Canopy tours in South Africa are one of the most amazing ways to see nature: ancient forests, rocky gorges...basically places that you are normally on ground level, looking up. Here you are up in the sky looking into the heart of the forest. It's a very different and thrilling perspective.
A canopy tour involves sliding from one high level forest platform to another along steel cables suspended up to 30m 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 canopy tour to be developed in South Africa is 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.
Canopy tour destinations are best reached by car, although in some cases tour buses do visit these sites.
Once at your canopy tour destination, you will be guided along the tour by experienced and trained guides on foot.
A canopy tour takes about three hours.
The second canopy tour to be built in South Africa is in the Karkloof Forest, near Pietermaritzburg in KwaZulu-Natal. This one consists of eight 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 in the Magaliesberg Mountains near Johannesburg. This one isn't really a tree top tour, but a 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 interesting in that it has slides and viewpoints over three giant waterfalls among ancient cliffs and the stunning indigenous forest.
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