This is a great activity for teaching the younger lot in your family about the abundant indigenous plant and bird life Stormsriver.   

White river rafting on the Vaal River

A tributary of the Orange River, this Free State vein forms a big part of the province's identity. You can start in Parys and kayak toward various spots - even the Vaal Dam wall - and camp along the way on its islands.

But the real attraction is its white river rapids, perfect for city slickers looking to get their feet wet while their hearts get pumped.

Take a 4x4 to the highest pub in Africa on the Sani Pass

Sani Pass is the mother of all South African mountain passes, shared with Lesotho. Statistically and in every sense, it out-distances, out-climbs, and out-performs all its competitors with consummate ease to have become the most iconic gravel pass in SA.

It's a challenging drive in a 4X4 vehicle with all the drama, scenery, bad weather and treacherous conditions expected of a pass with a summit altitude of 2876 meter ASL. Go prepared for bad weather at any time and expect snowfalls as late as October.

READ: Road-tripping Africa’s sky country, Lesotho 

Motorbiking in the Baviaanskloof

Baviaanskloof Nature Reserve in the Eastern Cape is considered the number one adventure motorcycle route in Southern Africa. The route is an easy ride for most levels of riders and covers an estimated 175 km from gate to gate, with loose gravel, steep passes and several river crossings.

It's best to do the route over three days and explore the area to its full potential - from the Patensie side to the Makadaat Caves and Nuwekloof Pass on the Willowmore side.

Abseil down Oribi Gorge

Up for a challenge? The perfect way to take in the spectacular views of Oribi Gorge is to abseil down the gorge, of course. Beginners work with qualified trainers who will show you the ropes.

Looking for an adrenaline rush? Abseil down a 110-meter cliff next to the Lehr’s waterfall and make sure you have your GoPro ready! 

Learn to surf in Jeffrey’s Bay

One of the top surf spots on the globe, Supertubes is the most famous area in this surfing town. Navigating Lava reef will be tricky, while the less experienced surfers can try Kitchen Windows.

Climb a ladder at the Drakensberg Amphitheatre Heritage Trail

This popular trail to the Amphitheater escarpment in the Drakensberg is so rewarding. The hike involves a chain ladder which ascends the final 30 metres of a cliff face in two sections. 

The Tugela Falls, the world's second tallest falls  - and the highest in Africa - plunges 948 metres over the basalt face of the Amphitheatre as well as the highest point on the escarpment  - the Mont-Aux-Sources at 3 283 metres.

Take a swing at Moses Mabhida Stadium, Durban

Built to host the 2010 FIFA World Cup soccer matches in Durban, this stadium not only enthrals local sports fans but it has its own SkyCar and a 550-step walk to the top of its arch for fantastic views of Durban.

But the main event is the Big Rush Swing which has become a must for all thrill seekers.

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