Heard of microadventures?
‘Just an adventure, but one that is compatible with busy real life,’ says Alastair Humphreys, a British explorer, National Geographic Adventurer of the Year in 2012 and pioneer of the microadventure. Basically they’re short, adventurous journeys close to home. For the most part Alastair’s vision involves leaving work at five, sleeping under the stars in a pocket of wilderness nearby and returning to the office in time to resume duties at nine in the morning. Luckily in most South African cities you can find a nature haven within two hours of the urban frenzy. Just pen a date, find someone to commit with you and head out.
Read more about the microadventure movement and watch his bivvy challenge video for inspiration.
Five ways to mastermind a microadventure in SA
1. Go back in time
Visit a museum nearby you’ve never been to. There’s a full South African museum directory here. On commemorative days you can get access to any Iziko Museum for free. Explore a local cave, find the closest rock art to home or create an adventure around stargazing (did you know looking up at their distant light is basically looking back in time?) because the further you get from the city lights the brighter the stars become.
2. Let the kids decide
Ask them where to go, what to eat and how to get there (within reason of course!). Handing over control gives you a new perspective and children tend to be more curious.
- 36 things to do with your kids in Cape Town
- 10 things to do with you kids in the KZN Midlands
- 12 things to do with your kids in Joburg
3. Take a tour
Pick your poison: walk, hike, cycle or paddle – there’s always a fun way to do it. Try a walking food tour through Yeoville and dine on great African cuisine (R350), snorkel with seals in Hout Bay if you live in Cape Town and still haven’t done it (R650 a person) or try an audio walking tour with Voicemap if you prefer solo missions (download the app here – Cape and Joburg tours from roughly R25).
Also read: Five audio walking tours in Cape Town
4. Buy an annual membership
Whether it’s the Botanical Society (R425) or a SANParks Wild Card (from R435), if you commit and a pay for a year’s membership you’re more likely to visit. Other great membership options include the Two Oceans Aquarium (R325), Birdlife SA (R445) and The Entertainer App (R395).
5. Get a guidebook
Find a guidebook, even to somewhere you think you know, and make a bucket list of all the things you’ve never done before. I love the free In Your Pocket Guide to Johannesburg, which lets you know about new events happening in and around the city. Also try the City Sightseeing Bus: in Joburg you can climb to the top of Africa at the Carlton Centre and in Cape Town, City Sightseeing now offer free daily 60-minute walking tours of Bo-Kaap and historic Cape Town. Tickets from R150.
And remember: adventures do not need to be complicated. Alastair explains that ‘adventure is a loose word, a spirit of trying something new, trying something difficult. Going somewhere different, leaving your comfort zone.’ Peruse Dirty Boots for more adventure inspiration across South Africa.
Find your closest microadventure
Near Cape Town
Spend a night in a houseboat in Kraalbaai in the West Coast National Park. It’s an hour’s drive from Cape Town so, in summer anyway, you can be in board shorts braaing on the aft deck before the sun goes down. Self-catering from R2300 a night and sleeps six.
Also read: 21 different things to do in Cape Town
Every year, as many as three million barn swallows travel up 10000 kilometres from Europe to roost on our shores. If you live in Durban you only have to travel 30 kilometres north to Mount Moreland, new Umdloti, to see them. The spectacle takes place every day at sunset from September to April – perfect for an after-work sojourn. Get there half an hour before sunset, and bring your own chairs, picnic, binoculars and mozzie cream. Entry is R10 a person.
Also read: A family’s guide to Durban
Ever been inner-city camping? Pitch a tent on a Jozi high-rise building and take in the view of the city before falling asleep under the night sky. Venues change regularly. From R100 a person if you have your own tent and bedding and from R150 a person if you require equipment. Minimum three people, max 30. Bring your own food.
Also read: 10 unusual things to do in Joburg
Near Port Elizabeth
Addo Elephant National Park is a 30-minute drive from PE, making it a perfect quick wildlife escape. Leave work a little early and drive either the Mbotyi or Vukani loop (where there is a good chance of spotting lion) and if you’re up early the following day, there’s a good game drive waiting for you on the way back. Camping is from R285 for two (max four) and forest cabins are from R870 for two.
Also read: Top 10 things to do in Port Elizabeth