Chasing Highs: 5 Aerial Adrenaline Pumping Activities To Try in Africa

Do you get a kick out of purposefully putting yourself into potentially dangerous or scary situations and are looking for locations to do that in Africa? You’ve come to the right place.

In and of itself, travel entails getting yourself out of your comfort zone, but for adrenaline junkies, travel is about something more.

It’s about seeking escapades that challenge both the mind and body. And what better way to actualize this than, say, voluntarily jumping off a bridge or soaring up high in the sky, eagle style, in a microlight?

For daredevils, there’s nothing better than activities out of the norm to test their limits.

Africa distinguishes itself worldwide for its wild safaris and pristine scenery. Equally, it can be a hotbed of adrenaline packed adventures for thrill seekers looking for a way to get their fix be it in on land, air, or sea.

In fact, for some activities like bungee jumping, it offers some of the best locations in the world.

Below are some of the most incredible aerial adventures that you can experience across the African continent.

All experiences highlighted do not require expertise and are doable on a whim either solo, tandem, or with the help of a professional.

1. Skydiving

If you were to ask anyone this question: what is the most adventurous thing you’ve ever done or aspire to do on your travels? Chances are sky diving would be top of that list or at least in the top three. It is one of the most popular adrenaline pumping activity in the world, and Africa isn’t left behind. There are numerous world-class spots where you can indulge your skydiving dreams.

But, first, a little history. Despite gaining mass popularity in recent years, skydiving as a sport has been around for decades.

The first ever form of it dates back to the year 1797, when French balloonist and inventor of frameless parachutes, AndrΓ©-Jacques Garnerin, leaped from a hydrogen balloon 980m feet above Paris, France as a means to test his contraptions. However, the first ever recorded successful international free-fall jump with a ripcord-operated parachute similar to the current practice today was made a century later in 1919 by American, Leslie Irvin.

Since then, the practice has gained mainstream appeal, and every adrenaline junkie wants a piece of it.

There are several ways to plunge into the sky; you can jump off a plane or a helicopter, which is the most popular way, or climb atop a mountain and jump off.

As a newbie, your first jump into the void will have to be tandem. You will get strapped to a professional diver, who controls your experience in the sky.

The most challenging part of the exercise is jumping off the plane that’s about 10,000 to 30,000 feet above the ground. After that, the next few seconds of this epic undertaking is easy peasy in comparison. It’s you enjoying the views while the instructor steers the way, and if you’re lucky, you might have steering control for a few seconds.

Where To Skydive

  • Diani Skydive Center in Diani, Kenya.
  • Morocco Skydive in Nador, Morocco.
  • Skydive Kilimanjaro in Arusha, Tanzania.
  • Raven Air Tanzania in Arusha, Tanzania.
  • Skydive Zanzibar in Nungwi, Zanzibar *coming soon.
  • Skydive Malawi in Lilongwe, Malawi.
  • Skydive Zambia in Lusaka, Zambia.
  • Skydive Victoria Falls in Livingstone, Zambia.
  • Gaborone Skydive club in Gaborone, Botswana.
  • Skydive Swakopmund in Swakopmund, Namibia.
  • Skydive Mozambique in Cidade De Maputo, Mozambique.
  • Ponta do Ouro in Mozambique.
  • Skydive Robertson in Cape Town, South Africa.
  • Mother City Skydiving in Cape Town, South Africa.
  • Skydive Joburg in Johanessburg, South Africa.
  • Skydive Mossel Bay in Mossel Bay, South Africa.
  • Skydive Capetown in Cape Town, South Africa.
  • Skydive Parys in Johanessberg, South Africa.
  • Skydive Rustenberg in Rustenburg, South Africa.

2. Bungee Jump

Author on a bungee jump off Victoria Falls in Zambia.
Bungee Jumping at Victoria Falls Bridge in Zambia/Zimbabwe Border

It would be impossible to mention high-intensity pursuits without mentioning the widely popular bungee jump. It is extreme to the maximum.

Did you know that this risky (but fun) activity dates back to as far as the 70’s? It’s precursor is a practice referred to as land diving or vine jumping, which started in the ’70s among ni-Vanuatu men in the Southern part of Pentecostal Island, Vanuatu.

The ni-Vanuatu process typically involves tying the participant’s ankles to two vines and then having them jump off a wooden tower 20m to 30m high with no safety measures in place. They believe it supports good health, strength, and as a bonus, a perfect platform to showcase one’s masculinity.

The modern way to jump isn’t very different, except, of course, safety measures are in place. Today, in place of a vine, the body or a part of the body, usually ankles or legs, is tied together and strapped to a heavy-duty elastic cord or rope and the jumper plummets in what’s known as a free fall. At this point, you are at the mercy of gravity and the cord as you’re involuntarily thrust up and down like a rag doll. But all in good fun, right?

The feeling of falling without actually falling is both exhilarating and downright scary at the same time.

Where to Bungee

  • Bloukrans Bridge in Western Cape, South Africa (world’s highest commercial bridge): 216m above the Bloukrans River.
  • Victoria Falls Bridge in Zambia/Zimbabwe border: 111m above River Zambezi and Victoria Falls backdrop.
  • Nile High Bungee in Jinga, Southern Uganda: 44m above River Nile.
  • Rapids Camp in Sagana, Central Kenya: 60m above Tana River.
  • Kings Kloof Bridge in Krugersdorp, Gauteng, South Africa: 50m above trees and lush undergrowth.
  • Bungy Egypt in Porto Marina Egypt (only water touch bungee in Africa).

3. Gorge Swing

Nelly hanging on a cord during a gorge swing at Victoria Falls with her arms wide open
Gorge Swinging at Victoria Falls Bridge in Zambia/Zimbabwe Border

If bungee jump were to have a cousin, the gorge swing would be its nutty cousin. While bungee jump involves being hang upside down and plunging head first, the gorge swing is the opposite. Here, your waist attaches to a secure full body harness, onto a cord, and like the bungee, you leap off the edge of a deck but feet first.

In theory, it sounds less scary, but in practice, it can be as electrifying as a bungee.

Picture it this way; it’s like going down a flight of stairs then accidentally missing some steps, ending up with your feet landing on the next steps. Only that instead of missing a few steps, you miss several hundred steps, plummeting into an endless abyss at a speed of over 100km/hr and getting involuntary strung sideways like a pendulum for seconds that feel like minutes until you come to a complete stop.

Author after leaping off the platform for a gorge swing in Victoria Falls bridge
After stepping off the platform during a gorge swing

The fantastic thing about the gorge swing is that if you have a partner in crime, you can do a tandem style swing.

Where to Swing

  • Victoria Falls Bridge in Zambia/Zimbabwe border: 120m deep.
  • Oribi Gorge, in the KwaZulu-Natal Province (highest gorge swing in the world: 165m deep.

4. Microlight Flying

Microlight pilot and rider on a microlight mid air with a background of a rainbow on the Victoria Falls
Microlighting at Batoka Sky in Zambia.

Microlight flying is an experience like no other. It’s something akin to flying on a tricycle with wings. You literally fly open air in a one or two-seat, fixed-wing aircraft.

Like most activities outlined in this article, microlight didn’t just start recently. It originally started as a sport in the aviation industry in the ’70s, and it gains inspiration from the air sport, hand gliding, a much older air sport comprising of a non-motorized, foot-launched aircraft known as a hang glider.

The microlight process is simple; you get on the aircraft on the seat behind the pilot, get strapped, and you’re off into the air. You’ll experience some bumps from time to time, but it’s incredibly exciting to circle an area, taking sharps turns in the sky, causing a feeling of almost toppling over from the precarious-looking seat.

The most exciting aspect of flying on a microlight is that, unlike other aircrafts like helicopters, the ability of the aircraft to fly very low, providing a great, undisruptive view of the world below. Depending on where you do it, the view could be of African game in their natural habitat, like in South Africa, or one of the Natural Seven Wonders of the World in Victoria Falls.

Where to Microlight

  • Batoka Sky in Livingstone, Zambia.
  • Emoyeni Aviation Park in KwaZulu Natal, South Africa.
  • Aquila Microlight Photo and Film Safaris in Cape Town, South Africa.
  • Coastal Microlights in Diani, Kenya.

5. Ziplining

Nelly mid slide on a zipline off the Victoria Falls bridge in Zambia/Zimbabwe border
Ziplining along the Victoria Falls Bridge

For an incredibly fun, light, high-altitude flying above stunning views of the African landscapes, zip lining is your best bet. It provides just the right amount of exhilaration; not too intense but intense enough to quench your thirst for adventure.

Before it gained recreational acclaim, ziplining was of practical use. It was of use as means of transport, and it provided safe gravitation in dangerous areas. Biologists also used zip lines to explore dense areas, and this form of exploration also allowed for environmental studies without too much disruption to the environment.

Today, it’s not so much a necessity but a tool for pure enjoyment and a way of getting a bird’s eyes view of the scenery. The activity entails a harness and pulley attached to a rider then suspending it to a cable above an incline.

Where to Zipline

  • The Forest in Kereita Forest, Kenya.
  • Machakos People’s Park in Machakos, Kenya.
  • Limuru Zipline in Limuru, Kenya.
  • Rapids Camp in Sagana, Kenya.
  • Flying fox in Livingstone, Zambia.
  • Zipline, Cheetahs, and Wine in Cape Town, South Africa.
  • Tsitsikamma Canopy Tour in Eastern Cape, South Africa.
  • Zipline Canopy Day Tour in Cape Town, South Africa.
  • Mabira Forest Canopy in Mabira Forest, Uganda.

Conclusion

Even on the ground, the African landscape provides a picturesque and stunning sight, but there’s nothing like seeing it from up in the air whilst consumed by a healthy dose of an adrenaline buzz. It will virtually take your breath away.

So, if you don’t have vertigo and being up in the air is your thing, welcome to Africa. It is made for adventure.

You may scream, cry, or even shit your pants midway, but one’s thing for sure, the experience will etch in your heart forever. Furthermore, the rise in adrenaline will have you feeling superhuman.

What aerial activities have you done or is in your plans? Please comment them below.

Happy Adventuring!

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