Adrenaline sports in KwaZulu-Natal

Mountains, hills, gorges and warm tropical seas have made KwaZulu-Natal adventure central for adrenaline junkies. Two of its main geographical features – the Drakensberg and the Indian Ocean – make perfect conditions for adrenaline sports from climbing and abseiling to surfing and shark diving while the gorges and rivers of the Midlands region are a magnet for white water rafting, canoeing and mountain biking.

There is no shortage of activities to enjoy both above and below the water along the coast including excellent conditions for both surfing and sailing. The province is also steadily building a reputation as one of the world’s top diving destinations with some sites being regularly voted among the Top Ten dive sites in the world.

The Elephant Coast is home to both Sodwana and Rocktail Bay where divers regularly encounter whales, manta rays, giant moray eels, colour-changing octopuses, squid, bottle-nosed dolphins, sharks, whalesharks, huge potato bass and both leatherback and loggerhead turtles. On the South Coast, the Protea Banks is widely considered to be among the best shark diving sites in the world while the nearby Aliwal Shoal has regular sightings of dolphins, manta rays, hump-backed whales and ragged tooth sharks.

Game fishing is also hugely popular along the coast with year-round competitions in pursuit of dorado, tuna, barracuda, kingfish, black and blue marlin, sailfish, spearfish, wahoo among many other species. Inland, Lake Jozini (also known as Pongolapoort Dam) in the heart of Zululand has recently become popular for its huge tiger fish.

Inland, the Oribi Gorge 30km west of Port Shepstone is one of the province’s top adventure hotspots. This dramatic 24km-long sandstone gorge is home to both the world’s highest abseil (110m) and longest gorge swings in the world alongside world-class white water rafting, mountain biking and horse riding trails.

Further north near Howick in the Midlands, a canopy tour has been created through a spectacular valley in the Karkloof Forest Reserve. The tour is a unique eco-experience that takes people on a 3-hour adventure through the magnificent Karkloof indigenous forest along a steel cable suspended up to 30m above the forest floor. Eight ‘foefie’ slides have been slung 35 metres between the trees on canopy rides up to 175 metres in length.

The Drakensberg are a magnet for rock climbers and mountain bikers while the Sani Pass is a dramatic 4x4 trip climbing 1,330m beneath towering cliffs and majestic waterfalls. Alternatively there are opportunities for abseiling, or even ‘black-water rafting’, through the Grade 3 rapids of the Umzimkulwana River.

KwaZulu-Natal’s largest city, Durban, is home to a huge range of outdoor events throughout the year. Highlights include the July Beach Festival which includes Durban Beach Africa, an international surfing event, and the three-day Duzi Canoe Marathon in January. The famous Comrades Marathon each May is arguably the greatest ultra-marathon in the world when athletes from all over the globe run the 90 km between Pietermaritzburg and Durban.

Durban stadium, KwaZulu-Natal. Photo by Richard Madden. The city is also home to the Moses Mabhida Stadium, a world-class sporting stadium built for the 2010 football World Cup.

The SkyCar takes visitors to the stadium arch’s highest point with 360-degree views of the city alongside the 106-metre Big Rush Big Swing, the highest and longest bungee swing of any kind anywhere in the world.

Find out more about activities in KwaZulu-Natal
Responsible Travel would like to thank Tourism KZN for their sponsorship of this guide
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