Written by The Leap on 07 / 04 / 2015
Gap Year Advice
As well as being famous for its abundance of wildlife, going travelling in South Africa offers an array of exciting activities that draw adventure-seeking tourists from all across the globe to Cape Town and beyond.
The country’s diverse terrain combined with its warm climate make it the perfect place to carry out for extreme pursuits, which include climbing, surfing, mountain biking and river rafting, amongst other things.
For the most extreme of adventure activities in South Africa, check out my list below (warning: suitable for adrenaline junkies only!)
Fancy being submerged in shark-infested waters? It may not sound all that appealing, but it will certainly give you a buzz! For anyone willing to come face-to-face with these ferocious creatures, you can go cage diving in Gansbaai, which is located a couple of hours west of Cape Town. From here, you’ll take a trip out to Dyer Island, climb into a steel cage with two or three others and wait for the sharks.
If the visibility’s good, you'll get to see these creatures up close and personal as they swim around the boat. Wetsuits and diving equipment will be provided, as will towels, drinks, and snacks. No experience is needed, as you only need to be able to hold your breath. Head out on with cage diving company Marine Dynamics, who provide the experience on a luxury boat in the company of shark experts and researchers.
Table Mountain is an absolute must-do for anyone visiting Cape Town, but not everyone chooses to see this iconic mountain whilst dangling from a vertical cliff face. Those brave enough should certainly attempt to do so though, as you’ll be rewarded with incredible views over the city, Table Bay and the surrounding mountains.
You’ll need to catch the cable car to the top of the mountain, from where you’ll be strapped into a harness, before standing backwards with your heels over the cliff edge and leaning backwards into thin air – sounds terrifying, right?
Once in position, you’ll begin walking down the wall, looking around as you go, before being lowered to the ground. With Abseil Africa, you can join a tour in order to carry out the abseiling, or create your own personal group tour with a minimum of four people.
If someone told you to jump off a bridge, would you do it? Well in South Africa apparently many people do! And, as afar as adrenaline goes, this is the absolute rush. Bloukrans Bungy, which is located near Nature's Valley in the Western Cape, carries the title of the world’s highest bridge jump and, as you walk along the bridge’s walkway to the platform, you’ll catch sight of what awaits: a 200 metre drop to the river below (gulp).
After being strapped onto the bungee by an ankle brace, complete with a safety harness, you’ll be lifted on to the platform and the countdown will begin – undoubtedly the most terrifying part! However, you just need to relax and reassure yourself with the fact that Bloukrans has a 100% safety record.
Former power station Orlando Towers has become a favourite amongst thrillseekers, due to the number of activities on offer. Bungee jumping is the most popular choice, but visitors can also try out power swinging, RAD jumping and SCAD freefalling.
Ok, so we know you know what a bungee consists of, but you’re probably wondering what the heck all the others mean, right? Well, a power swing involves freefalling for 40 metres, then swinging between the towers at 33 stories high, before being safely lowered to the ground.
Indoorsy types may prefer RAD jumping, which allows daredevils to jump inside one of the towers, and there are special RAD jumping events where you can get two jumps for R360. Those who don’t fancy having a cord attached to them, but want the thrill of falling (without dying!) should opt for the SCAD freefall, which involves a controlled freefall with no strings attached. This option is the priciest, but well worth spending the money on, as it’s the highest of its kind in the world.
There are a few places where you can go skydiving in South Africa, with Carletonville and Pretoria being two of the best. Join the Johannesburg Skydiving Club for tandem skydives, which highlight stunning landscapes, including the Abe Bailey Nature Reserve. New jumpers will be given a short training session, before experiencing a freefall that lasts almost one minute!
At Wonderboom Airport in Pretoria, people of all levels can take part and beginners can carry out a tandem jump, whereby you’re attached to an experienced skydiver. At 11,000 feet, you begin your freefall then, after roughly 40 seconds, your instructor will pull out your parachute and you’ll gently glide back down to the ground. For those who want to relive the experience, you can purchase a DVD of your skydive at the end.
So which of these experiences most jump out at you (pun fully intended)? Have I missed any off the list? Let us know by posting them in the comments box below.
on 07 / 04 / 2015