Although I’m terribly afraid of heights, I’ve always been intrigued by these canopy tours where you glide through the treetops on a series of ziplines. They’re very popular here in South Africa. In fact, there is a place not too far from Joburg in the Magaliesberg that offers them.
But the one we did was the Tsitsikamma Canopy Tour, about a 2-hour drive from Wilderness, where we recently spent a long weekend.
Will you just look at that flimsy platform, and how high it is off the ground? I’m telling you, I was a nervous wreck. However, the professionalism with which the tour was conducted did inspire some level of trust.
There was always a guide on the platform you departed from as well as on the next one you were heading to. When you got there, the first order of business was to unclip you from the zipline and hook you onto a steel rope that was wound around the tree, so that you were hooked into something at all times. Still, it looked like a long way down from there! Oddly enough, I only get jittery when I’m standing on something tall. When I’m hanging from a rope and swinging in space, I don’t mind.
We spent a lot of time being briefed on where to put our hands. You get these leather gloves, one of them with a big extra flap for additional padding. That’s the one you break with, by pressing down on the rope. But NOT IN FRONT OF THE PULLEY! Yes, I can see how that would be a problem.
And it wouldn’t have been a truly African experience if we didn’t have to ride at least briefly in a game drive vehicle, or rather bounce up and down in one during the short ride to our first tree.
Sunshine always stretched her arms and legs full out every time, making me extra nervous, although of course the pulley is what holds you up, and there is also a safety cord. But since she is so small, Sunshine didn’t need to use her hands to break – she already came up short as it was and had to be pulled up to the platform.
All in all great fun for the family. My family had extra fun, because for some added entertainment all they had to do is step close to the edge of the platform and lean over so that I would scream. It worked every single time, and so they did it on every single tree (there were ten of them)!
But little did I know how benign a measly platform in a tree is compared to the Bloukrans Bungy Bridge. Stay tuned!