Without a doubt, Africa has some of the best wildlife safaris in the world, and along with popular beach destinations such as Morocco in the north and islands like the Seychelles and Mauritius in the Indian Ocean. Generally, people don’t really know much of Africa apart from these attractions. But dig a little deeper, and you’ll see that Africa is so much more than beaches and safaris. Extreme sports enthusiasts will be delighted to know that Africa is quickly becoming a playground for everything from shark-diving to white water rafting and even sandboarding. This article gives you a taste of what is on offer for you adrenaline junkies out there.
Although some fantastic bungee jumping is now well established in places such as New Zealand, South Africa, and North America, not many people seem to realise that the Victoria Falls bungee jump that plunges 365 foot down towards the Zambezi River is actually the world’s highest commercial bungee site in the entire world (though not the highest non-commercial bungee jump: That accolade still belongs to South Africa’s Bloukrans Bridge in Storms River, which drops an incredible 708 feet). Many bungee enthusiasts who have experienced this jump have categorically stated that it’s one of (if not ‘the’ best) bungee jumps in the world. And if that is not enough reason to come, then consider the fact just getting to view Victoria Falls alone is a very impressive feat in its own right. Now imagine those majestic waterfalls as the backdrop to the whole experience, and you’d be crazy to miss the opportunity of a lifetime to bungee jump it!
For something for water-sports enthusiasts, the Zambezi River also offers exhilarating in the form of white water rafting, again to the backdrop of the stunning Victoria Falls. After a quick run-through of the basics of rafting and the safety measures, you are ready to plunge into the extreme, plunging and twisting rapids of the Zambezi River. If you are looking for a pure adrenaline experience with high waters, faster rapids, and a much faster-flowing river than it is best to raft in the morning; however, if you want a much calmer experience where the rapids are calmer, and the flow of the river is slower, you should plan your rafting trip in the afternoon where you can enjoy the river but also include some wonderful sightseeing along the way.
Sandboarding is becoming increasingly popular wherever there are sand dunes accessible to tourists across the world, and the main reason for this is because it is much easier to learn than snowboarding or skiing, but still incredibly fun. Swakopmund in Namibia is a choice location for beginners and pros alike. For pros, you can simply turn up with your board and surf the sand dunes around Swakopmund for free, and just for a couple of dollars, beginners have the opportunity to be taught the basic techniques of sand boarding with a professional instructor. Many companies will also throw in a free lunch and a free video of yourself in action on the dunes as part of the package. All in all, a very sweet deal and affordable extreme sport, even for those on a very tight budget such as young backpackers.
Another extreme sport is also gaining great acclaim in Swakopmund, one that will appeal to those that want something a little more exhilarating than sandboarding, or perhaps for people who are self-described ‘rev-heads,’ and that sport is Quad Biking. Again, the Namibian dunes of Swakopmund can offer something for all levels, from beginner to pro. A professional guide can take you on tour on the desert where you have the choice of slow, moderate or fast groups to join – as well as a choice of manual or automatic transmission on the quad bikes – depending on your confidence and skill level. But unlike the free video footage you get with the sandboarding, that is unfortunately not part of the package here. So be sure to bring a suitable camera to capture your thrilling racing through the dunes!
Though South Africa’s Cape is known for its Jackass Penguins and huge seal populations, something a little more sinister lurks beneath the rough seas that divide the two great Oceans of the South Atlantic and the Indian Ocean; The Great White Shark. So many of these prowl beneath the ocean here that a certain stretch of the Cape is known as ‘Shark Alley.’ However, the abundance of Great Whites gives you a fantastic chance to cage dive with these awesome predators of the deep. And although it undoubtedly takes an enormous amount of courage to go virtually face to face with these creatures that have inspired so much fear in humans, you will likely come back from the one-on-one encounter with the Great Whites with a whole new appreciation and perspective on sharks. One likely based on awe and respect rather than fear. No diving experience or equipment is required at all. So this is undoubtedly an experience of a lifetime and one you will never forget – all you need to bring is plenty of courage!
Morocco has become the favourite winter destination for Europeans due to its relative proximity, warm climate, and the plethora of cheap budget airlines that now fly there. But beach holidays and desert trekking aside, kayaking is yet another activity that is gaining popularity on the Ahansal River in Morocco. Flowing down the High Atlas Mountains, it winds down between spectacular red cliff faces and down a few choppy rapids. Not the most ‘hardcore’ kayaking in the world, but an amazing experience when combined with the Atlas Mountains scenery, which really makes the kayaking here pretty special.