Extreme sports anyone?
New Zealand and Australia might seem like they have the lion’s share of adrenaline sports, but South Africa isn’t short on extreme activities, especially around Cape Town and along its picturesque Garden Route. Here are some of the top things to do to get the heart racing.
“Leaping off Bloukrans Bridge would give even the most seasoned of adventure travellers a heart-pounding adrenaline rush”
The highest bridge bungee in the world, Bloukrans used to be the highest of all commercial jumps, until the Macau Tower bungee opened. Distract yourself from the terrifying height (the bridge is 216 metres’ high) by admiring the scenery. Bloukrans is located on South Africa’s Garden Route and crosses a fertile valley with Bloukrans River just a sliver below. If you’re not travelling this far along the Garden Route, the bungee jump at Victoria Falls – a familiar add-on destination for South Africa travellers – is another popular stop for adrenaline junkies.
White Water Rafting
During South Africa’s winter, you can ride the rapids of the Palmiet River in the Kogelberg Nature Reserve, just an hour outside Cape Town. The ten rapids along the 4km of river whisk you through the green and fertile fynbos reserve. The trip is suitable for any experience level, as you’ll be accompanied by guides, who can suggest which of the rapids will be best suited to you.
Climbing Table Mountain is one thing; abseiling off it is quite another. If you’re not content to work through the usual tourist tick-box lists, this is something to add to your Cape Town itinerary. The top of Table Mountain affords wonderful views of the city and the ocean, but abseiling down the mountain allows you to take in these views away from the crowds. Get strapped into your harness and step backwards off the edge of the cliff, walking yourself down the vertical rock face (it sounds so easy, doesn’t it?). Remember to take time to stop, turn around and take in the sublime scenery.
Why walk around a vineyard when you could quad bike? Around Cape Town and along the Garden Route there are several places you can hop onto a quad bike, and unleash your inner speed demon. Tackle the dirt roads around vineyards and race along the scenic tracks. Anyone can ride a quad bike after a quick safety briefing, but you should always wear a helmet (and save that first glass of wine for after, not before!).
‘The Dragon’ is the longest sand boarding slope in South Africa. Snowboarders will easily find their feet, whilst beginners can practice on a smaller dune. If the 300-metre ‘Dragon’ looks a little too daunting, you can stick to body boarding. Wear sunglasses, keep your mouth closed and prepare for sand to get everywhere.
It’s not only on land that South Africa takes things to the extreme. Great white sharks dwell near the seal colonies that live along the coast. Get up close to these magnificent predators – without getting too close – by heading out on a cage diving trip. Aim to choose a boat with fewer passengers to reduce the amount of waiting time, and one that also acts as research vessel. The Atlantic water is icy, so try to wear a couple of wetsuits. Under water, you can watch these much maligned, powerful animals checking out the boat or lunging for the fish heads that are thrown into the water.
Don’t bother doing your make-up for this outing; canyoning sees you wading through rivers, clambering over rocks and abseiling down waterfalls. Follow the river through the rainforest, tackling anything that you find in your way, passing through peaceful, still stretches of water and rushing falls, with a deep plunge pools at the bottom. Wear old shoes and make sure your hair can’t get tangled in the harnesses that you’ll use along the way.