The Magaliesberg Canopy Tour comprises a series of 'foefie slides' (called 'flying foxes' in Australia, but goodness knows what they are called elsewhere - see photos and let me know!) across the Ysterhoutkloof gorge in the Magaliesberg range, which are a range of east-west trending hills between Johannesburg and Pretoria.
The tour starts at the Sparkling Waters Hotel where you get kitted up with your safety gear and sign your life away on indemnity forms. From there you are transported a short distance (which is included in the price) to the start of the trail. It is a short hike to the first slide, and from there, you have another 9 slides to enjoy! Contrary to my expectations, it isn't particularly strenuous, but it does require moderate levels of fitness, confidence and coordination. The operators maintain that the tour is suitable for people from 7 to 70 (except pregnant women) - we did it with a 10 year old in tow, who had a ball, but I don't know whether I'd consider taking kids much younger than that unless they were very intrepid. The set up is such that if kids (or wusses) 'freeze' mid slide, one of the guides could 'retrieve' them by pushing them across to the next platform, but I wouldn't care to be party to such high drama!
It is a really great way to spend a couple of hours - the landscape is stunningly beautiful and swooping over the gorge supported only by a wire is a liberating and almost spiritual experience. It's obviously not for those with vertigo or a timid disposition, but then they shouldn't be considering such activities in the first place. It's one of those experiences that you really shouldn't rush, as the setting is so gorgeous, and once you're in the gorge, it is eerily quiet. You probably won't see many large mammals, but there are dassies and loads of lizards, and the flora is glorious (if you like aloes, then you're in for a treat!)
The price includes a 'light lunch' at Sparkling Waters at the end of the tour. Without meaning to be overly unkind, everything that our group selected turned out to be lacklustre and lukewarm, and on reflection, I think that I would rather have been spared the meal! The price does also entitle you to use the hotel swimming pool, which would be a welcome bonus on a hot day (just be sure to bring your towel and cossie).
We did the tour on a public holiday, and as a result, they had booked groups 'back to back' to meet demand. As a result, the guides were under pressure to move groups through as quickly as possible, and we felt a bit rushed. Also the website and advertising state that 'refreshments' should be provided during the tour, but all we got was a bottle of water, which doesn't seem to meet the description. If I were to do this again, I would definitely book for a quieter time so that we had more time to appreciate the fabulous scenery and vegetation of the kloof.
This is one of five canopy tours operated by this company in South Africa - the others being in Tsitsikamma, Magoebaskloof, Karkloof and Drakensberg. By South African standards, this is not a cheap activity - R450 per person at the time of writing (May 2010) for a 2 hour tour. It is worthwhile, but be warned that you need to have fairly deep pockets if you're going to take the whole family!
Swinging from tree to tree not quite like Tarzan did it - this experience comes complete with every safety device in the book. This is situated in the Magalies mountains - one of the oldest mountain ranges in the world - in a kloof (ravine) called the Ysterhout Kloof. It takes a little over 2 hours to navigate the 10 slides from platform to platform. The longest slide is 140m long. You get a safety briefing and some advice on technique beforehand, and then go onto a vehicle which takes you a short way to the kloof. From there, it's "yippee" and "whohoo" as you dangle from each slide in your harness and control your speed by pulling down on the cable hard with your gloved hand. The guides can go in tandem with you if you like (my daughter of 7 went with a guide most of the time). They give you a snack and something to drink to offset the adrenalin rush during the tour. Afterwards they serve a down-to-earth lunch.