A woman on safari in Africa
Photograph: Used under license from Shutterstock.com

Have a taste for adventure? Explore these heart-racing activities in Africa

Your bucket list awaits

By Olivia Hart for Time Out in association with Ubank

There’s nowhere like Africa for wildlife, rich traditions and outdoor activities that fall into the ‘don't-leave-without’ category. Combine the exploration of a new destination with the rush you get when you see your first lion on safari, or from climbing to the top of Africa and you’ve got a top-notch travel experience. Let us help you sift through the overwhelming options and plan your visit to Africa. 

To make this trip abroad much easier, ubank offers Spend accounts which come with a Visa debit card and no ATM or international transaction fees charged by ubank, and a Save account to fund your adventures. Plus, ubank have an easy-to-use app. 

7 activities to book in Africa

Head out on safari in Botswana, Kenya and Tanzania for close-encounters with the wildlife

There are many reasons why Botswana is a top choice for first timers to the great continent. With herds of elephants and easy-to-spot big cats this incredible location is not only wildlife-rich but has remarkable views. Board a boat down the Chobe Riveror book a luxury safari for a more intimate experience. For the more seasoned safari traveller  or those keen to avoid the busy spots, head to Kenya where you might catch a glimpse of the ‘Big Five’ (lion, elephant, buffalo, leopard, and rhinoceros) which are notoriously hard to find in one trip. For the real thrill-seekers, Tanzania offers walking safaris where you can marvel at flocks of flamingos or even get a glimpse of the endangered black rhino on foot.

Learn about Egypt's rich history while trekking to the source of the Nile river

When most people think of the Nile they imagine themselves floating serenely down the river on a cruise, but did you know you could trek all the way to its source? Find the birthplace of the Nile (or one of them) by taking a plane, boat and a short hike to Lake Victoria in Uganda where you can observe the water gush out on its journey to the Mediterranean. Used by the Ancient Egyptians as a river highway for trading and transporting goods, the Nile is rich with centuries of history that unfolded along its riverbanks. However, no exploration of the famous river is complete without a stopover in Egypt, dubbed “the gift of the Nile”, where you can lose days walking through ancient tombs and temples. For more Egyption highlights, check out our essential guide to the nation’s capital here.

Don’t miss the challenge of climbing to the top of Africa at Mount Kilimanjaro

For the adventurers at heart, and those looking to tick a well-earned climb off their bucket list – don’t leave Africa without climbing Mt Kilimanjaro. It’s the continent's highest mountain and one of the world’s highest volcanoes and will take you a whopping five to nine days to make it to the summit. While it’s a ‘walkable’ hike and we say that lightly, you’ll need to be extremely prepared for how difficult and mentally taxing the journey will be. Altitude sickness is a very-real possibility and so the general consensus is to go slow on the way to the top. Don’t forget to make buddies with the people climbing up with you, as this will make the climb all the more tolerable. For those that make it to the top, expect unparalleled views of Tanzania.

Explore the Sahara Desert on a country-spanning odyssey

Often considered the identifier for the word desert, the Sahara is like nowhere else on earth. Encompassing several countries with parts still off-limits to travellers, the gateway to the famous landmark can be reached in Tunisia and Egypt, or Morocco where you can join a multi-day tour. Trek across the endless expanse on a slow camel ride before setting up camp underneath unspoiled starlight where you’ll wake up to a desert sunrise. Led by local guides, you’ll visit colourful markets and marvel at earthen clay architecture at the UNESCO world heritage site Aït Benhaddou. Discover some of the other best things to do in Morocco here.

Go Gorilla trekking in Uganda or Rwanda on an ethical tour

With around only 1,000 mountain gorillas remaining in the world, spotting a silverback in the wilds of Africa’s rainforests can be a magical experience. With tours on offer in Rwanda and Uganda, you’ll be allocated a family of gorillas to track with an experienced guide leading the hike through the vast forests. Be sure to book wisely as many companies function ethically and offer back a percentage to the local community to offset overtourism. Discover more once-in-a-lifetime experiences that put animals first here.

Get up close and personal with a Great White Shark in South Africa

If you’re a regular ocean-swimmer, why not kick it up a notch and go face to face with a great white shark? Book in for a cage dive in South Africa’s Gansbaai  for this bucket list ticking activity and get a close up look of these misunderstood (but understandably terrifying) creatures. Make sure you also head out to explore the rest of South Africa, namely the Time Out Market in Cape Town. Situated on the popular V&A Waterfront precinct, this foodie-heaven is filled to the brim with the country’s best chefs, bartenders and cultural goings-on. Find out more about the Time Out Market and things to do in Cape Town here.

Motorcycle across the beautiful north coast of Madagascar

Off the southeast coast of Africa is the wildlife-rich destination Madagascar. Tour the northern part of the island by motorbike and explore thrilling routes which take you through remote villages, lush rainforests and across epic beaches in this dream destination for outdoor enthusiasts. Spot lemurs, upside down trees and stop off along the way at historic sites including a fortress-palace and Parc National Bemaraha where you can cross rope bridges above gigantic jagged limestone cliffs. Not confident on a motorbike? Don’t worry, you can also explore some of the country’s best known national parks on a regular bike.

If any one of these has signalled your inner adrenaline-junkie, start saving now with ubank. Use the offer code “TIMEOUT20” when you join and make five eligible card purchases in your first 30 days and score $20*.

*Make 5 eligible card purchases in the first 30 days to unlock sign up bonus. Terms and conditions apply.

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