GRASKOP GORGE EXPLORES THE BEAUT (AND THRILL) OF MPUMALANGA'S INDIGENOUS NATURE
The Insider SA journey down into the indigenous forest of Graskop Gorge as we learn more about our natural flora and fauna, enjoy the expansive views of a panoramic lift, and freefall into the wonders of nature.
Calling all thrill seekers, adrenaline junkies, and nature lovers! The Insider SA took a trip to Graskop Gorge. Situated on Mpumalanga’s scenic Panoramic Route, Graskop Gorge Lift Co is home to an indigenous Afromontane forest, with a pioneering gorge lift to soak it all in. Afterwards, get your kick of adrenaline by doing the Big Swing with a 70 metre freefall.
The Insider SA was given a special tour by professional rugby player, Jeandré Rudolph who names Graskop Gorge, “One of my favourite places in Mpumalanga”. Jeandré has been playing for the Pumas for the past three years after his legendary stint as captain of the North-West University Varsity Cup team. Jeandré frequently visits Graskop Gorge and shares, “There’s not a lot of places in the world where you can drive an hour and get out of town and come to places like this. There’s so much to do here”.
The first thing on our to-do list at Graskop was to enjoy their viewing lift that descends 51m down into the indigenous forest below. Director of the Graskop Gorge Lift Co., Oupa Pilane, describes the mechanical wonder as “one of the most amazing works of engineering”. The lift is made of 240 tons of concrete at its foundation and holds 88 tons of steel in the shaft. The design of the lift allows you to soak in the full panoramic view of the gorge and discover rock formations as old as 2.4 billion years.
As you descend, you’ll find the words “Into the forest I go, to feed my mind, and find my soul” in front of you. These ring true as the overwhelming beauty of the indigenous nature envelops you.
Under the vivid green canopy of trees lies a lush wonderland filled with a spectacular variety of plants, animals, insects and birds. Afromontane forests, such as the one at Graskop Gorge, are rare and declining. Expert in conservation and environmental education, Karl Lane shares some of the statistics. “Between 0,1% and 0,2% of our land area is forest, and it has declined by about 40% since 1800. Therefore, it’s is one of the most precious”.
Within the forest, you’ll find both natural wonders and artistic developments by local artists to celebrate and educate travellers about the flora and fauna you may discover nestled in its foliage. An extensive network of elevated walkways and suspension bridges lead you through the forest and across the streams. The trail takes about an hour to complete.
After the trail, Jeandré takes The Insider along the timber walkway to the top of the gorge to show off the Big Swing. While it may have been too high for him, the professionals show us how it’s done and take the plunge.
It’s no wonder Jeandré calls this a “must have experience”. As you fall from one of the highest swing in the world, only beautiful nature surrounds you. The uniqueness of the fall is explained by Big Swing Manager, Doctor Mnisi saying, “It’s a combination of a free fall and a swing. With the drop, you free fall for 68m in 3 seconds”. It’s safe to say that this leap of faith is only for the brave of heart.
There truly is nothing quite like this in the world! Yet, here it is, right on our doorsteps so that South Africans can experience these adventures within our own, beloved country.