Abseiling is an activity offered by adventure operators across South Africa, whether you're a novice or an experienced campaigner. With a vast number of granite, basalt and sandstone cliff faces beckoning the extreme adventurer, there's oodles of space in which to hang out and have fun.

Did you know?

French mountaineer Jean Esteril Charlet completed the world's first abseil in 1876.

The world's highest commercial abseil is located on top of Table Mountain in Cape Town, South Africa. Adventurers descend 112m in what could rank among the most scenic commercial abseiling opportunities offered anywhere on the planet.

There are, however, many more abseiling locations around South Africa that are worth looking into, depending on where your travel itinerary takes you.

For those who haven't tried abseiling, it basically involves leaping backwards down a cliff face, braced by your feet, while safely harnessed to a rope. Qualified instructors are on hand to guide you through the process and ensure your safety at all times.

Adventurers who wish to conquer the Table Mountain abseil can either hike up Platteklip Gorge to the top of the famous mountain, or catch the cable car up. Before starting the decent, participants will have time to appreciate panoramic views of the Cape Town city centre, waterfront, the Atlantic Ocean and towns beyond the Mother City.

In Gauteng, the Orlando Towers in Soweto is probably the most famous abseiling venue. Here the descent is 100m, although the concave shape of the towers means adventurers are not in contact with the wall for the first 40m of their descent.

Orlando Towers is open for abseiling every Saturday morning, and anyone weighing between 35kg and 130kg is welcome to have a go. It is advisable to book this adventure at least 48 hours in advance to ensure availability.

Explorers along the Garden Route can look into abseiling activities in Knysna, as well as the Storms River Valley.

Hartbeespoort Dam in the North West province, a one-hour drive from Johannesburg, is also well known for its abseiling.

In KwaZulu-Natal, some of the better known commercial abseiling locations are Howick Falls and Shongweni Dam.

Travel tips & Planning info

Who to contact

Downhill Adventures
Phone: +27 (0)21 422 0388
Email: info@downhilladventures.co.za

Abseil Africa
Phone: +27 (0)21 424 4760
Email: info@abseilafrica.co.za

Orlando Towers
Soweto
Tel: +27 (0)71 674 4343
Email: info@orlandotowers.co.za

Go Trekking
Port Elizabeth
Tel: +27 82 731 4696
Email: info@govertical.co.za

How to get here

Consult with your chosen tour operator to see if it offers transport to the abseiling site.

Best time to visit

Abseiling is a year-round activity, although heavy wind and rain may result in cancellation for safety reasons.

What will it cost

An abseiling experience usually costs between R250 and R900, depending on the location and length of abseil. An abseil down Table Mountain for example, would cost around R650, excluding the cable-car ride.

Length of stay

Leave yourself at least three hours for an abseiling adventure. Check beforehand for more specific information, including prevailing weather.

What to pack

Your tour operator will provide all necessary equipment. You are advised to wear durable, outdoor clothing, tough hiking shoes and to be prepared for variable weather conditions.

Best buys

A good windbreaker is an item of clothing worth buying for this adventure.