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Zip-lining in South Africa’s Western Province

zipline Grabouw

Wikipedia defines a zip line as “…a pulley suspended on a cable, usually made of stainless steel, mounted on a slope. It is designed to enable a user propelled by gravity to travel from the top to the bottom of the inclined cable by holding on to, or attaching to, the freely moving pulley.”

A slide with a view

This is a purely technical description of a sport that’s been gathering momentum in South Africa. Zip-lining is an utterly enjoyable experience, often in beautiful settings where unique views of nature can only be had from a cable suspended midway between two points. The local Afrikaans name of the activity is “foefie” sliding. The sport started after scientists who were studying the forests of Costa Rica, were looking for a way to move from one tree to the next without having to climb each one from the ground.

Your options in the Western Cape

In the Western Cape province of South Africa, there are a growing number of zip lines operating. Situated 8km from the Storms River Bridge and six hours’ drive from Cape Town on the N2, Tsitsikamma Falls Adventure Park offers eight slides across the Kruis River. The slides, of which the longest is 211m, zigzag along cables across the river gorge, as high as 50m above the water in some places. Near Hermanus, two hours from Cape Town, the Hermanus Tree Top Adventure Zipline Tour has a ten-platform operation with slides range from 20m to 180m. In the Ceres Valley, 90 minutes’ drive from Cape Town, the Ceres Zip slide Tour offers eight slides, totalling a length of 1.4km. The slides vary in lengths from 100m to 291m and the highest point above the ground is 40 meters.

Latest and greatest

The best one is located in the Hottentots Holland Nature Reserve near Elgin, which is an hour’s drive from Cape Town. The Cape Canopy Tour was second on the list of the world’s hottest new tourism experiences for 2015 and was the only African attraction to make the list. Lonely Planet describes it as “vertigo-tinged fun” and “an exciting aerial perspective”. This operation has 13 platforms and 11 slides of which the longest is 320m. Some of the slides feature spectacular views of waterfalls and streams deep down in beautiful gorges.

Zip-lining is highly recommended for the adventurous. Few things compare to that moment when you lift your legs and your body gathers momentum down a cable towards a platform hundreds of meters away. Fear of heights? People suffering from vertigo have reported being “healed” by zip-lining! That’s good value for money – between R200 and R1000!