While the rest of the family spends Easter weekend scoffing roast lamb and chocolate treats, those of a more adventurous bent are in luck as SA is fast a making a name for itself as a land of high-flying adventure. And while the bungee jump off the Soweto towers may offer a few moments of unleashed adrenalin, and the lip-flapping delights of skydiving are undeniable, we’re more in favour of a natural high with a side order of natural beauty. Which is why you need to clip in for a local zip-lining adventure.
And you’re in the right place for it too. SA is set to soar into the history books this year when the K3 zipline opens in the Western Cape Overberg. More famous for rolling hills of wheat than white-knuckle thrills, this new outing will offer thrill-seekers a 3km (hence the K3, geddit?) ride dropping 500m in height from a mountaintop to the valley floor.
K3 is a partnership between SA Forest Adventures and the operators of the Mossel Bay Zipline, and until K3 is up and running this Garden Route thrill is certainly not to be missed.
Billed as the longest over-ocean zip line in the world, from the offices at Cape St Blaize lighthouse guests are first ferried to the top of 90m-high cliffs overlooking the Indian Ocean. Ahead of you? More than 1km of steel cable, dipping perilously close to the sea as you come screaming — both you and the pulley system — in to land. It runs so quickly that guests are often issued a parachute to slow them down. And, it’s so close to the ocean that at high tide riders have a good chance of being soaked by the waves. But that’s all part of the fun, right?
There’s no risk of ocean waves in the mountains above Elgin, however, where the Cape Canopy Tours are — it seems — out to cure vertigo in all of its clients. Here, after a glorious 4x4 ride high into the mountains, a series of zip lines zigzag across the gaping maw of a mountain gorge in the Hottentots Holland Nature Reserve. There are 13 platforms in all, with lines stretching up to 320m in length, but here it’s not what’s in front of you that counts, it’s the distance to the ground far (far!) below that will hold your attention.
But in the lush forests of Tsitsikamma — the location for the ecological horror flick Gaia — there is plenty to hold your attention beyond the fall to the ground. With 10 platforms strung between swarthy boughs of Outeniqua Yellowwoods, here guides put as much effort into bringing the forest ecosystem to life. Discover the remarkable trees of these ancient coastal forests, and keep a keen eye out for the Knysna Turaco, or the red flash of a shy Narina trogon. And then, of course, step off into thin air.
There’s no shortage of fresh air in the verdant valleys of Limpopo’s Magoebaskloof where the forests are just as enchanting, with a welcome dollop of topography to set your heart racing. Here the zip-line adventure races between 13 treetop platforms along lines that plunge over the tumbling waterfalls along the Groot Letaba River gorge.
KwaZulu-Natal is not to be outdone though, and at Lake Eland in the Oribi Gorge riders fly along more than 4km of steel cable that make up one of SA’s longest zip-lines. It is not for the faint-hearted. One line skims the surface of a lake, and if you don’t keep your feet up you’ll end up pouring water from your shoes, while another flies through a tunnel to finish. But none compare with zip line #6. At 680m long, it drops some 300m from the lip of the gorge to the valley below.