Looking for a little action? Our top five destinations will make your heart race.
Are you a travel insurance agent’s worst nightmare? Does your idea of flying home from a holiday involve taking an emergency medevac helicopter from the middle of the jungle, as you turn purple from a dare to eat a frog? Are you forever fighting the urge to launch yourself off the side of a mountain wearing a Viking helmet with something akin to a giant pillowcase strapped to your back?
Those that like to live big, generally like to travel big as well. However, you don’t need an encyclopedia of “near-death” adventures from the road to want to try and experience something different on your travels. So to help get out of your comfort zone, here’s my top five thrill-seeking destinations for 2016.
1. Shark Diving in South Africa
Protea Banks is rated as one of the world’s best shark diving spots, and lies about 8 kms offshore, its a deep dive suitable for experienced divers. One hours drive south of Umkomaas / Aliwal Shoal. The banks are full of caves, pinnacles, ridges and amphitheatres, densely populated with colourful soft corals, and reef fish. All dives are boat dives. Divers are taken to the reefs in semi rigid boats that are launched directly from the beach and through the surf.
Shark diving in South Africa is an awsome way to interact with one of the oceans oldest predators. Sharks belong to the super order,Selachimorpha, and comprise of 440 species distributed worldwide.Sharks are believed to have been around before Spiderman. In fact, scientists estimate that the earliest shark species swam in earth’s waters a mere 420 million years ago.
Visibility varies from 5 to 40 meters, and the water temperature in summer is 24 degrees celcius and in winter not colder than 19. The depths vary between 30 and 40 meters and one must be an experienced diver for these often 3 knot mid-water drift dives. This is adventure diving at it’s best but for experienced divers only.
2. The Inca Trail — where blisters are badges of honour
The Inca Trail has long been a top-of-the-bucket-list pilgrimage for adventurous travellers and the source of much new business for podiatry practices around the world. The Sacred Valley is a place where travellers wear blisters on their feet like badges of honour, and the hiking takes you past some of the most significant historical sites in all of South America.
More than 43km (26 mi) long, the Inca Trail combines beautiful mountainscapes, lush cloud forests, subtropical jungle, and, of course, a stunning collection of Incan stones, ruins and tunnels. A combination of three overlapping trails, this trek will have you climbing to beyond 4,200m (13,779 ft) and in constant awe of your seemingly superhuman porters. The undoubted highlight of the hike is arriving at the incredible ruins at Machu Picchu, which reward weary trekkers’ eyes with a stunning combination of the ancient Incan ruins and mountain scenery.
Machu Picchu is the best reward for completing the Inca Trail.
3. Bungee Jumping in Knysna
If you want to get your heart rate up, but are less man versus wild, and more man battling to find a hair product that survives the rigours of a sweaty nightclub at 3 am, then bungee jumping at Blaaukrantz in the Garden Route is for you.
While the Garden Route is undoubtedly beautiful, it also has an extreme edge. It has the kind of attitude of: why land a plane when you can jump out of it? Or, why go on a cruise along the lake when you can basically send yourself into orbit from a parachute dangling precariously from the back of a speedboat?
Bungee jumping is thrill-seeking on a diet. The low fat, sugar free craziness of jumping off a bridge with nothing but the innards from a giant hairband tied to your feet to defy gravity.
4. High-altitude trekking to the summit of Kilimanjaro
For those thrill-seeking travellers looking to stretch their legs on an African adventure, trekking to the top of Mount Kilimanjaro — which is Africa’s highest point — is a must. The trek is truly unique, and on ascent hikers rise from sub-tropical conditions at the base of the mountain, to near-Arctic weather patterns at the summit.
With days of hiking across an average of 67km (41 mi) to get to the top of “Kili,” you’re going to use up a fair bit of energy, but this effort is well worth it as not only do the areas around the mountain offer the chance to see elephants, leopard and buffalo in their natural habitat, but the view from the top of Africa is unforgettable.
This altitude-heavy trek — a maximum elevation of 5,895m (19,340 ft) — is a great workout and good for your overall health. So instead of coming home post-holiday looking like a beached walrus after one too many umbrella-laden cocktails on the sunlounge, you’ll be able to impress friends with your clearly defined calf muscles and ability to walk up a flight of stairs without the need of a defibrillator.
Trekking Kilimanjaro is truly a unique experience.
5. The 9 Summits Challenge, South Africa
If it is wide open space and a wild dramatic landscape with an added ingredient of physical endurance you craze, then the 9 summits Challenge is a definite for you. The trip covers about 4500km of driving through the South Africa. The aim is to climb the highest mountain in each Province of South Africa, starting in the Limpopo and finishing in the Western Cape. The total height gain is more than Everest. Hiking distance is about 160km.
Soul Adventures runs a wide range of tours that cater to the heart-racing desires of today’s discerning thrill-seeking traveller. Encompassing a wide range of departure dates and activities, we can’t wait to show you the more adventurous side of this wonderful blue planet of ours