Cape zipline through the snow

Posted on 6 July 2018

Following a cold, wet and snowy weekend, we got a call from Cape Canopy Tour to see if we’d be interested in going ziplining in the snow.

That’s something that you don’t get to do in Cape Town every day, so our online editor, Elise Kirsten went to join in on the fun.

It was cold but beautiful at the top of the Hottentots Holland Mountains. Image credit: Elise Kirsten

I’ve heard about tough farm boys running barefoot across the snow in the Karoo, but us soft city types are of a far more delicate disposition. It was no surprise then that all of the journalists, influencers and other media whatnots on the tour were kitting out very well.

“How many layers do you have on?” Skye Leask from Cape Canopy Tour asked Lauren Melnick aka @thewanderlustmovement.

“Three on the bottom,” she replied casually and her fleece-lined jacket certainly covered a few on top. I suddenly didn’t feel odd having a pair of tights under my jeans and four layers on top.

Beanies, gloves and buffs came out as we kitted up in harnesses and helmets. GoPros were adjusted and cameras secured and then it was off up the mountain, on an open truck similar to a game-viewing vehicle. For the second time, I heard this bumpy ride described as the “African massage,” I’m sure it gets a chuckle from the tourists.

After a 4×4 drive to the top of the mountain, we made our way through the patchy snow to the first platform. Image credit: Elise Kirsten

When we reached the top, we disembarked and walked a short distance through patchy and slippery snow and ice (I was thankful that I couldn’t find my running shoes in the dark that morning, as I tried not to disturb my slumbering husband, and so had opted for the more easily accessible hiking boots).

It didn’t take long before the guys started throwing snowballs at each other and this continued throughout the trip, with the aim (besides pure fun) soon becoming to try and pelt an incoming zipliners who couldn’t respond – not until they were safely on the snow-covered platform and it was the next poor bloke’s turn. Fortunately for most, moving objects make more tricky targets.

Is this Cape Town in winter or Switzerland in summer? It’s hard to tell.

Cape Canopy Tour’s 11 zip lines, 13 suspended platforms and the suspension bridge provide access to sections of the mountain that would be inaccessible to a regular hiker, giving you a unique vantage point from which to enjoy the spectacularly scenic gorges and peaks. The views over the chasm and of the waterfalls are magnificent all year around. It was no different today. I’ve done this zipline tour in December where the vibe is buoyant and touristy, as it is in many places around Cape Town at that time of year.

Winter has its own charm and even more so on this occasion, with a dusting of snow splattered on the sides of the mountain.

Patches of snow clung to the sides of the mountain as we zipped past. Image: Elise Kirsten

As I’d mentioned before, we were properly dressed for the occasion and for those who needed an extra jacket, Cape Canopy Tour has a rack of them, just in case.

Zipping down the lines I wasn’t cold, instead, I felt free looking at the snow, suspended above the Cape’s fynbos, interspersed with pink Proteas and waterfalls cascading down the rock face. It was a novel experience stopping on crunchy, ice-covered platforms, which made good ammunition for the snow-ball-lobbing crew.

Left: Walking out of the gorge at the end of the tour. Right: Platforms covered in snow made for an icy landing spot. Image credit: Elise Kirsten

Each line brought a new viewpoint, a new vista and all the while we were surrounded by snow covered peaks. It was only when we reached the second last platform that I began feeling a little chilly in the shade, but looking across the valley we noted that the last platform was in the sun. What a glorious incentive to hurtle towards it as fast as the forces of physics would allow.

Snow is a novelty in Cape Town and so like a child jumping in mud puddles, I jumped around making footprints. Image credit: Elise Kirsten

Like magnets, I’m sure we drew the Sun’s rays towards us with extra intensity, soaking the warmth as we took off our gloves and began the 1km walk out of the gorge.

As the truck trundled towards us to take us back down to the base, I mentally ticked off another good day of adventure in Cape Town.

Do it

Cost: R895 per person
Elgin Valley near Grabouw, one hour’s drive from Cape Town
Need to know: Although you’re unlikely to see snow for most of the year, it’s wise to dress very warmly in winter regardless. In the heat of summer, shorts and t-shirts will do. Keep your cameras and phones safe in a secure zipped up backpack when you are on the zip line. If items drop, they’ll be gone for good.
Contact: Cape Canopy Tour 021 3000 501

yoast-primary -
tcat - Adventures
tcat_slug - adventures
tcat2 -
tcat2_slug -
tcat_final -