Take a 45m (148-ft.) abseil (rappel) next to a waterfall in the Kaaimans River Gorge in Wilderness, then canoe out (R345 per person). Call Eden Adventures (tel. 044/877-0179; www.eden.co.za). They also offer a range of pure canoeing trips for those who don't fancy clinging to a cliff. Or swim, float, jump, and abseil down Kruis River Gorge with Tstitsikamma Falls Adventure (tel. 044/280-3770; www.tsitsikammaadventure.co.za).
Boardsailing & Kite-Surfing
Langebaan Lagoon, north of Cape Town on the West Coast, is considered one of the best sites in South Africa for those who get a rush from the combined power of water and air -- particularly in the early afternoon, when the wind picks up (wind speeds average 20-30 knots). Book lessons and rent equipment from the Cape Sports Centre in Langebaan (tel. 022/772-1114; www.capesport.co.za).
You can cruise the ocean all along the coast; recommendations can be found under each section.
The Bloukrans River bridge-jump (tel. 042/281-1458; R620 per person), 40km (25 miles) east of Plettenberg Bay, is the highest bridge-jump in the world: a stomach-churning 7-second, 216m (708-ft.) free fall. Open daily from 8:30am to 5pm.
Naturally, one of the best ways to explore South Africa's Lakes District is via its many waterways. Canoes can be rented throughout the area -- contact the local tourism bureau wherever you are. The 2-day Keurbooms River Canoe Trail, near Plettenberg Bay, is unguided and takes you 7km (4 1/4 miles) upstream through totally untouched vegetation, to an overnight hut, where you're assured of total privacy. The trail was temporarily closed due to flooding but should be open by September 2009. The hut houses four people; you may need to self-cater. For bookings, call Eden Adventures (tel. 044/877-0179; www.eden.co.za). For sea-kayaking tours of the marine-rich ocean around Plettenberg Bay, contact Dolphin Adventures (tel. 083/590-3405; www.dolphinadventures.co.za). Tours start at R250 per person.
There are snorkeling and diving routes in Tsitsikamma National Park (tel. 042/281-1607). Gear and guides can be rented from the Dive Hut (tel. 073/130-0689) at Storms River Mouth rest camp, or from Pro Dive (tel. 044/533-1158) in Plettenberg Bay; ask about Jacob's Reef, another good spot off the Plett coast. Hippo Dive Campus (tel. 044/384-0831) offers equipment and dives in the Knysna area, where there are a number of wrecks to explore. The Mossel Bay Diving Academy (tel. 082/896-5649) specializes in dives west of Knysna.
In Hermanus -- Contact Klein Paradys Equestrian Centre (tel. 028/284-9422 or 083/240-6448). The African Horse Company (tel. 082/667-9232; www.africanhorseco.com) offers both shorter rides and longer overnight trails. Note that both are based in villages outside Hermanus.
In Swellendam -- Short or full-day excursions in the Langeberg Mountains are offered by Two Feathers Horse Trails (tel. 082/494-8279).
In Knysna -- Cherie's Riding Centre (tel. 082/962-3223) offers scenic trails along the Swartvlei Lake and forests, as well as a beach ride that includes a light lunch. Forest Horse Rides (tel. 044/388-4764) takes small groups through the Knysna forests.
In Plettenberg Bay -- Contact Equitrailing (tel. 044/533-0599 or 082/955-0373) to explore fynbos and forests in this area.
In and Around Prince Albert -- Cycle the mighty Swartberg Pass -- thankfully, downhill. Contact Lindsay (tel. 082/456-8848), who also organizes the popular Three Passes Tour that takes in Meiringspoort and the Montagu Pass, as well as the Swartberg.
In & Around Wilderness -- To tour the foothills of the Outeniqua Mountains (close to George), contact Eden Adventures (tel. 044/877-0179; www.eden.co.za); the half-day tour also involves some canoeing.
In Knysna -- All three of the Diepwalle State Forest trails are ideal for mountain biking, particularly Harkerville, which has four color-coded routes: The Harkerville red route, which includes forest, fynbos, and the craggy coastline, is considered one of the best in South Africa -- book early. For more information on trails in the Knysna State Forests, contact Mrs. van Rooyen (tel. 044/302-5606) or Jacques at Knysna Cycle Works (tel. 044/382-5153; www.knysnacycles.co.za). For bike rentals, contact Outeniqua Biking Trails (tel. 044/532-7644). For half- to 8-day mountain-biking tours of the region (including the Swartberg pass), or the option to cycle with the Big 5 in Botswana, contact Mountain Biking Africa (tel. 082/783-8392; www.mountainbikingafrica.co.za).
Wilderness is considered South Africa's best site for coastal flying, particularly from August to May. A basic license paragliding course lasts 7 to 10 days, weather permitting -- or you can do a 1-day introductory course, or take a one-off tandem flight with a qualified instructor. Experienced pilots can rent equipment. Contact Cloud Base (tel. 082/777-8474; www.cloudbase.co.za).
Traverse a 14km (8.7-mile) trail between Wilderness and George on four wheels. Call Quad Garden Route (tel. 072/303-9011; R400 per person). They also offer a nocturnal drive and 2- to 3-day adventures -- although you'll have to camp.
It's like snowboarding, but on sand. Contact Downhill Adventures (tel. 021/422-0388; www.downhilladventures.co.za) to surf the dunes around Betty's Bay or near Atlantis.
One of the world's greatest concentrations of great white sharks is found in South African waters -- in particular, around Dyer and Geyser Islands, near Gansbaai, where the presence of breeding jackass penguin and seal colonies have resulted in the channel between these islands being dubbed Shark Alley. Recent studies have shown that this impressive predator (it can reach lengths of up to 6m/20 ft., although 4m/13 ft. is more usual) is a very particular hunter, and most of the (extremely rare) attacks on humans are thought to be mistakes. In Cape Town, shark spotters placed on mountain slopes keep a sharp lookout for sharks and warn bathers. But many visitors actually choose a close encounter with the creatures: Cage diving with great whites is wildly popular.
In Hermanus -- This has become a hugely popular activity here, with eight licensed operators offering a similar service for more or less the same price.
In Mossel Bay -- Shark Africa (tel. 082/455-2438 or 044/691-3796) is the only operator in Mossel Bay, so your close-up encounter with a great white is likely to be less crowded than in Gansbaai. Cost is R1,200 per adult and R600 for children for a 4-hour trip, including the shark-cage dive, breakfast, and a light lunch; the same rate applies for viewing from boat only (closed Dec school holidays). If it's any consolation, you'll get a 25% reduction in the unlikely event that you don't see a great white.
Try dropping from a height of 900m (2,952 ft.) with Skydive Ceres (tel. 021/462-5666 or 083/462-5666; www.skydive.co.za), based in the citrus-growing area 90 minutes outside of Cape Town. With 1-day training for the novice costing R970, including the first jump, and additional jumps costing R225, this is one of the cheapest drops from a plane in South Africa.
Top spots in the Western Cape include Inner and Outer Pool and Ding Dangs at Mossel Bay, Jeffrey's Bay, Vic Bay (a good right point break), and, north of Cape Town, Elands Bay, the best spot on the West Coast. Call Surf Shop (tel. 044/533-3253) for rentals in Plett (board R100; wetsuit R50).
Treetop Canopy Slides
Much like abseiling, this popular adventure activity in the Tsitsikamma forest is loads of fun. Attached to a rope on a pulley system, one glides (sometimes not so elegantly) through the indigenous forests from tree to tree, experiencing mostly what only the local monkeys are lucky enough to enjoy. Breathtaking views, albeit from a slightly hair-raising angle. Contact Stormsriver Adventures (tel. 042/281-1836; www.stormsriver.com). Incidentally, Stormsriver Adventures came highly commended in the 2008 International Responsible Tourism Awards.
Some of the best land-based whale-watching in the world is on the Overberg coast, particularly Hermanus, and the Garden Route from June to October or November. For boat-based encounters, note that only 13 to 20 boat-based whale-watching permits are issued for the entire South African coast -- so make sure your operator has a permit. Boats are allowed to approach no closer than 50m (164 ft.), but the curious whales will often swim right up to the boat.
Felix Unite (tel. 021/670-1300; www.felixunite.com) runs rafting trips on the Breede River near Swellendam, but it's pretty tame when compared with the Doring River, considered the best in the Western Cape and running from mid-July to mid-September. River Rafters (tel. 021/975-9727; www.riverrafters.co.za) organizes all-inclusive weekend trips for R1,195 per person. Base camp is 4 hours from Cape Town, in the Cederberg area. They also run 4-day year-round trips on the Orange River, on the border with Namibia.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.