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South Africa is a land of breathtaking landscapes and incredibly rich wildlife. Visitors arrive daily from all corners of the world to take part in the life of the bubbling Mother City and explore its iconic landmark the Table Mountain, climb Cederberg mountains and experience the unspoilt paradise of Cape Floral Kingdom, stroll through Durban Botanic Gardens, soak in the stunning scenery of Garden Route, or go riding some of the best waves in the world. But they might not be aware South Africa can also offer unique and exhilarating experiences like no other.
Abseiling Table Mountain is a thrilling and adrenalin-filled experience reserved only for the brave. Starting from the top 1,000 meters above sea level with amazing views of the Atlantic Ocean and Camps Bay, adventurous visitors will be descending 120 meters down a sheer cliff with Twelve Apostles at their side. This pulse-racing experience is accessible to just about anybody who's fairly fit; even if you've never done abseiling before, guides will show you the ropes and all you'll need to bring along is comfortable clothing fitting the weather conditions and a bit of courage.
If clutching to a piece of rope for dear life is what turns you on, perhaps you'd like to try Big Rush rope swing available at Moses Mabhida Stadium in Durban. Experienced staff will get you into a harness and then escort up the stairs to the top of the stadium. Once there, don't let the 100-meter height or a bit of wind scare you; when ready, just count to three and jump. When the expert vagabond does it, taking the world’s tallest rope swing looks like a piece of cake. This is the kind of experience any adrenaline junky would die for but it could also be an efficient cure for those fearing heights.
An alternative but similar option is to go bungee jumping, and there's no better place to do it than in South Africa. The country boasts the highest commercial bungee jump in the world, situated at the Tsitsikamma Forest Village Market along the Garden Route. Bloukrans Bridge Bungee Jump offers to send you headfirst into an abyss 216 meters deep, and having seen the drop, it may take a bit of guts in order to make that crucial step into thin air. As you're watching the Bloukrans River fast approaching, you'll be happy to know you're equipped with a full body harness instead of the usual ankle harness.
Take a 1-hour drive from Cape Town and you'll find no less than 11 different ziplines which can take you flying through the Elgin Valley accompanied by soaring eagles. The longest one measures more than 300 meters and each will deliver you to a platform built on the mountain above the Riviersonderend Gorge. There are spectacular views to be enjoyed, and while there, you'll also get to see a one-of-a-kind suspension bridge stretching high above an amazing double waterfall. Ziplines are now enabling access to what was previously an inaccessible part of the World Heritage site. Lonely Planet has described the ride as „an exciting aerial perspective“ and „vertigo-tinged fun“.
If you'd rather search for an amazing experience in water, why not try snorkelling with playful and inquisitive Cape Fur seals? Those who happen to be visiting Cape Town during summer (that's when seals are most active) shouldn’t miss out on a unique opportunity to interact with these amazing creatures in their own environment. Duiker Island is home to about 5,000 seals which have not been trained so you'll see them behave completely naturally. Don't worry, there will be no sharks in the vicinity; take a plunge into the Atlantic Ocean and create one of the most memorable wildlife experience of your life.
Seals are nice, but you'd prefer to get up close and personal with more threatening animals? No problem! Head to The iSimangaliso Wetland Park and St. Lucia estuary which is home to some of the most dangerous ones in Africa. Once there, board the kayak and prepare yourself for a unique adventure. A tour which takes a couple of hours may seem a bit longer as you watch shark fins swim by, hypos expose their powerful jaws with jagged teeth, and crocs peering at you from the water or contemplating a bite while sunbathing on the shore. You'll be safe as houses, though, so enjoy the paddle and the sight of colourful birds and other interesting wildlife greeting you on the way.
Ok, perhaps getting scared out your wits is not your idea of fun, and fortunately enough, South Africa offers plenty of opportunities to experience something unique completely risk-free – like a visit to a 17-meter high and three stories tall pineapple-shaped building situated just outside of Bathurst. Why pineapple? Because of the local agricultural community known for the production of this tasty fruit. Back in the 18th century, farmers were struggling to grow crops until they decided to give pineapple a go. It has proven to be a success and so they celebrated by constructing massive Big Pineapple in the 1980s. The building made out of metal and fiberglass is home to a museum dedicated to this fruit and offers a variety of related products for sale.
Ronnie's Sex Shop, dubbed „the oddest pub in Africa“, was not even meant to be a pub when its owner first decided to set up business on Cape Route 62. Back in 1970s, Ronnie Price had an idea to open a farm stand selling fruits and veggies, and to advertise it to passersby, he painted the name Ronnie's Shop on the cottage by the road. But some of his mischievous friends though it would be a good idea to rename the place to Ronnie’s Sex Shop as a joke. At first annoyed, the owner eventually decided to embrace the idea and turn his farm stand into a bar. The unusual name inspired weird decoration – more than a hundred T-shirts hanging from the ceiling, bras and underwear strewn about, and visitors' personal sex stories written on the walls. The oddest African bar still operates and you're welcome to stop by for a coffee in the morning and booze in the evenings.
Another unique pub-going experience can be found 2,874 meters above sea level. Known as the highest pub in Africa, Sani Mountain Lodge awaits at the top of the Sani Mountain Pass, „with one foot in South Africa and the other in Lesotho“, and one can only reach it by 4X4. Hospitable staff will serve you breakfast, lunch and dinner cooked by a chef proud of her culinary expertise. Guests are offered an interesting combination of local specials and flavours from around the world, along with a whole range of top quality wines, beers and spirits. There's also the option to stay a night or two at one of the cozy huts.
At the Zambezi River one can find an infinity pool like no other. Between mid-August and mid-January, the river significantly drops and allows visitors to walk along the edge of the falls on the Zambezian side. A walk and a swim will take them to a very special rock pool, one among a number of those formed as the result of thousands of years of erosion. The Devil's pool is located at the very edge of a sheer drop, and if you're courageous enough, you only need to jump in and let the force of the river push you to the rim. It's quite safe during the dry months; rock lip will keep the raging waters from sweeping you away, and guides will be right next to you to make sure nothing unforeseen happens.
If you like rock pools and heights don't scare you, perhaps you'd enjoy a hike up to the Kamikaze Kanyon for an opportunity to jump from rocks up to 22 meters high. The Kogelberg biosphere reserve, which is where one can give it a go, offers breathtaking scenery and numerous exciting adventures, among which canyoning down ravines and a 65-metre abseil down a waterfall. If 20+ meters is more than you're willing to travel before hitting water, choose one of the shorter jumps. Diving from rocks only 3 meters above the surface might be equally pleasing – at least to start with.