Ziplining more than 100 meters above the ground is arguably one of the most exhilarating experiences the Elgin Valley has to offer. Just imagine the thrill of swooping from platform to platform suspended via super-strong cables, soaring across breathtaking valleys and waterfalls.
There is good reason why more than 85 000 visitors to the Cape Canopy Tour have experienced the adrenaline of gliding from platform to platform. The 13 cliff-side platforms, built masterfully into the mountainside allow you to soar above the very heart of a previously inaccessible ecosystem, a World Heritage Site within Cape Nature’s Hottentots Holland Nature Reserve.
This experience fulfils the bucket list of both young and old. It’s a wonderful way to witness the Elgin Valley as the angels would see it. It’s the perfect way to connect with nature. Early mornings usually come dressed in a shroud of mist, presenting some wonderful ethereal photographic opportunities.
On arrival your check-in is done electronically, followed by a coffee and a safety briefing. Then it’s time to harness yourself into the provided adventure gear, that for the next four hours, will convert you into a voyeur, flying over the Hottentots Holland Mountains, witnessing nature in its purest form.
The ride up the mountain is bumpy, as you elevate more than 1000 meters. Your entertaining guides, coupled with the beauty of the surroundings certainly add to the excitement.
Groups are kept small to allow enough space between everyone, allowing personal attention for adventure-seekers who come armed with many questions about the environment and how this unique project came together.
After five years of searching for the perfect location and obtaining all the necessary permissions, entrepreneur Ryan Larkman quit his job in non-profit community development and headed out to the scenic Elgin Valley to pursue his dream. Personally heading up the small construction team, it took a further grueling 12 months before the Cape Canopy Tour was finally complete and ready for its first visitors
One truly gets lost in this organic realm with its soft mountain folds and pure fresh air. Naturally, strict civil engineering standards applied with the construction of Cape Canopy Tour. The system was designed and built by a Canopy Tours engineer, ensuring utmost safety while delivering on the thrill that every visitor is after! Environmental impact studies were completed so that our natural ecology always came first in this endeavor. Everything needed to be approved by the Department of Water Affairs, Forestry, the Department of Environmental Affairs, Tourism and Cape Nature. Physically and bureaucratically this was no small undertaking.
Further to this, these guys involve the local community and continuously strive to create new job opportunities by building a sustainable future for everyone involved.
Every stop on the Canopy Tour has an information board telling you about the specific site and its fauna and flora. Safety always comes first and even though you stay attached to a safety cable, it is still pretty daunting to walk across the Riviersonderend Gorge via the suspension bridge fording the narrow sandstone ravine. Nervous or not, it is so worth it as it offers spectacular views of a double waterfall.
Rest assured you are in capable hands and in for an unbelievable ride with two trained guides at your beck and call for the full duration of the Tour. A one-kilometer hike back to the vehicle helps you unwind from all that adrenaline coursing through your body and allows you time to appreciate the pristine natural environment on foot. By then you would’ve worked up a serious appetite to explore further and enjoy the food and wine this valley has to offer.
For more information, please email firstname.lastname@example.org and get ready for some real adventure!
Price: R895 per person: the half-day tour includes your Cape Nature Park Fee, return 4×4 trip through the reserve, nature Guided Tour along 13 elevated platforms, and heaps of fun and laughter.
Ten things you probably didn’t know about Cape Canopy Tour
- Cape Canopy Tour® is a partnership between Canopy Tours® and CapeNature, the custodians of this World Heritage Site.
- The design process involved hiking through the gorge and climbing and abseiling rock faces looking for suitable route and platform options that would show people as many different facets of this spectacular place as possible.
- The design process is entirely dictated by the natural surroundings and the effect of gravity. Each platform is custom built around each rock face, and each slide has a specific angle depending on the distance.
- Once they were happy with the design, geologists were called to check the rock formations and test all the anchors’ suitability.
- The design process took over three months and construction approximately 12 months to complete.
- No helicopters, cranes, or heavy machinery was used. Every piece of steel, timber, and cable was carried in by hand. The team hiked in generators and drilling equipment to install the cable and platform anchor points.
- A specialised hydraulic rig was used to test the strength of the anchors as well as the surrounding rock.They used a 16mm galvanised steel cable that can withstand a tensile force of just over 16 tons.
- No foundations or concrete was used in the construction of the slides and platforms. Technically, they could unbolt and remove the entire system from the valley, and there would be little sign it had ever been there.
- This is a unique way of visiting a previously inaccessible nature site without impacting the environment, as the tour predominantly takes place through the air and thus leaves far less impact than, for example, the footpaths of a hiking trail.
- This and Canopy Tours® track record of establishing low impact tours through natural environments around South Africa was the main reason they could establish Cape Canopy Tour in this pristine wilderness.
Words and photos: Samarie Smith