That feeling of flight: Our Cape Canopy Zipline Adventure

That feeling of flight: Our Cape Canopy Zipline Adventure

‘You can sit now,’ he said.

I bent my knees to lower my weight and felt the harness tighten around my legs. With one gloved hand resting on the thick steel cable and the other clutching my harness I felt like the female version of Indiana Jones, ready to assume a heroic airdrop into the Temple of Doom.

‘And go!’ I lifted my feet and pushed off the edge of the platform. The pulley began to slide, like a giant zip echoing across the valley. As I gained momentum my mind began to rush too: how fast was I going? How high was I, actually? Was the breeze throwing me off balance? Was I going to be able to stop? Before I could come to any conclusions, I launched with force into the other side, closing my eyes and waiting for the gigantic jolt. But the ingenious safety stop had cushioned my arrival, and I glided gracefully onto the platform with a helping hand from Thomas, our lead guide.

‘That was incredible’ I shouted to the rest of the group, realizing that I had done all but the most integral of things – look down. The view below, ahead, and all around us was mind-blowing, and not only did we get to gaze wistfully over it; we got to follow that urge to jump, and glide right into the picture itself.

As I loosened up and got into the swing of things (no pun intended), I gave myself a pep talk about enjoying the ride and absorbing the view – and that I can say I did. The Cape Canopy Tour explores a beautiful section of the Hottentots Holland Nature Reserve about 90km from Cape Town near Elgin/Grabouw. A World Heritage Site, the reserve’s pristine scenery is nothing short of spectacular and exploring it in this way was an indulgence.

We spent a full afternoon launching ourselves from one platform to the next, zipping across wide valleys and deep gorges – looking down into lush, green vegetation and over a mountain stream, which culminated in an incredible, steep-sided waterfall. It was only when we reached our 4th or 5th platform that one of the group gave us all a wonderful reality check. Standing on the edge of a steep cliff with a jungle of vegetation below us and a wall of rock above, there was no small chance that we could have reached this place any other way. We had used a unique ‘airborne vehicle’ to get there – and that was quite something.

Taking a step back from it all, I imagined us on a map, starting at point A, gliding across to point B, then up to Point C, back down to Point D – zigzagging fluently across the valley from one side to the next, seeing pristine places that would otherwise be unseen. My appreciation grew even more as Thomas explained to us that setting up infrastructure like this meant days, weeks, months of treacherous and physically demanding work. While this is not the first operation of its kind (there are a range of Canopy Tour operations across the country), every landscape is unique and brings with it its own set of challenges. This one certainly looked pretty extreme.

After our final ‘flight,’ we hiked a short distance out of the valley and jumped into a Land Cruiser which would take us on a bumpy, meandering ride through the valley and back to civilization. As we drove back to Cape Town afterwards, I found myself tired and a little stiff; I also found that the momentum hadn’t quite left me – I could still feel the liberating movement of the glide and perfectly imagine the view.

Click here to find out all the details of the Cape Canopy Tours.

Kate Black

As the daughter of a wildlife filmmaker, Kate spent her early childhood in the Okavango Delta. Over the years, she has been fortunate to explore many of Southern Africa’s other wild places, contributing to her keen interest in African wildlife conservation. With a career grounded in digital marketing, Kate recently made the decision to work as a freelance communications specialist, with a particular focus on environmental NGOs. An avid trail runner and hiker, she loves the outdoors and the incredible natural diversity that the Western Cape has to offer.