If you spent your entire life travelling around Africa, you wouldn’t be able to see everything it has to offer. Most of us, however, are not lucky enough to be able to do that. We’ve created a bucket list of some of the unmissable places to go and things to see in southern Africa.
Free Fall, Fly and Swing!
South Africa offers numerous opportunities to jump off things, swing metres up in the air or hang off mountains.
Bloukrans Bridge, Garden Route
About 40 km east of Plettenberg Bay, on the beautiful Garden Route, you can bungee jump off the Bloukrans Bridge. It’s the world’s highest commercial natural jump at 216 metres.
Swingin' In Durban, KZN
In Durban, at the iconic Moses Mabida Stadium, you can literally swing from the rafters – okay, arch. Free-fall for 60 metres, accelerating to a speed of over 120 km/h, then swing over the football pitch. It’s the world’s largest swing, so expect a good rush of adrenaline!
Towering In Soweto, Gauteng
At the Orlando Towers in Soweto, you can take your pick of free-falling activities. You can bungee between the towers, free fall into one of them, abseil down the side, or rapjump – abseiling, but forwards!
If jumping off stuff is not your thing, and you just want to see the views from up there, you can go up in the lift, hang out on the viewing platform and calmly descend in the lift too!
Abseiling Off Table Mountain, Cape Town
A big one on many people’s bucket list, Table Mountain looks over the city of Cape Town and offers locals and visitors a plethora of activities. Walk up it or catch the cable car to see spectacular views.
For the adrenaline junkies, abseiling off Table Mountain is a must. You can’t get closer to nature than hanging off a sheer rock face (carefully controlled by trained guides like the guys from Abseil Africa, and safely harnessed) with the city of Cape Town, the azure Atlantic Ocean and The Twelve Apostles watching you. Breath-taking views, racing-pulse adventure.
Explore Inner City Jozi: hip, hop ‘n happenin’
For a little while, Johannesburg Inner City was a place that people spoke about, but never went to. Let’s just say that it had a bit of a bad boy reputation. It still does, but now it’s more of a happening boy, than a bad boy.
It’s a vibrant, busy, beautiful area steeped in history and bustling with life. A melting pot of cultures and people, there’s art to be seen, architecture to be admired, amazing people to meet and fantastic stories to hear.
Past Experiences run guided walking/bus tours of the inner city. They range from public art tours through the spicy tour of Fordsburg to a Phuza Pub Crawl. There’s something to suit all tastes. Whichever you choose, it’s a great way to get to know this world-class city and its interesting people.
Eat, Drink And Be Merry
Inner city Jo’burg is a gourmand’s delight.
Restaurants range from take-away cafes with fried chicken and slap chips to high-end places like Twist at the Mapungubwe Hotel. Old stalwarts like The Troyeville Hotel rub shoulders with newer kids on the block, like Canteen at Arts on Main.
There are pubs a’plenty too. You can hang out with the hipsters at Kitchener’s in Braamfontein or drink vodka at Lenin’s Vodka Bar at Maboneng. For a drink and a snack, head over to The Sheds@1Fox Street. The Good Luck Bar Shed operates from Thursdays to Sundays and is surrounded by food stalls to make sure you keep your stomach lined.
Jeffrey’s Bay is home to the international JBay Open Surfing Competition and the best right hand surf break in the world. With beautiful beaches, dolphins swimming in perfect waves and a lot of sunshine, it’s a surfer’s (and non-surfer’s) paradise.
Whether you’re a seasoned surfer or never been on a board before, Jeffrey’s Bay has an option for you. There are numerous surf schools that offer lessons and rent out all the necessary equipment. All you need is yourself and a desire to ride the waves that have been ridden by the greats like Kelly Slater.
See The Big Five
Top of many people’s Bucket Lists, South Africa offers a huge number of places to go to tick it off. From the world-renowned Greater Kruger National Park, to smaller parks throughout South Africa, you’re spoilt for choice to spot lion, elephant, Cape buffalo, leopard and rhinoceros.
For a more exclusive Kruger experience, visit parks like Sabi Sands. If you’re worried about malaria risk, visit game parks in the Eastern Cape, like Addo Elephant Park, where you might be lucky enough to see ‘The Big Seven’, which includes the southern right whale and great white shark. Speak to one of our ABS consultants to fnd the best safari for you.
Sunrise At Sossusvlei
If you think that deserts are just an endless, boring, sand landscape, think again. The sand shifts and moves, changes colour as the sun moves across the sky and has enthralled people forever.
Watching the sun rise from the top of Dune 45 is a treat. The red dunes – due to their high iron oxide content – change colour as the sun moves across the sky. Add to that the view over the desert from atop this 85-metre high dune, and you’ll find your breath taken away by the beauty and solitude of Africa.
Sandboarding The Dunes
Just outside Swakopmund – Namibia’s ‘Adventure Capital’ – lie some more dunes, these ones cooled by the breeze off the icy Atlantic. It is here that you can surf the dunes, either standing (like snowboarding) or lying on a board on your tummy. Speeds can get up to 80 km/hour, so prepare for a rollicking ride!
Hike the Fish River Canyon
The Fish River Canyon, at 160 km long and over 25 km wide, is the world’s second largest canyon after the Grand Canyon. For a true experience of the solitude of Africa, and a fascinating look at the spectacular geology of this area, a hike through the canyon is a must.
This is not for the unfit, though, it’s a tough hike of five to six days, walking about eight hours a day. Only thirty people are allowed at a time, and the trail is open only May to September (the rest of the year is too hot), so booking is essential.
Sleeping under the vast African sky, in a canyon carved over a billion years? An experience of a lifetime.
Okavango Delta Mokoros
The waterways of the Okavango Delta – stretching over 15 000 km2 – are renowned for their tranquil beauty. Time slows here as you weave your way through the channels in mokoros – traditional wooden canoes propelled by poles.
There is no noisy motor boat engine or the smell of petrol, here. The quiet splashes of the pole and the huge array of bird calls are all you hear through the damp, clear air. Watch the dragonflies flit from water lilly leaf to reed, look out for grunting hippos and experience nature, up-close-and-personal, at its best.
Flamingo Spectacular At Makgakgadi Pans
For most of the year this vast area is dry and desolate. It’s the site of an ancient lake that dried up, leaving a series of salt pans. After the wet season, one of these – Sowa Pan – turns into a pink spectacular like you’ll never see anywhere else.
Thousands of flamingos flock to the area for breeding season. It’s a colourful natural parade that has to be seen to be believed.
Rare Animal Spotting
Botswana is home to a wide array of Africa’s favourite wildlife, including a number of extremely rare creatures. Huge efforts are being made to protect these animals from extinction, a real threat!
Black-Maned Lions, Kgalakgadi
These regal creatures live in the vast Kalahari Desert and are known to be larger than their golden-maned family.
Rhinos, Khama Sanctuary
The plight of rhinos is well-known. The human race has done a devastating job of wiping out the vast majority of these prehistoric-looking animals.
The Khama Rhino Sanctuary, near Serowe, offers the opportunity to not only see these magnificent creatures – both black and white – but also learn about them and play a part in ensuring their longevity!
Wild Dogs, Moremi
It is thought that about 30% of the African Wild Dog population live in the Moremi area, making it a good spot to try and see these ‘painted dogs’.
The Botswana Predator Conservation Trust has ongoing projects in Moremi to ensure the conservation of this rare breed.
Another Bucket List item that is seen on many people’s lists, and for good reason. This spectacular waterfall which spans over 1 700 m and is over 100 m high, sends spray up into the air that is visible from almost 50 km away. The area offers a huge number of bucket list must-dos, beside the bungee jumping and white water rafting.
Swimming On The Edge
Reached from the Zambian side of the falls, Devil’s Pool is situated on the edge of the falls, a short swim from Livingstone Island. Only accessible during the drier months – May to October – this is the ultimate infinity pool, in the Zambezi River!
River-boarding The Zambezi
While white water rafting has been around for ages on the rapids below the falls, river-boarding is the newer kid on the block. Think boogie board, think rapids, think adrenaline-bursting activity. That’s river-boarding on the Zambezi.
The spray from the falls makes beautiful rainbows in the sunshine. Each month at full moon, though, the moonlight shines through the spray, creating ‘moonbows’. Now there’s a once-in-a-lifetime thing to see!
Hwange is world-renowned for its huge elephant population. A visit to this game park will guarantee sightings of these gentle giants. Not only that, but the park is also home to over a hundred mammals and 400 bird species, so be sure to set aside a good few days for game-spotting!
Under The Sea
With over 2 000 km of sparkling Indian Ocean coastline and a generous sprinkling of reefs off it, Mozambique is a diver’s paradise. From snorkelling to deep sea diving, the area offers some of the world’s best diving spots.
Whether you’re snorkelling or scuba diving, you’ll be treated to incredible sightings of brightly-coloured fish, beautiful coral and, if you’re lucky, dolphins, turtles and rays. These waters are also home to the fabulously (and uniquely) spotted gentle sea giants – whale sharks.
Fresh From The Sea
You have not lived until you have eaten prawns made the Mozambican way – peri peri! The seafood here – think giant prawns, crayfish and octopus – is straight-from-the-sea fresh and is liberally marinated in a tasty peri peri sauce. Don’t forget a Portuguese roll to mop up the sauce!
Gorongosa National Park
In the middle of the middle of Mozambique, lies Gorongosa National Park. It is a park with a story and a goal. The park was almost destroyed during Mozambique’s civil war, most of its animals being shot out and many of its ecosystems being damaged.
In 2004, American philanthropist Greg Carr entered into an agreement with the government and took over the park, which is considered to be one of the most ecologically-diverse parks in the world. With his help, the animals are returning and being reintroduced. There is much focus on conservation and the importance of including the local community.
It’s a breathtakingly beautiful area and well worth a spot on the Bucket List.
Each April, before the big rains flood the plains, drums reverberate through Lealui. It is time for the Litunga – Lozi king – to move from the palace on the Barotse Floodplain to the palace at Limulunga, on higher ground.
The royal entourage travel by barge up the great Zambezi River, the King’s painted black and white, with an elephant replica on it, his wife’s with a cattle egret. They are followed by an array of other boats, all accompanied by drumming and singing. An incredible ceremony to witness.
At Kasanka National Park another annual occurrence will leave you awe-struck. In November and December, eight million bats gather to feast on the fruits that grow there. By day, they roost in the trees and at dusk – just in time to watch with a sundowner – they all flit out into the sky in search of food.
Eight million bats flapping into the sunset sky – need I say more?
Walking Safari At South Luangwa
You cannot get closer to nature than on a walking safari. South Luangwa National Park prides itself on these. With a trained guide whose tracking skills will astound you, this is the way to see Africa in its pure, beautiful form.
Island Hopping On Lake Malawi
Last on our southern Africa Bucket List, but certainly not least, is Lake Malawi. Plan to stay a good few days, if not weeks, because you’ll not want to leave its white sandy beaches and warm azure waters.
Laze in a hammock on the shore, eat fresh fish from the lake or snorkel and scuba-dive, marvelling at the array of the brightly-coloured fish of this freshwater lake.
There are numerous islands in the lake, some inhabited, others with exclusive lodges on them. All of them are beautiful, and offer secluded beaches, prime swimming spots and fabulous places to explore, all accompanied by the cries of the beautiful Fish Eagle.