Adventure Activities

Adventure sports thrive in Southern Africa and enthusiasts find ways to raise their heart rate in most countries. Try sandboarding an ancient desert, throwing yourself out of a plane, surfing the Atlantic or shooting down foaming white-water rapids.

Northern Mozambique Sail by dhow past remote islands or venture into trackless bush in the interior.

Semonkong (Lesotho) Take a plunge on the longest commercially operated single-drop abseil (204m) down the Maletsunyane Falls.

Swakopmund Namibia's, and indeed Southern Africa’s, capital of adventure sports, this is adrenaline-junkie heaven.

Great Usutu River (Swaziland) White-water rafting in Swaziland including Grade IV rapids, which aren’t for the faint-hearted.

Victoria Falls (Zimbabwe) Tackle the Grade V rapids down the Zambezi River or bungee from Victoria Falls bridge.

Beaches

Coastal beaches and miles of inland lakeshore mean there are no excuses not to wet your toes. Turquoise waters, coral reefs and sandy beaches are ideal for swimming, snorkelling, diving or just good ol' sunbathing. Mozambique is the pick.

Chizumulu Island A tiny floating paradise with an almost Mediterranean coastline and an uber-chilled beach lodge.

Ponta d'Ouro (Mozambique) Mozambique's southernmost tip features a long, dune-fringed beach with reliable surf and dolphin spotting.

Tofo (Mozambique) A long arc of white sand with azure waters, surfing and diving with manta rays.

Vilankulo (Mozambique) Quiet beaches stretch north and south, with horse riding and views of the distant Bazaruto Archipelago.

Pomene (Mozambique) A stunning estuarine setting, a wild coastline and rewarding birding are among the draws of this often-overlooked spot.

Wimbi Beach (Mozambique) Hit a beach shack for a sundowner on northern Mozambique’s finest municipal strip of sand.

Muizenberg (South Africa) You could pick any of the Cape Peninsula or Simons Town beaches but this one's as good for families as it is for surfers.

Cultural Interactions

Experiencing the rich tapestry of Southern African culture will enhance any visit to the region. There are myriad ways of accessing the region's peoples, their traditions and ways of life.

The Kalahari (Botswana) Numerous lodges and camps employ San guides and trackers to take you out onto their ancestral lands and introduce you to their culture.

Bairro Mafalala (Mozambique) Learn about the rich history and culture of Maputo's Mafalala neighbourhood during a walking tour.

Mozambique Island (Mozambique) Step back through the centuries in this historical treasure trove and cultural melting pot.

Kaokoveld (Namibia) Immerse yourself in the world of the Himba, one of Southern Africa's most soulful people.

Soweto (South Africa) Stay the night in a backpackers or B&B and learn local history from the residents over a shebeen beer.

Tengenenge (Zimbabwe) An open-air gallery, showcasing more than 120 Shona sculptors, where you can see the artists at work and stay in a traditional mud hut.

Hiking

A great way to experience the magic of the region is to hear the crunch of the earth beneath your boots. Here are some of Southern Africa’s great hikes.

Chimanimani Mountains (Mozambique) Get to know local culture while hiking through lush, seldom-visited forest areas.

Drakensberg (South Africa) From day-hikes to week-long treks, the dramatic Drakensberg creates happy hikers.

Fish River Canyon (Namibia) The best way to get a feel for this massive gash in the earth is to embark on a five-day hike along the valley floor.

Waterberg National Park (Namibia) Four-day guided and unguided trails are available through pristine wilderness landscape, with the possibility of some rare wildlife sightings.

Lesotho A country 'made' for hiking.

Mt Mulanje and the Zomba Plateau (Malawi) The country's best spots for hiking.

The Wild Coast (South Africa) Strap a pack to your back and take a hike past rugged cliffs, remote beaches and Xhosa villages.

Landscapes

One of the best things about exploring the region is discovering its array of landscapes: from swirling desert sands and slabs of ancient granite mountain, to jagged coastlines, rock-strewn moonscapes and lush savannah.

Okavango Delta (Botswana) A watery paradise of reed-lined channels whose paths change with each passing year.

Damaraland (Namibia) One of Southern Africa's most beautiful corners with blood-red mountains, palm valleys, rock art and wonderful wildlife.

Fish River Canyon (Namibia) The cliche says it's Africa's Grand Canyon and, unlike many cliches, this one's pretty close to the mark.

Sossusvlei (Namibia) The sand-dune desert you always dreamed of with stunning, sculpted sands all the way to the Atlantic shoreline.

Drakensberg (South Africa) Awesome peaks and formations, such as the Ampitheatre, are fronted by rolling hills.

The Wild Coast (South Africa) The green hills dotted with pastel rondavels, rugged cliffs and empty Indian Ocean beaches are unforgettable.

Mutinondo Wilderness (Zambia) Mutinondo offers soul-stirring landscapes dotted with huge purple-hued inselbergs and laced with meandering rivers.

Liuwa Plain National Park (Zambia) As close as you'll get in Southern Africa to the Serengeti's wild and vast savannah plains.

Makgadikgadi Pans National Park (Botswana) Mesmerising and strangely beautiful pancake-flat salt-pan network, larger than any on the planet.

Mountains

Some of Africa’s finest peaks scrape the cloud line in Southern Africa. Who hasn’t heard of Table Mountain? But the region is peppered with plenty of other massive mounds ideal for climbing, ogling and snapping.

Drakensberg (South Africa) Probably the most beautiful range of mountains anywhere in Southern Africa.

Mt Mulanje (Malawi) Surrounded by majestically rolling green tea plantations, it’s the country’s best climb.

Mt Namúli (Mozambique) Climb though deep green tea plantations to the sacred upper slopes of Mozambique’s second-highest peak.

The Spitzkoppe (Namibia) Its sobriquet as the 'Matterhorn of Africa' may be overdone, but this is one shapely peak among many along Namibia's spine.

Sani Pass (Lesotho) Shouldn't be missed for its exhilarating hair-raising bends, stupendous views and on-top-of-the-world pub.

Table Mountain (South Africa) Whether you ride the cable car, or hike to the top, attaining the summit of Table Mountain is a Capetonian rite of passage.

Off-Road Driving

This is adventure country for 4WD enthusiasts. In many remote places age-old tracks are the only way to navigate through the African wilderness.

Kaokoveld (Namibia) One of the last true wildernesses in Southern Africa, the remote and beguiling Kaokoveld is a serious off-road challenge.

Khaudum National Park (Namibia) With virtually no signage, and navigation dependent on GPS coordinates and topographic maps, Khaudum is a wildlife and off-road adventure.

Central Kalahari Game Reserve (Botswana) An off-roader's dream if you’re after solitude, desertscapes and the echo of lions roaring in the night.

Savuti (Botswana) The tracks that connect Savuti to the outside world are some of the sandiest in the country – make it here and you've earned your stripes.

Makgadikgadi Pans (Botswana) If the notion of exploring 12,000 sq km of disorientating salt pans is your idea of an adventure, then head straight here.

North Luangwa National Park (Zambia) You’ll have to navigate rough tracks while dodging the diverse wildlife just to reach this remote park.

Richtersveld (South Africa) This wild frontier is a moonlike swatch of land accessible only by 4WD.

Rock Art

The rock art of Southern Africa is an extraordinary chronology of an ancient people and a link to our ancient ancestors. Dotted around the region in hills and caves, these are sacred works of art.

Tsodilo Hills (Botswana) These dramatic rock formations in northeastern Botswana, known as the ‘Louvre of the Desert’, shelter around 4000 paintings and carvings.

Cederberg (South Africa) The fiery orange peaks of the barren Cederberg are dotted with craggy rock formations and dozens of easily accessible rock-art sites.

Game Pass Shelter (South Africa) Guides lead informative walks to this Drakensberg cave, often referred to as the ‘Rosetta Stone’ of San rock art.

Matobo National Park (Zimbabwe) Some of Zimbabwe’s oldest San paintings are hidden in caves here.

Quthing (Lesotho) Authentic in-your-face San rock art is a feature here.

Twyfelfontein (Namibia) One of Africa’s most extensive galleries of rock art.

The Brandberg 'Fire Mountain' is an extraordinarily beautiful slab of granite, with a treasure chest of ancient rock paintings.

Wildlife Safaris

Some of the best wildlife viewing on the continent is at your fingertips. Unique opportunities abound while on safari.

Chobe Riverfront (Botswana) Africa’s largest elephants draw near to the water’s edge with predators prowling nearby.

Etosha National Park (Namibia) Incredible wildlife viewing with animals crowding around easily seen waterholes.

Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park (South Africa) Deep in the Kalahari is one of the world’s best places to spot big cats, from cheetahs to black-maned lions.

Kruger National Park South Africa’s famous park has 5000 rhinos alone, and landscapes from woodland to mopane-veld.

Mana Pools National Park (Zimbabwe) For the wild at heart – you’re almost guaranteed to see lions; unguided walks allowed.

Hwange National Park (Zimbabwe) A vast African classic wilderness with fabulous elephant- and predator-watching.

Okavango Delta (Botswana) One of the world's largest inland river deltas; the life-sustaining waters ebb and flow, supporting vast quantities of wildlife.

South Luangwa National Park (Zambia) Abundant wildlife, wonderful scenery and walking safaris.

Big Cats

Southern Africa has some of the healthiest populations of big cats – lions, leopards and cheetahs – anywhere on the continent and tracking them down will provide many of your most memorable moments of watching wildlife.

Savuti (Botswana)There's a reason why National Geographic filmed Savage Kingdom here – all three big cats in abundance.

Moremi Game Reserve (Botswana) There are big cats everywhere in Botswana's north and Moremi rarely disappoints.

Etosha National Park (Namibia) Lions on a kill at a waterhole while herds of springbok and gemsbok watch on nervously – ah, the drama of Etosha.

Kruger National Park (South Africa) One of Africa's best places to see all three big cats.

Central Kalahari Game Reserve (Botswana) Track down the black-maned Kalahari lions of legend.

Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park (Botswana & South Africa) Deep in the Kalahari, this is an unbeatable place to spot big cats, including black-maned lions.

Nyika National Park (Malawi) The park's population of 100 leopards is one of Southern Africa's densest with a 40% chance of seeing one on a guided night drive.

Gorongosa National Park (Mozambique) Lions are making a comeback in one of Southern Africa's best good-news stories.

Kafue National Park A vast wilderness of Serengeti-like grasslands – great for leopards and lions.

Hwange National Park (Zimbabwe) Cecil may be gone but his pride lives on in this complicated African wilderness.

Elephants & Rhinos

Southern Africa is one of the last strongholds for elephants and rhinos and while poaching remains a serious concern, populations are still large enough to guarantee sightings.

Etosha National Park (Namibia) Its waterholes are brilliant for black rhinos; elephants also a highlight.

Chobe National Park (Botswana) Quite simply one of the best places in Africa to see elephants, with big elephants in big herds.

Hwange National Park (Zimbabwe) With some 40,000 elephants in residence, Hwange is an elephant extravaganza.

Kruger National Park (South Africa) Good for every kind of mammal under the Southern African sun, but elephants and rhinos are almost guaranteed.

Matobo National Park (Zimbabwe) A rare chance to see both white and black rhinos.

Nkhotakota Wildlife Reserve (Malawi) See elephants crashing along the Bua River following a historic translocation of 500 elephants.

Damaraland (Namibia) One of Africa's most underrated wildlife-watching corners, with desert rhinos and desert elephants.

Mkhaya Game Reserve Swaziland’s stunning reserve has endangered species plus buffaloes, elephants and an impressive rhino population.

Addo Elephant National Park South Africa’s third-largest national park offers some of the world’s best elephant viewing.

Gorongosa National Park (Mozambique) Brilliant for elephants and getting better with each passing year.

South Luangwa & North Luangwa National Parks (Zambia) Black rhinos in the north, elephants in the south.

Walking Safaris

Zambia leads the way in Africa when it comes to walking safaris and there's nothing quite like the experience of having nothing between you and Africa's wild creatures.

Mosi-oa-Tunya National Park (Zambia) Extending from Victoria Falls is this wilderness area most famous for being able track white rhinos on foot.

North Luangwa National Park (Zambia) The place to escape the crowds, and one of the best parks for walking safaris, where you may be lucky to spot black rhinos.

South Luangwa National Park (Zambia) Another premier Zambian park with fabulous wildlife and experienced walking-safari guides.

Mana Pools National Park (Zimbabwe) The only park where you're allowed to walk in the wild without a guide.

Damaraland Namibia's increasingly popular place to track desert rhinos on foot.

Birdwatching

Southern Africa is a brilliant birdwatching destination with an excellent mix of migratory species (usually from November to March) and much-sought-after endemics.

Okavango Panhandle (Botswana) A narrow strip of swampland that extends for about 100km to the Namibian border, known for its fine birdwatching.

Caprivi Strip (Namibia) Bwabwata and Nkasa Rupara National Parks present Namibia’s best birdwatching opportunities; Nkasa Rupara has recorded more than 430 species.

Walvis Bay (Namibia) Lesser and greater flamingos flock in large numbers to pools along the Namib Desert coast, particularly around Walvis Bay and Lüderitz.

Bangweulu Wetlands (Zambia) A patchwork of lakes, seasonally flooded grasslands, swamp and unspoiled miombo woodland has some 400 species.

Bazaruto National Park (Mozambique) Magnificent place with everything from flamingos to fish eagles.

Gorongosa National Park (Mozambique) More than 300 bird species to go with the abundant mammal portfolio.