Beat the World-Cup Crowds to Adventure in South Africa

by  Blane Bachelor | Mar 19, 2010
Capetown / Ben1183/iStock

In June, futbol fans from all over the world will flood South Africa for the 2010 World Cup. No doubt that many visitors will incorporate a safari – an item on many an adventure junkie’s wish list – into their soccer-centric trip. Our advice? Kick off your own South African adventure now. You’ll score some great deals at newly built and nearly vacant hotels before the crowds pile in, and restaurants and attractions will be equally welcoming of ahead-of-the-rush guests. And if you’re not game for a safari, there there are plent of other endorphin-heavy options:

Cape Town
This outdoor-pursuits mecca offers adrenaline opportunities that can quicken the pulse of even the most calloused traveler. The seriously brave should consider a nail-biting dive among great white sharks (don’t worry; you’re in a cage) with Apex Shark Expeditions, which has worked with the likes of Discovery Channel, Planet Earth and National Geographic. Spotting a shark is also possible during a sea kayaking tour, though you’re probably more likely to see penguins. Overcome a fear of heights by rappelling down Table Mountain, a prominent landmark where you’ll work your way back down from 3,000 feet above sea level (Table Mountain has oodles of hiking options, too.). Visit our Cape Town Travel Guide for more trip-planning resources.

Port Elizabeth
A quick plane flight from Cape Town, this charming city at the eastern end of the country is a hub for watersports, with sunny beaches and mild temperatures that let you play year round – take your pick of surfing, kite-boarding, and sailing. Divers will salivate over the chance to cross paths with sharks, whales, penguins, and dolphins. The upcoming winter months are best to go in terms of visibility. PE is also making a name for itself with its safari parks, including the impressive Addo Elephant Park, just a short drive from the city.
When a city has a surf museum, you know it boasts some serious surf culture, and Durbs, as the locals call it, doesn’t disappoint. The Bay of Plenty is appropriately named: During April, the section called New Pier along the city’s famous Golden Mile, where most hotels are concentrated, is said to produce some of the finest beach-break waves in the world. Plus, the warm waters of the Indian Ocean are mild enough that you don’t need a wetsuit. Durban, which is also home to former world champ Shaun Tomson, is chock full of surf shops that offer rentals and lessons (check out Surf and Adventures for surfing, kayaking, and other activities).

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