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AAbseiling is an activity offered by adventure operators across South Africa, whether you’re a novice or an experienced rope jockey. 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.
The world’s highest commercial abseil is located on top of Table Mountain in Cape Town, Western Cape province. Adventurers descend 112m in what must be the most scenic commercial abseiling location 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 flat peak or catch the cable car up. Before starting the decent, participants will have time to appreciate panoramic views of the Cape Town city bowl, the waterfront, the Atlantic Ocean and the towns beyond the Mother City.
In Gauteng, 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 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 Oribi Gorge and Shongweni Dam – and for some big thrills, try the outfits located in the mighty Drakensberg Mountains.
TTravel tips & Planning info
Who to contact
Downhill Adventures, Cape Town
Phone: +27 (0)21 422 0388
Abseil Africa, Cape Town
Phone: +27 (0)72 065 1520
Orlando Towers, Soweto
Tel: +27 (0)71 674 4343
How to get here
Consult with your chosen tour operator to see if they offer 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 – so trying to abseil in Western Cape from April to September, the wet, windy season, may prove disappointing.
What will it cost?
Costs for an abseiling experience vary, depending on the location and length of abseil. An abseil down Table Mountain for example, cost R995 in May 2019, 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. Sunscreen is always advisable in the South African outdoors, even on cool, cloudy days.
A good windbreaker is an item of clothing worth buying for this adventure.