THE 50 BEST AD­VEN­TURES IN SOUTH AFRICA

WE ALL LEAD BUSY LIVES; AND PRE­CIOUS TIME OFF IS A CHANCE TO RE­JU­VE­NATE. BUT RE­ALLY – WHO WANTS TO WASTE THEIR AN­NUAL LEAVE, JUICE-FAST­ING ON A JOY­LESS DETOX RE­TREAT? THAT’S WHY WE’VE CU­RATED SOUTH­ERN AFRICA’S MOST PHYS­I­CALLY AND MEN­TALLY AF­FIRM­ING TRIPS,

Men's Health (South Africa) - - CONTENTS - BY JAZZ KUSCHKE

We’ve cu­rated South­ern Africa’s most phys­i­cally and men­tally af­firm­ing trips. Time to es­cape.

01-02 Ul­ti­mate Chill What the Breede River lacks in white wa­ter it makes up for in scenery. A day float­ing through the wine coun­try near Worces­ter can eas­ily seem like a week’s hol­i­day. Don’t be fooled, though – there’s plenty of pad­dling, and op­por­tu­nity for laughs and swims. R995 for a day trip, www.grav­ity.co.za

LIKE THAT? Do a 3- to 5-day Or­ange River trip. It’s river ther­apy of the highest form. From R4 950, www.grav­ity.co.za

05-06 Make the Win­ter Pil­grim­age Head up the Cape West Coast to the per­fect point break set-up of Eland’s Bay – the finest left-hand point break south of the Or­ange River. Eland’s Bay re­ally turns on when a big west swell is whipped clean by the Cape Doc­tor (the south-easter), which is not that com­mon in win­ter. Pack your wet­suit and make the drive. www.elands­baai.org

LIKE THAT? Watch the swell charts, and do a ‘strike mis­sion’ to Skele­ton Bay in Namibia. In a short space of time, this wave has gar­nered world renown – no thanks to a flood of GoPro footage. Only the ex­pe­ri­enced need ap­ply. SAA flies Cape Town-Walvis Bay for around R2 000, www.namib­i­a­tourism.com.na

07-08 Drive (or Bike) the Icon Been up the Sani Pass? Go again. It’s the most scenic place in the Drak­ens­berg you can reach by car. It was once a bri­dle path for mules, fer­ry­ing trade goods be­tween the old Ba­su­toland and Na­tal, and you can’t tackle it in any­thing but a 4x4; luck­ily, you don’t need your own. Thaba Tours runs daily tours in 4x4s, driven by knowl­edge­able guides (pack your pass­port!). From around R800pp, ex­clud­ing lunch at the Sani Top Chalet, www.tha­ba­tours.co.za

LIKE THAT? Some 7km from the sum­mit of the Swart­berg Pass, be­tween Oudt­shoorn and Prince Al­bert, you’ll find the turn-off to the mys­te­ri­ous Gamkaskloof, aka ‘Die Hel’. www.pa­tourism.co.za

09-10 Get Foot­loose Look­ing for a hid­den trea­sure trail that isn’t pop­u­lated by plenty of tourists? The Alexan­dra Hik­ing Trail in the Woody Cape sec­tion of the Addo Ele­phant Na­tional Park is a two-day trail across dunes, along de­serted beaches and through an­cient coastal forests. It’s pretty stren­u­ous, with a 19km and a 16.5km day – both of which in­volve sand. Your re­ward for this clean-air work­out? A beaut of a wooden overnight hut set high above a beach. Re­wards don’t get much bet­ter than that. R135pp pn, plus a daily con­ser­va­tion fee, www.sanparks.co.za

LIKE THAT? Slack­pack the Tsit­sikamma Trail, op­tions from 2 to 6 days, R120 a per­son a day, www.mtoe­co­tourism.co.za

11-12 Pony Trekking A Ba­sotho pony will ferry you (and all your sup­plies) to the re­motest out­posts of Le­sotho – places a 4x4 can’t get close to. A guided three-day pony trek from Malealea Lodge re­quires no pre­vi­ous horse-rid­ing skills. You’ll tra­verse pre­car­i­ous moun­tain passes, and sleep in a tra­di­tional Ba­sotho hut high in the Ma­lutis. From R540 per day, www.malealea.com

LIKE THAT? Go ‘trout trekking’ with Tourette Fish­ing. Lo­cal mule­teers (and their trusty ponies) are used, ac­com­pa­nied by a pro­fes­sional Tourette Fish­ing guide, to ac­cess the far up­per reaches of the Bokong River and the tro­phy trout and yel­low­fish that call these wa­ters home. www.touret­te­fish­ing.com

13-14Go Deep South Even though we all live on the south­ern tip of Africa, there’s a pretty good chance you haven’t ac­tu­ally stood on the south­ern­most tip. That right? Then make a plan now to get to Agul­has. The Agul­has Na­tional Park, with its va­ri­ety of ac­com­mo­da­tion op­tions at dif­fer­ent prices, is the per­fect base for ex­plor­ing the area. From R1 060 a night (for two peo­ple), www.sanparks.org

LIKE THAT? The Tropic of Capricorn runs at 23 de­grees south, and the sun will be ver­ti­cally over­head on 22 De­cem­ber (sum­mer sol­stice). Try and plan to visit around then. www.limpopo­tourism.org.za 15-16 Gravel-Grind With a Dif­fer­ence Dirt road-cy­cling (rid­ing dirt roads on spe­cially adapted ‘road’ bikes) is see­ing a huge surge in pop­u­lar­ity, and the Tour of Ara (named for the South­ern Hemi­sphere con­stel­la­tion of Ara) is some­thing of a flag­ship event for the move­ment. This pres­tige race over six days ev­ery year is rid­den mostly us­ing South African-built steel rac­ing bi­cy­cles, on a gru­elling 800km dirt-road route through the Ka­roo. En­tries are lim­ited, and usu­ally sell out very fast. R13 500, www.touro­fara.co.za

LIKE THAT? How about a week­end of cel­e­brat­ing vin­tage cy­cling cul­ture, good food and qual­ity vibes, in and around Mon­tagu? www.eroica­s­outhafrica.com 17-18 Take a Walk Back in Time Fancy a bit of his­tory? There are more than 500 recorded rock art sites dot­ted along the Drak­ens­berg moun­tains. Most of these are kept se­cret (for their con­ser­va­tion), and many are sim­ply too re­mote to get to. Of the ac­ces­si­ble spots, Game Pass Shel­ter in the Kam­berg area (three-hour round trip) is one of the most fas­ci­nat­ing. It’s home to the panel known as the ‘Rosetta Stone’. R75 for the guided walk and pre­sen­ta­tion, www.kzn­wildlife.com

LIKE THAT? Check out the rock en­grav­ings at Twyfel­fontein, deep in Da­ma­r­a­land, www.namib­i­a­tourism.com.na 19-20 Take to the Trails It’s a myth that you can’t get out into the ‘wilder­ness’ near Gaut­eng – go trail run­ning along the Tswaing Crater Trail, in Soshanguve. Some 40km north of Pretoria lies the Tswaing Crater, be­lieved to have been cre­ated when an as­ter­oid col­lided with the earth about 200 000 years ago. The rem­nants of that so­lar col­li­sion is a crater hemmed in by hills of around 100m high (and a kilo­me­tre across). The 7.5km trail is not tech­ni­cal, and is suited to most fit­ness and trail-skill lev­els. www.dit­song.org.za/ tswaing.htm LIKE THAT? Do an ad­ven­ture day trip to the Ma­galies­berg. Check out the Moun­tain Club of South Africa (www.mc­sajo­han­nes­burg.org) for the best spots to camp, hike and climb – and hit Van Gaalen’s Cheese Farm for longer runs or MTB rides. www.van­gaalen.co.za 21-22 Things That Go Bump in the Night Kim­ber­ley is said to have over 150 haunted houses. The ghost tour be­gins at the Hon­oured Dead Me­mo­rial, and takes in the historic Africana li­brary, where the rest­less spirit of the first li­brar­ian ap­par­ently re­ar­ranges the books; as well as Rudd House, where a lady in white ap­pears on the bal­cony. From R200, mar­rick­sa­fari.com

LIKE THAT? The Mys­tery Ghost Bus Tour takes you to some of the fa­mous haunted places of Jo­han­nes­burg. From R369, www.mys­teryghost­bus.co.za 23-24 Samu­rai Sands For­get head­ing overseas, sand­board­ing can be ev­ery bit as fast and ex­hil­a­rat­ing as snow­board­ing – not to men­tion the full­body work­out of slog­ging back up the calf-killing, ever-mov­ing dunes. Some of the finest rid­ing in the coun­try is at Dragon Dune, near Vlees­baai in the South­ern Cape. It’s a steep, wind-groomed, 300m-high adult ver­sion of a back­yard sand­box. From R400, www.billeon.com

LIKE THAT? Board the At­lantis Dunes, near Cape Town. R850, www.down­hillad­ven­tures.com 25-26 Jump For Joy Coas­t­eer­ing is an ex­hil­a­rat­ing mix of kloof­ing, snorkelling, swim­ming and rock jump­ing – all in the in­ter­tidal zone of False Bay’s crys­tal-clear wa­ters. No ex­pe­ri­ence is nec­es­sary, and all equip­ment is sup­plied. There are a num­ber of rock jumps of up to 10m high (tide de­pen­dent), but none are com­pul­sory. R550, www.grav­ity.co.za

LIKE THAT? De­scend some of the Eden dis­trict on the Garden Route’s most spec­tac­u­lar canyons and waterfalls by rock hop­ping, cliff jump­ing, ab­seil­ing and swim­ming. www.eden.co.za 27-28 Scale Africa’s Roof Not only is Kil­i­man­jaro the highest moun­tain on the African con­ti­nent, but also the highest free-stand­ing moun­tain in the world. It’s a phys­i­cally chal­leng­ing jour­ney, but the views and other re­ward­ing ex­pe­ri­ences are well worth the ef­fort. And as Kobus Bresler, founder of Ad­ven­ture Works Africa, will tell you in his pre-trek pre­sen­ta­tion, “To sum­mit is a bonus.” From R27 000, ad­ven­ture­work­safrica.co.za

LIKE THAT? Tha­bana Ntlenyana in Le­sotho (3 482m) is the highest peak south of Kil­i­man­jaro. www.vis­itle­sotho.travel

33-34 Wave the Magic Wand Fly-fish­ing with dry flies for tro­phy-sized in­dige­nous yel­low­fish, on re­mote rivers in the high­lands of Le­sotho, is as good as it gets. The guides from Tourette Fish­ing are the best, with ex­pe­ri­ence on species and venues through-out Africa. Fish­ing is strictly catch-and-re­lease. Rates on en­quiry www.touret­te­fish­ing.com

LIKE THAT? The Or­ange River be­low and above the Van­derk­loof Dam is a fly-fish­ing par­adise for large­mouth and small­mouth yel­low­fish, www.fly­cast­away.com 35-36 Go Un­der Strap on a hel­met, head­lamp and climb­ing har­ness, and head un­der­ground at the Cra­dle of Hu­mankind near Gaut­eng. Wild Cave Ad­ven­ture of­fers a range of trips through the lime­stone caves in and around the World Her­itage Site. De­scend­ing down a dark cav­ern is bound to fire up the adren­a­line, and the whole ex­pe­ri­ence will give you a new un­der­stand­ing of this planet you call home. Rates on en­qury, www.wild­caves.co.za

LIKE THAT? The Cango Caves out­side Oudt­shoorn of­fer the ‘orig­i­nal’ South African cave ad­ven­ture. From R100 pp, www.cango-caves.co.za 37-38 (Swim With) The Great­est Shoal on Earth In June, mil­lions of sar­dines swarm the South African coast en route to the In­dian Ocean. Vis­i­ble even by satel­lite, these fa­mous shoals can stretch up to 15km long, 3.5km wide and nearly 40m deep, draw­ing op­por­tunis­tic dol­phins, seals and sharks. Dive among them to watch the fe­ro­cious feed­ing frenzy. It’s all about the bait ball ac­tion, but so much more as well. In­clu­sive 8-day pack­ages from around R55 500, sar­dinerun.com

LIKE THAT? Watch the flight of 10 mil­lion bats dur­ing one of the great­est (and per­haps the most un­usual) of the world’s animal mi­gra­tions at Kasanka Na­tional Park in North­ern Zam­bia. www.kasanka­na­tion­al­park.com 39-40 Game Cap­ture Sa­fari See what hap­pens be­hind the scenes at a vet­eri­nary wildlife con­ser­va­tion project when you join Mat­tanu’s team of wildlife cap­ture and im­mo­bil­i­sa­tion spe­cial­ists in their rou­tine tasks of man­age­ment and translo­ca­tion. All of this is done un­der the strict su­per­vi­sion of res­i­dent wildlife ve­teri­nar­ian Dr JC Kriek. From R1 200pp, www.mat­tanu.com

LIKE THAT? Try the Rapt Rhino Sa­fari with Talon Sa­faris. They de­fine “rapt” as “to be to­tally ab­sorbed, en­grossed, or spell­bound with emo­tion” as you take part in a con­ser­va­tion sa­fari with these threat­ened an­i­mals. www.talon­sa­faris.com 41-42 Pad­dle Out The best way to see Cape Town’s now-fa­mous pen­guin colony is not from the shore. Step out of your com­fort zone, and ex­pe­ri­ence False Bay from a kayak. Take a pad­dle from Si­mon’s Town, past its historic har­bour to Boul­ders Beach. You’ll en­counter the pen­guins and a host of other ma­rine an­i­mals. No ex­pe­ri­ence is re­quired – and as a bonus, it’s bound to a full-body work­out be­yond your norm. From R300, www.kayak­capetown.co.za

LIKE THAT? Pad­dle the gen­tle chan­nels of the Vaal River near Parys (just an hour away, for Gaut­engers). R225, www.river­man.co.za 43-44 Snow Bored Do south­ern hemi­sphere win­ter prop­erly this year by mak­ing a trip to the snow. Afriski, lo­cated 3 050m above sea level in the Ma­luti Moun­tains of Le­sotho, is a le­git ski re­sort. They of­fer coach­ing and equip­ment hire for both ski­ing and snow­board­ing, and cater for all ages, from chil­dren as young as four years all the way through to adults. From R2 900 for a 2-day learn-to-ski pack­age, www.afriski.net

LIKE THAT? Tiffind­ell Ski Re­sort (the only other ski re­sort in South­ern Africa) sits at an alti­tude of 2 720m on the slope of Ben McDhui (3 001m), the highest peak in the whole Cape Prov­ince. 3-, 4- and 7-night in­clu­sive pack­ages from around R5 000pp, www.tiffind­ell.co.za 45-46 Bike With the Big Five Go moun­tain-bike-tour­ing through a beau­ti­ful sec­tion of the iconic Kruger Na­tional Park wilder­ness on an ex­clu­sive To­er­boer moun­tain­bike sa­fari. Cy­clists will be safe at all times, and ac­com­pa­nied by two ex­pe­ri­enced (and armed) guides on bi­cy­cles. The pack­age in­cludes two days’ cy­cling in­side the Kruger Na­tional Park, one night wild camp­ing on the banks of the Letaba River, a Letaba game drive, a Letaba Rest Camp din­ner, a night drive, and one night at the Bushveld Ter­race Guest House. From R 7 850, www.to­er­boer.co.za

LIKE THAT? Pedal along an­cient ele­phant paths on a fully guided (and catered) cy­cling sa­fari through Mashatu Pri­vate Game Re­serve in eastern Botswana. From R4 230 per day, www.mashatu.com 47-48 Re­con­nect With Your­self Ex­pe­ri­ence the natural en­vi­ron­ment through med­i­ta­tion, aware­ness and mind­ful­ness with Grant Hine, who is pi­o­neer­ing Zen Guid­ing prac­tice in South Africa. “The aim is to have peo­ple re­con­nect with na­ture, while dis­cov­er­ing who they re­ally are; and then us­ing that knowl­edge to live the rest of their lives in a peace­ful and calm man­ner,” he says. Hine has 12 years of ac­tive field guid­ing, as well as 14 years run­ning the South African Field Guides As­so­ci­a­tion (FGASA). In ad­di­tion, he also has a mas­ter’s de­gree in psy­chol­ogy. Rates on en­quiry, www.zen­guid­ing.com

LIKE THAT? Te­menos Re­treat in the quiet town of McGre­gor is a great place to take a dig­i­tal detox and en­joy some so­lace in the beau­ti­ful gar­dens. From R480pp, www.te­menos.org.za

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