The best outdoor adventure things to do in South Africa

Kayaking in Goukamma near Knysna on the Garden Route

South Africa boasts so many outdoor activities and adventures that the whole country is really an adventurers playground! It is fast becoming the adventure capital of the world and with so many options, incredible nature and landscapes, it’s no wonder!

All around the country, you’re guaranteed to find adventure activities. From the flourishing forests and majestic mountains to the incredible marine-life, insane waves, and life-changing safari experiences.

The scenery across the country is guaranteed to take your breath away, and that’s before you even get the adrenaline pumping on these amazing outdoor adventures! Below are some of the best outdoor things to do in this magnificent country.

The Absolute Best Things to Do in South Africa

Through local experience and knowledge, here’s a round up of top things to do in South Africa to embrace the adventurous outdoors. Hopefully this will give you more options to plan your next vacation in South Africa.

The Kruger National Park, Mpumalanga

For most people heading to Southern Africa, an authentic bush safari experience is at the top of the list! South Africa has some pretty great game reserves to head to if you’re hoping to see the big 5.

The Kruger National Park is the country’s most famous reserve. Located in Mpumalanga, it’s the largest, oldest and most accessible park in the country.

You’re likely to spot many of the incredible big 5 animals in their natural habitats, and there’s a large range of accommodation options – from luxury lodges to self-catering cottages.

Night drives, horseback safaris, walking safaris, and game drives are all possible in this popular park.

Elephants drinking at a local waterhole in South Africa

Hiking Table Mountain, Cape Town

One of the seven natural wonders of the world with an incredibly scenic city built around this majestic mountain.

No surprise, it’s an outdoor enthusiast’s dream! With loads of hiking trails that take you to the summit, views across the National Park and the Atlantic Ocean surrounding the city.

No visit to South Africa is truly complete without a visit to the Mother City and a climb up this magnificent jewel.

The hikes all vary in difficulty and fitness level. Some can be dangerous, so make sure you know where you are going or take a local or guide with you for the best outdoor adventure.

See the Big 5 Near Cape Town

If you’re only making your way to the Mother City when visiting South Africa, but still hoping to see some of our incredible wildlife, look no further!

Aquila Private Game Reserve is the closest place to find a safari in Cape Town. It’s a luxury reserve where you’re able to see the wildlife roaming freely.

There are also places a bit further afield, like Inverdoorn Nature Reserve and Addo Elephant Park, which are great options to see the big 5. Especially if you are doing the incredible road trip from the Western Cape along the Garden Route.

White rhinos in Aquila Private Game Reserve

Bungee Jumping off Bloukrans Bridge

Calling all adrenaline junkies! Welcome to the highest bridge bungee in the world! There’s nothing quite like jumping off the edge of a 216-meter bridge to get the heart racing.

The scenery is incredible, and with so many places to visit and things to do on the Garden Route, it’s the perfect stop to remember. You’re guaranteed to be on a high for the rest of the month.

Helicopter Tour of Cape Town

Of all the cities in the world, Cape Town must be one of the best to take a helicopter ride over.

With incredible landscapes all around, the blue ocean and the vast mountain ranges, it’s the most incredible sight to see from the air.

Take a Helicopter Tour from the popular shopping destination for all tourists visiting Cape Town, the V&A Waterfront. You’ll fly over this scenic expanse of beauty before landing safely on the ground, with sparkles in your eyes.

Cape Town aerial view from a helicopter ride

Surfing in Jeffreys Bay

For surfers, this must be the best thing to do in South Africa! The premier surf destination and laid-back town is where you’ll find the best swells, the best cold beers and the best people to make it all happen.

There are loads of backpackers to stay at and the atmosphere is amazing throughout the year. (With some of the best waves in winter, as well as major surf competitions like the J-Bay Pro or Billabong Pro).

If you’re not a pro, getting in the waters here with a board is still a must-do in South Africa! You can easily rent equipment or get a surfing lesson to join in on all the fun.

Go Whale Watching in Hermanus

Wondering what to see in South Africa? The rainbow nation is also lucky enough to have one of the top whale-watching destinations in the world! (If not the best)

Most sightings take place between June and November, in this sleepy seaside town less than 2-hours drive from Cape Town.

Sit on a bench or one of the seaside restaurants and enjoy watching these giant gentle creatures breaching and playing in the water right before your eyes.

Whale watching in Hermanus, Western Cape

Cage Diving with Great White Sharks

A little further along the coast from Hermanus, in Gansbaai, you’ll find some more great outdoor adrenaline adventures!

One of the most popular things to do in South Africa is for bravehearts! You can get up close and personal with Great White Sharks, from the safety of a small cage attached to the side of a boat. See every tooth and scar as they swim past.

Sharks are an endangered species, and people need to start understanding rather than fearing them to save these amazing animals. You’ll learn lots about the sharks and the research that is currently being conducted, as well as the preservation of these massive creatures.

Visit Some African Penguins

The African penguin colony in Simonstown, Cape Town, is a priority for most visitors coming to the mother city.

These small, suited-up little guys just hang out in masses on the rocks and beaches of the area. You’re able to walk around, lounge on the beach, or brace yourself for a dip in the cold waters.

It’s one of the biggest colonies of African penguins that you’ll find anywhere in the world. The small villages around that side of the peninsula are also great to explore.

Penguin colony in Simonstown, Cape Peninsula

Kayaking in Tsitsikamma

Tsitsikamma National Park is one of the most beautiful places in the whole country.

Kayaking through the gorges and along the river from Storms River mouth is one of the best outdoor experiences. You’ll paddle under the suspension bridge and up the river until you can’t go any further in the most scenic location.

If the Garden Route is not part of your trip, there’s also the option of kayaking in Cape Town, with some equally impressive views.

Kayaks pass under the Storms River Mouth suspension bridge in Tsitsikamma National Park

Sandboarding in Wilderness

Sandboarding is a wonderfully fun, active outdoor adventure. What better place to do it than in Wilderness, a sprawling scenic coastal stretch of the Garden Route with forests, wide beaches, and awesome terrain.

You can book sandboarding at a few places in Wilderness, then head up the hills for some adrenaline and spectacular vistas!

Canopy Tour

South African Canopy Tours and Zip-lining experiences can be found across the country.

There’s one near Cape Town, one along the Garden Route, and another in Durban that’s not for the faint-hearted.

Imagine flying over gorges, waterfalls, and treetops with the most amazing views and a solid hit of adrenaline.

Spend an Afternoon in Kirstenbosch

Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens were founded in 1913 to protect South Africa’s unique flora. It makes for the perfect day of sunshine, serene gardens, long walks, and picnics.

It’s known as one of the world’s greatest botanical gardens, and is also a great starting point for some of the best hikes in Cape Town.

During summer, Kirstenbosch hosts summer concerts on Sunday evenings that are highly recommended! There’s also a tearoom and cafe/restaurant if you’d rather have tea and scones than a picnic on the grass.

During summer, Kirstenbosch hosts summer concerts on Sunday evenings that are highly recommended

Paragliding in Cape Town

Paragliding from Signal Hill is a very popular activity in Cape Town. The heart-pumping activity offers sights of the Twelve Apostles and Camps Bay Beach from the top, taking you down to a gentle landing on the Sea Point Promenade.

The views from above of the city bowl are incredible and you can choose to do some acrobatics on your way down while overlooking the ocean.

Signal Hill is also a great spot for sundowners. Get there early to find the best spot and bring a few drinks and snacks to enjoy the sunset.

Hike the Drakensberg Mountain Range

Drakensberg, or the Mountain Kingdom, is a place for the adventurous ones who seek out a different side of South Africa and further afield South Africa attractions.

The scenery is unparalleled and there are lots of fun outdoor adventures to make the most of this special setting.

You can explore the insanely red mountains on horse-back or find one of the incredible hikes to take in the amazing perspective. Whether you are super fit and agile or just wanting some fresh air, there really is something for everyone!

Explore the Cango Caves

These complex caves aren’t for the faint-hearted! If you’re at all claustrophobic, they probably won’t make the top of your list of things to do in SA.

For the caving adventurers, they are a fun day trip just inland from the Garden Route. They also give you the opportunity to walk, scramble, climb and crawl through this sprawling intricate cave complex.

It’s one of the oldest tourist attractions and one of the most fascinating cave systems to experience. Be careful, some of the openings are as small as 26 cm!

Cango Caves' spectacular stalactite formations

Safari in Hluhluwe-iMfolozi Park

This is the oldest Game Reserve in South Africa and one of the lesser-known points of interest in the country. Hluhluwe is famous for its white and black rhino population– an amazing thing considering that rhino populations are rapidly diminishing due to poaching.

There are some great conservation efforts being put in place.

If you’re feeling brave, you can also kayak with beasts in an estuary infested with over 1200 crocodiles and hundreds of hippos.

Others can choose to do a wildlife safari on a horse, getting up really close to some amazing wildlife in an unforgettable way.

Observe Turtles Laying Eggs

St. Lucia in South Africa is one of the best places in the world to spot Leatherback and Loggerhead turtles laying their eggs.

The tours begin late at night and go on until the early hours of the morning.

Unfortunately, very few turtle hatchlings actually reach the ocean. But it’s still an amazing experience to see how the ecosystem works and learn about all the other creatures.

Microlight Flight Near Durban

Close to Durban’s golden shores and warm waves, you can try flying a microlight over the spectacular coastline.

Watch dolphins and sea turtles swimming in the sea below as you feel the wind blowing in your hair, free like a seagull.

Microlight flight near Durban, overlooking wetlands

Enjoy a Wine Tasting

Definitely one of the top things to do in South Africa! The Cape Wine region is one of the most scenic places in the world, where you can taste some of the best wines and enjoy mouth-watering dishes.

One of our favorites is Babylonstoren in the Stellenbosch region of the Western Cape. It’s an old Cape Dutch farm that has an elegant hotel, many restaurants, and the most astonishing garden.

The 200-acre winery produces excellent wines. If you’re a wine enthusiast, you’ll find many more like this all around Western Cape.

Grapes on a trellis line on the Babylonstoren farm near Paarl

More Surfing

South Africa’s coastline stretches for more than 1,600 miles and includes the cold Atlantic and the warm Indian Ocean, with great swell across the country.

It’s a surfers’ paradise, with most of the best spots along the Western Cape or further north along the east coast.

If you’re headed to the Mother City, check out Muizenberg for beginner waves, or Big Bay near Blouberg Beach. For pros, the most famous wave here is Dungeons, a beastly right-hander known to get as big as 60 feet!

South Africa is a surfer's paradise, especially along the Western Cape

Final Thoughts on Things to Do in South Africa

South Africa is an outdoor lover’s dream, with so much ground to discover and explore, and great weather most of the year.

Heading to South Africa and looking for things to do in the country? You now know what a cool place it is for the adventurous hearted traveler– it’s time to start planning your trip!

We guarantee you won’t be disappointed with all these must-see South African adventures. This amazing country is filled with outdoor fun, picturesque landscapes, adrenaline activities, wonderful wildlife, and friendly people.

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