Skyways; Gecko Lodge rainforest canopy “foofy slide”
Yesterday , we got up early and had booked at the skyways treetop ride above the rainforest canopy. It is run from the Gecko Lodge on the Sabie Road in Hazyview, and take groups of up to 8 up to the top of hill by Land Rover and then you chicane down or what we call in South Africa a “Foofy Slide”. I don’t know how it got that name, but it is quite ubiquitous here. The forest is lush and thickly wooded with indigenous trees, which is quite rare for the area, as SAPPI ((South African Paper Product Incorporated) guess) has planted thin pine almost everwhere for use in the countries toilet paper etc.
It is about 3.5 Kilometers down to the bottom and consists of 9 cable runs, the longest being 250 meters, the people going ahead of you become little specks as they whizz down. Talulah (6 1/2) was fearless and after a few runs strapped in tandem with the guide, she was ready to go by herself and completed the rest on her own. Most of the runs end in treetop platforms which are bolted into the huge trunks with steralized screws. The bolt holes in the Matumi (spelling?) trees ooze inky black sap, which I got all over my hands and t-shirt. Time will tell if it ever comes off. These trees are also emblazoned with parasitic orchids, which at present are watered daily due to the lack of rain.
The equipment looks new and resembles absailing gear, save for a stainless steel pulley wheel thing, that clips over the cable. You are given heavy gloves to slow yourself down on the runs which don’t have a stopper at the end. I got used to the stopper and forgot to brake on one of the runs, the guide yelled to remind me at the last minute before I slammed into him. It’s quite an art to keep yourself going straight without twisting, your back arm on the cable is there as a brake and to prevent you from swiveling, but most times I found myself going backwards.
The only real danger being putting your hand on the cable in front of the pully, which could then suck in your glove or crush your hand when you reach the stopper. The guides did not use the stopper at all, braking with just thier hand and also had no problem going in a straight line without touching on the cable.
The guides were very freindly and knew what they were up to, at no point did I think I was going to die, which is always welcome in the morning. The other revelers were nice and gave me some good tips on other local white knuckle adventures, quad biking, river rafting etc. If you mention you read about it on southafricablog.com they will extend a 10% discount.