Extreme thrills for all on our doorstep

2011-06-11 09:11

If you feel like defying death or simply an adrenaline rush, there are a host of exciting adventures that await you.When it comes to adventure holidays Swaziland, Kleinbaai in Hermanus and the Drakensberg hills offer at least five ways to get your blood pumping in the pristine outdoors . GRACE MOASI and FARRAH FRANCIS lived to tell the tales

The great thing about quad-biking in Swaziland, besides finding out that I could do it without dying, are the guides.

Thabiso and Wandile from Swazi Trails were very friendly, chatty and patient. The trail itself is challenging for a beginner but still exhilarating.

We drove off from the Royal Swazi Spa Hotel, passed the stables and green hills of the Ezulwini Valley, a serene village-cum-suburb.

Such is the oddity of Swaziland that mud huts and Tuscan-style double-storey houses sit side by side.

I rejoice in having had the chance to see Swazi treasures such as Execution Rock and the sacred Mdzimba mountain range, where former kings are buried.

» For quadbiking visit www.swazitrails.co.s or 0 0268 4163420

Canopy tour
Next up was a visit to the lush (everywhere in Swaziland is lush) Malolotja Nature Reserve. We were going on a canopy tour: acres and acres of verdant green forest, waiting to be gazed upon – from above.

The hardest thing is stepping off the platform and letting the rope suspend you more than 50m above the forest floor. There are 11 slides to the end destination, all with varying degrees of height and length.

For beginners, the rush only kicks in after the initial shock of vertigo. But from then on it’s smooth sailing and – on my part – some rocky landing. While zooming from tree to tree, I really got a taste of what it would be like to fly. The bridge, however, is another story.
Word of caution: Don’t look down!
Fortunately, water is provided in the kit, and comes in handy because the hike back to the pick-up point requires endurance.

» For canopy tours visit www.swazitrails.co.sz or 0268 4163420

Adventure caving
Sliding, shoving, kneeling, crawling and crouching.

Get acquainted with these before stepping inside the Gobholo Cave system in Swaziland.

Also, do not be afraid of crawling through muddy ponds, hitting your helmet against rocks and, at times, looking into total darkness 100 metres below ground-level.

Adventure caving, they call it, and what an adventure it was. We were provided with overalls and headlights before heading into the unknown.

The guides are extremely friendly and one of them, Sipho, knew the trail like the back of his hand. The whole experience lasted four hours, which is incredible, especially as we only explored 5% of this ancient cave system. These caves, the guides will tell you, are the same ones that hid exiles escaping the apartheid regime.

» For adventure caving visit www.swazitrails.co.sz or 0268 4163420

Shark-cage diving
So we’ve all seen Jaws. The score alone was enough to send any swimmer screaming from the ocean.

Having been obsessed with sharks ever since watching that movie, the idea of going into the water for the cage- diving experience with what I now understand to be majestic creatures, seemed like a bright idea . . . in theory.

Kleinbaai in Hermanus is where all the action happens and where tourists gather for this exhilarating experience.

Boats take you into the ocean where you are given a detailed explanation of what and what not to do while in the water.

I have never listened so intently in my life.

Being taken into the water is an experience in itself. While on the boat I felt brave and was told I would go with the second group as only about five people fit into the steel cage. But after seeing these creatures up close and realising how massive the sharks were, I had to chicken out.

Watching them from the boat was close enough for me.

My inner animal lover was also screaming when I realised the sharks were being reeled in using chum as bait, which made me very uncomfortable.

If you can get past all of that, then cage diving is for you.

» For shark-cage diving visit www.westerncapetours.co.za or 083 703 3771

Horseback riding
The hills are alive with the sound of nothingness in the Drakensberg. The Drakensberg Sun provides the setting for horseback riding through the magnificent greenery.

There are stables on the Drakensberg Sun’s property and horse riding is one of the activities the hotel offers.

It also offers spa treatments, fly fishing and various child-friendly activities.

There are guides who take beginners and seasoned horse riders on trails through the glorious peaks and valleys of the Drakensberg mountains.

Riders, depending on how brave they are, can ask guides to make their horses gallop or move leisurely through the tranquil setting.

Be sure to dress warmly as the temperatures on the mountains can drop to freezing during the winter months.

» For horseback riding visit www.southernsun.com or 0 036 468 1000

» Moasi was hosted by The Royal Swazi Spa and Swazi Trails
» Francis was hosted by Cape Tourism and the Drakensberg Sun 

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