Summer’s Here! Some Outdoor Adventures in South Africa to Explore

When we were all shivering in the cold dreariness of winter, the thought of summer’s warm and golden days beckoned like a shining beacon of better times to come! Well – it’s finally here, and we can’t wait to get outside and revel in all this beautiful country of ours has to offer. In today’s post, we’ve highlighted some amazing adventures available in South Africa’s different provinces, and shared some tips for doing so safely, with EMERGIVAC by your side. 

Eastern Cape: Alexandria Hiking Trail, Addo Elephant National Park

Doing the 36 km circular two-day Alexandria Hiking Trail in the Addo Elephant National Park is a memorable experience! You’ll hike through three distinct ecosystems, and can expect to marvel at its many diverse animals and spectacular birdlife

You have to be fit to undertake this trail, but there are great one-day trails in the park that’re less taxing. The trail starts in lush indigenous forests, takes you through the largest coastal dune field of the southern hemisphere, and then through breathtaking indigenous forests again.

Free State: Hot Air Ballooning 

There’s no better way to experience the sweeping landscapes of the Free State than from a hot air balloon! You enjoy stunning panoramic views of the picturesque countryside, rivers, and towns while drifting serenely along. It’s great for photography. 

The magnificent Maluti mountains around the town of Clarens is a very popular area for this activity. You enjoy a delicious hot drink before your adventure, and end with a scrumptious breakfast afterwards. A typical flight lasts from 45 minutes to an hour, depending on the winds.

Gauteng: Exploring the Cradle of Humankind, Sterkfontein Caves

Situated an hour’s drive from Johannesburg, the Cradle of Humankind is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and is a popular visitor destination. The Sterkfontein caves are famous for the significant archaeological discoveries, including ‘Mrs Ples’ (who is actually ‘Mr Ples’, seemingly!) and the three-million-year-old ‘Little Foot’ Australopithecus skeleton. 

Visitors can explore these fascinating caves to learn about human evolution and ancient history. Guided tours run seven days a week, and provide insights into the excavation process and the fossils found here. The Sterkfontein Caves site now also has a restaurant and conferencing facilities. Walkways offer easy access, and a boardwalk takes you past the famous excavation site. 

KwaZulu-Natal: Snorkelling and Diving

KwaZulu-Natal boasts stunning coastal areas along the Indian Ocean, making it an ideal location for diving, snorkelling and other water-related activities. Enthusiasts can explore vibrant coral reefs, encounter diverse marine life, and enjoy crystal-clear waters. Well-known snorkelling and diving spots include Sodwana Bay, Protea Banks, Aliwal Shoal, Umdloti Pools, Vetch’s Pier, Salt Rock Tidal Pool and Rocktail Bay. These areas are well-maintained and known for their marine biodiversity.

Limpopo: Have a Safari Adventure 

Limpopo is home to several world-class game reserves, including the Kruger National Park and private reserves like Timbavati and Manyeleti. The wide range of accommodation options ranges from luxury lodges and tented camps to good camping facilities. 

Safaris include guided day and night game drives and guided walking safaris. Visiting rock art and archaeological sites, cultural visits, horseback safaris, elephant interactions and 4×4 trails are all on offer. Above all, a Limpopo safari allows you to immerse yourself in the magic of the bush and see Africa’s iconic wildlife, including the Big Five – lion, leopard, elephant, buffalo and rhinos – in their natural habitats.

Mpumalanga: Hiking in the Drakensberg Mountains

Mpumalanga is home to a stunning section of the north-eastern Drakensberg Mountains known for dramatic landscapes, waterfalls, and diverse flora and fauna. Hiking in this region allows you to explore beautiful trails, take in breathtaking views, and connect with nature. Many trails are available of various difficulty levels and duration. 

The Amphitheatre Trail is ideal for novice hikers and families. The Little Berg routes are a bit more challenging but still accessible to hikers with some experience. Forest Falls trail is a moderate trail near Pilgrim’s Rest along the Mac Mac River and is dog-friendly. The moderately challenging Kaapschehoop Lookout Trail lies near the Berlin State Forest, and is a popular trail for birding, and is dog-friendly. The 5-day Num-Num Trail near eMalahleni (Nelspruit) is considered moderately challenging. Regardless of the trail, hiking in the Drakensberg offers an unforgettable experience.

Northern Cape: River Rafting

The Northern Cape is known for its arid terrain. However, there are river sections that provide exciting opportunities for this exhilarating outdoor adventure. The Orange River, South Africa’s longest river, flows through the Northern Cape. It’s a primary destination for river rafting as it carves its way through picturesque gorges, creating thrilling rapids that are perfect for rafting. This dangerous activity should be done under the guidance of experienced tour operators.

North West Province: Freshwater Angling 

Freshwater fishing is a very popular activity in this province’s numerous dams, rivers, and lakes. Always check local fishing regulations and get the necessary permits and licences. 

Some of the North West’s excellent fishing spots include:

  • Koster Dam with barbel, bass, carp, kurper and yellowfish.
  • Barberspan is a large dam as well as a Ramsar Wetland with diverse fish and bird species.
  • Bloemhof Dam with various fish species in a really picturesque and tranquil setting.
  • Roodekopjes Dam is a renowned spot for bass fishing tournaments.
  • Bass Lodge offers private ponds for bass fishing.

Western Cape: Ocean Kayaking 

The Western Cape’s stunning coastline, which includes the Atlantic Ocean and the Indian Ocean, provides an excellent opportunity for ocean kayaking adventures. This  allows you to explore the Cape’s beautiful coastline, encounter marine life, and enjoy the thrill of paddling on the open sea. Kayaks can be rented. 

Alternatively, tour operators offer guided kayak tours that leave from various places along the Peninsula, like Simonstown or the iconic Waterfront.  Seals, penguins and other marine animals are often seen during these excursions. Double kayaks are available for people with no paddling experience. Trips normally last about two hours. 

Tips on Enjoying the SA Outdoors Safely

Here’s a general list of safety tips you should bear in mind when embarking on outdoor adventures:

  • Always use sunscreen, wear a wide-brimmed hat and suitable clothing.
  • Select a reputable tour operator for any guided activity and always follow your guide’s instructions.
  • In wildlife reserves, avoid making loud noises, don’t feed wild animals, maintain a safe distance from them, and stay inside your vehicle. Use insect repellent to curb mosquitoes and other insects.
  • Stay hydrated. Always, ALWAYS carry water!
  • If self-driving or camping, have extra water, snacks, a first-aid kit, flashlight, and prescription medications on hand.
  • Avoid outdoor activities during extreme weather.
  • Make sure people know your plans, and when you should be back. 
  • Wear appropriate clothing for your activity. A ‘layered’ approach is always a good idea. 
  • Comfortable, sturdy footwear is a must, as is applicable safety equipment, like helmets, lifejackets, etc.
  • Most outdoor activities are more safely done with a ‘buddy’ than on your own.
  • When hiking, research your trail, get good maps and GPS coordinates, stay hydrated and take adequate rest stops. 

At EMERGIVAC, we prize our clients’ welfare and safety above all else, and our benefits and services have been designed accordingly. While it’s awesome to enjoy the outdoors and unwind, it’s always a good idea to have a backup in case of an accident or emergency. 

In addition to our emergency medical services, our EMERGI-GUARD facility gives you access to immediate 24/7 armed response services in all of South Africa’s major metro areas, in addition to our emergency medical evacuation service. Just press the EMERGI-GUARD button, and the nearest armed response vehicle is automatically dispatched to your GPS location. 

South Africans are extraordinarily lucky to live in a scenically spectacular country with a fantastic climate that allows a wide variety of awesome outdoor activities. Having EMERGIVAC by your side will allow you to make the most of them with total peace of mind.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. What exciting summer adventures does South Africa offer?
South Africa boasts a variety of thrilling summer adventures, from hiking trails in the Eastern Cape to hot air ballooning in the Free State and exploring the rich archaeological sites in Gauteng. Dive into the beauty of each province’s unique offerings this summer.

2. What do I need to know about hiking in the Eastern Cape?
The Eastern Cape offers the Alexandria Hiking Trail in the Addo Elephant National Park, where you can witness diverse animals and spectacular birdlife amidst three distinct ecosystems. Ensure you’re physically fit to undertake this captivating two-day, 36 km circular trail.

3. How can I explore the skies of Free State?
Experience the breathtaking landscapes of the Free State through hot air ballooning. Drift serenely above picturesque countryside, rivers, and towns, and immerse yourself in the beauty unfolding beneath you with a typical flight lasting from 45 minutes to an hour.

4. What underwater adventures await in KwaZulu-Natal?
KwaZulu-Natal is a treasure trove for diving and snorkeling enthusiasts, offering stunning coastal areas, vibrant coral reefs, and diverse marine life along the Indian Ocean. Explore well-known spots like Sodwana Bay and Protea Banks for an underwater spectacle.

5. How can I experience wildlife in Limpopo?
Embark on a safari adventure in Limpopo’s world-class game reserves such as Kruger National Park. Immerse yourself in the bush’s magic, encounter Africa’s iconic wildlife, and explore various activities like guided game drives and walking safaris.

6. How does EMERGIVAC enhance my outdoor experience in South Africa?
EMERGIVAC ensures your safety during your outdoor adventures, offering immediate 24/7 armed response services and emergency medical evacuation, enabling you to enjoy South Africa’s extraordinary landscapes with peace of mind.


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