By Rochelle Malherbe
Aside from the faint glow of my headlamp, there was nothing lighting up my path. Blindfolded by the darkness, I was whirring through the pitch black night at crazy speeds and I couldn’t get enough of it.
The night canopy tour is the stuff bucket lists are made of. Considering that in 2019, there is a series of three full super moons -one on January 21, February 19 and the next on March 21 – this truly does cement itself as a once-in-a-lifetime experience. My good fortune was that the February 19 full moon was the closest and largest full supermoon of the year.
So, if you are not afraid of heights or things that go bump in the night? If you love adventure and breathtaking natural scenery, then this is definitely for you.
The Hottentots Holland Nature Reserve is a place of unreserved beauty and the thought of a nighttime canopy tour had me counting the sleeps. I understood what to expect, I have done this before, during the day I might add.
The team at Cape Canopy tours are super friendly, enthusiastic, passionate, funny and thoroughly entertaining. After a clear safety briefing, we were kitted up and ready to head up the mountain in a game-viewing vehicle.
We excitedly made our way up the short trail to the first platform. As dusk greeted the landscape, the sky turned into shy shades of pink. While I am all about taking in the beautiful sunset, I was eager to get into the swing of things before we lost anymore light.
There is nothing normal about throwing yourself off a perfectly steady platform, knowing what awaits you below, should you fall. But that’s why it’s called an adventure. It’s exhilarating to feel the slight twist of nerves, hear your blood rush and throw all caution, and your body, to the wind. A zipping sound fills the air, you’re mind is super alert and freedom belongs to you. You can almost imagine that this is what it would feel like to be a bird.
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Once you start, you can’t wait to get onto the next line. It’s intoxicating.
As it grew dimmer, we switched the headlamps on our hardhats on. Kyle Goetsch, a photographer specialising in astrophotography, accompanied us and took full advantage of this opportunity to take some fantastic long exposure photos.
Nightfall came more suddenly than I anticipated and it was a lot darker than I expected. The super moon provided some light but cloud cover interfered with the glow. In some sections, the twist of the gorge is hidden from the moon and you’re in complete darkness.
There are 13 siplines, a suspension bridge and a double waterfall, which is roughly halfway through the tour.
In the sheer darkness, you become acutely in tune with your other senses and start to take in the experience on a different level. The last zipline is the longest – over 300m and it brought us into the open gorge under the moon. And there she was in full view, so bright, you wondered what all the fuss about the darkness was.
From the last platform we hiked up a 1km rocky footpath. With the moon beaming down on us, I switched my headlamp off, reflected on my experience and breathed in the stillness of mountains. Described in two words, it was ‘simply perfect’.
Cape Canopy is the only zipline adventure in the country that runs night tours. It happens a few times a year and if weather permits on Halloween.
What you need to know:
1. For hygiene reasons you need to wear something under the helmets provided, so bring a buff, or cash to buy one from the office. Alternatively you will be asked to wear a very unattractive hair net.
2. At the drop off point at the top of the gorge, everyone gets a pair of leather gloves. These protect your hands as you use your strong hand to slow yoursef down on the line. That info had me very nervous on my first tour, but its really pretty simple and nothing to worry about.
3. Make sure you listen to the guides carefully, they are experienced and are there for your safety.
4. If you are interested in the night canopy tour, follow their social media accounts, as they announce the event a month prior.
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