15 Life-Changing South African Adventures To Go On This Year
While every other unimaginative soul is trying to out-Instagram each other with shots of their toes in the sand or plane wings in the air, choose an adventure worth remembering. When last did you speed through backroads in a vintage car like Hunter S. Thompson, battle feisty game fish like Ernest Hemingway, throw yourself out of a plane like Geronimo, fire shotguns like Hunter S. Thompson (again) or ride a motorcycle like Che Guevara? Exactly. Now, get out there.
1. Best Hangover Cure
Parys, Skydive Parys | GPS: S 26° 53′ 51.97″ E 27° 27′ 17.86″ | Province: Free State
This Free State town is best appreciated while hurtling towards the earth with adrenalin coursing through your veins as you scream manically. Let Skydive Parys take you up in the air and chuck you out, and afterwards you can freely judge people who haven’t skydived.
2. Best Road To Open Up Your Engine
Calvinia to Kenhardt | GPS: S 31° 28′ 3.57″ E 19° 48′ 15.25″ | Province: Northern Cape
Infinite tar and endless horizons present the perfect opportunity to introduce your accelerator to your right foot. Take the R27 between Calvinia and Kenhardt and savour 290km of stark, thought-provoking Sweet Bugger All.
3. Best And Freshest Seafood
Muisbosskerm | GPS: S 32° 08.021′ E 18° 18.345′ | Province: Western Province
Ditch the defrosted stuff they serve you in cities and drive up the Cape West Coast to South Africa’s original open-air restaurant. Here, on the sands of the West Coast shoreline and in the hands of the Turner family, you can feast to your stomach’s content on their scrumptious seafood buffet that guarantees the freshest crayfish in the country.
4. Best Challenge To Test Yourself
Conquer the Salomon Skyrun, Lady Grey | GPS: S 30° 42′ 52.64″ E 27° 13′ 29.86″ | SkyRun | Province: Eastern Cape
Discover your tolerance for discomfort on the toughest trail run in South Africa. Self-supported athletes must navigate themselves across 100 kilometres of the Witteberg mountain range. If that’s too much, try its understatement of an accompaniment – the Salomon Skyrun Lite, which is 65 testing kilometres.
5. Best Pubs To Drink 19th Century Style
Perseverance Tavern, Cape Town (1808) | GPS: S 33° 55’ 49.73” E 18° 25’ 15” | Province: Western Cape
Book a table at Percies for the any of the 2019 Rugby World Cup matches. If it was good enough for the 19th century folk, it’s good enough for you.
The Pig And Wine Whistle, Bathurst (1832) | GPS: S 33° 29′ 33.78″ E 26° 50′ 19.54″ | Province: Eastern Cape
The English Settlers endured a three-month journey by sea to an unknown continent. What’s the first thing they did? Open a bar.
Star Of The West, Kimberly (1870) | GPS: S 28° 43′ 56.41″ E 24° 45′ 14.3″ | Province: Northern Cape
Prices have risen since thirsty miners paid a tuppence for a beer, but the Star of the West cleans up good and it’s no longer the corrugated iron shack that it was.
Radium Beer Hall, Joburg (1929) | GPS: S 26° 9′ 45.72″ E 28° 5′ 3.41″ | Province: Gauteng
This drinking institution was once known as the Radium Tearoom when it was an undercover shebeen. Fear not, it has a liquor licence now so nobody has to pretend anymore.
6. Best Spots To Braai
Paradise Valley Nature Reserve Durban | GPS: S 29° 49′ 55.88″ E 30° 53′ 30.43″ | Province: KwaZulu Natal
Don’t spend hours finding parking near the beach when you can spend hours eating boerie rolls on the banks of the Umlilo River to the distant gurgles of a waterfall.
Afsaal, Kruger National Park | GPS: S 25° 17′ 10.52″ E 31° 31′ 55.78″ | Province: Limpopo
Your midday tactic for life in the bush: 1) Find acacia trees. 2) Partake in dop en tjop underneath them. And the perfect place for this is at the Afsaal picnic spot on the H3 between Skukuza and Malelane. Be on your guard for vervet monkeys. They want your braaibroodtjie as much as you do.
Groenkloof Nature Reserve, Pretoria | GPS: S 25° 47’ 38.51” E 28° 12’ 10.63” | Province: Gauteng
Your 4×4 doesn’t see enough action. Parking at Loftus doesn’t count. Load it with your mountain bike and charcoal, and get some much-needed mud on it. Then fire up the coals after a late-afternoon game drive.
7. Best Places For Padkos
Veldskoen Padstel, De Doorns | GPS: S 33° 28′ 59.99″ E 19° 39′ 59.99″ | Province: Western Cape
Because when last did you stock up on brandy at an Engen One Stop or a Wimpy? It’s also got toasted ciabattas, jams, biltong and cheeses. Hell, it’s even got quail eggs. How often do you get to buy quail eggs?
Macbanana, Near Port Edward | GPS: S 28° 31′ 49.99″ E 30° 53′ 44.97″ | Province: KwaZulu Natal
You probably haven’t thought about your ideal pit stop, but if you did it would more than likely involve pancakes and paintball. So make sure you stop in this pit where you get to shoot your travelling companions before stocking up on wine, cheeses, preserves, bread and fresh fruit and vegetables.
Oma Miemie’s Farmstall, Kenhardt | GPS: S 29° 20′ 53.31″ E 21° 9′ 17.14″ | Province: Northern Cape
If there’s one reason to go to Kenhardt (we know you’re Googling it) it’s for Oma Miemie’s packed shelves of potbrood, roosterbrood, vetkoek, jams, jellies and chutneys – all made with the devoted hands of tannies, which guarantees at least 300% more love than anything that comes in a packet.
8. Best Places To Experience
Ziplining At African Safari Adventures, Hazyview | GPS: S 25° 3’ 6.88” E 31° 8’ 12.02” | Province: KwaZulu Natal |
What better way to see the forest for the trees than by whizzing through them at 100km/h?
Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park, SanParks | GPS: S 25° 26’ 23.62” E 20° 54’ 10.72” | Province: Northern Cape |
Escape the city for 3.6 million hectares of Kalahari Desert that spill over the border with Botswana. Keep an eye out for black maned Kalahari lions.
Become A Certified Diver, Sodwana Diving | GPS: S 27° 32’ 45.00” E 32° 40’ 9.00” | Province: KwaZulu Natal
Do your licence at Sodwana Bay Lodge and spend your summer cavorting with manta rays, turtles and whale sharks at one of the southernmost tropical coral reefs in the world.
Paddle Down The Orange River, Umkulu | GPS: S 28° 36’ 48.58” E 16° 27’ 29.72” | Province: Northern Cape
Umkulu Adventures will guide you as you cruise down South Africa’s longest river on trips of up to six days of fishing, swimming and stargazing. Catch a barbel – it’s pretty much inedible but it’s the size of a child and it belongs in your Facebook profile pic.
9. Best Way To Blow Off Steam
Shoot clay pigeons at Field & Stream, Dullstroom | GPS: S 25° 24′ 45.47″ E 30° 6′ 8.64″ | Province: Mpumalanga
Why hit a small ball about a field when you can blast things with a 12-bore shotgun? Take a break from fly fishing and take to the hills to cull the local clay pigeon population. Don’t shoot them after they’ve landed though – that’s just unsporting.
10. Best Way To Incite Traffic Light Jealousy
Take to the Cape’s mountain roads in a classic car, Classic Wheels | Province: Western Cape
Experience the glorious dilemma of wondering whether you should drive fast and miss out on the envious looks or soak up those glaring glances and miss out ondriving fast. The garage at Classic Wheels is packed with glimmering, well-kept automobiles including the Alfa Romeo Spider, Mercedes SL, AC Cobra and MGB Roadster, amongst many others. You’ll feel so happy and carefree, you’ll buy the Big Issue at every traffic light.
11. Best Place For Peace And Quiet
The /Ai-/Ais Richtersveld Transfrontier Park, SanParks | GPS: S 27° 37′ 7.74″ E 17° 42′ 54.25″ | Province: Northern Cape
This vast mountain desert with its surreal rock formations is not a quick getaway. The name’s not even easy to type. You can’t get there without enough clearance on your vehicle. No sedans. No hordes of tourists. No routes booked in advance. No more reasons necessary.
12. Best Fight You’ll Have All Summer
Catch a yellowfin tuna in False Bay with Big Blue Fishing Charters, Cape Town | GPS: S 34° 6′ 9.4″ E 18° 28’7.86″ | Province: Western Cape
The most impressive way to up your omega-3 levels is to get them through catching one of the world’s toughest fighting fish. Big Blue Fishing Charters will kit you out with rods, bait and tackle and take you out to the tunas’ chomping grounds. You’ll have to release the tuna after the fight, but you can have a go at the yellowtail and snoek closer to Cape Point on the way back.
13. Best Game-Viewing Vehicle
Ride up to elephants on horseback at Addo Elephant National Park, Port Elizabeth | GPS: S 33° 55′ 57.5″ E 25° 34′ 11.82″ | Province: Eastern Cape
South Africa’s top elephant reserve now has stables where you’ll get paired with a sure-footed steed to explore Nyathi, the lion-less section of Addo.
14. Best Sushi In The Country
Your own, obviously… @ My Table | GPS: S 26 02’13.55” E 27 57’18.05” | Province: Gauteng
Your macaroni cheese doesn’t cut it any more. Sharpen you knives and prepare to upgrade your status in the kitchen. The sushi senseis from At My Table in Northriding, Joburg, will school you in rolling your own California rolls, fashion sandwiches, maki and nagiri.
15. Best Way To Feel Wind In Your Moustache
Explore the country on a motorbike, Sama Tours | GPS: S 25° 44′ 6.37″ E 28° 15′ 57.57″ | Province: Gauteng
What better way to tastefully accessorise your newly sprouted facial hair than with a BMW 1200GS? Don’t have a mo’? Grow one. Don’t have a motorbike? Rent one. Sama Tours offers a guided 17-day tour from Pretoria up to Magoebaskloof and then down the east coast and all the way to Cape Town. Because the best way to see South Africa is on two wheels.