I could not have been in better hands, however. The safety record of Tsitsikamma Canopy Tours is exemplary, and if you listen to and obey instructions, you will not get hurt. After all, this is an adventure sport, and the thrill is knowing that you are participating in something that is potentially dangerous.
I had heard about the tour many times. What I didn’t know is that the company is deeply involved in the upliftment of the local community and area, through a kids feeding scheme, animal rescue, training and the creation of jobs, local empowerment, tourism marketing and more. Since they started operating in 1998, they’ve trained more than 500 people, and one of our guides, Joslin has worked for them since she was in Grade 11 and was given a vac job.
We were welcomed by Anneline who gave us an introduction to the behind the scenes part of things. The company was the first of its kind in Africa and its eco credentials are impeccable. Even the construction of the platforms and the cables between the trees has been done in such a way as not to harm the ancient trees – mostly Outeniqua Yellowwood and Hard Pear.
The tour began with a detailed safety briefing and then our guides Werner and Joslin kitted us up with full body harnesses, pulleys, helmets and thick industrial-type gloves, which are used to apply pressure to the cable to slow down.
A short drive on the back of a bakkie took us into the forest where we climbed onto the first platform and Werner and Joslin demonstrated exactly what we were going to be doing for the next two hours.
The lines between trees vary in height and distance. If I remember correctly the highest one is about 30 metres and the longest line is 64 metres. Joslin goes first to assist on the other side, Werner straps you in and does the safety checks and then you’re off, with just the birds and the company videographer watching you!
I can’t say that the experience cured me of vertigo. In fact, I was very aware at all times that we were precariously balanced on narrow platforms at the top of the trees, but knowing that I was clipped to a safety line made me relaxed enough to enjoy the experience. Launching oneself off a platform set in the canopy of a tree is exhilarating.
The 2-3 hour tour (depending on numbers) includes 10 ziplines and ends with a short hike to a clearing in the forest where the company vehicle collects you to take you back to base for a meal that is included in the cost of the tickets. Our burgers and chips were delicious and the tea was hot and welcome!
Oh, and I should mention, get there early to spend some time exploring the quaint village of Tsitsikamma – it’s worth it!
For more info visit http://www.stormsriver.com/tsitsikamma_canopy_tour#4
Posted by Jeannine Orzechowski