Flying High @ Tsitsikamma Treetop Canopy Tour

A spontaneous decision came about when brainstorming: What shall we do on this overcast day in the Garden Route? Treetop Canopy Tour, being an all weather fun activity, leapt to mind!

After a call for confirmation (pre-booking of this all-year-in-demand attraction is essential), Tersius & I were on our merry way to an adventure like no other.

An easy hour’s drive from Plettenberg Bay, The Canopy Tour Center can be found in the Stormsriver Village. Better know as (possibly) the main outdoor adventure hub of the Garden Route, this bountiful yet quaint village easily warrants a night or two stay.

A warm welcome at reception followed by an introduction to & briefing from our fun(ny) guide Loyiso, afterwards getting kitted out with all relevant safety gear (including full body harness, pulleys and climbing equipment), we were finally prepped and ready to do this thing! Up on the open-air truck and onwards, to the point of no return: Platform 1 of 10!

OVERVIEW: The Tsitsikamma Canopy Tour is a unique eco-wilderness adventure that takes place in the magnificent Tsitsikamma indigenous rainforest. The first of its kind in Africa, it involves traversing from one platform to another along a steel cable suspended up to 30 meters above the forest floor. Most platforms are located in giant Outeniqua Yellowwood trees and the scenery and bird life is spectacular. Professional guides provide interesting facts about the forest ecology during the 2½ to 3 hour tour.

Time to monkey around!!! After another safety briefing: “Always remember Rule #1: Keep your eyes open! Rule #2: (Oops…I forgot! Don’t tell him :p) And Rule # 3: Close your legs!” we set off on our first glide. I felt safe & secure, free as a bird, whilst skimming the treetops, filling my lungs with crisp fresh air and eyes with a wonder of our world. Exhilarating bliss!

The first 2 ‘slides’ provide a great introduction to the experience, being short and reasonably paced. Every slide is different, adding to the ‘what’s next’ tummy rumble, and as you go along, the length and speed increase, as does the adrenaline. Slide 3 provides a more thrilling experience, with the ultimate 100 meter long ‘Mother’ being a favorite. Two guides accompany every tour, one leading the way and the other backing it up.

The aforementioned was greatly appreciated when I got stuck and Loyiso came gliding to my rescue…thanks dude! This was due to the fact that you’re in control of your own speed. With one hand BEHIND the pulley (Oh yes, that’s Rule #2!), pushing down a bit harder means a slower ride whilst letting it just slide along allows for a ‘full speed ahead’ joyride. During this particular glide I wanted to slow down to truly take the beauty of it all in. Ahhh hemm….needless to say, I took it a tad too slow :p

A brand new world literally unfolds beneath, around and above you, as you glide on a steel cable from one tree platform to another.  This magnificent indigenous forest is one of a kind, protected by the State, home to century’s old trees such as Yellowwood, Stinkwood, Hard Pear, Ironwood, Kamassi and many others. All guides are trained and extremely knowledgeable, sharing with their guests interesting facts about these trees, birds (the Knysna Loerie and elusive Narina Trogon are often sighted) and other forest creatures, both big and small.

DID YOU KNOW: South Africa’s National Tree is a Real Yellowwood.

It is with heartfelt appreciation that we learnt that no trees are harmed in the operation of this activity. No nails are used, no drilling…just intelligent eco-friendly design and construction. We love this!

Nearing the end, set deep in the heart of the forest, the platforms provide 360 degree views. A sense of: I could just stay up here all day and…muse… fills ones soul. I took a moment to breathe it all in…and all out.

A brief walk up the hill, onto the truck and back to the center. It was evident who had just returned from the treetops: Big smiles from both the young and the old, sharing their experiences and exhilaration. Clearly The Canopy Tour has the same effect on us all!

A complimentary selection of sandwiches (with salad or chips) plus refreshments is offered in the communal dining hall, during which time you can watch the video footage and photos the accompanying guide captured during a portion of your trip. A nice souvenir to take home to share with family & friends.

We’d like to thank Tsitsikamma Canopy Tours for providing this amazing experience for all to embrace and enjoy, and for all the selfless work they do to uplift their local community. (**See below)  Also, of course, to our guides and camera man. You guys rocked!!

Words barely do describe Tsitsikamma Treetop Canopy Tour. It’s something both thrilling and majestic you just have to experience. Book your Ultimate High Now at info@hellogardenroute.co.za

For more photos, have a look at our Facebook Album

BIT OF HISTORY: An enthusiastic civil engineer, who constructed a similar canopy tour in Costa Rica, approached the owner, Ashley, with his idea. Concept to completion took 14 ½ months and was well worth it! This concept of guiding people through the upper canopy of a rainforest actually originated in Costa Rica, where adventurous biologists devised new methods for accessing the forest canopy in order to conduct research on the undiscovered ecosystem. The idea soon developed into a breathtaking form of eco-tourism which allowed people to enter and experience a previously inaccessible natural environment.

SAFETY: Construction of this Canopy Tour has been done in accordance with strict civil engineering standards. Every day, the tree platforms and cables are checked, as well as the safety equipment/gear. Your safety is their top priority!

**GIVING BACK: Ashley’s vision to uplift, educate and empower his local community was realized when embarking on this new venture. Employing locals, they have trained in excess of 800 Adventure Guides since 1998. They remain a major contributor to training in the Eco Adventure Industry.

Not only do they care for their people but also for the animals. Other community projects they’re involved with include:

  1. Training and Development of Community Members.
  2. School Feeding Scheme.
  3. Animal Welfare and Education.
  4. SMME Development.
  5. HIV Aids education and awareness.
  6. Environmental Education.

To this day, Tsitsikamma Canopy Tours is one of the only Fair Trade in Tourism South Africa (FTTSA) compliant companies in the world (with a rigid audit done every 2nd year). The following principles are adhered to:

  • Fair Share – Fair distribution of the benefits the company makes.
  • Respect – For religion, sex and other beliefs.
  • Democracy – All involved in decision making which affects them.
  • Transparency – Company’s policies and financials are open to employees.
  • Reliability – Services rendered is reliable and of high standard.
  • Sustainability – Must be able to survive in the long term as a business.

By electing to stay at or use the services of an FTTSA-certified establishment, you are assured that your travel benefits local communities and economies, and that the business is operated ethically and in a socially and environmentally responsible manner.

Tsitsikamma Canopy Tours truly cares… just another reason HelloGardenRoute loves them and will continue supporting them!

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