Is anywhere more adventurous than Africa? We think the best African adventure holidays are among the greatest on the planet. To prove it we’ve pulled together the top 17 adventures in Africa.
Best African adventure holidays
From the early explorers to modern day expeditions, Africa draws the adventurous like moths to a flame. It’s reputation precedes it. Every activity is more exciting in Africa and the continent is synonymous with adventure!
What is less well known is Africa also boasts some of the top action sports destinations on the planet. From diving with great white sharks to bungee jumping over Victoria Falls, if you want an adrenaline fix Africa provides.
South Africa to Egypt and Morocco to Madagascar, the landscape shifts and changes. There is everything from sunkissed skyscrapers to rich rainforest, solitary savannah to dusty desert dunes. Africa has it all.
And with improving tourist infrastructure, low prices, and friendly people (mostly!) Africa provides happy memories. Without a doubt it is one of the most beautiful, varied and at time challenging places to test your nose for adventure.
Top 17 adventures in Africa
Here’s our guide to some of the best African adventure holidays.
Diving in Lake Malawi, Malawi
Malawi is landlocked by Tanzania, Mozambique, and Zambia. Yet looking out across the almighty Lake Malawi feels no different than looking out to sea.
This mass of water is the eighth largest lake in the world. Stretching an incredible 560km (347 miles), its fresh water abounds in life. Head to the backpacking hub of Nkhata Bay on the eastern shores of the lake, where numerous dive shops will take you beneath the surface.
Lake Malawi is home to a kaleidoscopic spectrum of tropical fish. As part of the Rift Valley the lake also conceals dramatic rock formations, hidden caverns and underwater cliffs.
A word of warning, crocodiles inhabit parts of the lake. So always dive with a reputable company. Try to fit in a Malawi safari during your visit.
Kitesurfing in Dakhla, Morocco
Dakhla bay in Morocco is a vast saltwater lagoon. Expect flat, shallow water and some of the most reliable wind on the planet. On the Atlantic side of the bay you also have excellent wave riding conditions. Easily one of the best kite spots in the world.
Climbing Kilimanjaro, Tanzania
Africa’s highest mountain needs no introduction. Standing proudly at 5,895m, you will battle extremes in altitude, freezing winds and exhaustion. But easily one of the top adventures in Africa.
The trek doesn’t require any technical ability, but it’s a tough adventure that needs physical preparation. Around a third of people fail to reach the summit. This is due to altitude sickness or fatigue during the five to seven day trek.
The attention-grabbing scenery, ranges from wild forest to intriguing icefalls. Head here with a company such as Far and Wild Travel for a tailor made Kili adventure. The best times to climb are January to mid-March or June to October. Avoid the rains from April to May.
Great white shark diving, South Africa
Coming face-to-face with a great white shark is a bucket list item for many people. Of course metal bars separate you from ‘jaws’. But for many this is the ultimate thrill.
Infamous ‘Shark Alley’ near Gansbaai, two hours from Cape Town, is renowned as one of the best shark diving spots worldwide. The breeding ground of penguins and seals between Dyer Island and Geyser Rock is where the action happens.
Once a shark is spotted a steel cage is lowered into the water. The shark is then lured to the cage with bloody bait. It is a close encounter of the heart-thumping kind and one of the greatest adventures in Africa.
Erg Chebbi Camel treks, Morocco
A camel trek across Morocco’s Erg Chebbi dunes is an adventure into Berber territory. Rising dramatically above the desert floor, these dusty dunes mark the western fringe of the Sahara Desert, dividing Morocco from Algeria.
Live like a local and spend the nights in traditional Bedouin tents. Explore oasis palmeries, chaotic Kasbahs and enjoy the night sky at its best. Travelling the desert as people have for around two thousand years is an adventure to remember.
Victoria Falls Bungee jump, Zambia
Few things are as terrifying or as thrilling as a bungee jump. Standing on a platform 111m over the gushing Victoria Falls you’ll probably agree. Regarded as one of the best bungee jumps on the planet this experience is tough to beat.
While it is not the world’s highest commercial bungee jump, the upside-down view of the falls is unique. For the best African adventure holidays combine this with rafting down the Zambezi and a safari.
Raft the Zambezi, Zimbabwe / Zambia
With many grade V rapids the Zambezi near Victoria Falls is one of the toughest commercially rafted rivers. The river is on the border between Zimbabwe and Zambia and drops 120m in just 2km.
Widely regarded as one of the best white water rafting rivers in the world it also offers a lot of variety. While you can do short trips for a few hours you can also go on week long expeditions. There are many different Zambezi rafting holidays to experience.
Red Sea Scuba Diving, Egypt
The Red Sea is without doubt one of the best scuba diving destinations on the planet. The marine life is colourful and varied, plus there are more wrecks and reefs than you can dive in many visits.
Egypt is the gateway and has great resorts catering to all budgets. There have been issues with terrorism in Egypt but the situation has improved. However, check the FCO advice before traveling.
Omo river rafting, Ethiopia
Ethiopia may not spring to mind when you think of ferocious white water. But the Omo River, flowing from the Shewan highlands to Lake Turkana, is a rafting hotspot with grade III+ rapids.
As it surges southwards, the river drops around 1,800m (6,000 ft), creating a mighty torrent through deep canyons and valleys. The rapids are exciting but this is also one of the most scenic rivers in Africa.
Masai Mara Hot air ballooning, Kenya
Floating silently above the Masai Mara National Park is pricey, but it’s worth every penny. Flights usually take off at dawn, with the basket leaving solid earth as the sun rises.
Gazing at giraffes at waterholes and elephants crossing your path is mesmerising from a jeep. But flying high above the Big Five is something extra special.
It’s best to visit during the great migration from June to September. More than a million wildebeest, zebra and gazelle descend on the park to feed. From the air you’ll fully appreciate the vast amount of life the Masai Mara supports.
MTB the Usambara Mountains, Tanzania
A bike is a great way to explore, moving slower you see more and stop when you wish. MTB across the Usambara Mountains in north-east Tanzania. You’ll experience brilliant views of tropical rainforest and meet local tribesmen.
As well as the highlands, you’ll mountain bike among local villages and through open savannah. Pit stops at roadside markets will provide sustenance and you’ll spend nights sleeping beneath canvas.
Taghazout Surfing, Morocco
Morocco is blessed with some of the most reliable surf on the planet. Receiving the full brunt of the Atlantic there are excellent Moroccan surf spots up and down the coast.
Possibly the best destination is Taghazout which is close to Agadir. The wide range of breaks here cater from complete beginner to pros. Check out Surf Berbere for an excellent holiday.
Windsurfing in Sal, Cape Verde
Adrift off north-west Africa, these exotic islands are buffeted be winter winds. They are a paradise for windsurfers and kitesurfers with near perfect wind conditions from November to June.
Journey to the sandy Santa Maria on Sal if you’re a novice. While the more advanced can get to grips with high waves at Ponta Preta.
Swakopmund Skydive, Namibia
Regarded as one of the best skydiving holiday destinations Namibia is a unique destination. You fall 10,000 feet towards rolling desert. It is almost totally devoid of vegetation and settlements.
Trek Mount Mulanje, Malawi
At over 3,000m Mount Mulanje is the highest mountain in central Africa. It towers above the tea-growing Mulanje district, the plains of Chiradzulu and the city of Blantyre. The peak is smeared in rolling grassland and laced by deep forested ravines.
Hikers don’t have to be super-fit and it’s not technically difficult. There are six official summit routes all of which are fairly gruelling. But at this height at least altitude sickness should not be a problem.
You’ll need to take plenty of supplies, as the rudimentary mountain huts come without beds, electricity or running water. But you can rest weary limbs, light toasty fires and relax with fellow trekkers.
Paraglide Cape Town, South Africa
As one of the most iconic cities in Africa, Cape Town has a lot to offer on the ground and in the ocean. However, what many people do not know is it’s also great for paragliding.
Rising 1000 metres Table Mountain offers near perfect conditions for paragliding. You can book a tandem flight or fly on your own if you’re a qualified pilot. A different way to experience this iconic destination, great views guaranteed.
African Overlanding adventure
While the above are some of the best African adventure holidays, to really understand the continent you need to explore it. So in our mind the top adventure in Africa is to overland its length and breadth.
Whether you travel independently, or as part of an organised tour you can take in many of the above adventures along the way. Check out the Africa overlanding highlights not to miss.
Too many African adventures
This was supposed to be a top 10 but has already turned into a list of 17 of the best African adventures. And there is so much we have missed. From surfing in South Africa to kiteboarding in Kenya to mountaineering in Morocco. Africa has so much to offer.
So please take this article more as a starting point to plan adventures in Africa. Every African nation has exciting activities to try that could be included in this list. The most important thing is you go to Africa, and enjoy the adventures you find along the way.
We hope the top 17 adventures in Africa inspires you to visit. If so check out our Africa adventure holiday discounts as you could save a fortune.