BY DI BROWN
YOU STAND ON A PLATFORM BOLTED TO THE MOUNTAINSIDE 80 METRES ABOVE THE GROUND. YOUR MIND FORGETS ABOUT THE HARNESS, SAFETY LINE, AND BRAKING SYSTEM, AND YOUR BODY INSTINCTIVELY SCREAMS NO!
The guide reminds you to assume a sitting position, shows you where to place each hand, gives you a thumbs up, and pushes you into the void. Your body and mind switch gears from terror to exhilaration in seconds. All too soon, the first slide is done. You land, you live, and you can’t stop grinning as you eagerly await the next one.
This adventure in nature starts with a safety briefing and kitting up in your harness, helmet, and hairnet. Then you have an “African massage” during the 40-minute 4×4 drive up through the forests and fynbos, deep into the mountains. The ziplining course comprises 11 slides, some over 300m long, and a unique suspension bridge constructed between a narrow sandstone ravine, above a spectacular double waterfall.
The scenery is spectacular in the true sense of the word. Located within the Cape Floral Kingdom World Heritage Site, the zipline course traverses mountains, rivers, and valleys covered in fynbos, which thrives thanks to the 3 000mm of annual rain that soaks the land. The mountains peak at 1 590 m above sea level, and while summers are hot and dry, winters can be cold at altitude, with snow falling at least once a year.
As you relax into the adventure, you begin to appreciate this pristine landscape as you glide through the air or wait on the platforms. Marvel at the tannin-coloured rivers, waterfalls, and rock pools way below you, and the birds of prey soaring on the thermals above you. Dew drops glisten on tiny ferns growing in the rock face, and lizards sun themselves on the warm stone.
Notes to the nervous
The course is 100% safe. Civil engineers designed it, the highly trained staff check it daily, and it has an annual engineering safety audit.
The staff are skilled, encouraging and want you to have fun. If your bravery deserts you after the first two slides, you can opt out and hike back to the vehicle. After the third slide, you are committed for the duration of the course.
If you are apprehensive, consider a tandem tour, where you will be strapped to a guide who controls everything, leaving you free to enjoy the view.
The cost is R995 per person and includes all safety gear. The conservation levy is R100.
For more information, visit www.capecanopytour.co.za.
- Closed shoes that are comfortable for a walk on uneven terrain.
- Jeans, shorts, or long pants.
- A peaked cap under the helmet.
DO NOT WEAR
- Skirts of any kind or dresses. They don’t work well with the harness.
HighGrounds Adventure Park in Nepal has the tallest and steepest zip line in the world. It’s also considered the most extreme, with a 610-metre vertical drop.