Destinations are an opportunity to explore, to discover and to re-discover, says David Fleminger, South African author of Fair Game – A Hidden History of the Kruger National Park and Back Roads of the Cape.
“Travel is essential for our wellbeing – it keeps us grounded, refreshes the soul and feeds the natural curiosity ingrained in our collective DNA. As long as you travel with your heart, mind and eyes all open, any destination can be life-changing. Exploring new places, trying new things, enjoying new landscapes, seeing how others live, learning not to judge – the benefits of travel cannot be underestimated,” he adds.
It's inspiring to see how much enthusiasm there is for more adventure-based holidays says Divan Viljoen, Flight Centre Youth & Adventure Marketing Campaign Manager. “Even those who are not the most intrepid of travellers are pushing beyond their comfort zone as they actively seek life-changing experiences when they travel. What better place to channel your inner Indiana Jones than in Africa, where exciting, meaningful challenges abound?”
If you've set your sights on travelling in Africa in 2019, check out these adrenaline-boosting adventure holidays.
Africa’s tallest peak and tallest free-standing mountain in the world, Mount Kilimanjaro, is certainly no walk in the park. Several days of extreme hiking will see you walk through several vegetation zones, from forest to highland desert — until you tackle the summit in darkness of your final night, and drag your way up to its peak (at 5 895m above sea level) just in time to take in the most spectacular sunrise you are ever likely to witness.
Home to a diverse group of grazers, such as the African buffalo, warthog, giraffe, Grant’s gazelle, eland, and waterbuck, the Serengeti offers wildlife viewing at its best. The main attraction, however, is the annual wildebeest migration. This thrilling event occurs from mid-March through to November, as more than a million wildebeest, along with zebra and eland follow the pattern of rainfall and grass growth.
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 and are typically spotted filter-feeding on krill near the surface in the Bazaruto Archipelago National Park and Tofo Beach, just north of Maputo.
Referred to by Ernest Hemingway as “the loveliest lake”, Lake Manyara’s famous tree-climbing lions take centre stage on this East African adventure. There are also a record-breaking 500+ species of birds here, including ostriches, raptors and scores of pink flamingos – an iconic image of the lake. During the dry season, the live entertainment is turned up a notch in the early morning and late afternoon as prowling lion, hyena, cheetah and even the more elusive leopard go on the hunt.
Vic Falls, as it's affectionately known, is one of the most impressive and visited tourist attractions in Zimbabwe. And justifiably so – as the sheer volume of water that tumbles over the 1.6km-long cliff
into the Batoka Gorge is breathtaking. Bungee jumping from the Victoria Falls Bridge guarantees some unparalleled views of the Zambezi River. Set between Zimbabwe and Zambia, entails a 110-m jump into this wonderworld.
Closer to home, the exhilarating bungee jump from the Orlando Towers is located in Soweto in Johannesburg. It's the first bungee jump in the world to be set up between the cooling towers of a power station (a disused one, of course).
If you're a 4x4 enthusiast with a keen sense of adventure, sink your teeth into the adrenaline-pumping opportunities in Mozambique. It is a playground for all levels of self-drivers looking for an off-road African adventure. Try the Golden Sands and Elephant Route, which runs from Ponta do Ouro to Macaneta. It requires roughly five days of tactful driving, 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 this list for a second time which proves just how much of an adrenaline hotspot it really is. It 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 pool resembling a jacuzzi and peer over the edge of the Falls to watch the water tumble and disappear into the gorge below.
Take a walk on the eastern shores of Lake Tanganyika in Tanzania. Here, the Mahale Mountains National Park is home to 900+ chimpanzees. The dense forested hills and grasslands are great for trekking. Enjoy the magical sunsets over the lake as a “whoop” from the treetops breaks the silence – followed by several more before a crashing noise in the branches ahead signals troupes 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 experience.
The opportunity to encounter the famous Big Five is one of South Africa’s biggest drawcards. A self-drive from Johannesburg adds to the anticipation before venturing into this animal-lover’s heaven, of not knowing what may be lurking behind the next bush. A walking safari will reveal a whole new perspective of the landscape that is just as thrilling as big game-viewing: a dung beetle skillfully rolling its ball, a praying mantis poised patiently on a twig, or how to determine a big cat’s age from the size and spread of its tracks.
Words by Chelsey Hale
Images by Getty Images
Courtesy of Mikateko Media.