Take the plunge on a fun adventure with a canopy tour

A NEW LinkedIn group, called From High Heels to High Hills is providing a network platform for women working in corporate to liaise, connect and find like-minded friends and colleagues and leverage special offers and excursions. I was invited by the group, which encourages businesswomen and women in corporate to take part in adventurous activities, to spend a day zip-lining at Karkloof Canopy Tours. Canopy Tours SA, a zip-lining company with seven sites around South Africa, has come on board as the group’s first partner and offers specials and incentives to women in the From High Heels to High Hills group. I will admit I was anxious at first, but I was ready to take the plunge.

I drove just over 90 minutes to Karkloof Canopy Tours, set in a valley of the mist-belt, podocarpus Karkloof Forest Reserve. We were met by Daniel at reception who told us that Canopy Tours originated in the lush rainforests of Costa Rica. Here biologists, studying 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.

Next, we saddled up with safety harnesses and began. From the first platform, I began to wonder why I agreed. Part of the brief was to write about adventure tourism which has taken off, especially among executive Black women – I began to question why I agreed.  I went with a group of seven people, and our tour guides, Robert and Musi. After driving up to the canopy of the forest, we went down the first zip line. It was exhilarating and at the same time, frightening.

The forest is home to an incredible array of birdlife which includes the Emerald Cuckoo, the Knysna Turaco, a wide variety of raptors, the elusive Narina Trogon, and the endangered Cape Parrots. The forest is also home to a variety of mammals, and amidst my adventure, I did spot a Samango monkey. The rest of the group was enamoured with the Samango monkey. After all, it is South Africa’s only exclusively forest-dwelling primate and represents the southernmost extent of the range of arboreal guenons in Africa, according to the National Zoological Garden of South Africa.  Me? I was fully focused on ensuring my harness was intact – I was in the middle of the platform, and I was bracing for the next zip line.

However, thanks to our tour guides, those of us who were apprehensive had our nerves calmed, and we were all able to enjoy the experience. If you felt a zip line was daunting, the tour guides would simply toe the line with you. ‘How are you feeling about this one, Mamma; can you make it on your own? I promise all is safe; give it a go.’

Of the 12 rides, I managed nine on my own. Not too shabby for a first-timer, even if I have to say so myself.

This was one hell of an adventure and got my adrenaline going more than any breaking-news story I deal with daily in the busy newsroom. I feared that I was to become the news: ‘Local editor falls to her death while zip-lining’. I was mistaken on that score and now can tell the tale: ‘Local editor has a blast on Canopy Tour zip-line adventure’.

In my opinion, Robert and Musi should become motivational speakers. The amount of motivation those tour guides had to do to get me to let go and jump off the platform was truly remarkable.

The Karkloof Canopy Tour consists of 12 platforms and 10 zip lines, the longest of which is 200m! For some of the longer zip lines, I closed my eyes and let the wind whoosh past my face.

Would I do it again? Yes. Was it challenging for me? Yes. The guides, Robert and Musi, made all the difference. Even though I was afraid, I knew I was safe. The canopy tour lasts approximately two hours. It was a safe, fun adventure, and according to Canopy Tours, is for people between the ages of 6 and 80 plus. The tours run at specific time slots, and bookings are essential.

Canopy Tours SA, a zip-lining company, has seven sites around South Africa. Commenting on the upsurge of people taking on these adventures, Mark Brown of Canopy Tours SA, said: “We have seen a huge increase in women coming on their own, with friends, in groups, or with their children, to put on a harness and go zip-lining. We love seeing their enthusiasm and joy. It really is the closest thing to flying like a bird.”

For booking and to find out more call: 076 241 2888.

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