Africa is filled with opportunities for adrenaline-pumping mega adventures, from skydiving to swimming with sharks, to world-class bungee jumping to summitting the planet’s highest peaks. Here are 15 favorite African adventures that will get your heart pounding.
This article originally appeared on AFKInsider.com.
1. Skydive into sand dunes in Namibia
For the ultimate adrenaline experience, nothing beats jumping out of an airplane at 10,000 feet, free falling for 30 seconds at 220 km/h before your chute deploys and remark at the breathtaking dune landscape you’ll be landing in. If this sounds like a rush, hit up the folks at Ground Rush Adventures in Swakopmund. Oh and the price includes a 25-minute scenic flight on the way out — although you might be freaking out too much to really enjoy it.
2. Swim with sharks in South Africa
Nothing gets adrenaline pumping more than icy cold water and great white sharks. You can experience this in a cage by taking the White Sharking Diving Company up on their offer to show you these magnificent creatures up close and personal on Dyer Island off the Gaansbai Coast in the Western Cape.
3. Kayak or raft on the Zambezi
One of the world’s most gnarly stretches of whitewater is found just south of Victoria Falls on the Zambezi River that flows between Zimbabwe and Zambia. The almost non-stop ride includes class IV and V monster rapids (there are some two dozen to navigate) ride from the put-in under the Victoria Falls Bridge. For the ultimate experience, tackle the course in an inflatable kayak, where you’ll have no one but yourself to blame for flipping.
4. Track endangered apes in Rwanda, Uganda or the Democratic Republic of Congo
Africa’s magnificent mountain gorillas only roam three countries these days – Rwanda, Uganda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. All of these countries offer trekking experiences to get up close to these highly endangered great apes. There are less than 1,000 left on the planet, so just seeing a gorilla should make your heart race.
5. Bungee jump off Bloukrans Bridge in South Africa
Prince Harry has jumped off it. So did Andy Irons, Kelly Slater, the Zuma family and the Amazing Race cast. The world’s highest commercial bungee bridge is on South Africa’s popular Garden Route in Tsitsikamma near Plettenberg Bay, and for the last 23 years, thrill-seeking tourists have taken the plunge.
6. Climb Mt Kilimanjaro in Tanzania
It takes around eight days of trekking to summit the 19,000-foot-plus Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania, considered one of the world’s Seven Summits. To reach the top takes a fair dose of willpower, but once you do, you’ll be rewarded by knowing you’re part of a special group that’s climbed the world’s highest freestanding mountain–it is more than 3.5 miles high!
7. Raft the White Nile in Uganda
Trips down Uganda’s raging White Nile range from a half-day to three days and the rapids get wilder the further downstream you go. The full-day adventure with Nile River Explorers takes you down a 25-kilometer stretch of mostly class V whitewater just upstream from Lake Victoria and the town of Jinja that includes a 12-foot waterfall drop.
8. Sandboard down dunescapes in Egypt
Sure you’ve heard of snowboarding, but what about sandboarding? Strange as it may sound, the phenomenon of riding a waxed board down a mountain of sand rather than snow has been around since the 1960s. Egypt has some of the most varied conditions in Africa. Try the Great Sand Sea near Siwi, El Safra and El Hadudah dunes between St Catherine and Dahab, and the Qattaniya dunes, which are less than a two-hour drive from Cairo.
9. Rappel off Table Mountain in South Africa
Step off the top of 6,000-foot-high Table Mountain holding tight to a rope, and rappel downwards into adrenaline-rushing oblivion. Tackling the highest commercial abseil in the world, you’ll descend for nearly 350 feet. Make the experience even more of an adventure by hiking rather than taking the cable car to the starting point at the top of Table Mountain. On the way down make sure to take in the views of Cape Town, the Twelve Apostles mountain range, and the surrounding seascape.
10. Walk with lions in Zimbabwe
Lions abound at Mana Pools National Park, an unfenced UNESCO World Heritage-listed site. And for the truly brave (or stupid), this is the only national park in Africa that allows you to walk unguided among them. We don’t really recommend it, but if nothing else gets your blood rushing, maybe this will. [UPDATE: As of May 2015, unguided walks are no longer allowed in Mana Pools]
11. Go on a horseback safari in South Africa
Speaking of safaris, have you considered getting up close and personal with a 3,000 kg rhino while riding a horse? You can do just that at the Plettenberg Bay Game Reserve, the largest reserve in South Africa’s southern Cape. As well as rhinos, keep your eyes open for hippos, giraffe, wildebeests and lions.
12. Ride an ostrich in South Africa
Here’s something your friends just won’t believe. Oudtshoorn is famous for its ostrich farms, and among the interesting tours on offer here, you can also raise your hand to ride an ostrich. It’s only a short ride (10 to 15 seconds) but quite a rush. Note of caution: riders must weigh less than 70 kilograms.
13. Kayak on the White Nile, Uganda
The whitewater on the Nile is a draw for adrenaline junkies the world over. But for a quieter step up into the adrenaline field, try a kayak through the grade III rapids. This section of the river also includes serious grade V and VI rapids–definitely not for beginners! Check out the folks at Kayak the Nile at Jinja, Uganda for details on their tours.
14. Mountain biking in the Atlas Mountains, Morocco
The Atlas Mountains are well-known for their rock-climbing challenges, but have you considered attempting to bike here? As well as biking through verdant valleys and looking out over the mountainscape, you’ll also be heaving your way up mule tracks. That is when the going gets impossible and the mules carry the bikes for you.
15. Paragliding in South Africa
Perhaps not one for those suffering from a fear of heights, but imagine gliding on the wind, over a stunning coastline below. The town of Wilderness specialises in paragliding adventures, and its location between the ocean and large hills is superb. Hit up Flytime Paragliding for information on their flights.