In some ways, Villiers and I couldn’t be any more different. For instance, he tends to err on the side of caution while I’ve always been a bit of a daredevil. So when an opportunity to zip-line through the Magaliesberg came along, I didn’t expect him to play Tarzan quite as eagerly as I wanted to play Jane.
The idea of swinging from rock to rock high up in the cliffs above a tree-lined ravine was more than enough to get me chomping at the bit to jump into the harness, but on the hour-long drive from Pretoria I was surprised to see that Villiers was emanating a similar restless excitement. I had a feeling he wasn’t likely to look so happy dangling 30 metres up above the canopy floor, but thankfully, I kept these sentiments to myself.
Arriving outside Sparkling Waters Resort and Spa, we were met by two upbeat guides who immediately fitted our harnesses and sat us down for a thorough safety briefing. We then climbed onto the back of a vehicle and took a short game drive to the starting point of the canopy tour.
The Magaliesberg Canopy Tour is possibly the most eco-friendly way to explore the second oldest mountain range in the world. It involves zig-zagging between permanent platforms built into the rocks, stopping at each to admire the view (which, at least in the beginning, you’re too busy to notice as you’re swinging). The guides accompanying each group are quite entertaining, not only with their bucket-load of interesting facts about the history of the mountain range and its fauna and flora, but also with their wicked sense of humour that has even the most nervous swinger in stitches by the end. Most importantly, through all the history and hilarity, there’s a sense of professionalism and the firm knowledge that your safety is in good hands.
By the tenth and final line I wasn’t the only one wishing we could head back to the beginning and start all over again. Zip-lining through the Magaliesberg turned out to be more than just a thrill for daredevils, but also a fascinating and exhilarating way to explore one of our country’s most incredible and ancient wonderlands. Buzzing with adrenalin and information, it wasn’t long before we started making plans to return and relive the experience.
Heading back to Sparkling Waters for a light lunch and to wait for our DVD documenting our morning’s adventure (and our terrified faces on the first line), it was clear from Villiers’s grinning face that perhaps we’re not so different after all.
Ideally you should photograph this kind of activity with a small compact digital camera, not with your SLR and telephoto lens. There are too many rocks against which you can bump equipment and all kinds of harnesses and ropes all over the place, making it difficult to hold and carry heavy equipment safely. If you don’t have a compact digital camera, your smart phone might have to suffice.
If I want to go:
Where: Approximately 1 hour’s drive from Pretoria, just south-west of the Buffelspoort Dam on the northern side of the Magaliesberg.
GPS co-ordinates: S25° 49′ 51″, E27° 24′ 43″
When? Open 364 days of the year (not Christmas day), 06h30 – 16:30 in summer, 07h00 – 15h00 in winter. Tours last 2.5 hours and depart every thirty minutes, booking is essential.
Cost? R495/person (effective 1 November 2013), includes safety briefing, all equipment, two trained nature guides, transport up and down the mountain, refreshment on tour, light meal at Hadedas Fast Food Restaurant and a certificate acknowledging your bravery. Special rates for larger groups, school & student groups, pensioners and hotel residents.
Why not make a weekend of it?
Sparkling Waters three star luxury hotel is the ideal place to kick back and let the adrenalin wear off. Better still, treat yourself to an afternoon of utter relaxation at their award-winning spa. Visit www.sparklingwaters.co.za
Phone: 014 535 0150
Mobile: 079 492 0467
Fax: 014 535 0152