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Destin-Nation South Africa: The Ultimate Surf and Turf (PHOTO)

The Huffington Post   First Posted: 08/17/11 07:19 PM ET   Updated: 08/30/11 06:12 AM ET

The southern tip of Africa is dense with parks, panoramas and possibilities. The only thing likely to constrain adventurers here is their own physical limitations and phobias. White Sharks wait in the water, lions prowl on land, and tourists who so choose swim in a shallow sea of adrenaline.

Thanks in no small part to the 2010 World Cup, the tourism infrastructure in South Africa, which was already the best in sub-Saharan Africa by a significant margin, is better than ever. With flights buzzing back and forth between the country's major cities (Cape Town, Johannesburg and Durban) and massive national parks taking up so much of the landscape, travel here is a breeze. Many of the difficulties posed by decades of political unrest have also disappeared, though the country's racial history is as fraught as it ever was.

Roughly the size of Texas, Colorado and Wyoming lumped together, South Africa is still wilder and, in places anyway, emptier than any part of the American west. This is the true big sky country – when visitors look up at night and see the blazing Southern Cross, they know it.

Flights to Cape Town and Johannesburg leave daily from London, Amsterdam and New York on South African Airways and British Airways and typically cost between $1,200 and $1,800. Travelers who plan ahead will save enough money for at least one night in a safari lodge.

Photo: Fugue/Flickr

Repel Table Mountain
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Looming above Cape Town, Table Mountain is a national symbol and a beautiful hike. The views from the top are spectacular: The cliff drops hundreds of feet into a valley, beyond which lies the city and the sea. Adventurous hikers celebrate the vista by turning away from it, locking themselves into a harness and repelling down the cliff, stopping periodically to take in the view or simply hyperventilate.

Abseiling Africa offers day trips for $86 that allow visitors to descend the longest commercially available rope going. For visitors who find repelling too unexciting, there is also paragliding and base jumping off the cliff, though both activities require advanced certifications and a complete disregard for life and limb.

Getting There: Flights arrive in Cape Town constantly from New York as well as Amsterdam and London on South African Airways and British Airways. Flights from Europe are a little cheaper than flights from the U.S., which cost around $1,400.

Photo: Fugue/Flickr
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