The time is now to rediscover the magic of the walking safari, the first kind of safari there ever was. Discover nature and wildlife using your own two feet, along with an experienced guide. From Kenya to Zambia to the mountains of Uganda and all the way down to South Africa, find out why your next safari should be a walking safari.
8. Tassia Walking Safaris, Kenya
If you are searching for a taste of unspoiled Africa, a Tassia Walking Safari is most definitely for you. The Tassia lodge is where the magic starts to happen, situated on the 60,000 acre Lekurruki Community Ranch, and is home base to all who want to experience a walking safari. The most exhilarating way to explore the area is by foot and Mart Wheeler lends his expertise to those wanting to get up close and personal with wildlife. Martin is an expert at tracking wildlife and will lead guests on rigorous treks and climbs. Expect to spot elephants, buffalo, giraffe, hyena and leopards here. Wheeler also offers an overnight fly camp safari into the Kenyan Bush where you will be treated to an evening under the stars as well as not just one but two walking safaris with ample opportunity for wildlife viewings.
7. Selinda Explorers Camp, Botswana
This small camp is located on a remote stretch of the Selinda Spillway, very close to the heart of the pristine 320,000-acre private Selinda Reserve and only caters to 8 people at a time. Four custom designed tents have been set up underneath the towering jackalberry and mangosteen trees and much effort has been made to rekindle the magic of a proper expedition camp. The majority of wildlife viewing activities is done via walking or canoe, with open vehicle game drives only when necessary. Each morning and late/evening is when the wildlife viewing it at is best and expects to see elephants, hippos, lions, zebras and more. Expect nothing short of a true African walking safari which makes you feel as though you have stepped back in time, just with better food, better drinks and beautiful accommodations.
6. Kitich Walking Safaris, Kenya
The tiny intimate Kitich Camp is located in the remote Mathews Range of forested mountains in Northern Kenya and walking safaris are the only choice offered here. The guides at this camp are known as masters of the forest, they know the trails intimately and can sense the wildlife before they see them. Like stated earlier, this camp avoids game drives and encourages guests to explore on foot. This mountain forest is home to a variety of animals including forest elephant, lion, buffalo, Melanistic leopard, Colobus monkey, waterbuck and zebra, as well as over 350 bird species. As an added bonus the cozy lounge at this camp overlooks the floodlit open river glade and at night guests can watch elephant, buffalo, bushbuck and the occasional leopard emerge from the forest to drink from the river.
5. Rhino Walking Safaris, South Africa
Guests here should be prepared for an intimate, quality, pristine wilderness experience while still lapping up luxury in 12,000 acres of pristine bush outside Kruger. Two highly qualified guides will share their wealth of knowledge on animals, trees, grasses, insects and birds as they take a maximum of eight guests on an incredible walking safari. Plains Camp is home base during the walking safaris and offers four East African Safari-style tents complete with elegant furnishings, treasure antiques and incredible food to eat. A cool plunge pool offers the chance to enjoy a cocktail while overlooking the plains between walks. Expect the walks in this safari to be upwards of four hours long as it is important to get the full hands on sensory experience. For an additional experience make sure you try out the platforms that allow you to sleep under the stars.
4. Selous Safari, Tanzania
Roughly the size of Switzerland, the remote Selous game reserve in south-east Tanzania is Africa’s largest protected wildlife reserve and one of the few places in the country to offer walking with camping. From rivers to open plains to woodlands to lakes and even hot springs, the variety of wildlife found here is simply overwhelming. By day guests will walk with the ranger to a secluded location where you will find your camp set up. Evenings will bring drinks around the campfire, eating under the stars and sleeping in the wild. Days are spent with gentle hikes in the cooler part of the days, searching out wildlife viewing opportunities. This is no luxury safari; frills are kept to the essentials; good simple food, cold drinks and a comfortable bed-roll. The trade off is an opportunity to see wildlife in their true habitat, alongside a knowledgeable guide.
3. Buffalo Camp, Zambia
North Luangwa National Park is one of the last unspoilt true wilderness areas left in Africa, and best explored by foot. Renowned by its huge herds of buffalo and other species, this park deserves to be discovered. The seasonal bush camp is only open from June to October and its recommended you stay at least 3 nights to get the full experience. The walking safaris normally last about 4 hours per day and are led by a highly trained Zambian guide as well as an armed Zambia Wildlife Authority guard. Accommodations are six chalets all overlooking the Mwaleshi River and as of the past two years are now a part of the Black Rhino Sanctuary, which allows visitors to live amongst the last of these critically endangered animals.
2. Anabezi Luxury Tented Camp, Zambia
Most people when they think of walking safaris think of the bare necessities but Anabezi Luxury Tented Camp is changing that. Although this company offers vehicle safaris as well, they are well-known for their walking safaris. At base camp visitors will be treated to swimming pools, a large game viewing deck, two large common decks with fireplaces, and large luxurious tents that feature indoor and outdoor bathrooms, teak beds, private deck with pool and beautiful furnishings. Experienced guides will take visitors through the surrounding areas on foot exploring the different flora and wildlife by daylight. Or choose to take a safari by canoe, with a guide and explore the wildlife on the riverbank as you paddle gently downstream. This luxury safari is the perfect mix of walking, canoeing and vehicle guided treks.
1. Nkuringo Walking Safaris, Uganda/Rwanda
Developed in 2007 as a sustainable tourism initiative, Nkuringo Walking Safaris pairs incredible guides with groups of visitors in a multi-day trek to view some of the most beautiful animals in the world, gorillas. Join one of many walking safaris that this company offers, including a 10 day journey that takes visitors to Bwindi The impenetrable Forest that is home to mountain gorillas. Participants of this safari will stay overnight in tents, dine on delicious food and witness some of the most amazing creatures in the forests, including the Golden Monkey. This is not your typical walking safari where treks only last a few hours, in some cases you will be required to walk upwards of 8 hours and therefore participants must be in good shape. In return, you will be treated to an experience of a lifetime.
Technically we are all in places that are about to change drastically. There are many remote idyllic, places being threatened by climate change that face melting glaciers or catastrophic flooding. But then so does Miami. Whether it’s rising sea levels, desertification, torrential monsoons, melting glaciers or ocean acidification, climate change is rapidly altering the landscape of our planet and perhaps about to destroy some of the world’s legendary vacation spots. Then there is the traditional destruction inflicted by human error and downright imbecility. More hotel rooms, spas and golf courses are part of the inherent contradictions of tourism increasing accessibility means increasing degradation. There seems to be no solution to that equation. We will be one of the last generations to see some of the Earth’s most cherished places. Here’s our list of 20 places to see before they vanish to climate change, over development and encroachment. It’s a survey of various sources from CNN to MNN (as in Mother Nature Network), at the same time being quite conscious of the other contradiction that advising more people to visit already vulnerable sites is farther contributing to the degradation. Perhaps you can solve that moral quandary by designing am environmentally sensitive visit. Or contribute to conservancy groups that are fighting to save them.
20. Gozo, Malta
CNN has this theory that once a foreign city is featured in a blockbuster movie, it takes a hit from an influx of curious tourists. Gozo, population 37,000 is a short ferry ride from Malta. Its website proudly proclaims its natural beauty, its “tortoise-like pace” and amazing history. Gozo means ‘joy’ in Castilian, so named at its founding in 1282. Last year Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt shot their latest film “By the Sea” there. Directed by Jolie, it appears to be a drama about an artistic couple’s fading marriage with Gozo subbing for France. CNN warns that “There are few better advertisements for a destination than a good movie,” and expects hordes of Brangelina fans to disturb the tranquility in search of the places the couple tried to rekindle their romance.
19. St. Kitts
With its neighbor and sidekick Nevis known as the decadent playground of the idle rich, St. Kitts is passing under the spell of the Evil Trinity of tourism; Big name hotel chains, golf course designers and marina builders. It is being done in the name of sustainability which may be easier to do environmentally that in preserving the spirit of a place heading to over development. When they open the world’s first edible golf course, you know the gimmicks have just begun.
18. The Seychelles
National Geographic rates the beach at Anse Source d’Argent as the best in the world. One of nature’s most convincing versions of paradise. The beauty of the pink sand, the coral reef sheltered by massive granite boulders brings many beach lovers to this archipelago of more than a hundred islands in the Indian Ocean but the water rises relentlessly, the perfect beaches are eroding and its coral reef, like others around the world is being degraded. Barring some miraculous engineering innovation or divine intervention, many of the islands could be lost in the next 50 years.
17. The Athabasca Glacier, Canada
With its relatively convenient location in mid-Alberta between Banff and Jasper National Parks, The Athabasca Glacier attracts more tourists than any other on the continent. It is also the largest ice field between the poles. It’s a kind of frozen tributary of the massive Columbia Ice Fields. But with ice fields north of 90, as old hands call the Arctic, the Athabasca at 52 degrees north latitude is in for The Big Melt. Parks Canada estimates it’s receding up to ten feet a year. At this rate maybe too far gone for the next generation to experience.
16. St. Helena
In its own way, St. Helena is an exotic destination. A volcanic speck of 50 square miles in the middle of the south Atlantic, it is the definition of remote, 4,000 miles east of Rio de Janeiro. Let’s face it, after Waterloo, the British were not about to exile Napoleon in Paradise. Part of its cache is that getting there is a challenge, by the Royal Mail ship St. Helena from Cape Town, Walvis Bay or Ascension Island. It’s somewhat for bird watching and its rugged terrain protects well preserved Georgian buildings. After Longwood, Napoleon’s home after 1815 (now a museum), the island’s biggest celebrity draw is Jonathon the tortoise, age 180 and going strong. The British have sunk the better part of half a billion dollars into an airport for the tiny island to open early in 2016. For that chunk of change, expect more than the usual 3,000 or so visitors soon.
15. Taj Mahal, India
Even the great frescoes of the Sistine Chapel dulled with age and the emission from centuries of candle smoke and neglect. But they were inside the walls of a building in the First World, whereas the Taj Mahal is neither. The whole point of the spectacular tribute to an Emperor’s late wife, is its pristine whiteness indicative of the purity of their love. But the air quality in India’s major cities is worse than the horrific pollution levels of Beijing. Fading to yellow or rust is not just a cosmetic downgrade it degrades its very meaning. An ornate mausoleum of white marble, The Taj Mahal is the sparkling jewel of Muslim art in India. Built in the 17th century by Emperor Shah Jahan as a memorial to his favorite wife, The Taj currently has more than 3 million visitors a year and the heat, foot traffic and toxic air are beginning to undermine the building’s structural integrity. It’s not hard to see a lengthy shutdown for restoration in the near future, not to mention banning people from going inside.
14. Dead Sea
There is the old joke that someone says he’s so old he remembers when the Dead Sea was only sick. Sadly that’s no longer just a joke. It is being sucked dry by the water-desperate countries around it who are helping themselves to the water in the River Jordan, the sea’s main source. It has shrunk by a third in size and scientists fear if the rate of attrition continues, the intensely salted water some claim has medicinal qualities, has maybe 50 years of life left.
13. The Galapagos Islands
Truth be told Europeans have been abusing the Galapagos since the late 19th century when pirates used it as a base to launch their raids. Darwin didn’t arrive until 1835 to begin on what would become The Origin of the Species 25 years later. Now there are pages of tours echoing the name of his ship The Beagle. The islands are threatened by too many people. Too many insensitive people acting reprehensibly to degrade this natural treasure to take the greatest selfies and poach plants and animals (not necessarily at the same time.) The prognosis is much better than many other sites however because the ecosystem, while delicate, can still be saved by limiting if not stopping altogether, the onslaught of tourists. So if it’s on your bucket list…tread lightly.
12. Glacier National Park Montana
In fact, anything with the word “Glacier’ in its name or title may be at risk, barring some miraculous reversal in climate change, the effects are well documented. They are living on borrowed time, the more temperate the climate the more critical the patient. The number of glaciers in the stunningly beautiful Glacier National Park on the Montana-Canada border has shrunk by 75% in the last century. Pessimistic estimates say the glaciers and the ecosystem that depends on them could be gone by 2030. The good news if you’re into dark humor; the surfing in Montana is about to improve dramatically.
11. South Australia
One of those areas facing the climate change double whammy, coastal flooding and interior desertification the Australian government has studied and published many daunting studies on the effects. Rising sea levels will threaten hundreds of miles of beaches and the lovely city of Adelaide will be put at risk. The soaring temperatures and absence of rain in the interior will challenge some of the most renowned wine growing regions in the world, including the Barossa and Clare Valleys. While the region accounts for only 7% of Australia’s population, it is also responsible for half of the $1.3 billion in wine exports. Unless you are entertained somehow by catastrophic flooding and drought, best to go soon.
10. Greek Islands
There are 6,000 islands from Aegina to Zaforas in the Ionian and Aegean seas off the Greek coast. Only 227 are inhabited and only 50 have airports. Traveling between them has always been a question of taking leisurely ferries with shall we say occasionally regular schedules. Until now after a Greek airline has announced to connect another 100 by seaplane. As always accessibility is a mixed blessing. The islands of Crete, Skyros and Pelion are first on the list with more to come as early as year’s end. Book accordingly. Unless you like crowded beaches, then this is your lucky year.
9. Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe/Zambia
The famous falls are twice the height of Niagara with a fraction of the tourists. At least until the new Victoria Falls International Airport, on the Zimbabwe/Zambia, border opens in the fall of 2015. It’s being built to handle what pilots call “Heavy Metal”, wide body A340’s and Boeing 777’s and their human cargo. It will be a huge boost for the tourism sector in the long-suffering country. The five regional airlines that used the old airport will be joined by British British Airways, Qatar Airways, Etihad, Emirates, and Kenya Airways, just to start.
8. St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Caribbean
An idyllic place. Everything you wish for in a Caribbean destination. And less, without the crowds, partiers and such. Beaches rank among the best in the world, coral reefs provide diving that’s to die for, it’s care free relaxation in a setting almost too beautiful to be true. But it’s always been a bit of a schlep to get there by connecting flight. The new $250,000,000 Argyle International Airport , will come with direct flights to North American and European cities increasing capacity by at least 400%. Plus it is upgrading its port infrastructure to bring in more cruise ships whose environmental record has been somewhere between bad and wretched. The good news for would-be visitors is that the airport is behind schedule for those who would like to have the island experience before it gets paved and up go the condos.
Lake Nicaragua is a scenic, unspoiled place with coastal towns lost to time and lots of fishing spots locals love. It has been fast-tracked to the environmental critical list by a crazy ambitious $50 billion Chinese-backed project to build a canal three times the length of the Panama Canal from the Pacific to the Caribbean Sea and hence the Atlantic, in the process trampling through prized lakes, wetlands, coral reefs and any number of delicate ecosystems in Central America and the Caribbean. The Nicaraguan Academy of Sciences warns “this canal would create an environmental disaster in Nicaragua and beyond. Tourist visits have soared since the construction started.
6. Papua New Guinea
There is an automatic exoticism to the south Pacific and in the case of Papua New Guinea, it’s enhanced by its status as one of the last truly unexplored places on earth. The government has expressed a “wish” to maintain the rarely seen villages as the basis for its society. It’s a nice gesture, but at the same time they’re expanding the almost non-existent tourism infrastructure starting with cruise ships and with them a fading chance to experience a land not far removed from first contact.
5. The Alps, Europe
The mighty Alps are facing an uphill battle they can’t win. The evidence is incremental but unmistakable. The temperature, even on peaks over 10,000 feet has been steadily rising. The elevation at which snow falls and accumulates is falling. Towns and cities dependent on skiing for their livelihoods are taking strong measures to lower local CO2 emissions, but climate change scientists say the effects of climate change could hit hard by 2040. So maybe the problem will be solved by then, it still leaves you at least 25 years to book, but after that forget the skies and take hiking boots and sunblock.
4. Venice, Italy
Like the famous writer Mark Twain, reports of the death of Venice have been greatly exaggerated. The magical kingdom of canals and Renaissance masterpieces has been written off many times before. But the severe flooding it has long suffered has become deeper and more chronic. When you can stop on your way to St. Mark’s and, bend down and catch fish with your bare hands, the fat lady may not be singing but is definitely warming up. The prognosis: the only people to see Venice past the 22nd century are likely scuba divers and snorkelers. However, the city has miraculously hung tough before. It may not be clear just how just yet, but surely no expense will be spared to save one of the greatest treasures on the planet.
3. Great Barrier Reef, Australia
Another long running natural disaster that could have been easily mitigated by sustainable practices. The fabulous reef has been assaulted not only by climate change but by human stupidity. Higher water temperatures and its older foes of pollution and acidification from ever rising carbon dioxide emissions are killing off the corals at an alarming rate. More recent threats are damage caused by the development of Australian ports to export coal to China, thereby contributing to more CO2, hence more damage to the reef and its $4 billion in tourist income. A whole new enemy has emerged as well in industrial overfishing which doesn’t directly damage reefs around the world, but destroys the fish stocks that are part of its ecosystem. The wonderful reef in Belize is facing the same threat of death by coral bleaching.
Oh the irony. According to CNN, the son of Che Guevara, the iconic Marxist guerrilla leader, has turned out to be quite the entrepreneur, launching a motorcycle tour company for the biking crowd to see the island from behind their choppers. With the easing of American travel restrictions, the fabric of the island is in for rapid change for the less impoverished though not necessarily better. Not to revel in other’s poverty but the anachronism of the island frozen in a time warp by antiquated Communist central planning was part of the charm, like the famous 1950’s vintage vehicles constantly repaired and rebuilt out of economic necessity. The wonderful beaches are already popular and if there are bikers, the massive cruise ships won’t be far behind. Hemingway’s Havana is already on borrowed time.
Expect to see more headlines like this one from the BBC: “Should tourists be banned from Antarctica?” It’s feared that Antarctica is shedding up to 160 billion tons of ice annually and rising. The biggest threat to the ice cap is warming temperatures, not humans. Less than 40,000 people visit every year and only a quarter of them actually go ashore. Tour companies abide by strict international guidelines to limit human impact but those guidelines are voluntary. That human impact may be minimal, but any additional pressure on an increasingly vulnerable ecosystem is critical. There will be many more calls for restrictions to follow the BBC’s warnings. It won’t disappear in a century but trips to see it may be extinct long before.
Thundering water, “smoking” water—these are just a couple of the ways people around the world have conceptualized waterfalls. No matter where in the world you live, you have a good idea of what a waterfall is. In all shapes and sizes, these landmarks and their majesty have captured the imagination of generations. The world is filled with amazing waterfalls and while picking a waterfall destination is never the wrong choice, there are some that are must-see locations—like the ones on this list. From highest to largest to widest, you should put the waterfalls down on your bucket list.
10. Ebor Falls, Australia
Named for a nearby town, Ebor Falls are a cascade-type waterfall formation on the Guy Fawkes River in the New England area of New South Wales, Australia. They are situated about 23 miles northeast of Wollomombi on the Waterfall Way, one of Australia’s most scenic drives. The upper falls plummet 115 meters in 2 cascades, while the lower falls, about 600 meters downstream, plunge into a steep, forested gorge. The falls are located in Guy Fawkes River National Park, and are popular with tourists, with nearly 80,000 people visiting in 2008. Viewing platforms, as well as rest areas and walking trails, are available. Camping is available at the nearby Cathedral Rock National Park, home of Round Mountain, about 6 kilometers west of Ebor. Ebor Falls have longer been recognized as a site for recreation and preservation; they were first protected in 1895.
9. Gocta Cataracts, Peru
We like to think that there’s nothing left to discover on this planet of ours, but as the case of the Gocta Cataracts proves, nothing could be further from the truth. The Gocta Cataracts, about 430 miles northwest of Lima, the Peruvian capital, were a well-kept secret until 2005 when an expedition by Stefan Ziemendorff brought the falls onto the world stage. Ziemendorff convinced the Peruvian government to measure the falls’ height—a staggering 2,530 feet, making it one of the tallest in the world (although its exact ranking is disputed). Since discovery, the Peruvian government has developed the waterfall as a tourist attraction, building a hotel 6 miles from the base of the falls. Hiking trails and horse paths allow tourists to access the falls—which are said to be haunted by a beautiful mermaid. Given the falls’ altitude, at over 7,000 feet, clouds sometimes obscure the view.
8. Humboldt Falls, New Zealand
New Zealand’s mountains are now famous, and where there are mountains, there’s a good chance you’ll find waterfalls. That holds true in the island-nation: in Hollyford Valley, in Fiordland, you’ll find the spectacular Humboldt Falls. The falls are nearly 1,000 feet high, with the water cascading down the rock face in 3 distinct steps. The largest of the 3 drops is 440 feet, almost 50% of the falls’ total height. The falls are a horsetail-type waterfall, and, despite their height, are relatively easy to reach. The trail from the falls, along Hollyford Road, is about 600 meters long and will take you about half-an-hour to navigate. The grade is relatively easy, allowing visitors to get close enough to glimpse some spectacular views of the waters of the Hollyford River rushing into the gorge below.
7. Trümmelbach Falls, Switzerland
Where there are mountains, there are waterfalls. Nowhere is that more true than in the soaring heights of the Alps. As snow and glaciers melt, the resulting water flows down the steep inclines, resulting in some spectacular feats of nature. The Trümmelbach is one of those feats: it drains the glacier defiles of Switzerland’s 3 most famous mountains, Eiger, Monch and Jungfrau. Up to 20,000 liters of water pass through the falls per second. The Trümmelbach is a series of 10 falls and they are actually located within the mountain, twisting and turning through the rockface as they rush to lower ground. The falls have been made accessible to tourists by tunnel-lift and they are illuminated for viewing. Viewing the glacial water plunging through the “Corkscrew Chute” is a glimpse into some of nature’s most secretive workings.
6. Huangguoshu Waterfall, China
The name of this stunning Chinese waterfall means “Yellow-fruit Tree Waterfalls.” Located on the Baishui River, it is one of the largest waterfalls in the whole country and in East Asia. It stands 255 feet high, with the main fall boasting a 220-foot drop. The falls span a width of approximately 330 feet. They are an example of a segmented block waterfall formation. The falls are considered a natural tourist draw and have been rated as an AAAAA scenic area by the China National Tourism Administration. Tourism is served by a special line of buses and 3 viewing platforms offering different views of the falls. Another attraction is Shuliandong, the Water-Curtain cave, a 440-foot cave that formed naturally at the back of the falls. There are several other waterfalls in the area, about 28 miles southwest of Anshun city.
5. Dettifoss, Iceland
Dettifoss is the largest waterfall in Iceland, which says something as this island-nation is a place of many waterfalls. It’s also reputed to be one of the most powerful waterfalls in Europe, with an average flow of 193 cubic meters per second. The falls are 330 feet wide and plunge 150 feet into the Jökulsárglijúfur canyon. Located in Vatnajökull National Park in the northeast of the island, Dettifoss is situated on the Jökulsá á Fjöllum River, whose waters originate at the Vatnajökull glacier. A new road, finished in 2011, allows better visitor access. The waterfall is located on Iceland’s popular Diamond Circle tourist route, which also includes Húsavík and Lake Myvatn. The falls are a multi-step formation, which is a series of waterfalls of roughly the same size, each with its own sunken plunge pool.
4. Iguazu Falls, Brazil/Argentina
Located along the border between Brazil and Argentina, Iguazu Falls are a sight to behold as they stretch along for more than 1.5 miles. Depending on the water level, there may be between 150 and 300 smaller waterfalls, most of them on the Argentine side of the border, with plunges between 197 and 269 feet. The main attraction is the Devil’s Throat, a U-shaped waterfall that spans nearly 3,000 feet. Perhaps the best feature of Iguzau’s structure is that it allows visitors to be surrounded by waterfalls up to 260 degrees at a time—not quite encircled, but close. Iguazu is wider and discharges more water than the equally impressive Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe and Zambia. Tourism in the area is well developed, and the falls can be reached from either the Brazilian or Argentine side, as well as from Ciudad del Este in Paraguay.
3. Angel Falls, Venezuela
If you’ve seen Pixar’s Up, you’ve seen Angel Falls. The Venezuelan waterfall is well known to people around the world. Part of its fame comes from the fact that it is indeed the world’s highest uninterrupted waterfall—the plunge is an astounding 2,648 feet. The official height given by the Venezuelan state and UNESCO is 3,212 feet, which includes sloped cascades, rapids below the drop and another plunge downstream. The falls were given their current name in honor of Jimmie Angel, an American aviator. In 2009, the Venezuelan president indicated his intention to give the indigenous name to official status. Although the indigenous people were aware of the falls before Angel’s 1933 flight, they did not visit the area and it was not known to the outside world. Today, the falls are a popular tourist attraction, despite the difficulty in reaching them through isolated stretches of jungle.
2. Niagara Falls, Canada/USA
Along the Canadian-American border lies Niagara Falls, which drains Lake Erie into Lake Ontario. The Horseshoe Falls on the Canadian side, named for their shape, are larger and more renowned than the (still impressive) American falls. The distinctive color of the water flowing over the drop is a by-product of finely ground rock dust and dissolved salts, which occur in the water because of the erosive power of the Niagara River and the falls. Currently, erosion moves the falls back about 1 foot per year. The falls were already a huge tourist attraction in the late 19th century, and they continue to be a popular attraction today, with many hotels, casinos and excursions available to visitors. It is also a popular location for honeymooners and for film and television.
1. Victoria Falls, Zambia/Zimbabwe
Located near the Zambia-Zimbabwe border, Victoria Falls is the widest waterfall in the world, which results in the largest sheet of falling water. While other falls may be wider, many of these actually contain several distinct falls; Victoria Falls is a single flow. The falls are viewable from both the Zambian side and the Zimbabwean side; traditionally, the Zimbabwean side was more popular with tourists, but recently the number of visitors to the Zambian side has been increasing. The Zimbabwean government has considered renaming the falls to Mosi-oa-Tonya, the indigenous name for the formation. The name means “the smoke that thunders.” The falls are also a UNESCO World Heritage Site, although extensive tourist development in the area has led the UN to reconsider this designation. Nonetheless, the falls remain majestic to see at peak flow in April. In the dry season, it is possible to walk through the First Gorge.
There is nothing more relaxing and awe-inspiring than visiting a pool that has been carved from nature, untouched by the human hand and surrounded by breathtaking scenery. All over the world Mother Nature amazes us with superior swimming holes, towering waterfalls and beautiful lagoons. From the top of the largest waterfall in the world to crystal clear turquoise pools complete with spa fish; here are 8 natural pools to visit for the ultimate relaxation.
8. Havasu Falls -Supai, Arizona
This breathtaking waterfall/swimming hole is located way off the beaten path and requires a $40 permit to enter. It’s awfully hard to get to as it requires either a chartered helicopter ride, a 10-mile steep hike or a pack animal that you have hired. The price, the hassle, it is all worth it as you approach this magnificent natural oasis. A torrent of water streams across the rock face of the Grand Canyon’s South Rim, cascading into a pool 100 meters down. The water stays about 72 degrees down in the pool and looks as turquoise as the waters of the Caribbean. Because this swimming hole is so hard to get to, plan on having this spot to yourself. Float on your back, gazing up at the surrounding crater and you will feel the ultimate relaxation.
7. Erawan Falls -Erawan National Park, Thailand
This seven-tiered waterfall spans over 1.5km and each tier falls into a wonderfully bright blue swimming pond, full of harmless fish. This waterfall is named after the three-headed white elephant of Hindu mythology, as the falls are said to resemble it. The first four tiers are easy to get to, while the final three require some fitness and good shoes. The cascading white waters, the lush tropical rainforest and the clear waters in the pool makes you feel as though this is heaven on earth. We suggest going during the week to avoid the crowds and starting with the highest waterfall and making your way down, stopping to swim at each pool. It is easy to find a quiet pool to sit in and relax while the spa fish nibble at your feet and enjoy the warm sun, the cool waters and the absolute stunning scenery around you.
6. Gunlom -Kakadu National Park, Australia
Gunlom is the magical combination of waterfall and serene plunge pool, surrounded by tall gum trees in Kakadu National Park. Climb to the top of this steep waterfall for some amazing views of the southern most parts of the park. At the top of this climb are amazing, clear rock pools just beckoning you to come in and swim. If you swim upstream at the top of this waterfall you will come across another secret hidden waterfall that many miss. The deep clear, green pools that feed the waterfall and large pool beneath are crocodile free and offer a great way to cool off after your hike. The plunge pool at the bottom of the falls has to be one of the most picturesque scenes in the world, and although this area receives many visitors, it never feels overcrowded.
5. Pools of Oheo -Maui, Hawaii
These famous pools that are often referred to as the seven sacred pools are found just south of Hana on the beautiful island of Maui. These beautifully tiered pools are fed by stunning waterfalls and weather permitting, visitors can take a dip in them. The stream enters into the mighty deep blue ocean while waves crash against the coastline. To avoid the crowds here you will want to explore these pools before noon, preferably on a weekday. Although these pools are often referred to as seven, there are in fact many more than seven pools in the gulch, each surrounded by the unique Hawaiian flora. You will see many visitors and locals jumping into the pools, although officials don’t recommend it due to the dangers. These pools are often closed due to flash flooding that occurs but if you happen to be there when they are open; this experience is on any bucket list for visitors to Maui.
4. Kuang Si Falls -Luang Prabang, Laos
The amazing waterfalls and pools here look so serene you have to see them to believe they actually exist. The water is bright blue, clear and refreshingly cold and while the three-tiered waterfall is quite the site, it is the numerous blue pools that catch our eyes. Walkways and bridges guide visitors around the pools and although one is closed as it is a sacred site, the rest are open to visitors. The very top pool is our favorite, loaded with spa fish that love to nibble at your feet, taking the need away to get a pedicure when you get home. Make sure you hike all the way to the top of the falls for quieter, more relaxing pools. Visitors should make sure they come early in the day and pack a picnic lunch that can be enjoyed in the lush surrounding area.
3. To Sua Ocean Trench -Samoa
To Sua actually translates into big hole and that is exactly what this amazing, breathtaking natural pool is. The swimming hole is actually 98 feet deep and requires swimmers to climb down a ladder to reach the platforms to jump off into the water. The pool itself is tidal and the water goes in and out, taking swimmers with it so make sure you hang onto one of the ropes provided in the trench. During low tide you can actually swim from the trench into the ocean, an amazing experience that should never be missed. The surrounding sites are just as beautiful, lush tropical gardens, an incredible small beach, blowholes, lava fields and tidal pools. If you can close your eyes and imagine what paradise looks like, this is it.
2. Devil’s Pool -Victoria Falls, Zambia
It may just be the most dangerous natural pool in the world and is certainly not for the faint of heart, but that doesn’t mean soaking in this pool isn’t relaxing. Visitors will literally feel as though they are on top of the world, as the pool lies on the top of Victoria Falls, a drop of 360-feet to the bottom. Swimming here is only possible from September to December when the water is low, and at least one person dies going over the falls a year, but if you are a thrill seeker, the pictures and memories are priceless. This is indeed the ultimate infinity pool as the rock lip keeps swimmers from going over the falls. With the force of the Zambezi flowing past you and crashing over the edge, there is no place on earth you would rather be sitting. Just remember, make sure you are a strong swimmer and there are plenty of guides to make sure you aren’t swept off the falls.
1. Fairy Pools -Isle of Skye, Scotland
These beautiful crystal clear pools are located on the River Brittle and entice visitors from all over the world. Although the water is chilly, on a hot sunny day these pools with views of the Black Cuillins are hard to beat in terms of awesome experiences. Visitors here will need good walking shoes and at least an afternoon to spare to find these pools that form in the waterfalls. Hike from the bottom up and as you pass more and more crystal clear blue pools, you will wonder how they get any better. A natural infinity pool sits high on a grassy island bounded by a natural stone wall, and above that are two pools high up on the glen. One choppy from the current of the waterfall, the other prenaturally still, separated by an underwater arch. Although cold, these pools are great for hopping in and out of, enjoying a world away from your own.
Summer is the perfect time to travel, take vacation and explore new parts of the world. Traveling as a family, most people tend to stick to familiar destinations, campgrounds and all-inclusive cruises or resorts where everything is taken care of. But if you are a family that is looking for a little more flexibility, more adventure, plenty of thrills and a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity; we highly suggest checking out these top 10 destinations for family adventure travel.
10. Glacier National Park, Montana
If you are looking to stick within North America this summer but are still looking for an outdoor adventure for the whole family, Glacier National Park in Montana should be at the top of your list. There are lodges and campgrounds throughout the park with plenty of opportunity for hiking, biking, horseback riding and swimming. This national park features a dozen glacier peaks that are separated by clear mountain streams, pristine lakes and plenty of waterfalls to discover. Kids and adults alike will love looking out for the abundance of wildlife including deer, moose and mountain goats. If you are looking for a more guided and organized adventure there are plenty of tour guides that offer family specific trips throughout the park, complete with adults-only meals, luxury lodge accommodations and enough activities to keep the kids busy all day long. Get into the heart of the mountains and feel like you are worlds away from home.
9. Galapagos Islands
The Galapagos are best explored when kids are a little older and can appreciate what they truly have to offer. The best way to discover the islands is a family geared cruise that ensures the whole family will be involved in the fun. These family cruises are often small and intimate, which paves the way for the exceptional customer service that extends to the kids. While snorkeling with the turtles, swimming with the sea lions and watching the penguins swim by are always a hit amongst the whole family, these cruises offer so much more. Connecting with nature at a young age is important to teaching children about the planet and the guides aboard these ships know how to connect with them. Where else in the world can your 10 year old learn to anchor a boat, sleep in a treehouse and swim alongside a curious sea lion all in one day?
8. Great Sand Dunes, Colorado
Sand, sand and more sand is what you will find at Great Sand Dunes National Park in Colorado and we promise that the kids will absolutely love it here! This giant sandbox provides plenty of opportunity to bring out the kid in anyone as you slide down the hills on either a sled or sand board. This activity is actually legal in the park and sleds and boards can be rented at one of a few retailers in the San Luis Valley. The best time to visit this park is at the beginning of the summer before the dunes become scorching hot. This time of year is also when Medano Creek is flowing and families should bring inflatable tubes to float down it. Hiking, camping, horseback riding, four wheeling and fun ranger-led programs are all activities that families can look forward to here. Whether you travel here just for a day or spend a week camping; families won’t run out of fun and exciting things to do.
7. New Mexico
If your family is looking for adventure, real cowboys and Indians and exceptional food, New Mexico may just be the perfect vacation destination. Although this destination is widely known for its art galleries, boutique shops and spirituality; there is plenty more to discover if you dig a little deeper. With ranch resorts surrounding the area, families can choose adventures such as horseback riding, watching the Rodeo, fly fishing, rock climbing and white water rafting. One especially unique adventure here is the opportunity to hike and camp in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains and Rio Grande Gorge area with Wild Earth Llama Adventures. Each member of the family is coupled with its own llama, which carries the gear and creates a great distraction for the little ones who often tire easily of hiking. This camping experience is complete with campfires, gourmet meals and a never ending variety of activities for the kids.
6. Costa Rica
If you are looking for a thrilling summer vacation that really get’s the whole family’s hearts pumping, Costa Rica is the perfect country to do so. One of the safest, if not the safest country in Central America, traveling here is easy and inexpensive. Trek through an impressive cloud forest, zip line over lush green mountains, hike a volcano and learn to surf in the warm waters. Kids will delight in listening to the howler monkeys in the trees, relaxing in the many hot springs and splashing in the waves. Eco-tourism has taken a big step in this country and there are endless choices for accommodations, whether you want a luxurious treehouse or a laid back hotel. With two major airports to fly into, English speaking guides and a plethora of adventure; Costa Rica is a perfect summer vacation.
5. Canadian Rockies, Alberta
Wildlife, mountain treks, sparkling blue lakes and hot springs are what await families in the Canadian Rockies. If your family loves to hike, mountain bike and swim; there is no better place in Canada to visit for a summer full of adventure and thrills. Many choose to make Banff their home base as it is full of kid-friendly restaurants, hotels that feature pools and waterslides and easy access to the surrounding mountains and lakes. The other option for adventure travel here is a custom designed organized tour, designed with families in mind. There are some exceptional tour operators in this area and from canoeing to white water rafting to cliff jumping to exploring the towns; these trips are perfect for families who want adventure but prefer someone else does the planning.
4. Grand Canyon and Surrounding Area, Arizona
It would be a mistake to think that kids will be bored exploring the Grand Canyon but it would also be a mistake to assume they will want to spend a week doing so. Therefore to make the most of this adventurous vacation, we suggest splitting your time between the Grand Canyon and the surrounding areas of Page and Sedona. Hiking below the rim in the canyon is highly recommended for avid outdoor enthusiasts and the ranger led hikes are a hit with families as the ranger points out things like fossils in the rock layers, lizards basking in the sun, and desert wildflowers and wildlife. The surrounding areas of Page and Sedona offer outdoor adventures such as exploring Glen Canyon Dam, Horseshoe Bend, Antelope Canyon and Lake Powell. Combine that with the smooth water float trip you can take and the kids will have the best outdoor adventure of a lifetime.
3. Big Island, Hawaii
Animal adventures, outdoor thrills and the chance to sneak in some education is what await families on the Big Island of Hawaii. Start off with a heart-pounding helicopter ride over the island, introducing you to the hidden waterfalls, lava lakes and fiery fresh lava flows. Next up head to one of the many beaches were you can build towering black sand castles, take a family surf lesson and try your hand at stand up paddle boarding. Depending on the swimming levels of the kids, scuba diving and snorkeling are very popular among these warm waters that teem with colorful tropical fish. For an even bigger adventure make sure to try the manta ray night dive. Climb a volcano, zip line through the jungle and pitch your tent in one of the many campgrounds and discover the ultimate summer playground.
2. Glacier Bay, Alaska
Say goodbye to overcrowded family cruises and experience the unforgettable landscape of Alaska from your own personal floating base. Tour companies are now offering intimate, family orientated cruises through Glacier Bay; set at your own personal pace. An on-board naturalist is there to teach the entire family about tide pools, the underwater songs of the whales and local botany. Kids will love kayaking to hidden inlets, walking out onto frozen glaciers and hiking through majestic old-growth forests and coming face to face with incredible wildlife such as bears, bald eagles and humpback whales. The best part for parents may just be when the kids conk out and they are privy to the on-board hot tub or an after dark paddle through the sea. Instead of watching the glaciers pass by from a typical ship, why not get adventurous and explore them with a family orientated boat trip.
1. Zambia Safari, Africa
This is the best adventurous family vacation to take if your family includes active teenagers. Not necessarily recommended for younger children, Zambia Safaris promise high thrills, excellent wildlife spotting and a chance to hike in the national parks; keeping in mind the minimum age to hike through these parks is 12. Visit the unforgettable Victoria Falls, raft in the class 5 rapids of the Zambezi River and come face to face with big game such as hippos and lions. Walking safaris are an amazing way to discover creatures you could never see from a car such as the dung beetle, and still offer luxury accommodations in the heart of the parks. Expect to kayak the lakes, swim in a natural infinity pool, visit a local school and have an experience of a lifetime. Teens love this adventurous vacation as guides do an incredible job of making them feel independent and many companies even offer teen only dinners, hikes and more.
If you were to Google bungee jumping, you would find endless websites offering this experience in way of a vacation. 10-20 years ago, you would have been lucky to find more than 1 or 2. Thanks to the extreme sport enthusiasts, bungee jumping now has a unique devil-may-care following. Millions have taken the plunge, with millions more right behind them to try this adrenaline fueled activity. Bungee jumping began as a rite of passage for the Naghol tribes’ youth on Pentecost Island in Vanuatu. It was done with tree vines tied around their feet, the young would pass through a spiritual journey into manhood. One enterprising man named AJ Hackett witnessed this ceremony and came up with a marketable, exhilarating adventure for the bravest of souls. There are now over 15 Hackett sites all around the world and AJ himself has made it into the Guinness Book of World Records for the highest bungee jump from the Macau Tower in China. To those who love bungee jumps, the thrill only gets bigger, and more extreme. We scoped the globe to come up with bungee thrills unmatched by any other and put together this top 10 list for your next leap of faith.
10. Taupo Bungee, Lake Taupo, New Zealand
Taupo Bungee is billed as “the highest water touch bungee in New Zealand”. It is not the highest point to fall from, but frightening nonetheless. The staff leaves the water dunking up to you. That is to say, how far down into the freezing water would you liked to be dropped? The guides at Taupo bungee use your weight to figure out how to get you very deep into frigid temperatures. Once you have reached your deepest spot under the water, you are suddenly ripped back up into the sky, leaving a disorientation pulsing through your whole body. Surrounded by amazing scenery is the platform on top of a cliff overlooking the Waikato River leading from Lake Taupo. There is a wide range of activities to choose from along the meandering path of the Waikato River. The jump is intense, and somewhat maddening. You have the options of doing a solo or tandem bungee jump, or you can opt for a rope swing. Either way, this is the only place in New Zealand where you also get to swing cliff side.There is also HukaFalls Jet and tandem skydiving available in adventurous Taupo. Taupo is a resort town located on the banks of Lake Taupo, New Zealand’s largest lake. The popular destination has a variety of recreational activities. For those less inclined to fly amongst a cliff or be submerged into chilly water, there is always fishing, boating, jet skiing, and whitewater rafting.
9. Royal Gorge Suspension Bridge, USA
In 1929, construction on the Royal Gorge Bridge in Canon City, Colorado was finally completed, making it the tallest bridge in the United States. If the workers only knew what this bridge would become famous for perhaps they would have wanted to jump from it too. The bridge is 1,260 feet long and suspended from towers over 150 feet high. For serious adrenaline junkies, this is the highest place to take the dive from. In fact it is so popular that a series of extreme activities takes place here every year. The ‘Go Fast Games’ offer legal BASE jumping over a 3 day period. This allows thrill enthusiasts to legally BASE jump without consequences. The September event is hosted by invitation only and caters to bungee jumping and BASE jumping, offering competitive and fun games. Royal Gorge also offers a different twist on bungee jumping; taking up to three riders on the Royal Rush Skycoaster. The ride begins at the edge of the canyon, pulling the three riders on a bungee swing then overtly dropping them to swing out over the canyon in speeds excess of 50 mph. The Skycoaster runs from mid-March through mid-October for those considering the wicked rush.
8. Verzasca Dam, Val Verzasca, Switzerland
James Bond did it! One of the best stunts in film history took place at Verzasca Dam in Val Verzasca, Switzerland. It took Pierce Brosnan’s stunt double a week to muster up enough courage to pull this stunt off. He finally surrendered and plunged into a 7.5 second free fall parallel to the enormous dam. Standing out from the abundant scenery is the 380 meter long and 220 meter high dam wall called the Contra. This majestic man made dam gives all its enthusiasts the shivers. For those serious about their extreme sports, make this jump a priority. The Contra Dam is well lit with flood lights and even the moon. It can be reached from Gordola by way of a 2 kilometer long section of road, showing the way to the jumping station in the middle of the dam. What makes this a favorite for bungee jumpers? It is the only known bungee jumping site where you can fall from a bridge by the moonlight, taking the gregarious experience to a whole new level. Adrenaline seekers have nicknamed this jump as either ‘007’ or ‘Goldeneye’. This jump will bring out the ‘James Bond’ attitude and skill in all of us.
7. Macau Tower, China
Just off the coast of Hong Kong, is the highest Bungee jump in the world at the Macau Tower, home to A.J. Hackett’s Guinness Book of World Records bungee jump. This massive tower stands at an impressive 764 feet high, and in the last 15 years, the site has been commercially developed to offer a world class urban adventure park. The latest technology is recognized here; such as the HD advanced video system. During this time Macau Tower and A.J. Hackett have implemented over 10 exhilarating activities for flight enthusiasts. This includes Skyjump, Xposure, Tower climb, Base Camp, and Skywalk, offering an alternative form of entertainment. Night Bungee is also available for those who cannot sleep. Macau Tower can be seen in many movies as Hollywood seems to love this as a location site. Macau is a rapidly growing city, and is quickly becoming a tourism mecca for all travelers. It is often called ‘the Las Vegas’ of Asia. Macau can be reached either by plane or a one hour ferry ride from Hong Kong. This free fall adventure is designed to provide the ultimate bungee jump experience. If cliffs and bridges get boring, try the Macau tower. This is definitely a top ten location for extreme sports and the city-minded brave hearts.
6. Victoria Falls Bridge, Zimbabwe Zambia
Zambia’s tourism minister took the jump after a woman’s safety cord snapped mid-jump; he wanted to focus on safety. Since then, tourists have jumped the stunning Victoria Falls, calling it the most spectacular free fall in the world. The thrill is in The Zambezi River beneath and the falls behind you. If you are going to take the leap of faith, this eye-popping scenery is the place to begin. The jump is straddled between two countries, on top of an old railway bridge which an enterprising young man named Cecil Rhodes ordered to be built. He was reported to have said “build the bridge across the Zambezi where the trains, as they pass, will catch the spray of the Falls”. This bridge is also the site of unsuccessful peace talks which resulted in a 9.5 hour stand-off in 1975. The loud crash of Victoria Falls plummets down the huge cliff behind you. The locals promptly named Victoria Falls “the smoke that thunders”. Beware of the hungry crocodiles circling in the mighty Zambezi River as you snap back up in a sheer moment of uncertainty. Victoria Falls Bridge is a historical attraction and for the less courageous they offer a walking tour under the main deck, or you can participate in a stunning zip line activity. There is also a small museum and a quaint little café to divert your attention from smashing heights, and jumbled nerves. Victoria Falls Bridge rates as some of the most amazing landscape in the world in which to free fall.
5. The Last Resort, Nepal
Not many people would think of Nepal as a vacation destination spot (unless you’re into mountain climbing), and they are less likely to believe a world class bungee adventure is tucked away in the mountains of Nepal. Yet, way above the Bhote Kosi River in Nepal sits a cliff-top adventure known as the Last Resort. Located on a sharp ridge of a canyon with shanty houses of the locals is an adrenaline rush just waiting to happen. Deemed as a very scary jump, the dive is done from a pedestrian bridge over the small sliver of the narrow canyon, as the locals sit by and watch each time. The Last resort is about 60 miles east of Kathmandu and 7 miles from the Tibetan border. This resort is full of exhilarating adventures for jungle lovers. After the terrifying dive, you can partake in whitewater rafting on the rapids of the Bhote Kosi River or mountain bike in some rugged jungle terrain. The Last Resort also offers a thrill called the Canyon Ride, and serious hiking into hidden, secret canyons. This hidden gem of Nepal is an untouched and raw kind of adventure for those truly seeking a cultural, primitive time. Complete this jump with some white water rafting down the Bhote Kosi River. They also offer team building courses for schools and organizations. The Last Resort will not disappoint an adventure seeking enthusiasts’ demands for a good time.
4. Niouc, Switzerland
Switzerland is often pictured as a blown up version of America’s magnificent Rocky Mountains, so it is no surprise that it’s home of Europe’s highest bungee jump done from a scary suspended bridge. This nerve-raking leap will take some serious faith and downright courage to complete. Bungee jumpers willingly climb the shaky structure, appropriately nicknamed “Spider Bridge” and wobble their way out to the middle of the knife-edged bridge. The Spider Bridge has an intricate cobweb of cable wires, and the 190 meter footbridge is a heart-racing climb. Even more blood pumping, is that this jump not only drops you, but also swings you in all directions at the same time. There is complete surrender here, but at least you are free to enjoy the scenery as you finish the spins. Remember, every jumper is as nervous on some level as you are. Try to embrace the surrounding snow-tipped Alpine peaks and the quizzical views of the Navizence River as you muster some bravery climbing across Spider Bridge. You have arrived, in a land so mesmerizing, with the world famous Matterhorn right in front of you, and a beautiful little ski town called Crans-Montana waiting to set you for your next adventure. There is much to do in this part of the world aside from bungee jumping, and should be explored in between the leaps into 700 foot canyon. Mix this jump with every adventure the Alps has to offer.
3. Nevis Highwire Bungee, New Zealand
Another fear invoking bungee jump called the ‘scariest bungee jump on the planet’ is the Nevis Highwire Bungee in New Zealand. Enthusiasts of this harrowing free fall say it begins from the very first ride as you head on up to the jump. It is a bumpy mountain ride on a narrow passage climbing until you arrive at the stony and stark Nevis gorge. In the middle of the bridge, blowing in the wind, hangs a cabin. A small cable car takes you out to a suspended pod between two mountains leaving you vulnerable and at the mercy of the winds. The tiny cabin sways back and forth as you attempt to muster enough courage to make the leap, while also trying to make sure your equipment is safe. The free fall is eight seconds of frightening proportions. This is a place which should be a title contender for the world’s most terrifying bungee jump. The Nevis in New Zealand now has the World’s Biggest Swing designed to propel you fast over the gorge and leave you dangling on a high wire cable. It is without a doubt, second in thrills to bungee jumping.
2. Bloukrans Bridge, South Africa
Did you know that of all the people who decide to jump from Bloukrans Bridge only about 80% actually do? People who free fall from this frightening bridge suggest having an ‘emotional sponsor’. It is just that terrifying. You can feel safe though, as no one has ever had an injury from this bridge in the whole 23 years of bungee operations. Bloukrans Bridge in South Africa is a problematic crosswind jump but provides a metal grated bridge to sturdy your feet. Carefully navigating your foot work across the bridge you cannot help but notice the abundance of rocks some 700 feet below. You are treading on the underbelly of this bridge with some serious high winds. This is enough to provoke the thought that this will be your last view, here on this vast bridge surrounded by the South African wilderness. The free fall lasts for eight seconds; and when you survive, it is the best feeling in the world. The Bloukrans Bridge is the highest commercial natural bungee jump in the entire world. Bungee enthusiasts say this site gives a double dose of thrill—jumping from the fourth highest jumping pod and a see-through bridge revealing a panoramic view of the amazing wild side of Africa. If you have second thoughts about Bloukrans Bridge, remember, Prince Harry and Jack Osborne have both braved this jump and survived.
1. The Pipeline Bungee, New Zealand
This is the place where it all begins. The Pipeline Bungee of New Zealand is the brainchild of bungee pioneer A.J. Hackett. It’s the world’s first commercial bungee jump and is also the most popular bungee site. The Kawarau Suspension Bridge of Queenstown offers leaps over the Kawarau River at an amassed height of 141 feet. It takes 20 minutes to drive from Queenstown to this jumping site. It is here A.J. Hackett and Henry Van Asch first demonstrated the art of bungee jumping to the locals of Queenstown in 1988. Over 25 years have passed since then and the site remains the world’s most beloved bungee jump. Many people wishing to make that first jump, do it here if possible. Thousands of bungee enthusiasts make the trek to New Zealand every year to learn their very first lessons of the art of bungee jumping. For those followers of this extreme sport and those to come, they will be eternally thankful to A.J. Hackett for making their life an open casting call to feel free, to feel brave, and live in a moment on the jumper’s edge. This niche in extreme adventures has taken millions to a courageous place inside the human spirit, and will continue, as the thrill seekers scout the world for a place to fly.
Up and down the Great Rift Valley, there are many parks and game reserves that offer visitors the beauty of Africa. Whether you are looking for lions and luxury or roughing it with rhinos, here are ten African safari destinations that are sure to please.
1. Masai Mara National Reserve, Kenya
Best known for the Great Wildebeest Migration between July and October, the Mara grasslands are home to zebra, lion, the African elephant, and the endangered black rhino, while some of the most dangerous animals in the world hippos and crocodiles can be seen in the Mara and Talek rivers. Visitors can find lodges or camps offering driving tours, horse-riding or even hot air balloon tours.
2. Okavango Delta and the Moremi Game Reserve, Botswana
The Okavango Delta is a lush oasis nestled in the heart of the Kalahari Desert, containing the Moremi Game Preserve. With both fertile grasslands and meandering waterways, the delta offers visitors breathtaking dry and wetland safaris, whether on game drives, on foot or aboard canoes, called makoru. Moremi is also a birdwatcher’s paradise, boasting more than 400 colorful species.
3. Kruger National Park, South Africa
Offering both guided and self-driven safari adventures, this national park is home to all of the Big Five game attractions: lion, African elephant, Cape buffalo, leopard and rhinoceros. Lodging at the park includes everything from tents to luxury accommodations in 26 rest camps.
4. Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe/Zambia
Not only does this area offer stunning views of the Zambezi River crashing spectacularly over Victoria Falls, but there are also many diverse safari options. Elephant and water buffalo can be seen drinking along the river from canoes or while walking along the numerous river trail walks. Visitors can also view the rare Sable antelope at the Matetsi Game Reserve, or literally get in touch with nature on elephant-back safaris.
5. Ngorongoro Crater Tanzania
Where there had once stood a looming volcano is now one of the most beautiful natural wonders in Africa. The world’s largest unbroken caldera, a collapsed volcano crater, Ngorongoro is home to large populations of lion, hippo and gazelle. Luxury lodges can be found on the crater rim with stunning views looking down into the heart of the once mighty mountain.
6. Etosha National Park, Namibia
Home to African elephants, black and white rhinoceros, giraffes and leopards, the Etosha Pan floods during the summer months, attracting water birds, including flamingos and pelicans. Tourism is managed by the Namibia Wildlife Resorts, with five in-park sites for lodging or camping.
7. Lake Malawi National Park, Malawi
Located at the southern end of the lake, the Lake Malawi National Park boasts the first freshwater national park in the world. From Cape McClear and other landing sites, visitors can enjoy the pristine water, home to many different species of mbuna, freshwater fish known as cichlids. Other wildlife seen on game drives, boating and walking tours include baboons, fish eagles and hyrax.
8. Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, Uganda
Despite its foreboding name, Bwindi welcomes visitors, offering thrilling mountain safaris, most notably, gorilla-tracking tours. Accommodations range from luxury lodges to tented forest camps, surrounded by more than 200 tree species, colobus monkey and chimpanzees. The park is open year round, but it is best to visit during dry seasons to avoid the muddy conditions of roads and trails.
9. Luangwa Valley, Zambia
View the world’s largest concentration of hippos in one of the four national parks in this valley: North and South Luangwa, Luambe and Lukusuzi. Safari adventures here include walking elephant trails and day and night game drives. The valley is also home to two endemic species, Thornicroft’s Giraffe and Cookson’s Wildebeest.
10. Gorongosa National Park, Mozambique
After decades of civil war, tourism in Mozambique is experiencing a renaissance, and the Gorongosa National Park has steadily rebounded since 2004. Now an active tourist destination, the park offers diverse flora and fauna, including buffalo, wildebeests and rainforest habitats on Mount Gorongosa.