Here’s the thing: South Africa doesn’t get enough credit for being one of the world’s best fresh-air playgrounds. It’s not just about being patriotic; it’s a fact: we’ve got the landscapes, terrain, and natural wonders to help you have the best adventures you’ve ever had, no matter if you’re a high-paced adrenaline junkie or a take-it-slow hiker. You don’t need to cross borders, fly into new time zones or spend money on VISAs – we’ve got everything you need within South Africa; you just need to know where to look. Here are the seven adventures on our Backyard Bucketlist:
It’s almost impossible to define the best hikes and trails in our country as there are thousands of them, and it does come down to personal preference. However, this trail offers a wide variety of spectacular scenery, and the 45km long route can be done as a one-day trail run (roughly 11 to 12 hours for average runners) or a more sedate hike over five days. For both running and hiking, you’ll need a decent level of fitness, as even though the daily distances aren’t long, it can get strenuous and you’ll be carrying your food and equipment. But thankfully, you’ll be able to jump in the sea for a cool down along the route. You will also need a decent pair of trail running shoes, we recommend the Salomon Speedcross 5, or a rugged, lightweight pair of hiking shoes, like the Merrell Moab 2 Ventilator. Aim to do this in Summer or Spring, and you’ll get to see wildflowers too. If you aren’t able to get onto the Otter (it’s a popular route and the numbers are limited), you can also try the Tsitsikamma trail, which is also a spectacular hike with unforgettable scenery.
Yes, while you could opt for a more relaxed game drive option or driving in your car, it’s not nearly as exciting as seeing the animals in the wild while on foot. With these walking safaris, you’re accompanied by experienced guides and rangers who ensure you stay safe, and who offer expert insight and lessons about the outdoors. While you won’t need a high level of fitness, you will need to be comfortable walking for a large part of the day. Start with comfortable walking shoes and a softshell jacket like the K-Way Felix or the K-Way Mira for the early morning chill. Here are some of the best walking routes as compiled by Getaway.
Along the N2 highway between the Eastern Cape and the Western Cape lies the ultimate adrenaline junkie’s adventure: the Bloukrans Bungee. At 216m, it’s one of the top five highest commercial bungy jumps in the world and the highest in Africa, the Bloukrans Bungee calls for only the bravest need to apply. You will take an easy zipline out to get to the jump point which is located at the back of the bridge’s arch. There is good news, you don’t need to train for this, or to have any kind of specific fitness. Besides the bragging rights, you’re also rewarded with spectacular views as you dive from the Bloukrans Bridge with the beautiful Bloukrans River below you. So if you find yourself in the Tsitsikamma area of South Africa’s Garden Route this is definitely an activity to cross of your backyard bucket list. Find out more here.
Not keen to bungy? Then we’ve got another adventure for people who want incredible views, but don’t want something as intimidating as Bloukrans. These zipline tours offer a different of adrenaline rush, as you can reach speeds of up to 100km on some of the routes! These tours don’t require any fitness, but there’s one little disclaimer: there’s a weight limit of 120kg. Besides that, people of any age and fitness level can zip through the tree line and get a bird’s eye view of their surroundings. Canopy Tours has options around the country, but our favourites: the Magaliesburg Tour and the award-winning Elgin route in the Cape Canopy Tour. It was voted the second-best adventure in Africa by Trip Advisor in 2019, and second-best experience in the world by Lonely Planet in 2015! Whatever you choose, bring along a thin, wind and waterproof jacket in case it starts raining or the wind picks up while you’re zipping through the trees. Our picks: the K-Way Rainstorm Jacket or the K-Way Cloudburst Jacket.
Check back next week for more destination suggestions perfect for being a local tourist