World Cup Adventures

In preparation for the 2010 FIFA World Cup, South Africa is building six soccer stadiums, investing some $2 billion in transportation upgrades, and assigning 40,000 police officers to babysit the 450,000 fans who'll descend on nine host cities this June. But thanks to now-vacant rooms at new hotels, plus an exchange rate of seven rand to the dollar, you

Cape Town

   Photo: Courtesy of Stephen Visser/Bikes 'n Wines

Cape Town
Adventure travelers look here first with good reason: The city dishes an astounding variety of fun, from bike touring to shark diving. To play baitfish, take a cage dive with Apex Shark Expeditions (from $215; apexpredators.com), the outfit that helped Planet Earth filmmakers capture those shocking images of breaching great whites. For less intense action, paddle among a penguin colony an hour from the city in Simon's Town, with Simon's Town Sea Kayak Tours (from $35; kayakcapetown.co.za). On land, cycle through the Cape's rolling wine country with Bikes 'n Wines (day trips from $50; bikesnwines.com). In preparation for the World Cup, the city has added 25 new hotels and polished up many others. Our pick is the Grand Daddy, which recently plunked seven refurbished, vintage Airstream trailers on its roof (doubles, $215; granddaddy.co.za).

: Port Elizabeth

Port Elizabeth
  Photo: Photograph by Gerald Smith

The country's watersports capital, Port Elizabeth (pop. 237,000) is located at the eastern end of South Africa and a cheap hourlong flight from Cape Town. Base yourself in historic Richmond Hill, at the comfortable St. Phillips Bed and Breakfast (doubles from $35; stphillipsbnb.co.za), then make for the 62-degree waves of Algoa Bay. Soul Surfing offers private two-hour lessons for beginners ($35; soulsurfing.co.za). Positioned between the warm Indian Ocean and the chilly Atlantic, PE is an oceanic transition zone with two different environments. Which is to say it's a diver's paradise, home to leopard sharks and humpback whales. Winter (May) is the time to go, with visibility of 20 feet in the bay and 45 feet on the Atlantic side. Ocean Divers International leads day trips (from $25, plus equipment; odipe.co.za).

: Johannesburg

Johannesburg
  Photo: Courtesy of Ricky Lopez Bruni/Mosetlha Bush Camp, Madikwe

The World Cup begins and ends in Jo'burg; so do most South African safaris. The majority of lion-peepers head to vast Kruger National Park. Instead, take an hourlong charter flight (from $570 round-trip; www.fedair.com) to the less popular Madikwe Game Reserve. Rent a cabin and have your dinner cooked on an open fire after taking guided game drives with the Mosetlha Bush Camp Eco-Lodge (from $230; thebushcamp.com). Most travelers don't hang around Jo'burg, due to its reputation for crime, but the city is undergoing an upgrade, with more than $50 million going to security improvements. Stay at the Sandton Sun (doubles from $265; southernsun.com) and visit Soccer City Stadium, where the next futbol kings will be crowned.

Hotel Surazo, Chile

Hotel Surazo, Chile
Hotel Surazo

HABITATS
In the Clear
Chile's year-old Hotel Surazo, a glass-and-wood surf lodge 2.5 hours southwest of Santiago, in the sleepy coastal village of Matanzas, offers lessons, two hot tubs under the stars, and floor-to-ceiling views of 15-foot Pacific waves out the front door. Doubles from $100; rentals, $60 per day; lessons, $30; surazo.cl

Teton Ice Park

Chasing Waterfalls

Central Gully Buttress at Teton Ice Park
Central Gully Buttress at Teton Ice Park   Photo: Photograph by Christian Santelices

Ice climbing just got a little less hairy. Set on a 100-foot cliff wall a mere five-minute walk from Wyoming's Grand Targhee resort, the new Teton Ice Park offers rookies a controlled atmosphere for learning to wield an ax. A system of low-flow showerheads douses the wall all day long, ensuring stable conditions, and guides with Victor, Idaho–based Aerial Boundaries teach the basics. Private guiding from $105; tetonice.com

More Travel