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Raising Your Adrenaline While Thrill-Seeking in South Africa

Thrill Seeking in South Africa with WorldVia

From vintage African escapades to harrowing experiences not for the faint of heart, it’s also the ideal place to cut loose and delve headlong into adventure. For anyone considering South Africa for a bit of thrill-seeking, don’t skip these opportunities for an unforgettable experience.

Quad-Bike Safaris:

You don’t have to be a quad-bike enthusiast to enjoy cruising through the pristine South African terrain inspecting elephants, leopards, rhinos, and more. While there are many different options for safaris throughout the continent, quad-bike safaris have become very popular near both Cape Town and Johannesburg for their unique combination of thrill-seeking and scenery.
At the renowned Aquila Game Reserve about two hours from Cape Town, guests have a spread of options catered to creating an individualized experience. While those looking for a mild adventure can do a half-day trip and stay in a luxury lodge, there are also overnight camping options that will take you right out under the stars among the local wildlife. Along the way, explorers can expect to see the Big 5 in African wildlife, including a chance to get just close enough to snap compelling photos of a pride of lions. Aquila Game Reserve also has a working conservation center, where you can check out animals that are being rehabilitated before being sent back into the wild.
While there are plenty of transportation options to get to a quad-bike safari near Cape Town, the same goes for near Johannesburg. One of the most popular spots in the area, Segwati Getaways, taps an extensive network of quad-bike trails that cuts right through stunning terrain. Snaking up the beautiful Witwatersberg Mountains, trails showcase some of northern South Africa’s finest scenery, and visitors are likely to have close encounters with giraffes, water buffaloes, exotic birds, and plenty of others. Trails also are very close to the Cradle of Humankind, a World Heritage Site that offers numerous cultural experiences. Although there are many ways to see South Africa’s famous wildlife, zipping through the gorgeous countryside on an easy-to-use quad bike has become a go-to favorite for thrill-seekers.

Rock climbing (or Hiking) in the Drakensberg Mountains:

The Dutch settlers who first came to the region named them the Mountains of Dragons (Drakensbergen in Afrikaans), and there might not be a better or more interesting place to be a beginning rock climber. Swirling with local legends and panoramic beauty, the Drakensberg Mountains are mysterious and inspiring, complete with enormous grasslands and green hillsides filled with endangered plant species. A morning’s drive south from Johannesburg, near the eastern border of Lesotho, the Drakensberg Mountains have more trailheads and outdoor adventures than you’ll know what to do with.
One of the favorite spots for visitors is the Didima Camp at the base of Cathedral Peak, where hikers can find comfortable lodging as they launch into the neighboring attractions. While you can easily spend an entire day or even a week walking through the Didima Valley, most find their way to one of the nearby Cathedral Peak trails that will take you to the breathtaking summit the region is known for. Very green in the summer (December through March) and brown during most of the dry winter, Cathedral Peak has multi-day hiking trails for the most adventurous, and you can even sleep in a cave on the side of the escarpment (Twins Cave).
For those who aren’t quite up for that level of excitement, staying at the Cathedral Peak Hotel or Didima Camp and taking a more direct day hike to the summit still guarantees plenty of thrills and scenery. Also in the Didima area, the Rainbow Gorge Trail is a pleasant 3.4-mile woodlands hike that ends at a waterfall that often boasts a rainbow when there is enough sunshine.
Even if you’re not much of a mountain climber, the Drakensberg Mountains are also a great place to be a curious beginner. At the Sentinel Peak in the northern part of the mountain range, popular beginner courses will have you scaling up rocky bluffs in only a couple days of training, ending with a triumphant view of the escarpment and valley. For those not afraid of a little winter adventure, novices can also learn the art of ice climbing during the coldest parts of the year, and the views are every bit as sensational.

Shark cage diving and cableway tours near Cape Town:

If you’ve ever wanted to slip into a Discovery Channel documentary, all you need to do is charter one of the many boat tours that leave from various spots in Cape Town. While searching for sharks jumping out of the water is sure to yield a memorable experience, true thrill-seekers can find their way into a shark cage in Shark Alley, where your sense of adventure will be challenged by face-to-face meetings with great whites.
One of the most popular launching points is False Bay, where there is a wealth of options for a close encounter with the local marine life in the area. From fall to spring (March through September) you can expect clear waters all around internationally famous Seal Island, the hot spot for catching great whites jumping out of the water in a feeding frenzy. If you want to get into the water next to a great white, a shark cage expedition from either False Bay or Gansbaai Harbour is sure to be one of the most intense experiences of your life. Between the chilly Atlantic waters and a close-up of a great white buzzing by your cage, even a seasoned thrill-seeker will have a spike in adrenaline.
If diving with one of the greatest predators in the history of the planet is a bridge too far, there are also terrific whale-watching options just south of Cape Town off the coast of Hermanus. Sailing along the southwestern tip of South Africa between July and November, visitors can check out the massive southern right whales gliding just off the rugged coast. Thrill-seekers can still take it to the next level here as well by renting a kayak for an even closer look at the many sea beasts of Cape Town.
Meanwhile, taking a cable car to the 3,500-foot peak of Table Mountain will yield a spectacular view of Cape Town and miles upon miles of ocean-hugging coastline. The gigantic Table Mountain National Park – spanning almost the entire west side of Cape Town – also has an exceptional assortment of hiking trails that boast impeccable views of the region, including down to the majestic Cape of Good Hope. With thrill-seeking opportunities to fit every type of traveler, Cape Town is simply an outstanding launching point for adventure.

Gauging the weather:

Many of the activities in South Africa change substantially from season to season, although they’re still predominately doable year-round. In the Drakensberg Mountains, for example, the pinnacle of fall between April and May is generally seen as the best time to hit the hiking trails, as you’ll see a lush green landscape without the constant threat of summer thunderstorms. By winter (roughly May through August) you’ll have to be prepared for temps to drop below freezing at nighttime, though you also won’t have to deal with the rainfall you’ll have to overcome during the summer months. A similar dynamic will be at play for anyone eager to check out a safari; knowing the local climate and bringing the right gear will be a fundamental part of your trip.
As for chartering a boat or hopping in a shark cage, your tour will completely weather dependent and keeping a close eye on forecasts is a must. You’ll also want to have an alternative in mind in case you get bad weather, though that shouldn’t be difficult considering Cape Town’s extensive network of popular sites and icons. For those ready to persevere no matter the weather, however, South Africa is difficult to surpass when it comes to thrill-seeking.

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The Adventurer’s Guide to Costa Rica

Surf in Costa Rica

Whether you’re into water sports, hiking (or zip lining) through jungles and rainforests, or exploring volcanoes, Costa Rica has an incredible number of opportunities to experience thrills and challenges.

Ziplining and Canopy Tours

You can go ziplining in many places. However, there aren’t many places where you can experience the kind of natural wonders that surround you in Costa Rica. This is an adventurous activity that people of all ages and physical conditions can enjoy. Here are a few of the country’s best zip lines, canopy tours, and aerial trams.
Canopy Safari is one of the oldest zip lining tours in Costa Rica. They also offer many other activities in their incredible rainforest location, including rafting, a Tarzan swing, and walking tours. They have a Serpentarium, butterfly garden and a Cayman pond on the premises as well.
Jaco Aerial Tram Tour is an aerial tram is good for people who are reluctant to try ziplining but still want to get amazing views of rainforests and jungles. Of course, you can also do both if you’re so inclined! The Jaco tour provides great views of the ocean as well as the forest.
Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve is renowned for its incredible diversity of plants and animals. It’s especially great for bird watchers, with more than 400 species of birds including the Quetzal, which is only found in this region. You can observe this amazing reserve for yourself by ziplining or taking an aerial tram tour, which gives you a bird’s eye view of this unique spot. Another favorite activity in reserve is hiking on the Sky Walk Suspension Bridges that are located throughout the forest.

Water Sports

Wherever you go in Costa Rica, you’ll be close to water. It has coastlines on both the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean, making it one of the best places in the world to enjoy beaches and water sports. As you venture inland, you’ll also find an abundance of rivers, lakes, and waterfalls. Here are just some examples of where you can find the best water-based activities.

Rafting

Costa Rica offers world-class rafting in a unique tropical environment. You can choose between day trips and multi-day adventures along the country’s many rivers. You can also select trips based on your experience and how challenging an experience you’re seeking (rapids are classified between Class I to Class VI).
Corobici River Float in Guanacaste. This river is classified between Class I and II, making it a good choice for beginners and anyone who wants a relaxing yet beautiful journey with lots of incredible wildlife, especially birds.
Rio Pacuare This river offers a moderately challenging Class III rafting adventure through a rainforest that flows towards the Caribbean. You also have great views of the majestic Talamanca Mountains.
Naranjo River is Class IV+ river is for you if you want serious whitewater action in addition to beautiful scenery. This river presents challenges such as canyon walls and many technical narrows that will test your skills.

Snorkeling and Diving

If you want to get a close-up view of the incredible marine life in the waters around Costa Rica, make sure you go snorkeling or diving. Scuba diving gives you the fullest experience, but you need to be certified. There are, however, quite a few diving schools where you can get your certification. Snorkeling is a simpler way to get a memorable look at the pristine waters.
Gandoca Manzanillo Wildlife Refuge is one of the best places for snorkeling and diving in the entire Caribbean. In addition to an incredible diversity of fish, you’re likely to encounter dolphins, sea turtles, and manatees.
Manuelita Coral Garden is a protected area has gentle waters, making it a good choice for novice divers. The coral reef attracts many large sea creatures such as black tip sharks, hammerheads, marble rays, and others.
Caño Island Biological Reserve offers amazing diving and snorkeling in the Pacific Ocean all year round. You can find many experienced diving tours in this area. The most famous diving spot is called Devil’s Rock, which has a dramatic underwater landscape of peaks and valleys.

Surfing

You can enjoy spectacular surfing in many parts of Costa Rica, on both the Pacific and Caribbean beaches.
Nosara is a region is popular for holistic and yoga retreats as well as surfing. Playa Guiones is the main surfing beach. It’s also a protected area for sea turtles and other wildlife, so it’s good for encountering wildlife.
Puerto Viejo is one of the best surfing spots on the Caribbean coast. This area attracts many top surfers who come to test their prowess against the legendary Salsa Brava surf break.
Dominical is popular beach town by the Southern (Pacific) coast. The ocean here can produce powerful waves, so it’s not ideal for beginners. However, there are some spots where the waters are calmer. You can also enjoy the bars, eateries, and shops in this trendy area.

Explore Wildlife

If you visit Costa Rica, you’re bound to see lots of beautiful and exotic animals such as birds, fish, reptiles, monkeys, and many others. If this is one of your priorities, however, you can make it a point to visit national parks and other areas known for the species that most fascinate you. The following are some suggestions for finding particular types of animals.
Birds – Costa Rica is famous for its biodiversity. There are an estimated 850 species of birds alone. Fortunately, you can’t help but see many beautiful tropical birds when you’re anywhere in this country. However, some of the best spots for bird watching include the Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve (mentioned in the section on ziplining), Palo Verde National Park, and Los Quetzales National Park, where you have the best chance of seeing the Quetzal, Costa Rica’s most iconic bird.
Big Cats – Costa Rica has a few big cats such as ocelots and jaguars. They are hard to spot in the wild, though you might be lucky and spot one in a rainforest. One place to see big cats is at a wildlife sanctuary such as the one at La Paz Waterfall Gardens National Park.
Monkeys – There are many species of monkey in Costa Rica. Some of the most common are Howler monkeys, spider monkeys, capuchins, and spider monkeys. One of the best places to see monkeys is the Corcovado National Park.
Three-toed Sloth – These tree-dwelling animals are found in rainforests. If you want to see lots of sloths and learn all about them, visit the Sloth Sanctuary in on the Caribbean coast.
Reptiles – You’ll see lizards and snakes everywhere in Costa Rica. Geckos and iguanas are especially numerous. If you’re not an expert, be wary of snakes as some are deadly. It’s wise to learn a little about Costa Rica’s snakes, especially if you’re venturing into forests and jungles. Other common reptiles include sea turtles, crocodiles, caimans, and black ctenosaur lizards.

Visit Volcanoes

Costa Rica is full of volcanoes. There are, in fact, more than 60 in total. Hiking a volcano is an adventurous activity you can try in almost any part of the country. Before planning your trip, be sure to check on the volcano’s current status. Climbing an active volcano adds some extra adventure though even inactive ones are well worth exploring. Here are a few of the most popular volcanoes to visit.
Turrialba Volcano – If you want to hike a volcano close to San Jose, the capital city, this is the closest. However, for safety reasons, the national park in which the volcano is situated is not always open to visitors.
Arenal Volcano – At more than 5,000 feet, this is Costa Rica’s most famous volcano. Currently inactive, the last eruption was in 1968. One of the advantages of visiting this volcano is that you can also enjoy bathing in some of the numerous hot springs in the area.
Irazú Volcano – This volcano is quite close to San Jose and is Costa Rica’s tallest active volcano at over 11,000 feet. It last erupted in 1994.

Lots of Opportunity for Adventure in Costa Rica

We’ve looked at just a few of the many types of adventure you can find in Costa Rica. Aside from the unparalleled natural beauty and wildlife, you can find world-class resorts, top quality cuisine, a growing arts scene, and versatile nightlife. Few countries offer a greater diversity of activities and attractions. There are many reasons to put Costa Rica at the top of the list for your next adventure tour.