Sporty South Africa

Abseiling in KwaZulu Natal: Abseiling, or rappelling, is a nationwide craze. Start in Cape Town with the 300-foot plunge from Table Mountain. Next up, the Tsitsikamma Forest, where you can careen from atop a waterfall into the Storms River Gorge. Then head to the province of KwaZulu Natal, east of the Drakensberg Mountains on the southeast coast, and abseil 320-foot-high Howick Falls into a raft. Over the Top (011-27-82-736-3651, www.overthetop.co.za), KwaZulu’s adventure experts, offer a Howick Falls abseil for $34.

Animal Tracking in the Kalahari: Sprawling north of the Orange River to Botswana, the immense Kalahari Desert is a wild land of red sand dunes, cracked riverbeds, and exotic inhabitants, including barking geckos, puff adders, and the ubiquitous bok. The Kalahari’s remote 13,000-square-mile Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park is known for its predators, including the dark-maned Kalahari lion. Molopo Kalahari Lodge (doubles, $25, including breakfast; 011-27-54-511-0008, www.molopo.co.za) has chalets with flagstone showers and leopard-print sheets, and the friendly owners arrange game viewing within Kgalagadi. Nearby Kalahari Trails (www.kalahari-trails.co.za) offers three-hour biologist-guided sunset walks ($7) and night treks ($6).

Horseback Safaris in the Waterbergs: A few hours’ drive north of Johannesburg are the 6,800-foot Waterberg Mountains and the 87,395-acre Lapalala Wilderness, prime habitat for the dwindling black rhino and perfect horseback-riding country. Trot alongside zebras and canter with warthogs and wildebeests. At night, rest your legs while sipping a sundowner and listening to hippo calls from the bush lodge veranda. Hidden Trails (888-987-2457, www.hiddentrails.com) offers all-inclusive eight-day trips for $1,210 per person, with lodging at a farmstead and bush camps.

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