18 African Outdoor Adventures for Travelers in 2018

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2017 is almost over. It is time to begin planning your 2018 outdoor adventures. I asked my fellow travel bloggers to share their recommendations for a 2018 outdoor adventure. I had a tremendous response and had to break up the responses by region. Keep a look out of my other 2018 region adventure lists. Here are 18 travel bloggers recommendations for African Outdoor Adventures in 2018.

Hiking Fish River Canyon, Namibia

Alya of Stingy Nomads

For all adventure seekers and hiking lovers we’d suggest doing Fish River canyon hike in Namibia, the second largest canyon in the world by the way. This hike is totally different from any other we’ve done; arid, isolated, with sandy terrain, hot in the day, cold at night, with incredible night sky and stunning sunrises. The hike itself is quite demanding and challenging the main difficulty is the environment; it’s extremely dry and hot you almost never feel hungry but you’re thirsty all the time. It is an unguided hike the trail is very easy to follow you basically walk all the time along the river bed. It takes between 4-7 days to complete the route depending on fitness level. The best and the most spectacular part of the hike comes at night you sleep under endless desert sky with milliards of stars on it. Traditionally hikers don’t carry tents only mattresses and sleeping bags, so you sleep under the starts and wake up with the first sunlight. It’s an amazing place to disconnect with the modern world. The hike finishes in at Ai Ais Hot spring resort where you can soak in a pool drinking refreshing cocktail after days of walking through the desert. There are no dangerous animals in the canyon no need to worry about it. If you’re still unsure, you can always have a look at the best hiking guides about, this way you’ll know for sure if it’s something that you want to do undertake! You could have a look into the Triund Trek Hiking Guide for some inspiration!

Animal Safari in Botswana

Margherita of The Crowded Planet

The idea of safari is usually associated with open-top trucks or cars – but one of the most fun things to do in Botswana is actually a mokoro safari, where you’ll be surrounded by water! Mokoro are a traditional kind of dugout safari used in the Okavango Delta, Botswana’s famous inland delta created by the Okavango river as it comes to a halt in the middle of the Kalahari desert. The Delta is formed by lots of narrow channels fringed by reeds and papyrus, and larger boats simply do not fit – skinny mokoro are ideal, even though it can be a little unnerving when you spot huge crocs standing barely few meters from you! Our mokoro safari was not only beautiful in terms of wildlife, but also a slow, relaxing experience, and the ideal way to visit this serene part of Africa completely surrounded by nature, with no sound besides the whoosh of the river on the canoe.

Hiking in Samburu National Park in Kenya

Patrick of German Backpacker

When traveling around Kenya, most people stick to the southern part of the country, where the majority of the bigger cities and well-known national parks is located. However, you should head further north if you’re looking for a real and unique adventure. Starting in the city of Nanyuki, I headed up north into wild Samburu county. This area of Kenya is hardly populated and home to several different tribes, making it very non-touristic and undeveloped. Me and my friends planned to hike up holy Mt. Ololokwe, where we arrived after a few hours driving up north of Nanyuki. For safety reasons (wild elephants and hostile tribes), we had to hire two armed tribe members to accompany us. The hike led us first through a jungle area, however the scenery changed very soon as we gained more and more altitude. At the top plateau of Mt. Ololokwe, we had stunning views on the vast wilderness of northern Kenya. Our guides told us that we’ve been the only tourists here since more than 3 months! We spent the night in a small lodge at the foot of the mountain, before returning back to civilization the next day. This was hands down my favorite experience in Kenya!

Seeing the Big 5 in Phinda Game Reserve, South Africa

Inma of A World to Travel

Want to spot the Big 5 (African lion, African elephant, Cape buffalo, African leopard, and White/Black rhinoceros) and all the other animals that populate the vast savannas of the South African reserves?

Whether you choose a public reserve (such as Kruger, the country’s most famous National Park) or a private one, you cannot leave the country without jumping on a safari. The one I am most fond of after visiting it last year is Phinda Game Reserve, one of the best in the country.

In addition to getting the royal treatment, you will be contributing to the preservation of the species that live there, always threatened by the poachers that, for instance, decimated the population of one-horned rhinoceros recently.

What’s not to love?

Exploring Sossusvlei in Namibia

Mark and Mim of The Common Wanderer

When it comes to unique outdoor adventures in 2018, the iconic orange sand dunes of Sossusvlei, Namibia should be right at the top your bucketlist!

Here in the ancient Namib-Naukluft national park, skyscraper-sized dunes over 5 million years old grow from the desert, and where a river artery once flowed through the valleys lies Deadvlei, a large white clay pan filled in by drought and blowing sand. Most famous for the 900-year-old fossils of long-dead Acacia trees that stand hauntingly in the basin, Deadvlei is a forest frozen in time. The white clay, blackened trees, tangerine sands, and bright blue skies make for a photographer’s dream too!

To get a feel for the scale of Sossusvlei’s scale – climb them! Although, a crucial lesson we learnt here: sand dunes always look much smaller, and nowhere near as hot than they really are. But once you make it, you’ll be struck by the sheer beauty remoteness of the whole area.

Sossusvlei is super remote, so be prepared to drive or join a tour from Windhoek. Also, we recommend booking accommodation well in advance as there aren’t many options, or take camping gear. But it’s all worth it; a visit to Sossusvlei is one of the most unique experiences you can have in Southern Africa!

Swimming in Devil’s Pool at Victoria Falls, Zambia

Jen of Passions and Places

Victoria Falls, which straddles the border between Zambia and Zimbabwe, is not only the world’s largest waterfall, it might also be the only one you can swim right at the edge of. It may sound like a death wish, but this is actually a popular (and safe) tourist activity. A rock lip at the top of the waterfall creates a calm pool in this spot and prevents the water from pushing anything over the edge (including you!). Swimming at Devil’s Pool – and lying on a rock that overlooks a 100-meter drop into the falls – is a once-in-a-lifetime thrill.

To visit Devil’s Pool, you have to book a trip to Livingstone Island with the Royal Livingstone Hotel on the Zambia side of the falls. The trip also includes a tour of the island and a gourmet meal, and many people visit Livingstone Island without going in Devil’s Pool – but for everyone else, it’s definitely the highlight!

Overnight in the Sahara Desert, Morocco

Lavina of Continent Hop

If you’re looking for a surreal and calming adventure in the biggest desert in the world, nothing compares to spending a night in the Sahara desert.

Inaccessible by vehicles (unless you rent a quad bike) you’re taken to the inner depths of the desert via a camel ride that lasts about an hour and a half. While I’m personally not a fan of camel rides, when you do ride into the desert to your camp, you’re welcomed with a captivating sunset. Once at the camp, the food is hearty, and once you’re done you can sit and gaze at the stars all night! The tents are cosy and essential amenities are present.

It’s dead silent in the Sahara and if you sit long enough you can see the silhouettes of the dunes in the moonlight. However, it’s best to get up early and catch the sunrise as the sands begin to glow golden and the sky gets enveloped in beautiful colors.

The fascinating thing about staying in the Sahara is that the dunes keep shifting and only the locals who set camp, know the exact location of the camp. It’s basic yet provides you with an experience that takes you back to nature!

Exploring Lake Ichkeul in Bizerte, Tunisia

Stephanie of History Fangirl

Lake Ichkeul, located in northern Tunisia near the city of Bizerte, is a special place for nature lovers. It is both a Tunisian national park and a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and it is the stopping point for thousands of migratory birds who fly in from all over Europe to feed and nest in the winter. Birdwatchers and hikers come to see the flamingoes, storks, and a wide variety of ducks and geese. There are also herds of wild African Buffalo that graze nearby and are friendly to visitors looking to get a photo and spend some time watching these amazing creatures.

The lake and its hot springs have been an outdoor recreation center for millennia. The Romans used the area for natural baths, and there are still Roman mosaics in the park.

Today, you can hike the lake on your own or with a tour guide. Tour companies offer four and eight hour hikes, complete with a picnic lunch and a driver to pick you up at the end. Alternatively, you can rent a car in one of the cities, drive up, and hike on your own.

Make sure to stop by the small museum dedicated to the ecology of the lake and its wildlife. Though signs are in French and Arabic, even non-speakers can learn from the maps and displays.

Canyoneering in Cape Town, South Africa

Natasha & Cameron of The World Pursuit

One of the best and definitely most exciting adventures you can have in all of South Africa is canyoneering near Cape Town. If you’re wondering what canyoneering is exactly – it’s okay! I was too until we went on a warm spring day in South Africa.

The basic premise is to find a canyon full of water and follow the flow. Traditionally, with helmets and a wetsuit, you can belay yourself down cliffs with moving water at the bottom. It pretty much involves cliff jumps, hiking, swimming, and lots of extreme abseiling. Canyoneering is not for the faint of heart. It’s actually very dangerous so if you don’t know what you are doing you will need to go to with a guide. Thankfully, you can drop off the face of a waterfall with a rope just within an hour of Cape Town. We went in the Silvermine Nature Reserve and it made for a fantastic day!

Trekking to the Mountain Gorillas in Rwanda

Bret of Green Global Travel

If you’re looking for a unique travel adventure, there’s really nothing like trekking to see the endangered Mountain Gorillas of Rwanda’s Volcanoes National Park. These gentle giants were relatively unknown in the west until Louis Leakey sent budding primatologist Dian Fosssey to the Virunga Mountains (which border Rwanda, Uganda, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo) to research them in 1967. Fossey gradually habituated them to human presence by imitating their behavior. She also fought local poachers, local government, and established “Active Conservation” techniques that are still being used today. Thanks to her, trekkers can now divide into groups of 8 each morning, hike through the dense, muddy jungle, and spend an hour with one of the park’s 10 habituated gorilla families. It’s an awe-inspiring experience, with baby gorillas pounding their chest comically, mothers calmly chewing on bamboo and other vegetation, and massive Silverback males watching over everyone. The rules say you have to keep your distance, but the gorillas didn’t get the memo. One female walked right through our group, putting her hand on a woman’s shoulder. It’s not the cheapest travel tour you’ll ever take, but it is definitely an incredible experience that we will never, ever forget.

Exploring Santo Antao in Cape Verde, South Africa

Paulina of Paulina on the Road

Cape Verde is still one of those destinations that haven’t been invaded by the crowds. While some of its islands are especially known for its beach resorts like Sal and Boa Vista, Santo Antao, the second largest island of the archipelago, seems to be the most remote of them all. It will definitely be one of the best outdoor adventures in 2018 as it holds some areas that seem straight from a fairytale setting. So far it has become my favorite hiking destination.

One of the particularly beautiful hikes is the one to Fontainhas village.

It has been recently awarded as Cape Verde’s most picturesque village, Fontainhas is set in a secluded region. The natural setting is indeed breathtaking: steep valleys, a little beach at the foot of the mountain and its colorful houses built into the hillside. Fontainhas could be the perfect backdrop for a Lord of the Rings scene.

The fairytale aspect of Santo Antao is the most palpable during the rainy season (August-October) when cascades give the steep mountains and deep valleys an almost magical touch.

Cycling in Hell’s Gate National Park, Kenya

Nicole of Wee Gypsy Girl

When most people imagine travelling in Kenya, a safari trip is the top activity on their to-do list. I travelled to Kenya for a month after graduating and did all the usual bucketllist things: snorkelling in Malindi Marine National Park, doing a Safari in Massai Mara National Park and even kissing giraffes at Giraffe Manor! The stand-out activity for me, though, was cycling through Hell’s Gate National Park.

Situated in the Great Rift Valley, Hell’s Gate National Park has an other-worldly landscape consisting of steep gorges and towering cliffs. You can even see the rock that was the inspiration for pride rock here, but part of it has fallen away in recent years.

Although you can’t cycle through the whole National Park, the parts that you can are surrounded by animals in their national habitat. I thought that this was a much more fun way to enjoy nature than sitting looking at it out of a car window. Most of the animals in the park are safe, like giraffes, zebras and antelope, but you should still be sure to go wi with a professional rather than DIYing it!

Hiking the Simien Mountains of Ethiopia

Lina & David of Divergent Travelers

Hiking in the Simien Mountains in Ethiopia is one of the world’s most unique outdoor adventures making it a world’s Top 100 Travel Adventure. There are many great places in the world to hike but where else can you hike with breathtaking landscapes, brightly colored wildflowers and rare wildlife including Gelada Baboons, Wallia Ibex, and Ethiopian Wolves. This is one of the few places in the world you can view Gelada Baboons and the experience is like being surrounded by hundreds of 1980’s hairband Baboons while hiking along rocky mountainous cliffs.

Hikes range from 2-14 days depending on your fitness, skill level and the time of the year. Be ready to hike 6-8 hours a day at a steady pace. Every hike starts at the Simien Mountains National Park office in Debark, Ethiopia. Every hiker must have a hiking guide from the National Park. Lodging varies along the hiking trail ranging from a few luxury lodges to dorm style camp buildings and basic tent campsites. Read our Ultimate guide to hiking the Simien Mountains of Ethiopia.

Searching for Shoe-billed Storks in Uganda

Jennifer of Sidewalk Safari

Uganda boasts over one thousand bird species but the formidable shoebill is the star of this outdoor adventure. From the moment I saw a photo of a shoebill in a wildlife magazine, I knew I had to see one with my own eyes. Shoebills live in a remote band of habitat covering Sudan, Rwanda, Uganda and parts of the Congo,Tanzania and Zambia. Uganda is the most accessible place to see shoebills with Mabamba Swamp situated less than 2 hours away from the airport in Entebbe.

Our guide, they call him Ismail, stealthily maneuvered our small wooden boat through the narrow channels of the papyrus swamp with a long pole. We heard a rustling in the bush and turned around to catch a glimpse of a magnificent shoebill flying from the reeds. My jaw dropped when I saw the shoebill’s enormous wingspan. In total, we spotted three shoebills on our two hour private tour of Mabamba Swamp. We were extremely lucky since there are only about ten endangered shoe-billed storks in the area. This birdwatching experience is one that I’ll treasure for a lifetime.

West Africa Road Trip

Miguel of Travel Sauro

When most travelers decide to hit Africa, they go for the classic known spots such as South Africa, Kenya or Tanzania. However, they´re missing out on a whole bunch of wonders in West Africa waiting to be explored. Try taking a road trip from Morocco to Guinea Bissau, you´ll be open yourself up a new Africa you didn’t know existed. You need the proper documentation to get the visas and cross borders, but ain´t imposible.

You’ll be able to explore ancient cities like Fez and Marrakech, visit local markets to purchase some dates or camels for the road, cruise along the Atlantic coast, and cross the surreal Sahara, the biggest desert on earth. After that, you’ll get to Senegal, Gambia and Guinea, and enjoy the beauty and nature of the craddle of civilization. Senegal is a great destination for the first timers in the continent, boasting wild beaches, reggae parties and traditional villages, while Guinea Bissau is a barely unknown destination among tourists, but offering unique experiences like Bijagós Islands.

Come in February and you´ll be shaking to the drums of the carnival of Bissau, the most insane party I´ve experienced on my 3 decades on this planet! So, get off the beat bush… Exploring this part of Africa will mark your life forever!

Flying Above Victoria Falls in a Microlight

Vicki of Make Time To See The World

Never heard of a Microlight? You are in for a treat! It is basically an open-air propeller-powered giant kite attached to two seats which is then flown (by an experienced pilot!) over the magnificent Victoria Falls on the border between Zimbabwe and Zambia.
It actually feels like you are flying. The wind is real, the height is real – the view is incredible. If you have already flown in a helicopter – this is the closest you can get to flying without putting on a wing suit!

There is only one operator who offers this incredible experience (Bakota Sky) and it is best to book a late afternoon flight when the spray is not as powerful and you are less likely to get wet – although there are no guarantees there – it depends on how mother nature feels on the day of your flight!

Flying in a Microlight is an experience like no other and is definiately one of the best things to do in Victoria Falls – or maybe even Africa overall!

Hiking Amatola Trail in South Africa

Alya of Stingy Nomads

South Africa is an amazing country to travel except for well-known tourist attractions it has many hidden gems that not even many locals know about. Amatola trail is one of them; hidden in the mountains of the Eastern Cape province near a cozy little town Hogsback this hike will surprise you with amazing waterfalls, breath-taking lookouts and evergreen indigenous forest. It takes 7 days to complete the hike. You walk in the wild all the time you need to bring all your food supplies with you. Drinking water is not a problem there are plenty of rivers and waterfalls around. Every night you sleep in a hut you don’t need to carry a tent. The huts have bank beds with mattresses, kitchenet, toilet and hot shower, tough you need to light a fire to get hot water (at every hut there is special dry wood). Every day you walk between 5-8 hours depending on your speed and how much you stop for refreshing or swimming in the waterfalls and rivers. All huts have incredibly beautiful locations on the top of the hill, at the river or in the forest isolated from the rest of the world. Though the hike is not just an easy walk especially considering a heave backpack anybody relatively fit can do it. Hogsback is a perfect place to stay before and after the hike there are many accommodation options for different budget including camping.

Trekking to the Chimpanzee in Uganda

Jennifer of Made all the Difference

In the heart of Kibale National Park, Uganda a family group of chimpanzees can be found. Trekking out to these intelligent creatures is no easy task. The group can range over several miles each day. The trek will involve bushwacking thru the jungle that is home to forest elephants, forest buffalo, and snakes. Depending on the chimpanzees’ locations, the trek can be easy or it can be hard. Our group of chimps were slightly on the move so we were kind of chasing them until they found a good place to take a meal break. The guides know their chimps. They know their names and personalities. The first male chimp we met was an older teen with a mischievous streak. He likes to come up to tourist and knock them over. He would wait until he got up and then go it again. He would laugh while doing this. He didn’t do this to anyone in our group but he did decided to charge at us. He hit the ground hard enough I felt it thru my boots andsnappedd 2 in trees with ease.

What is going to be your list for 2018 African Outdoor Adventures?

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