From going wild in Cameroon to dancing in Dakar, make 2013 a year to remember… Here’s our selection of some amazing activities to entertain and enrich you, or just to set your pulse racing — all within striking distance of Arik destinations.
Words Owen Bailey
1. Game On!
2. Mane Attraction
3. Safari So Good
4. Animal Parade
5. Fall For Angola
6. Mountain Heights
7. Surf Durban
8. Ghana Journey
9. Life’s A Beach
10. Natural History
11. Tropical Taste
12. Felabrate In Style
13. Racing Pulses
14. Magical Mystery Tour
15. Rafting Rapture
16. Dancing In Dakar
17. Chilled Climbing
18. Catch Of The Day
19. Shark Life
TYPE Interactive street gaming festival
WHEN September 2013 (dates TBC)
Held in Bristol, a two-hour train journey from London, Igfest is a festival with a difference that involves its participants in intelligent gaming with the emphasis on the interactive. Highly organised and brilliantly run, events all take place in urban spaces and are a fantastic social experience; you’ll find yourself making friends with strangers in no time as you work in teams to meet your challenges. These range from puzzle-solving, historical detective games, task-based head-to-head rivalries, mass waterfights, and a city-wide after-dark zombie chase with highly convincing actors.Whatever you choose, expect adrenaline, laughs, and lots of powdered paint.
WHERE Kano, Nigeria
WHEN 7 August 2013
Nigeria’s second-most-populous city (after Lagos) is the place to be during Muslim Eid celebrations at the end of Ramadan, to witness the splendour of the Kano Durbar festival. This centuries-old three-day durbar (or horse parade ceremony) sees the local communities honour the head of the region, the Emir of Kano, who spends the three days on horseback – though the festival has been suspended for the past two years due to the Emir’s troubled health. Fingers crossed for a return in 2013, as the event is also a spectacular celebration of traditional music, crafts and culture.
SAFARI SO GOOD
WHERE Johannesburg, South Africa
TYPE Safari tour
WHEN All year round
As Africa’s largest wildlife reserve, Kruger National Park ranks alongside Kenya’s Masai Mara as a once-in-a-lifetime voyage of discovery for nature lovers. Go on a three-day game viewing tour and witness the unending daily drama unfold – with a cast of 336 tree, 49 fish, 34 amphibian, 114 reptile, 507 bird and 147 mammal species – over the park’s 7,523 square miles (nearly two million hectares). You’ll stay at a luxury safari lodge at night and be lulled to sleep (or rudely awaken) by the calls of the wild just outside your camp or lodge. Particularly recommended are early morning guided walking safari tours with rangers and trackers – don’t forget your binoculars.
WHERE Waza National Park, Oudjilla and Rhumsiki, Cameroon
TYPE Safari and village tour
WHEN All year, but late Spring is best for wildlife spotting
Experience safari thrills, Cameroon-style, with a driving tour through the country’s famous Waza National Park. A short flight from Douala, the Camtours company offers a four-day package in a 4×4 including a whole-day safari through one of the region’s best national parks. March to May is the ideal time to see everything from lions to elephants and the park’s rich birdlife, as many waterholes have dried up, leading to a procession of thirsty animals congregating in the remaining spots. The experience also includes a trip to the sensational scenery of the peaks of Rhumsiki. You’ll also encounter a crab sorcerer, who will divine your future from the movements of his two crustacean companions.
FALL FOR ANGOLA
TYPE 4×4 tour
WHEN All year weekly packages
Get up close and personal with the alluring natural attractions of Angola, the country that the smitten Washington Post described as a “giant jigsaw of different climates, landscapes, cultures and colours.” If time is limited, we recommend experienced tour operators www.eco-tur.com. They’ll organise tailored tours to suit your requirements, but also offer an action-packed two-day trip taking in the historic capital city Luanda, the majestic Kalandula Falls and the twin sentinels of Pundo Andongo (the Black Rocks) in a 4 x 4.
WHERE Hunter Mountain, New York, USA
TYPE Zipline canopy tour
WHEN All year round
Strap yourself in. You’re about to fly between Catskill mountain peaks at 50mph, 600ft above the ground, with only a nylon cord and a cable! See some of the finest bird’s eye views in the world with North America’s longest and highest zipline canopy tour.
The experience will give even the most extreme thrillseekers a run for their money, but there are more family-friendly options too. It’s open all year round, and there’s over five miles of zipline to test your mettle.
WHERE Durban, South Africa
TYPE Surfing adventure holiday
WHEN All year round
Did you know that Durban, just a few hours away from Joburg, has produced two surfing world champions, a bodyboard world champion and a kneeboard world champion? It’s also home to big-wave legend Grant ‘Twiggy’ Baker and current surf star Jordy Smith. Not bad for a stretch of beach only a mile long!
Durban-born surfer and author Dave Hitchins gives us the lowdown: “New Pier, North
Beach and the Bay Of Plenty provide world-class conditions
on the right day. If you’re looking to escape the crowds, hire a car and head north or south to find empty beaches and point breaks. You may just enjoy the best
waves of your life, with only dolphins and the occasional fisherman for company!”
WHERE Accra, Kumasi, Mole National Park and Cape Coast, Ghana
WHEN All year (departs every Friday)
Immersion Journeys’ tour of Ghana was included as one of National Geographic’s 50 Tours Of A Lifetime earlier this year, and one look at the itinerary certainly fires up the wanderlust. This 10-day culture, wildlife and heritage tour combines the cerebral (an appreciation of Accra’s blend of colonial and modern architecture) with the exhilarating (game viewing in the Mole National Park) and weaves in a bit of DIY crafting (creating kente cloth in the Ashanti village) for good measure.
LIFE’S A BEACH
WHERE Labadi Pleasure Beach, Accra, Ghana
TYPE Beach party
WHEN All year (main rainy season April to July)
Reggae parties, vendors, musicians and Accra’s most committed revellers flock to Labadi Pleasure Beach for an experience that typifies the chaotic and carpe diem spirit of Africa letting her hair down. 24-hour partying people get down to the sounds of local musicians, while tourists snap the sunsets, take horse rides, sink a beer, join in the dancing and dip their toes in the fun. If all the seaside excitement still isn’t enough, then you could always take a ride to the city’s Makola market for a side order of vibrant craziness.
WHERE Gombe, Nigeria
TYPE Historical and wildlife tour
WHEN All year round
Gombe’s abundance of wild beauty is showcased by the nearby Yankari National Park, a simply stunning yet relatively undiscovered gem for wildlife enthusiasts and – whisper it – probably the best of its kind in Nigeria. You can choose to drive your own vehicle (as long as you book a guide) or take advantage of the onsite safari truck. The park also boasts the geothermal splendour of the Wikki Warm Springs, where you can enjoy a dependable 31.1-degree Celcius dip whatever the time of day or night. If your tastes are more culturally inclined, however, the region offers the perfect opportunity to take in the multifaceted history of traditional councils and Emirs, beginning with the Emir’s Palace.
WHERE Ibadan, Nigeria
WHEN All year round
Anyone with an interest, professional or personal, in the management of the environment and the challenges facing Africa’s farmers and communities will be seriously inspired by the work of the International Institute for Tropical Agriculture (IITA). The organisation was established in 1967 to find solutions to hunger, malnutrition and poverty, and is headquartered in Ibadan. Visit the centre to discover how the IITA goes about its research work and to see the far-reaching and long-term positive effects of its programmes in action. Afterwards, take advantage of the centre’s luxury hotel, golf course, swimming pool and other amenities.
FELABRATE IN STYLE
TYPE Musical concert
WHEN October 2013 (TBC)
Created by Yeni Anikulapo-Kuti (pictured), daughter of the late musical legend Fela Anikulapo-Kuti, Felabration is a week-long event now in its 15th year.
Fela Anikpulapo-Kuti, simply called Fela, was a Nigerian multi-instrumentalist musician, a composer, pioneer of afrobeat music, human rights activist, and political maverick. His mother, Funmilayo Ransome-Kuti was a feminist activist in the anti-colonial movement and his sons Femi and Seun are famous musicians in their own right.
Lagos comes to life as artists from all over the world descend
on The Shrine nightclub in Lagos , and other venues, for concerts, book, photo and film festivals, talks, and parties.
GAMBIA GIVES YOU WINGS
WHERE Makasutu/Brikama, The Gambia
TYPE Eco day trip
WHEN All year
Wake up with the birds at Makasutu Culture Forest, a private eco-tourism reserve – then grab your camera and embark on a walking tour through the trees before jumping in a traditional African ‘dug out’ canoe to experience the dawn chorus from the Mandinga Bolong river. Rare bird species such as the White Backed Night Heron and African Fin Foot are observable from hides and platforms, and the local wildlife – from baboons to clawless otters – are never far away either.
WHERE Silverstone, Northamptonshire, UK
TYPE Hands-on racing
WHERE All year
Silverstone is the world-famous home of British motorsport, and is only a couple of hours’ drive away from London. If your holiday coincides with the annual Formula One extravaganza, all the better – but if not, you can still enjoy the incomparable adrenaline-pumping thrills the course has to offer with a Silverstone Driving Day. Choose from a range of super-speedy four-wheeled machines all the way up to the Hypersonic, Silverstone’s ultimate experience. This ride of a lifetime puts you in the driving seat of a custom-built two-seater 3.7 litre V6 racer on the Silverstone track: it goes from 0-60mph in under three seconds, and reaches top speeds in excess of 150mph.
MAGICAL MYSTERY TOUR
WHERE New York City, USA
TYPE Detective tour
WHEN All year round
Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to join a group of your fellow intrepid travellers and be sent on a trip through the streets of New York City, guided by clues. Equal parts, game, theatre and tour experience, a cast of mysterious actors appear in various bars, on streetcorners, and at iconic locations to help Accomplice’s ‘meticulous’ plot unfold. Children over 10 can join in too, and you can ensure you’re all in it together by booking at the same time.
WHERE Hudson River Gorge, Adirondack Mountains, New York State
TYPE Whitewater rafting trip
WHEN Spring, Summer, Fall
The force of nature that is the Hudson River is the ideal location to don a wetsuit and raft your heart out! There are world-class rapids for the extreme watersporter, but the experience can also be enjoyed by families, too, who can take on Class III and IV rapids in the company of experienced guides. There’s over 16 miles of whitewater in the gorge, set against the breathtaking brackdrop of the Adirondack range with its canyon walls, waterfalls and placid pools to dip in and out of en route. A professional photographer is also on hand to capture all the action and provide a visual memento of your expedition.
DANCING IN DAKAR
WHERE Dakar, Senegal
WHEN Somewhere between sunset and sunrise
We wouldn’t want you getting too cultured on your travels, so with letting your hair down and partying in mind, the next destination on our list is the cosmopolitan nightlife of Dakar. One of the most exciting places to hang out in on the entire continent, multicultural, cosmopolitan Dakar serves up the perfect excuse to leave your hotel after dark and dance the night away at the city’s live music bars. We love local boy Youssou N’Dour’s Thiosanne (pronounced ‘Cho-sahn’) Club; Ozio; and the live music at Just 4 U among hundreds of others. Once the party’s over, you can escape the crowds by taking a ferry to Goree Island for a look round the rejuvenating Botanical Gardens.
DANCING IN DAKAR
WHERE Mount Cameroon, Limbe, Cameroon
TYPE Eco climbing tour
WHEN All year round
Only 61 km from Douala, Mount Cameroon is one of Africa’s highest vantage points, and is also an active volcano, which last erupted in February this year. Arrange your trip with Mount CEO, the not-for-profit eco-tourism organisation that organises trips and treks. Then embark on a guided adventure through the tropical rainforest, benefiting from Cameroon’s relatively cool climate along the way. At the peak you’ll be treated to staggering views as well as lava flows, crater lakes, caves and waterfalls.
CATCH OF THE DAY
WHERE Argungu, Nigeria
TYPE Fishing Festival
WHEN 2-5 March, 2013
The world’s most amazing fish-based festivity returns (fins and fingers crossed) to Argungu in March 2013. This four-day sporting festival and highpoint in the region’s cultural calendar was spawned in 1934 to celebrate a peace agreement. Today, people from all corners of the globe come to witness the festival’s hour-long Fishing Frenzy climax – where up to 35,000 men rush headlong into the water, competing in pairs to catch the biggest fish in the mud of the Malan Fada River (2007’s winning specimen weighed 75 kilograms).
WHERE Shelly Beach, Kwazulu Natal, South Africa
TYPE Eco-conscious shark dives
WHEN All year round (hire a wetsuit in Winter)
creature. There are few places better in the world to encounter them than at Shelly Beach, about a day’s drive from Johannesburg, where you can dive with wild sharks in their natural environment on world-renowned shark-diving reef Protea Banks, with professional guides. Among the many species on the reef, Tiger and Bull sharks can be encountered in groups of up to 10 divers: the resulting close-up experiences are truly awe-inspiring. Afridive’s Roland Mauzz elaborates: “Today alone we encountered eight different species of sharks plus three different species of rays, not to mention whales. Part of the shark encounter was a mass of over 150 scalloped hammerheads, a tiger, several bulls and more. On the north side of Protea Banks you can see over 120 sandtiger sharks on one single dive.”