Embark on the trek of a lifetime and cross lush forests and thundering waterfalls to come face-to-face with the elusive mountain gorilla. There are less than 900 mountain gorillas left in the wild, and around 200 of them call Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda their home. The untouched forests of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park in Uganda are one of the last remaining strongholds for these gentle primates.
Nowadays, the mountain gorilla finds safe haven in the Virunga Mountains, spread across Rwanda, Uganda, and the Democratic Republic of Congo. However, Uganda and Rwanda are widely considered the best places to go gorilla trekking, permits being cheaper in Uganda.
Please be advised that these are long treks through humid and muddy conditions. There are numerous day tours, but the most rewarding treks take a few days to complete. You will approach the gorillas quietly and will sit to observe them seven to ten meters (22-32 ft) away.
Scuba diving & snorkeling
There’s plenty of adventure to be had in Africa on land, but the waters surrounding the continent are equally thrilling. Egypt’s Red Sea, with its historic wrecks lying on its bottom and over 1,100 recorded species of fish, is a famous diving and snorkeling destination. However, the rest of Africa remains a final frontier when it comes to scuba diving.
Considered the continent’s most beautiful coastline, the shores of Mozambique are best explored in a dhow, traditional sailing vessels that will take you to some of the world’s finest diving sites. You can swim with bottlenose dolphins at Ponta do Ouro and with bull sharks at Pinnacles, while the elusive and highly vulnerable dugong can be seen in the Bazaruto Archipelago.
Zanzibar has excellent visibility, warm water, and shallow depths, which makes it excellent for beginner divers. There are also several diving sites that are recommended for experienced divers due to their strong currents.
In South Africa, there are plenty of sunken ships to explore and you can go diving with great white sharks. Don’t worry, I’m talking about shark cage diving here. Although adrenaline-packed, it is perfectly safe. The best place to go shark cage diving is Gansbaai, also known as the “Great White shark capital of the world.”
And if that’s just not thrilling enough for you, then you should know that at Aliwal Shoal in KwaZulu-Natal you can dive with bull sharks and tiger sharks without the protection of a cage.
Madagascar is home to the world’s third largest coral reef system. Extending along the island’s southwest coast, its rich marine wildlife cannot be found anywhere else on the planet! Whale sharks (the world’s largest fish) and manta rays call these reefs their home.
Rock climbing in South Africa
South Africa is home to some of the best rock climbing spots in the world. Table Mountain has some awesome crags that offer routes of all grades and some impressive overhangs. Oh, and don’t even get me started on the scenery – chances are you’ll catch the best sunset in your life from the top of these routes.
North of Cape Town, the world-class bouldering at Rocklands in the Cederberg Wilderness area attracts climbers from far and wide, young and old, beginners and pros. Red, gray and black sandstone boulders offer routes up to six pitches long in an out-of-this-world semi-desert area.
Blyde River Canyon in Mpumalanga offers some superb climbing on quartzite mesas, and Waterval Boven has over 700 routes on orange quartzite. This is South Africa’s premier sport climbing destination, with routes for every level and taste.
Rock climbing in Morocco
Southeast of Agadir, the granite eggs at Tafraoute offer everything you could possibly expect from outdoor adventures in world-class climbing venues, from bouldering and sport climbing to multi-pitch big wall climbing.
Todra Gorge in the High Atlas Mountains is Morocco’s largest and best-developed climbing area. These tall and imposing limestone cliffs are home to long bolted routes, up to 300 meters (1,000ft). The High Atlas Mountains are a year-round climbing destination, which makes them a favorite destination among Europeans wishing to escape the harsh winters at home.
Also in the High Atlas Mountains, Taghia Gorge offers the best big-wall climbing in Morocco, with routes up to 800 meters (2,600ft) long.
I cannot begin to talk about surfing in Africa without first introducing Morocco, a surfing mecca and a favorite winter destination for European surfers. The most renowned waves in Morocco can be found between Essaouira and Agadir, a region often referred to as “point break heaven.” The area around Taghazout is dotted with world-class breaks, like the legendary Anchor Point, Mysteries, and Killer Point.
South Africa’s scenic coastline is a surfing paradise, home to surf spots like Jeffrey’s Bay, Dungeons, and Durban. The world-famous Supertubes break at J-Bay is considered one of the fastest and most perfectly formed waves on the planet! While many of the breaks here are on the bucket list of experienced surfers, South Africa has plenty to offer for beginners as well.
Senegal offers a wide variety of outdoor adventures for surfers of all levels. The breaks around Dakar are world-class and the beaches are uncrowded, which makes Senegal a hidden gem when it comes to surfing. Let’s hope it stays that way!
Skeleton Coast in Namibia is one of the surfing world’s best-kept secrets, home to the longest left-hand beach break on the planet. The Skeleton Coast may not be the friendliest surf spot out there, being relatively hard to reach, but those perfect barrels are well worth the effort.