Why South African travellers are seeking adventure
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From challenging my fear of heights on the infamous King Swing at All Out Adventures in the Northern Drakensberg to zip-lining my way through the Tsitsikamma Forest in the rain, I’ve fallen head over heels in love with all things adventure. And I am not alone.
South African travellers are now hoping to tick adrenaline-fuelled activities off their bucket list, such as skydiving, river rafting, bungee jumping, ocean safaris and sand-boarding, to name a few.
Most travel companies are aggressively marketing their adventure offerings to help revive their business following the impact of Covid-19.
Like Cape Town Bucket List, a travel company famous for its kayaking and seal-snorkelling offerings. Owner Tjaart van der Walt said business started to pick up after President Cyril Ramaphosa eased lockdown restrictions.
“We have been very busy, especially with requests for kayak adventures. The season has been good to us. One of the contributing factors is the interest from domestic travellers. Since they are unable to travel abroad due to the pandemic, they are turning to the South African tourism industry for unique adventure experiences.
“We also changed our marketing strategy, shifting our focus to social media rather than search engine optimisation like we’ve done pre-Covid-19. Our social media budget helped drive a significant amount of local travellers to our business,” he said.
Van der Walt said adventure travel required minimal planning.
“Adventure travel is spontaneous, so travellers need to be flexible when they plan. The less planning, the better.
“People should instead create an adventure bucket list and work towards that. Once they plan to embark on an adventure activity, they should research potential businesses. You rather make use of reputable businesses, especially when the activity requires a skilled professional,” he said.
He intends to launch new adventure activities by spring.
Kennedy Tembo, the owner of Micro-Adventure Tours in Johannesburg, has noticed a spike in bookings for hikes and cycling.
Tembo, who offers cycling, hiking and city tours, said his business was far busier now than during the same period in 2019.
In fact, he had started hosting more hiking holidays to the Northern Drakensberg. He previously held trips every quarter.
“There’s more interest from local travellers as people want to explore their backyard. Hiking, in general, has gained popularity. South Africans are enjoying the outdoors and the activities on offer.
“My advice to people who are contemplating an adventure activity is to live in the moment. Do not be afraid. Go out and enjoy the experience,” he said.
Bianca Mazur, Flight Centre general manager, said people craved nature in all forms, from the bush, beach, national parks, forests and deserts.
“South Africa and Africa is uniquely positioned to cater to adventure travel seekers. The vast expanse and diversity of the African continent allow for off-the-beaten track adventures. We expect to see this type of intrepid, exploration, adventure and bush break safari-style travel increase in popularity. The shorter flight times will also be appealing.
“Expect even more camping, glamping and self-catering, as well as exclusive, private travel experiences and bucket list, adrenaline-rush adventures,” she said.
Mazur recommended a few adventure travel ideas, from hiking in Bela Bela to surfing on the Wild Coast. She said canopy tours, mountain biking and hiking were popular in Magaliesburg.