1. Ride an Ostrich
Riding an ostrich takes a lot of skill but amateurs are welcome to try their luck in Oudtshoorn, in the Karoo. Ostrich farms abound in this semi-desert area of South Africa, there are hundreds of them. Oudtshoorn is the place to master riding this ungainly but strangely attractive, non-flying bird. If you’re feeling very confident, there are regular races to be enjoyed as well but you should probably leave those to the professional ostrich jockeys.
Once you’re done attempting to ride the bird, you can taste its relatives by eating some delicious Ostrich Biltong or Paté.
2. Stay in a Tree-House
Tree-house lodging is a fantastic eco-friendly idea and there are several options to choose from.
3. Hike the Wild Coast
The Wild Coast, in South Africa’s Eastern Cape region, is one of the most beautiful coastlines on earth and much of it is only accessible by foot. There are fantastic natural sights including waterfalls, isolated beaches, untouched forests and rivers. The hike also offers the chance to mix with locals like the Xhosa and the amaPondo.
4. Swim with Penguins
Swimming with penguins at Boulders Beach on the Cape Peninsula, near Cape Town, is a real thrill. A small public beach is set apart from the main penguin colony that resides here (on Foxy Beach), but that doesn’t stop the penguins from sitting on your beach towel or darting around your legs while you take a refreshing dip in the Ocean. Penguins like to walk about and generally ignore fences. A boardwalk has been built around the dunes so you can get a great close up look at the entire colony eating, breeding, preening, swimming and chatting away.
5. Dive With Great White Sharks
If you’d like to see the Great White Shark without losing a leg then let me introduce you to the wonderful world of cage diving. Cage diving with the Great White Shark is a relatively new adventure sport in South Africa. There are several operators who offer cage diving packages and most of them concentrate around an area known as “shark alley” in Gansbaai, just 2 hours drive from Cape Town. Great White Shark diving is the marine equivalent of seeing the Mountain Gorilla in its natural environment. It’s an adventurous and unique opportunity to spend some one-on-one time with a magnificent animal.
6. Ride a Luxury Train
There are several excellent luxury train rides you can take in South Africa. The most famous is the Blue Train which has scheduled services between Cape Town and Pretoria. A one way journey takes 27 hours which you spend in 5 star splendor while enjoying spectacular scenery.
Rovos Rail operates a very luxurious railway line and offers trips within South Africa as well as up to the Victoria Falls. Vintage wood-paneled carriages are pulled by a variety of locomotives including steam. Passengers dine on 5 course dinners and enjoy a full-sized bath tub, while chugging through some of South Africa’s beautiful landscapes.
7. Canoe or Raft down the Orange River
The Orange River originates in the Drakensberg Mountains and cuts through some incredible mountain and desert scenery as it winds its way down to the Atlantic Ocean. Well organized canoe and white-water rafting trips down the Orange River are plentiful and most operate in the Richtersveld National Park along the border with Namibia. Typically, a trip will last several days and you camp under brilliant starlit skies.
Canoe and rafting expeditions are absolutely breathtaking during the spring (mid-August – mid-September), when the desert area around Namaqualand, bursts into a riot of color and wildflowers bloom as far as the eye can see.
8. Watch a Soccer (Football) Match 2010
South Africa will host the 2010 Soccer World Cup and you will undoubtedly notice that airports are busily reconstructing, stadiums are being built and there’s plenty of merchandise available already to celebrate the big event. It’s the first time the World Cup is being held on African soil. Soccer is by far the most popular sport in South Africa (and the rest of Africa for that matter). So getting to watch a local football match, is really an exciting cultural experience for any visitor. Andulela is a tour operator based out of Cape Town and they offer a unique half-day Cape Town Soccer Tour that includes going to a match, a traditional lunch and a rendezvous with local soccer experts. Don’t forget to bring your Vuvuzela!
9. Tour Robben Island
A Robben Island tour is a must when you’re visiting Cape Town. It’s a fascinating half-day trip to the former penal colony where Nelson Mandela spent 18 years of his life. Many leading members of South African political parties like the PAC and ANC were incarcerated alongside him.
One of your guides on the tour will be an ex-political prisoner. This gives you the opportunity to hear a first-hand account of prison life on Robben Island, which makes it a truly unique experience.
10. Ride an Elephant on Safari
The African elephant doesn’t have the same stoic temperament as its Asian relative, therefore the chance of riding an African elephant, or even touching one, is rare. Several lodges in South Africa are now able to offer you this unique experience.