Who doesn’t love a zipline? For the active, nature-oriented traveler, they are the perfect way to get out and see the flora and fauna of southern Africa from a unique perspective. Here are 10 ziplines — also known as canopy tours — that offer thrills and beauty in equal measure.
Situated in the Blue Grotto forest of the Central Drakensberg in the shadow of Cathkin Peak, the Drakensberg Canopy Tour includes Africa’s first elevated rock-face walkway, a suspension bridge, tree-bound platforms, mountain views, and of course majestic slides over the river 60m below. You’ll get to get up close and personal with 150 species of forest birds and the indigenous flora at tree-top level. Cost: R495 per person.
2. Cape Canopy Tour, Hottentots-Holland Reserve, Eastern Cape
The Cape Canopy Tour, in partnership with CapeNature, allows visitors to experience a previously inaccessible and pristine part of this notable UNESCO World Heritage site. The attraction, which is the only canopy tour above the snow line, consists of 13 elevated platforms connected by 11 zip lines (encompassing 2km of cable), and a 50m suspension bridge. Visitors whip across the 300m-long steel cables from platform to platform, gliding past breathtaking waterfalls and over verdant valleys of pristine fynbos. The cost is R595 per person. This includes the tour, a light lunch and a conservation fee. Cape Canopy Tour is located in the scenic Elgin Valley, less than one hour from Cape Town.
3. Tsitsikamma Canopy Tour
Featuring platforms built around giant 700-year-old Outeniqua Yellowwood trees, Tsitsikamma was South Africa’s first-ever canopy tour. Built in the Tsitsikamma Forest at Storms River over 10 years ago, the ziplines soar 30m above the forest floor. The tour costs R495 per person and is located 45 minutes from Plettenberg Bay, or one hour and 30 minutes from Port Elizabeth.
4. Magaliesberg Canopy Tour
Magaliesberg’s 11 platforms and 10 cabled slides were constructed against the rock faces of the spectacular Ysterhout Kloof (a nature reserve carved out of a mountainside over millions of years). The ziplines are up to 140m long and 30m above the canopy floor in places. Visitors are treated to the sight of impala, blue wildebeest, zebra, duikers and many other indigenous animal, bird, reptile and insect species along the way. The tour is located at the Sparkling Waters Hotel & Spa and costs R495 per person.
5. Magoebaskloof Canopy Tour
This spectacular canopy tour, which overlooks the Groot Letaba River gorge, traverses the upper level of an indigenous forest and zooms past ancient mountain cliffs. Platforms allow views of three magnificent waterfalls which tumble 20m to the river below. The tour is located in Limpopo province, 45 mins from Polokwane, 30 mins from Tzaneen and 3 hours from Pretoria and costs R495 per person.
6. Malolotja Canopy Tour
Located in Swaziland’s pristine Malolotja Nature Reserve, Malolotja offers a ride through varied terrain: open grassland, rocky outcroppings and thick temperate forest. The nature reserve offers the chance to glimpse a huge array of mammals and birds, stunning wildflowers, and includes a 50m suspension bridge. Cost: R595 per person.
7. Karkloof Canopy Tour
The second canopy tour in South Africa, Karkloof is located in a misty valley in the Karkloof Forest Reserve. long swooping slides over the forest canopy let visitors take in views of the valley, a 15m waterfall, and numerous species of birds, orchids and monkeys. This tour is for the more adventurous nature lover, and features slides up to 180m long. Located at Karkloof in the KwaZulu-Natal Midlands, 10 minutes from Howick and one hour 30 minutes from Durban. Cost: R595 per person.
8. Zip 2000, Sun City
Zip2000’s 6,500-foot slide claims to be the longest in the world. It’s also unique because riders hang side-by-side from the cable and lie “Superman style” instead of upright. The harness is fitted with a fin that goes between your legs and increases speed up to 85mph. While you’re zipping away, the South African grasslands fly by nearly 1,000 feet below. The ride costs $41 and is located at the legendary Sun City resort.
9. Lake Eland Zipline
Lake Eland’s tour consists of 14 zip lines starting at the top of the Oribi Gorge and gradually descending over a lake, through a tunnel and across a river. The most memorable slide is number 6, which soars 300m high over the gorge. The R500 cost includes entrance into Lake Eland Game Reserve, the guided zip line tour, and a return trip.
10. Ceres Zip Slide Tour
Located about an hour and a half from Cape Town, the Ceres Zip Slide Tour boasts one of the longest zip lines on the continent, featuring eight slides from 100m-290m in length. Ceres (known as the “Eden of the Cape”) is located in the rugged Schurweberg mountains below the Koekedouw Dam. The cost is R400 per person, including equipment and drinks.