Wilderness is a place so full of enchanting forested areas and vistas that it’s easy to see why people enjoy coming here for sports activities not found in many other places. While bungee jumping, sky-diving and paragliding are also found here, zip-lining is something a bit harder to find, and well worth the effort. Here’s some things to learn about zip-lining so you can see if it suits your trip to Wilderness while you stay at Cinnamon House.
What is zip-lining?
A zip-line goes by a host of other names. Here in South Africa we like to call it the foefie slide, but it’s also called a Sypline (manufacturer name), zip-wire, aerial runway, death slide, aerial rope-slide and a flying fox. It is a very basic construction of a pulley situated on a cable that is mounted on a slope with the sole purpose of sending you flying as fast as is safe (and FUN) to your destination or landing pad. Gravity is all that feeds this line along with your own body weight, and if you have never had first-hand experience seeing the world from a zip-line, you absolutely must try it. It’s exhilarating and refreshing, it makes you feel alive and see the surroundings in a way you’ve never done before.
Zip-lines have been around for a very long time, and in places like China some areas only had a zip-line to get around in place of bridges across long expanses and hard to get to areas. H.G. Wells even writes about them in his book “Invisible Man” which was published in 1897, and the reference calls the line an inclined strong which appeared in a fair.
As early as 1739, rope-slider Robert Cadman who was also a steeplejack was practicing the sport. Zip lines were also used for aerial testing for planes which could not yet fly under their own power, for transporting food in remote areas like Australia’s notorious “Outback” who needed supplies across things like canyons, gullies and rivers. They’ve even been used in war efforts for the same purposes, but they didn’t gain renown as a pleasure activity until the 1900’s.
The Flying Fox
As mentioned earlier, there’s a version called a Flying Fox, which is usually used for children as it tends to be lower to the ground and with a much tamer incline so as to not need a way to stop at the end. These pulley systems often have a full harness and are supported by a normal rope instead of a cable wire, making them cheaper and easier to install and transport. These types of zip-lines tend to need a person to give a decent push to give gravity a chance to kick in, but the “car” can be returned to the top by a quick drag, since the line is usually much shorter than traditional zip-lines.
These are the ones you might think of when you hear of holiday destination offerings which feature extreme zip-lines with a fantastical view and speed. They are typically featured as an outdoor adventure activity, and due to the higher incline and speeds, as well as the longer distance, they will almost always ask for you to give permission and be aware of the potential dangers before you ride. A user is attached to the cable using a harness hooked up to a trolley, which keeps a person safely zipping along to the end point. Most of these will also require the use of a helmet for safety.
Things to know
Anyone considering going zip-lining should know what to expect at the stop since that is the second biggest reason for anxiety leading up to the event, the first being mild fears of heights. Mechanisms for stopping include:
- Friction that is created from the pulley against the cable
- Thick gloves of leather or textile that are built specifically for the purpose
- Mats and netting at the lower end of the line
- Springs, pulleys, counterweights, bungee cording, and other devices which slow the motion of the trolley until it stops
- Something known as a “capture block” which handlers or staff use to slow the trolley by use of a rope attached to a moving block which “captures” the trolley
- Hand brakes – some lines come with trolleys equipped with a hand brake as well
No one of these methods is best, and often there is a combination of them used to keep the riders safe. Zip-lines have a very high safety rating and the operators are stringently trained and the lines maintained. By 2012, there were 200 of these professional course zip-lines in operation in the USA alone, and another 13,000 estimated worldwide.
19 September 2015 saw the world’s highest line open at Letalnica bratov Gorisek upon a ski hill in Slovenia. The line is a staggering 566 meters long with a 202 meter vertical drop with an average 38% incline and a maximum of 58% incline.
Acrobranch is our local zip-lining business, offering 2 hours of treetop obstacles and zip lines. They have offerings for both adults and children. There are functions offered for birthdays, year-end events and even team building exercises. They’re located in the Timberlake Organic Village between Wilderness and Sedgefield.
For R100 you can take the kids to the Monkey Moves obstacle course, recommended for ages 4-8 with 17 obstacles. R200 has the Swinging Tarzan moderate course for ages ten and up with 29 obstacles, and R300 sends you to the High Flying course with a whopping 48 obstacles.
It is a cash free park, so be sure to book online, or bring your bank card to the park.
Acrobranch also has plenty to do afterward, with a race track for kids, a jungle gym with a massive slide, goats nearby who are super friendly, as well as a fantasy garden walk. There is no self-catering there but there are plenty of local restaurants that are very close by.
Cinnamon House is a perfect blend with Acrobranch, as you sleep surrounded by the very sorts of trees you are set to fly through on the zip-line, with the same birdsong surrounding you and the serenity of being in one of the best resorts on the Garden Route. Be sure to book early as rooms tend to book and fill quickly, as well as your zip-lining trip.