BY EDWINA STORIE
Life is short. Experience the best of it in South Africa.
Most people have a bucket list of wild and wonderful adventures and life-changing experiences they’d be disappointed to miss out on before it’s too late. To that end, and because South Africa is such a coveted destination in the business event sector, we’ve compiled a list of things for delegates to cross off their lists during an incentive trip that they’ll no doubt never forget. These are things that can’t be experienced anywhere else in the world except in South Africa – that exotic country of wild coastlines, sheer cliffs, dramatic mountains, luxurious vineyards and sprawling deserts.
10. Leap off the world’s highest commercial bridge bungee jump in Tsitsikamma (Bloukrans Bridge)
Bungee jumping would have to be on many Australians’ bucket lists, so if you are going to tick it off, why not take a leap of faith from the tallest bridge bungee in the world? Bloukrans Bridge in the Western Cape offers groups the ultimate thrill and team-building opportunity. You’ll never know a colleague’s capability of handling stressful situations until you’ve seen them drop 216 metres into a gorge. Devan Tuohey and Chris Upton run Face Adrenalin, the bungee company that has been leaping from Bloukrans Bridge since 1990. So go on, it’s a once-in-a-lifetime chance to face your fears.
Visit the official website faceadrenalin.com
9. Explore one of the most famous townships, Soweto, by bicycle
Get off the beaten track and explore one of the world’s most diverse townships, Soweto, with an eco-friendly cycle tour. Locals guide your groups through the inner streets of this multifaceted city. You’ll cycle around the community and have the opportunity to converse with some of the better-known local residents. And don’t be surprised if some cute little trouble makers jump on the back of your bike to show you their own favourite spots. Tours run from two hours to a full day, and cyclists can enjoy the true taste of Soweto with a stop for a local burger – Kota – or a long lunch visit to a Shebeen for a traditional beer with the neighbours. Make a stop by the Hector Pieterson Museum and then to Vilakazi Street, the home of not one, but two Nobel Peace Prize winners – Nelson Mandela and Desmond Tutu. You’ll certainly go home with a different perception of this famous township when you see it on two wheels.
For more information go the website sowetobicycletours.com
8. Discover your origins at The Cradle of Humankind
Go back in time to discover the ancient remnants of man within the Cradle of Humankind – a four-million-year-old World Heritage site. This is where the oldest humanoid and ape-man fossils have been found, with some dating back as far as 3.5 million years. Just a short one-hour drive from Johannesburg, travellers can explore the visitor’s centre which lies on the side of a hill among ancient rocky outcrops called Maropeng – a Setswana word meaning ‘returning to the place of our origins’. A 20 metre-high ancient burial mound, Maropeng is home to the Maropeng Conference Centre. This hosts a multisensory boat ride on an underground lake where you can experience the elements of water, air, fire and earth coming together. The nearby boutique four-star Maropeng Hotel is equipped for small business tourism groups, and is just 10 kilometres from the Sterkfontein Caves where dramatic discoveries that changed the history books were made.
Go online to maropeng.co.za for more information.
7. Be overcome by one of the seven natural wonders of the world
Visiting one of the New Seven Wonders of nature is something that should be on everyone’s bucket list, and Cape Town boasts one of the most impressive – Table Mountain. At 360 million years old, it is one of the world’s oldest mountains with such a wide range of fauna and flora it also forms part of the Cape Floral Region, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The cable way which was constructed in 1929 has taken more than 21 million visitors to the top of the mountain where you can enjoy spectacular 360 degrees views of the Cape Town coastline, city centre, and the endless ocean below. If you are up to it you can hike up the Platteklip Gorge route and be on top of Table Mountain within an hour. Or for a slightly more relaxed route, why not try abseiling down and take in the fresh air and beautiful surrounds.
6. Visit the home of the world’s only green canyon
Located in Mpumalanga and forming the northern part of the Drakensberg escarpment, Blyde River Canyon is one of the largest canyons on earth, not to mention one of the largest ‘green’ canyons thanks to its lush subtropical foliage. With Blyde translating to ‘happy’, the canyon is affectionately known as the happy river and runs nearly 30 kilometres along South Africa’s northeast. Also known as one of the great wonders of nature, there are a number of magnificent viewpoints from which to take in the stunning landscape. A must-see is the Three Rondavels which are huge rocks thought to be reminiscent of the houses or huts of the indigenous Rondavels people. Part of the panorama route other must see viewpoints include God’s Window, the Pinnacle and Bourke’s Luck Potholes.
5. See the Big Five on safari – by land, air, car, bicycle or elephant
You don’t have to tick off the big five from your bucket list from the back of a 4WD jeep. It’s also possible to do it by elephant at Addo Elephant Park, or from the skies in a hot air balloon safari in the Pilanesberg over Kruger National Park. Alternatively, you could get a little closer to the action by exploring some of the game reserves on a bicycle. Madikwe Safari Lodge, just an hour’s private jet from Johannesburg, has some incredible accommodation that sits within a region where the big five roam, along with some resident teenage elephants. Don’t be surprised if you walk out of your lodge to cool off in the dip pool and an elephant is enjoying a bit of an afternoon drink. Madikwe takes daily dusk and dawn safaris and has a range of conferencing facilities.
Go online to madikwesafarilodge.co.za to see some of the beautiful lodges.
Volunteering is not only a great way to really immerse yourself into South Africa’s culture, but to make positive impacts on the communities you visit. Reach Out Volunteers allows your incentive groups to explore Zulaland near the Dhinzla Forest where they can turn their hand at everything from building classrooms to creating clean water facilities, teaching local children at the Duka Duka Crèche, or working at the game reserve protecting endangered species. If your group needs to stick close to Cape Town, iKhaya le themba is a program based in the quaint beachside village of Hout Bay where the sprawling township of Imizamo Yethu sits, just 20 minutes from the city. It hosts after-school activities for around 90 children between six and 12 years old who apply for the program, with priority given to those who have special learning needs, been affected by HIV/AIDS, or whose families are most vulnerable. The organisation offers classes in maths, literacy and life skills lessons along with sporting activities to support the kids and their families. iKhaya le themba welcomes international volunteers of small to large groups to assist with program delivery, community work, fundraising and administration.
For more information, visit ikhayalethemba.com/volunteers.php
3. AfrikaBurn festival
For something really out of the ordinary, AfrikaBurn is a festival that you go into with an open mind and no expectations. Be enchanted by the whimsical energy of the self-made festival which is created entirely by the talents of its attendees who each bring a skill, a structure, or materials to make something. The indie art festival has been running since 2007 and was inspired by the famous festival Burning Man in America which is an experiment of community, art and self-expression. Each year more than 5000 participants descend on the hot and dusty plains of the Tankwa National Park in the Northern Cape Province to create the temporary city Tankwa Town. Here they make sculptures and mutant vehicles from recycled remnants, outlandish tent structures and colourful costumes. As the sun beats down on the desert plains, free spirits share a taste of how they think the world could be made anew, and bestow their musical talents on their fellow festival goers as everyone becomes part of the show. Once the moon rises, a new energy sparks up with fire, lights, dancing and collaboration. A festival alive with the freedom of the African desert plains, it’s an experience that will liberate even the most rigid thinkers.
2. Sleep under the stars and among the tree tops at Lion Sands
Sleep under Africa’s glittering night sky in a towering tree house while the calls of the roaming hyenas, lions and jackals echo through the land. Miner and explorer Guy Aubrey Chalkley once set up camp in a majestic centuries-old Leadwood Tree to escape predators walking the plains below. You can follow in his footsteps in the lap of luxury in the Chalkley Treehouse in the Sabi Sands Private Game Reserve. The open-air bedroom sits atop a photographer’s platform where guests enjoy cocktails and dinner as the sky bleeds pinks and oranges. Guests enjoy complete solitude until morning, with only the calls of the wild to accompany them. Open since 2001, Lion Sands has been managed by four generations of the Moore family. Take a hippo tour, enjoy a wellness treatment or simply soak up the natural beauty from your room amid the treetops.
See the incredible structure for yourself on lionsands.com
1. Jump off Hole in the Wall of Coffee Bay
Xhosa mythology tells a rather romantic tale about this awe inspiring location; one that saw a group of sea people enlist a giant fish to break a hole though the cliff so they could set a beautiful girl free from her controlling father. Science-based theories say the hole has been carved by the crashing waves over millions of years, but it doesn’t detract from the magic of the spot. It is known by the local Xhosa people as izi Khaleni, meaning ‘place of thunder’, due to the almighty clap the waves make against the rock. The majestic natural formation sits on the Wild Coast of South Africa which is a rugged strip of sheer cliff faces, secluded beaches and luscious camping spots. Hike along the coastline, discover natural lagoons, explore bat caves and finally, swim out to Hole in the Wall, to climb up the side of its cavern and leap into the waves before being washed ashore with the only thing missing being the Moby soundtrack.