How does a 68m freefall at 180km per hour in under 3 seconds on one of the world’s highest cable gorge swings sound like to you? If you’re an adrenaline junkie like me, you wouldn’t blink twice.
It all happened when a group of friends from different media houses were hosted on a four-day roadtrip by South African Tourism from Johannesburg (Gauteng) to Mpumalanga to launch the Tourism Month celebrated every year in September. We were divided into three groups: adventure, scenic beauty and wildlife, and culture and heritage, and scheduled to visit different parts of Mpumalanga (small and big towns) to experience the beauty the province has to offer. I was in the second group, so game parks and beautiful scenic routes of Mpumalanga were on the agenda even though my adrenaline-fuelled spirit was torn between groups. Most of our activities included getting in touch with nature and, surprisingly enough, they slotted a few advetures into our itinerary.
Mpumalanga’s Scenic Beauty and Wildlife
We visited the Barberton Makhonjwa Geotrail, a 38km drive exploration that runs up the scenic Bulembu pass to Swaziland to learn about the rock formations, some of which date back as far as 3.57 billion years. We then proceeded to Nkambeni Safari Camp in Kruger National Park through Numbi Gate, where we were housed in luxurious tents for the night before enjoying a game drive the following day. It’s important to note that these places are far apart from each other, so you’d have to make sure your itinerary allows you to make it to your next activity in time. Leaving Numbi Gate, we headed to the biggest tourist attraction along the Panorama Route: the Blyde River Canyon Nature Reserve. Little did we know our jaws would drop even further when we visited Lisbon Falls, Three Rondawels, God’s Window and Bourke’s Luck Potholes! The humbling experience could only be outdone by something equally spectacular – the The Big Swing!
The Big Swing in the scenic town of Graskop near Sabie is heaven for those who enjoy testing fate. Few things can compare to launching yourself 68 metres down into gorge and being met with magnificent mountain views on your way up! This is not for the fainthearted and requires a little mental preparation or you might well chicken out last in the minute. Close your eyes and trust a rope to save your life? Seriously? Some didn’t, while others opted to fly across the gorge on a 135m high-wire zip-line 130m above ‘ground zero’. And some of us did both! I screamed like a frightened child on my way down, but seeing the waterfalls and the surroundng landscape my “Argh!” was quickly replaced by an “Aah!” Upon being unharnessed, I realised I hadn’t signed up for the 442 stairs through the gorge, but what goes down must go back up! This provided a good opportunity to take in the scenery and atypical bird and plant life.
This is 1 of e best magical things that I’ve experienced throughout this #WeDoTourism. I say magic because it I felt scared, excited, thrilled, a bit sad I even cried but by e time I landed e guy said it’s tears of joy & just fucking liberating! I tried negotiating my way out when I was about to swing but that man had none of it…he JUST LET GO of e Rope while saying “it’s ok you’re scared it’s normal but you’ll be fine”…then DOWN 135 meters I went 🙌🏾🙌🏾🙌🏾🙌🏾 #DiscoverMpumalanga #WeDoTourism #IDoTourism #LisbonFalls >> #BlydeRiverCanyon #DrieRondavels #TheBigSwing #ShanganaVillage #BunjeeJumping #BigSwing #tandemjump
After such an exhilerating day and exhausting climb, I couldn’t wait for a night at Protea Hotel in Hazyview, where I relived the day again and again with new friends. On the last day, we had a brief edutorial about the Shangaan people at Shangana Cultural Village before heading to Sabie River Adventures for river rafting (like a bunch of amateurs) and enjoying a good Summerfields’ Kitchen send-off back to Johannesburg.
To find out more, visit Mpumalanga.
Images: Instagram and YouTube