Be it gentle meanders or adrenalin thrills, active holidays are here to stay.
‘The four-hour hike in the rain forest of Madagascar’s Andasibe National Park isn’t easy, humidity is high and a soft drizzle brings a mist to the air. Wet vegetation crunches under foot as I move slowly forward, increased anticipation pumping through my veins.
‘They’re close’ – I’m told. I’m here with the express purpose of seeing the Indri Indri, Madagascar’s largest and most elusive lemur, in the wild. Then it comes, the distinctive call that sets it apart. A family moves through with long-armed agility, their black and white bulk matched by short chubby tails and curious faces, all within easy sight.
In these moments a reminder of how in the quest to realize our travel dreams and see the sights, we’re drawn to the more remote and active options. There is a heightened reward in each step taken on a desolate beach, as we skydive from planes and hold conversations with locals. Not to mention pushing mountain bike over the boulder and stretching arms to the next row of a paddle. It’s healthy and real.
There is an argument for time taking in the rays, for food heavy itineraries and books read without interruption in shaded hammocks. Yet in between, there’s an increased need to feel the blood pumping through our veins and that’s where we fit in. Our bodies may end weary, the hike may deliver mosquito bites and blisters, but it also leaves us knowing more, feeling closer to nature and very much alive.
For the gentle explorer
That desire to walk the city or find an interesting cycle tour that won’t send your body going into meltdown is easily met, allowing you to keep up your fitness whilst getting a fresh air perspective. For the whole family, Cape Town Free Walking Tours offers either a historic tour in the morning or a Bo-Kaap tour in the afternoon, starting across from St George’s Cathedral the tour lasts an hour and a half and covers all the essential landmarks that bring the Mother City its character.
On your next visit to Zambia’s Victoria Falls, take an insider look at Livingstone with Local Cowboy Cycle Tours. Their guide will take you through Linda to Libuyu, Dwamba and Maramba, with a visit to a working quarry, that place where the mighty Zambezi River meets the road, the Cowboy pre-school and the Dambwa market. All part of a community project funding the school, this is a half-day out which offers engagement with the way of life, insight into the history and diversity of the area and is offered at a relaxed pace with many stops along the way. More fun than you can imagine, book a Segway tour of the Moses Mabhida Stadium, which you can extend to Durban’s Golden Mile and ocean piers. They offer training and once you’ve got your balance and start zooming, it will be hard to stop.
For the adventurous spirit
The want for more, walking trails, aerial perspectives and time to master that skill you’ve always wanted. Flight by hot air balloon speaks of the adventures of a bygone era. It’s silent as you stand in the basket taking in the views below while regular bursts of hot air leave you at altitude. This should be on all travellers wish lists, especially over the Serengeti and Namid Desert, as well as with the legendary Bill Harrop’s ‘Original’ Balloon Safaris at the Cradle of Humankind.
Walk the 55 km five-day whale trail from Potberg to Koppie Alleen in the Western Cape with five overnight stops along the way. The first few days are strenuous with a mountain climb, but the salty air, marine protected area and opportunity to explore more of the unsurpassed natural beauty of the De Hoop Nature Reserve make up for the sore feet at the end of the day. Book a week in the world-famous Jeffrey’s Bay for surfing lessons with the legendary Andrew Moon of Wavecrest Surf School, a brave and practised man. They offer daily lessons too.
For the extreme enthusiast
They’re out there chasing earth-shattering experiences that literally touch every part of their being. Wet, cold, rugged, suspended from the sky, nothing deters these enthusiasts. Take to the most extreme zip lining in South Africa with a visit to the new Cape Canopy Tours in the Hottentots Holland Nature Reserve, where your adventure will have you flying above age-old protected Cape vegetation.
Dive with thousands of Cape Fur Seals off Hout Bay’s Duiker Island with Animal Ocean. Wetsuit, goggles and snorkels are the only things that will be between you and these curious animals that will come in for a closer look. Don’t think shark, this is seal territory. Take to the rapids near the picturesque Free State town of Clarens with Clarensxtreme. Said to be the best white water rafting in the country, the Ash River provides year-round rafting with 9 rapids, including grade III and IV. While you’re there look into the other activities they offer.
For the Special Occasion
First Date Intentions. An invitation to spend an afternoon getting to know each other could include a plunge and show of your brave heart with a 3, 2, 1 … Bungy! Bloukrans in the Tsitsikamma region is the world’s highest commercial bungy jump and is sure to reveal both character and intentions. Active Honeymoon. Romance loves the great outdoors. Take a honeymoon of beach glamping at the Beach Camp in the Cape Columbine Nature Reserve with sea kayaking and mountain bikes adding to your rustic and natural experience.
Anniversary highs. Take your celebratory dinner to new heights at a table suspended 60m above ground! Look out for these Sky Events that’ll give you a view of more than your marriage as you sit close and peruse the city, bubbly in hand. Family bonding. Brave a couple of days off the grid with the family by booking the 28km Boesmanskloof McGregor to Greyton return hike. Before you know it all attention will be on chats, rock pools and making it out alive. You won’t even miss your cell phones.
Now let’s all get there and make our holidays count.
As appeared in the Edgars Club Magazine.