South Africa Feature

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Adventure Sports

If coming face to mane with a lion isn't spine tingling enough for you, try some of these only-in-South Africa thrills instead. From coast to coast, above and below the sea, and even in the air, the country's adventure offerings are sure to raise the hairs on the back of your neck.

Hang Ten. The South African coast is one of the world's top surf destinations, and dudes and dudettes come from all over to check out the sometimes-empty scene. But along with killer waves, surfers have to worry about, well, being killed. These are shark-infested waters. If you're experienced, check out Dungeons in Cape Town, Jeffreys Bay in the Eastern Cape, and the area dubbed Point Break Heaven south of Durban in KwaZulu-Natal.

Swim with Sharks. If you actually want to see sharks close up, a few hours' drive from Cape Town and 5 mi out at sea is the great white shark highway called Shark Alley, where daredevils can test their mettle by diving into the water, separated from the ocean's most feared predators by just a few spindly bars of a shark cage. Can't scuba dive? Lost your nerve? You can also watch from the boat deck.

Dive with Crocs. If you prefer your deadly predator encounters to be land-based, arrange to come face to snout with Nile crocodiles. The people at Cango Wildlife Ranch will happily dunk you into clear water in Outdshoorn with a mask and a snorkel, inside a cage. You don't really even need to know how to swim. They'll snap your picture so you can prove you did it when you make it back home.

Surf Without Water. The Western Cape has some of the gnarliest sand this side of the shore break. If you want to hang ten without getting wet, grab a plank of wood, or sign up with a company that outfits you with the needed equipment and then point yourself downhill on a seemingly endless sandy dune. They call it sandboarding, and adrenaline junkies surf the grains at Lost City, Atlantis, or Betty's Bay to get a blast of hot grit.

Cave by Candlelight. A mining country like South Africa has plenty of caves to explore all over. Experienced spelunkers can find caves in Mpumalanga and the North West provinces. Many small towns have caves, and some of the more popular places—such as the Cango Caves—are tourist attractions. Outside of these, be sure you go with someone local if you've never been.

Jump off a Bridge. South Africa has the world's highest bungee jump on the border between the Eastern Cape and Western Cape, along the N2 Garden Route. Bloukrans Bridge is a span full of superlatives: largest single span arched bridge in the world, highest bridge in South Africa and third highest in the world. If jumping off it is unappealing, you can ride the "flying fox" out to the arch. Or if that sounds like too much excitement, just walk it.

Jump out of a Plane. Skydiving is popular in South Africa, with clubs all over the country—the largest is in Pretoria. Novice jumpers can learn the ropes in Johannesburg or do tandem jumps in Cape Town, creating a Table Mountain photo opportunity to rival the scariest lion shot.

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