ABOUT CANOPY TOURS:
A canopy tour involves sliding from one high level forest platform to another along steel cables suspended up to 30 metres above the forest floor. The idea originally came from biologists who used similar systems to access forest canopies in order to study the hard-to-get-at plants that live high up in the trees. The first tree top canopy tour to be developed in South Africa was the one still operating in the Tsitsikamma Forest near Stormsriver on the Garden Route. The tour consists of 10 platforms and 10 slides, the longest of which is 100m. The second tree top canopy tour to be built in South Africa is in the Karkloof Forest, near Pietermaritzburg in KwaZulu-Natal. This one consists of 8 slides; the longest one is 170m and can be quite fast. Like its predecessor, the emphasis of the tour remains firmly with the forest plants, ecology and birds. The third tour to be developed in South Africa can be found at the Magaliesberg Mountains near Johannesburg. This one isn’t really a tree top tour, but a spectacular canopy height tour with platforms set against spectacular cliffs offering amazing views of the Ysterhout Kloof. Here one is mostly above the trees instead of within them so the view is the key element as opposed to an up-close experience with forest life.
The two latest additions include the Drakensberg and Magoebaskloof Canopy Tours. The Drakensberg Canopy Tour in Central Drakensberg includes the Dragon Mountain’s spectacular scenery and Africa’s first elevated rock face walkway. The Magoebaskloof Canopy Tour is also unique in that it has slides and viewpoints over 3 giant waterfalls among ancient cliffs and the stunning indigenous forest. The scenery high up within the forest canopy is spectacular. Enjoy the view from above while taking in waterfalls and spotting birdlife amongst the surrounding trees. Our professional guides will assure the safety of each group and point out interesting facts along the way. The Canopy Tour experience is an excellent corporate and team building event with a number of packages available at our canopy tour sites. Canopy Tours are currently located at Magaliesberg, Tsitsikamma, Karkloof, Magoebaskloof, Drakensberg, Malolotja (Swaziland) and the Cape.
History of the Canopy Tour:
Canopy tours originated in the lush rainforests of Costa Rica where adventurous biologists, desperate to study the diversity of animal life that habituates the upper canopy level of forests, devised a system of cables and platforms that would allow them to explore this previously inaccessible ecosystem. It wasn’t long before this developed into a breathtaking eco-tourism activity that not only allowed people to enter and experience the upper realm of a rainforest, but raised awareness of the plight and beauty of the world’s endangered indigenous forests. Construction of Canopy Tours® South Africa has been done in accordance with strict civil engineering standards. Each system has been designed and built by a Canopy Tours engineer, starting with the canopy tour in the cloud forests of Costa Rica.
This led to the search for South Africa’s largest trees and the opening in 2001 of the internationally acclaimed Tsitsikamma Canopy Tour on the Garden Route near Storms River. This was followed by the Karkloof, Magaliesberg, Magoebaskloof and then Drakensberg Canopy Tours over the next eight years. The latest addition is the exciting new Malolotja Canopy Tour which opened in Swaziland in May 2010. Environmental impact studies are undertaken prior to construction to ensure that the canopy tours do not harm the surrounding forest ecology in any way. Strict environmental management plans have been adhered to and the construction of South Africa’s Canopy Tours has been carried out with the approval of the Department of Water Affairs & Forestry as well as the Department of Environmental Affairs & Tourism. At Canopy Tours South Africa we are proud to work closely with the communities within which we operate. Each Canopy Tour® site is located in rural areas where we have helped to uplift local communities by training locals to become guides; thereby providing a vital source of income and employment.
Cape Canopy Tour in Elgin:
A brand new breathtaking zipline adventure awaits under an hour’s drive from Cape Town. It’s been a while coming, but in early August 2014, a high-as-the-heavens canopy tour opened to the public in the mountains of the Hottentots Holland Nature Reserve in Elgin, a region that lies only a short one-hour highway glide away from the built-up skeleton of the city. Of course, the mere addition of this spectacular zipline activity to the Western Cape’s repertoire is exciting enough, but the real drawcard is that it gives locals and tourists the chance to explore an untouched, untarnished part of the province that was previously completely unreachable (it’s not even possible to hike here).“It’s really quite surreal,” sums up Ryan Larkman, co-founder of the Cape Canopy Tour. “You’ve got a bird’s-eye view of the spectacular scenery…you look to one side and there’s a waterfall, look to the other side and there’s a steep cliff face.”
Eleven stainless steel slides (some up to 320m in length) and one lofty suspension bridge connect 13 wooden platforms that are built into rocky precipices never before seen by man, and thrill-seekers and nature lovers can spend a few solid hours soaring over pristine gorges and far-below running rivers that sit like sweet unspoiled secrets in one of the most stunning, well-preserved parts of South Africa. And appreciating the breathtaking surrounds is as much a part of the whole experience as the fun and excitement of flying through the clouds from one escarpment to the next. For this reason, the excursion is led by at least two professional guides from the local community who chat to patrons throughout the tour about the history of the area and the fauna and flora that unfolds in front of them.“It’s not just about the slide; it’s an intimate guided nature experience,” says Ryan, adding, “People mustn’t think of it as just a zip line, but as a whole tour.”
Of course, the chaperons are also there to ensure guests’ safety, an issue that’s taken very seriously throughout the expedition. All adventurers are harnessed up and given an in-depth briefing before they’re taken up to the tippy-top of the often snow-capped mountains, all the equipment, which adheres to the highest safety standards, is regularly checked and double-checked and all kiddies are asked to ride in tandem with guides to keep them extra secure.
Speaking of kids, anyone as young as five or six can do the tour, as long as they fit comfortably into a harness. And on the other side of the age spectrum, grans and grandpas of 80 and above are welcome – they just need to be able to manage the 1-km trek out of the valley and back to the 4×4 after all the slipping and sliding is done. The walk back should be easy, though, considering there’s extra motivation to return to reception: a tasty lunch (it’s included in the tour price) awaits groups back at base camp. So, once zip liners have worked up quite the appetite from all the adrenaline, they can bring the experience to a close with food fit for an explorer while overlooking the very valley they sailed over just moments before.
SAFETY OF CANOPY TOURS:
The Canopy Tour starts with a safety briefing at the canopy office. Here your guides will first demonstrate how to slide on the cables and the safety procedures to be followed on the tour, before kitting you up with full body harness, pulley, climbing equipment and safety helmet. Your group will then be transported in an open vehicle to the start of the canopy tour. From the moment you launch off the first platform, a new world unfolds as you slide on a steel cable across to the next viewpoint. Once you arrive at the platform we encourage you to stop for a while and enjoy the view while your guide points out interesting features or facts about the surrounding ecology.
All groups are escorted by a lead guide and safety guide at all times. Your safety is paramount and we have strict procedures in place to ensure that you are constantly connected to either the cable or the platform. Each tour lasts between 2 – 4 hours, depending which particular Canopy Tour it is and how many people there are in your group. Upon returning to the office you will enjoy a well-deserved meal and refreshments.
TRAVEL TIPS & PLANNING INFO
HOW TO GET HERE
Canopy tour destinations are best reached by car, although in some cases tour buses do visit these sites.
HOW TO GET AROUND
Once at your canopy tour destination, you will be guided along the tour by experienced and trained guides on foot.
WHAT WILL IT COST
WINTER PRICE FREEZE – R695 (Valid until 1 September 2017) A guided nature zipline experience through the Hottentots Holland Mountains, including 11 ziplines and a suspension bridge over an iconic waterfall. A light lunch is included.
- Duration: 4 Hours (approx.)
LENGTH OF STAY
A canopy tour takes about 3 hours.
AGE OF PARTICIPANT
Ages 5-75 are welcome, and rain gear is provided in wet conditions.
WHAT TO PACK
All equipment is provided but dress appropriately for the weather conditions. Bear in mind it can be a lot colder up in the trees than at ground level. Be sure to bring along comfy shoes for the walking – avoid wearing flip-flops as these will likely fall off while you’re sliding. Also, make sure you have warm clothes on you as even on the sunniest days it can still be chilly up in the mountain peaks.
- Please be sure to bring warm clothes – weather in the Cape can be unpredictable, especially up in the mountains.
- Comfortable shoes to walk in.
- Rain gear will be provided in wet weather.
WHOM TO CONTACTCanopy Tours
Tel: +27 21 3000 501
Monday – Sunday: 7am (first tour leaves) – 3pm (last tour leaves) (tours are roughly four hours in length, so those departing in the last group at 2pm can expect to return around 6pm).
How To Reach Canopy Tours By Trains, planes and buses
For the purposes of this page, we’ll assume that you’ll be arriving here by plane, ship, boat, train, bus or car. (If you’re wondering what other option there could possibly be, it’s teleporting. But since that skill seems to be in rather limited supply, we aren’t going to cover it here.) South Africa just successfully hosted the 2010 FIFA soccer World Cup and Sepp Blatter has rated our hospitality at 9/10!!!. FIFA have left but we still have the Gautrain and some great stadiums left to drool over. The Gautrain’s Sandton to OR Tambo International Airport link is complete and in operation. The remaining six stations comprising the link between Johannesburg Park Station and Hatfield will be completed towards mid 2011. Our gob smacking stadiums which were built and renovated to hold up to 95000 soccer fans at a time will continue to facilitate exciting sporting events.As in any country (with the possible exception of those laid-back Caribbean nations), don’t make jokes with the customs officials about the drugs or weapons you have in your bag or in the trunk of your car – you’ll quickly discover that “laugh in a jolly manner” is not part of their job description. Unless of course you really DO have drugs or weapons in your bag, in which case you’d better think of a damn good joke really fast.
Taxis are an adventure all on their own
For the cheapest adventure holiday you could imagine, just make use of our famed mini-bus taxis to get from A to B. You’ll experience all the components of a most excellent adventure: electrifying speed, a total adrenaline rush, and absolute disbelief at what you have just accomplished. Fortunately, for the faint-hearted among you there are several other options, all just as much fun, but far less like an episode of Fear Factor. Buses are fairly inexpensive and safe, and there are some excellent companies operating taxis within the country. It isn’t generally considered safe to travel on trains.
The most popular mode of transport within the country is usually hiring a car and driving yourself – there’s lots to see and the scenery changes quite often (unless you’re in the middle of the Free State in winter!) And by the way, our roads are really very good; it’s the traffic cops hiding behind the bushes with their speed cameras that you should be afraid of. (“Laugh in a jolly manner” IS in fact part of their job description, but is usually only executed as they hand you a speeding ticket.) Navigate through the links below to explore the range of travel options available, both into and within the country.