Africa, the land of elephants and endless landscapes, is fast becoming known for its adventure sports destinations. Whether diving with great white sharks or bungee jumping over Victoria Falls.
Along its length, from South Africa to Morocco. The landscape shifts and shapes, from gleaming skyscrapers. Thick rainforest and solitary savannah to dusty desert dunes.
With its growing tourist infrastructure, Africa is one of the most beautiful and an epic of places to test your nose for adventure.
Here’s our guide to some of the best adventure sports destinations in Africa.
Diving in Lake Malawi
Malawi may be landlocked by Tanzania, Mozambique, and Zambia. Yet looking out across the almighty Lake Malawi feels no different than looking out to sea. This mass of water is in fact the eighth largest lake in the world, stretching for an epic 560km (347 miles). Whose waters hide myriad marine life. Head to the backpacking hub of Nkhata Bay on the eastern shores of the lake. Where numerous diving outfitters will take you on a freshwater odyssey.
Home to a kaleidoscopic spectrum of tropical fish. The lake’s surface also conceals dramatic rock formations and hidden caverns and cliffs. Part of the country’s Rift Valley. A word of warning: crocodiles do swim in parts of the lake so always dive with an outfitter.
Climbing Mount Mulanje
Africa’s rising star is also home to Mount Mulanje. The highest mountain in central Africa at over 3,000m. Towering above the tea-growing Mulanje district. The plains of Chiradzulu and the city of Blantyre, the peak is smeared in rolling grassland and laced by deep forested ravines. Hikers don’t have to be super-fit as it’s not technically difficult. But its ascent is littered with gruelling climbs along its six official summit routes.
Expect throbbing calves during the three-day thrill. Take plenty of supplies as although there are several rudimentary mountain huts. They come without beds, electricity or running water. You can rest weary limbs here, however, and light toasty fires.
Camel Treks, Morocco is The Best Africa Adventure
They may not be the comfiest of carriages but a camel trek across Morocco’s Erg Chebbi dunes will take you into the plumb centre of Berber territory.
Rising dramatically above the desert floor. These dusty dunes mark the western fringe of the Sahara Deserts, dividing Morocco from Algeria.
Live like a local and stay in traditional Bedouin tents as evening descends, besides exploring oasis Palmeries and chaotic Kasbahs.
Great white shark diving, South Africa
As mad as it sounds, coming face-to-face with a great white shark is on the bucket list of many a traveller. Yes, you‘re separated you from its bloody jaws by solid metal bars, but for adrenalin-aficionados. This could be the ultimate thrill. Cape Town’s infamous ‘Shark Alley’ is where the big action happens. A veritable breeding ground of penguins and seals between Dyer Island and Geyser Rock.
Once ‘jaws’ is spotted on a diving trip, an outfitter will lower a two-man steel cage into the murky waters. Before luring the hungry beast beside the cage with bloody bait, for a close encounter of the heart-thumping kind.
Bungee jumping, Zambia
Few things are as terrifying or as thrilling as standing on a seemingly fragile platform, 111m over the gushing Victoria Falls. You may start regretting signing up to a bungee jump over one of the world’s biggest falls. But you’ll have little time to think as you throw yourself into the abyss below.
And while it’s no longer the world’s highest commercial bungee jump. That crown has been taken by the Bloukrans Bridge in South Africa (216m). The upside-down view of the falls and beyond will be imprinted in your mind for years to come.
Hot air ballooning, Kenya
Floating silently above the Masai Mara National Park may be pricey, but it’s worth every penny. Flights usually take off at dawn, with the basket leaving solid earth as the sun rises. And while gazing at giraffes at waterholes and elephants crossing your path is mesmerising from within a jee. Riding high above the Big Five is something seriously special.
Head here from June to September, during the great migration, when more than a million wildebeest, zebra and gazelle descend on the park to nibble on its lush grasses. A once-in-a-lifetime sight if you have a head for heights.
Climbing Kilimanjaro, Tanzania
Africa highest mountain needs no introduction. Standing proudly at 5,900m, an attempted summit will see you battle extremes in altitude, freezing winds and throbbing tendons. And while it doesn’t actually require any technical ability, it’s seriously tough.
Around a third of all trekkers fail to reach Uhuru Peak (5,893m). Africa’s highest point, due to altitude sickness or fatigue during the five-to-seven-day trek. However, even those who only make it halfway up will lay testament to the attention-grabbing scenery. From wild forest to intriguing icefalls. Head here during one of the two dry seasons, namely January to mid-March and June to October, avoiding the rains in April and May.
White water rafting, Ethiopia
Ethiopia may not spring to mind when you think of ferocious white water, but its Omo River, flowing from the Shewan highlands to Lake Turkana, is a rafting hot spot. As it surges southwards, the flow drops around 6,000 ft, building up into a mighty torrent through deep canyons and valleys. Traversing its rapids and white water, while exhilarating, is also a breathless way of glimpsing life along its shores that remains relatively untouched, from tribal culture to lush green forestry.
Mountain biking, Tanzania
Gazing at a destination from behind the handlebars is undoubtedly one of the best ways to travel. You have the freedom to stop when you want and the chance to spot things that otherwise might go unnoticed from behind the wheel.
Pedal the paths in north-east Tanzania and across the Usambara Mountains for brilliant views of tropical rainforest and close encounters with local Masai tribesmen. Here you can take mountain biking holidays among local villages and open savannah with pit stops at roadside markets and nights sleeping beneath the canvas. Bliss.
Windsurfing, Cape Verde
Adrift off north-west Africa, these exotic islands, lying within the winter trade wind belt, are a paradise for windsurfers with near-perfect wind conditions from November to June. Journey to the sandy stretch of beach, Santa Maria, on Sal if you’re a novice, while the more advanced can get to grips with high waves at Ponta Preta, just 50m from the shore.