South Africa is a land of contrasts, with first world city areas contrasted by wild wilderness areas, and suburbia contrasted by huge tracts of land where only wild animals live.
The Drakensberg Mountains are a range of mountains formed by the bottom end of the African rift valley, with peaks rising to 3600 metres. There are many hiking trails which go up these mountains, with overnight huts and caves at intervals along the trails. The weather up there can change in a matter of minutes, with heavy snow, and many hikers have had to be airlifted out by air force choppers, so one needs to choose one’s season carefully. The scenery, however, is stunning.
Down on the East coast of South Africa is the Storms river bridge, one of the highest concrete arch bridges in Africa, and there is a permanent bungee jumping installation there. You fall a long way before the rope starts slowing you down!
There are quite a number of old steam locomotives that are still pulling trains around scenic parts of the coast and midlands. They are run for tourists, and booking is essential. The steam trains are run by clubs of enthusiasts, and are kept in shiny condition. If you like the smell of coal smoke and grit in your eyes, this is for you!
The Kruger National Park is a very large game park at the North Eastern corner of South Africa, bordering on Mozambique. It will take you more than a day to drive through this park from South to North, but it is better to spend at least 4 to 5 days there in order to see all the game. The big 5 are all there – Lion, Rhino, Elephant, Buffalo and Leopard, as well as crocodiles, Hippo, Cheetah and a huge collection of different antelope. Accommodation is in bush camps, and you can choose your level of luxury, from 5 star to tented bush camps. (Bring your anti-lion spray.)
The coast of South Africa is full of really good beaches. The water on the East coast is warm and surfing and body surfing, as well as kite surfing, snorkeling, fishing and kayaking are all popular in the area. There are also resorts with water slides, with some of the scariest being at Ushaka Marine world in Durban – one of them almost vertical!
In the cold waters of the South and West coasts, whale watching and shark contacts are the rage, with people being lowered into the ocean in shark cages to experience the perfect predator of the sea really close up! Also in the area is the cable car up Table Mountain, offering spectacular views of Cape Town and Table bay.
In the Central and Northern areas of South Africa are large tracts of almost uninhabited desert areas, where there is no cellphone coverage, no TV and usually no telephones of any kind. The roads up there are fairly good, but take lots of water – it goes up to 53 degrees centrigrade in the summer.
This is just a small sample of the adventures one can have in South Africa. There’s also white water rafting, cycling and long distance races, rallying, quad biking, 4X4 trails, skydiving, chopper rides, and so on and on.
South Africa is definitely not a boring country!