A trip to a country that provides countless opportunities for active excitement often tops many clients’ wish lists. South Africa was recently ranked number one on the “Top Adventure Destinations” list in the 2016 Virtuoso Luxe Report.
It’s easy to see why -- adventure—from shark cage-diving to hot air ballooning to bungee jumping—has become synonymous with South Africa. Add in the iconic experiences of safari and culture and you have the makings of a vacation your clients will never forget.
This much-buzzed-about destination is also a perfect match for clients seeking what Virtuoso’s travel advisors listed among their top “must-have” experiences of 2016.
- Discover untouched, unique places. Exploring new destinations is this year’s chief travel motivator.
- Create unforgettable memories.
- Cross something off your bucket list and do not wait any longer for that trip of a lifetime.
- Push the boundaries of your comfort zone.
To truly showcase all the thrills South Africa offers, be sure to include the following in your clients’ itineraries:
See South Africa’s BIG 5 (leopard, elephant, rhinoceros, cape buffalo and lion) on a driving safari in Kruger National Park in Mpumalanga. The massive 4.7 million-acre game park is home to more than 1,000 leopards, 1,500 lions, 100,000 impalas, 10,000 blue wildebeests, 5,000 warthogs, 25,000 zebras, 180 cheetahs and many more. South Africa’s third largest reserve, Addo Elephant Park near Port Elizabeth, is a must for elephant enthusiasts with more than 600 elephants—one of the largest populations in Africa. Addo is also home to lions, leopards and rhinos, plus great white sharks and southern right whales in its marine section. Another of South Africa’s astonishing reserves, the 185,000-acre Madikwe Game Reserve in North West Province was transformed from a cattle farm to a conservation area as a way to generate jobs and help the community. In this malaria-free area, visitors can search for wild dogs among the rich biodiversity.
Adventure Bucket List
If it is true heart-pumping thrills your clients are seeking then their trip to South Africa must include shark cage-diving. No dive training or experience is required. The three most popular spots for getting up close and personal with the great whites are in the Western Cape Province: False Bay, about 30 minutes from Cape Town; Seal Island, in Mossel Bay; and Shark Alley, the channel that runs between the Dyer Island seal colony and the mainland at Gansbaai (near Hermanus).
Visitors can see the beauty of South Africa from above on a hot air balloon ride. They can watch the sun rise with a sparkling wine toast with operators in the Magaliesberg and Crocodile River Valley areas near Johannesburg. Game-viewing flights are available at Pilanesberg, near Sun City, or stunning scenic flights can be booked at Hazyview, in Mpumalanga, or over Paarl vineyards, near Cape Town, for those traveling during the summer (December through February).
Combine incredible views with an adrenaline rush at the Soweto bungee jump from the top of the Orlando Towers, a historic landmark. Travelers not only bungee jump, but also get to tower swing between the two cooling towers, and enjoy an internal tower swing and base jumping, all from more than 300 feet high. The most adventurous clients will want to be sure to leap from the world’s highest commercial bungee jump at the 591-foot Bloukrans Bridge, a stop on the scenic Garden Route.
A cultural exploration
As a country rich in both ancient and contemporary history, South Africa’s culture can be experienced everywhere from tribal villages to vibrant cities. No matter where you go, the warm hospitality of the people will leave you feeling welcome. Discover mankind’s fascinating ancient history at the Cradle of Humankind World Heritage Site (about an hour outside of Johannesburg). Home to many of the oldest human fossils ever found, here visitors can explore the Sterkfontein Caves where the remains of more than 500 hominids have been uncovered, lending credence to the ‘Out of Africa’ theory, which is that humans and their ancestors evolved in Africa first. Just a short ferry ride from Cape Town is Robben Island where Nelson Mandela and other political prisoners were held during apartheid. This site represents a critical chapter in the country's path towards democracy and guided tours of the prison, including Mandela’s cell, are led by former political prisoners, who draw a vivid picture of their personal experiences.
Located in the North West province, Lesedi Cultural Village is a great experience for visitors interested in learning more about South Africa's traditional people and cultures. Guided tours of Zulu, Xhosa and Ndebele cultural villages allow guests to learn various rituals and folklore while a traditional song and dance performance rounds out the activities.
International tourist arrivals have surged recently, making tourism one of the fastest growing sectors. The tourism industry is well-established with an exciting sector of emerging entrepreneurs. The country is strong on adventure, sport, nature and wildlife travel and is a pioneer and global leader in responsible tourism. Click here for South African Travel Trade Program website.