Have you considered an authentic African Adventure, but don’t know where to start? Indeed, about once in a lifetime, an opportunity presents itself to do something genuinely unique, life-changing, and rewarding. Going on an authentic adventure to South Africa is one of those rare opportunities. South Africa offers a wide range of cultures (11 Official Languages), unique wildlife (The BIG five), and the breathtaking landscape. To be sure, it makes it a truly unique place to explore. South Africa is known as the ‘Rainbow Nation.’ Moreover, I think South Africa is the perfect destination to embark on an adventure. Indeed, the experiences will not only change your life but also the lives of the local communities that you visit.
So in this story, I wanted to share with you what makes an Authentic African Adventure. And further, why the experience will be unique, like nothing you’ve done before.
The following elements will ensure a life-changing encounter with memories that will last a lifetime.
Community Impact – Your Outlook in Life will change
Engaging with the local community is something you can do on most holidays. Also, it’s an excellent way to learn more about their own unique culture. By getting involved in the local community, you will learn more about them and their conditions. Furthermore, this can be an opportunity to actively contribute to their better future.
Unlike many parts of the western developed world, many people in the remote areas of South Africa live in the most basic of conditions. Indeed, they have limited opportunities due to their circumstances. But, to truly understand the culture, history, and situations, you need to form part of their community for a short while.
Make Memories That Are Treasured for a Lifetime
An excellent example of one way you can get involved in a community is through the #BIKES4ERP program. ERP is an organization (NGO) called Elephants, Rhinos, and People. The organization gives bicycles to students in communities who need it most. Imagine being a part of it?
Many children in remote South African communities have to walk about half-a-marathon each day to get to school and back. Furthermore, these children often have to travel across rough terrain and face extreme weather conditions. After arriving home exhausted, they often need to fetch water, collect firewood, care for siblings, and feed livestock.
All this often leads to frequent exhaustion, absenteeism, and often a complete withdrawal from school. Unfortunately, all of which results in a long term negative impact on their future, and to the whole community. However, by giving these students their very own bicycle, it completely changes their lives, ensuring they have easier access to school, and a better future.
To put this into perspective, only 40% of South African students achieve a qualification higher than Year 9, and half of children who enrol in Year 1 will never pass Year 12.
Engage With Local Villages on Your African Adventure
As a result, I think a crucial part of experiencing an authentic African Adventure is engaging with the local communities. For example, being immersed in their circumstances, while actively contributing will make a real difference in the lives of the village.
Moreover, by being a part of #BIKES4ERP, adventurers immerse themselves by personally delivering bicycles to these students. Imagine watching the group of students performing a beautiful African song to show their gratitude. To be sure, the experience often leaves travelers with goosebumps and tears in their eyes.
Certainly, spending time with the students, and seeing big smiles on their faces as you hand them their very own and new bicycle brings renewed hope in their eyes. Indeed, it’s a testament to the positive impact of such an adventure. In particular, the contribution to their small and remote community makes the African Adventure authentic, immersive, and life-changing.
Hiking an African Safari
The second key element to an Authentic African Adventure is to immerse yourself within the nature and wildlife of South Africa. Indeed, there is no better way to do this than embarking on a hiking safari.
Certainly, you may have been on safaris before. For example, you might drive around in a vehicle and take photos out of the window. But to be sure, this is not what I’m referring too.
On a hiking safari, you will carry everything you need in your back. And you will leave nothing behind. With every step in the bush, you will become further and further removed from society, the daily distractions, and technology interruptions.
Certainly, you will see the “Big Five” animals. They are Lions, Elephants, Rhinoceros, Buffalos, and Leopards. The very first time you see one of the Big Five animals on foot, it will take your breath away. For example, you may be impressed at how quickly elephants can walk, or how alert (and intimidating) buffalo can be, and how wary lions are during the day. Experiences like these are truly unique, and something you cannot get from anywhere else in the world.
What to Expect on an African Hiking Safari
- As you walk silently, you will hear the birds changing their calls as they see you approaching. (for instance, listen out for the Oxpeckers as it means that an encounter with buffalo or elephant could be imminent).
- Along the trail, you may get the smell of dung as you hike towards the river and dig for drinking water in what seems to be a dry riverbed. (You will be amazed by how you can find water in these part of the world)
- At night you will sit around the bushfire, under the night sky with no city lights in sight, listening to exciting bushveld stories about close encounters with the wild, and the vital conservation efforts in South Africa.
- While in bed, you may be lucky and hear the distant call of a jackal, or a lion’s roar or even the odd hyena ‘laughing.’ The melodic and distinctive sound of the African Nightjar will accompany you into dreamland
- The next morning your alarm may be the Woodlands Kingfisher or Heart-attack-bird called the Crested Francolin. To be sure, as you hike through the bushveld, you will soon learn why it’s known as a Heart-attack-bird).
A Moment of Reflection & Realization On your African Adventure
You will learn and appreciate that humans are not at the top of the ladder when you take away our technology. We are actually one of the slowest species in the bush.
With a hiking safari, there is no set trail, schedule, or established campsites. Let nature be your guide while learning about the bush, the animals, and, most of all, about yourself. All this as you immerse yourself in the beautiful and unique nature of South Africa.
Take Part in An Active Event
The third element of an Authentic African Adventure is to take part in an event that results in personal achievement.
The South African bushveld, for example, offers a unique platform to complete these individual events. Indeed, it allows for unique experiences not available anywhere else. For example, you can run amongst the mountains while also sighting wildlife (like Giraffes) as you complete a 20km trail run through the bush. I think events such as these are critical to an Authentic African Adventure. It’s not so much about the race, but about the experience and engagement with the local culture. While participating in these events, you will engage with the local communities and experience their food while achieving something amazing as part of the event.
The Oxpecker Trail: A True African Adventure
The Oxpecker trail is one of South Africa’s leading 2-day trail runs. The run takes place around the historic Spioenkop Mountain and along the banks of the mighty Tugela River. To be sure, all come with a view of the Drakensberg. Indeed, the Oxpecker trail run is a truly unique opportunity to challenge and remind yourself of what’s achievable by getting out and getting fit.
As part of the race, you will run with your mates and locals. But, in the end, you will ultimately be running against yourself. During the race, you will enjoy the scenery and the camaraderie of the running community, especially when the going gets tough. You will share in laughter as you engage with the friendly locals operating the water points, and you will spend time learning more about the area, history, and its people after the race.
As you complete the unique event, you will feel proud of the fantastic personal achievement while also reflecting on the beautiful part of the world you have become acquainted with and the local people with whom you have made connections.
How to Plan Your Authentic African Adventure
While you may not feel comfortable doing this all on your own, some companies like Inkwazi Adventures can take care of it all for you. No matter what your ideal type of travel adventure may be, consider an Authentic African Adventure. It doesn’t have to be just about the destination. Instead, and more importantly, it can be about the experience and offer a life-changing impact. These African Adventures will take you out of your daily routine and comforts, enabling you to reflect, reset, and reconnect with what is essential in your life.
So make sure you get out there and make the most of life’s adventure.
Charles is an ex-pat South African, who now lives in Sydney, Australia with his wife and young family. Charles is also a team leader at Inkwazi Adventures and is passionate about taking travelers on immersive and uniquely South African Adventures, guaranteed to be life-lasting experiences.