Beyond Kakhi

Two-story rapids, hot, spouting lava, a frenzy of sharks, lions in the dark—if it's thrills you're after, you'll find them in Africa

Jan 4, 2007
Outside Magazine
Hot African Happenings

Pan-African Film Festival, Burkina Faso (February 24–March 3)
This is Africa's largest film festival, where movies come in languages from all over the continent. Famed Senegalese director Ousmane Sembene and Danny Glover are among the stars who've attended. $20; —A.S.

White Nile, Uganda

There's a simple way the guides at Nile River Explorers measure waves on the White Nile: If a 16-foot raft disappears entirely, the wave is about the size of a two-story building. But while the river's 30,000-cubic-feet-per-second flow (roughly three times that of the Colorado) creates monster rapids, there are swimmer-friendly calm spots in between, and NRE's guides include charter members of the Ugandan national kayak team. The 18-mile day trip begins with five Class IV–V rapids, each with placid, crocodile-free pools below. Day trips, $95; luxury tented accommodations at the Nile Porch from $54; 011-256-43-120-236,

Ol Doinyo Lengai, Tanzania

Allan Mbaga, Tanzanian owner of African Outdoor Expeditions, has worked with David Breashears and Imax film crews on Kilimanjaro, and he'll take you up Ol Doinyo Lengai, a 9,235-foot peak north of the Ngorongoro Conservation Area. You'll spend two days climbing steeply through volcanic ash and lava rock; near the top, hikers pitch camp in the inactive south crater before exploring the north crater's steaming vents and magma pools. The five-day trek includes a visit to Lake Natron, where flamingos flock by the thousands. $1,900, all-inclusive; 011-255-744-263-170,

Southwest Madagascar

This May through October, African Surfaris will guide clients around the planet's fourth-largest island—considered one of the last undiscovered surfing outposts. The trip starts in the Toilara Reef region near the southwestern town of Toilara, just 25 miles north of Flame Balls—a hollow 200-yard-long left reef break two miles offshore. Ten-day trips from $1,600, including airfare from Johannesburg, lodging, meals, and boat trips; 011-27-82-836-7597,

Zambezi River, Namibia

Cast a fly on the Zambezi, where 15-pound dagger-toothed tiger fish prowl. The posh Impalila Island Lodge, at the confluence of the Chobe and Zambezi rivers, is not only the best place to find the ferocious fish; it's also within striking distance of Victoria Falls and beast-rich Chobe National Park. Seven-day trips with Aardvark McLeod from $4,000, all-inclusive, from Johannesburg; 011-44-1980-840-590,

Lion Tracking
Tsavo East National Park, Kenya

In 1898, two lions ate scores of railroad workers near what is now Tsavo East National Park. Today, area lions regularly kill livestock in nearby settlements, which is why in 2002 Earthwatch Institute launched its Lions of Tsavo program. Volunteers join American and Kenyan scientists to track and study the cats during night drives in order to help people and prides coexist. Thirteen-day trips from $3,249; 800-776-0188,

Horse Trekking
Malawi and Zambia

This fall, Malawi and Zambia are set to create the Nyika Transfrontier Conservation Area, a 13,500-square-mile international peace park. The best way to explore this remote region is by horseback on a mobile safari: two nights at the upscale Chelinda Lodge, followed by a week of galloping through montane grasslands and forested valleys, and hoofing it to the top of 8,553-foot Nganda Mountain. Ten-day trips from May through October, $3,090, including lodging, meals, and riding; 011-44-1-837-82544,

Port St. Johns, South Africa

Each winter, as the water temperature drops along South Africa's eastern coast, millions of sardines rocket the 300 miles from East London to Durban—serving as the main course for sharks, seals, whales, and superpods of 5,000-plus common dolphins. June and July are the best months to catch the frenzy. Six-day dive trips from $1,800, including lodging, diving, and meals at iNtaba River Lodge; 011-27-21-782-2205,