I woke up on Monday morning with butterflies in my stomach. In a few hours, I was going to be on the road, travelling to Magoebasloof in Limpopo all by myself. I had been invited to Magoesbaskloof Adventure's Canopy Tour and it would be my first solo road trip. Picking up my rental car, I felt my nerves go into overdrive.
I hadn't driven in seven months and I was about to navigate the morning traffic of Randburg, Johannesburg.
Arriving at Magoebaskloof Canopy Tours
After a brief but brutal storm, multiple toll gates, having the life scared out of my by beeping e-Toll bridges and 400 kilometers later, I finally made it to the treetop paradise of Magoebaskloof. As I came up the mountain I couldn't believe my eyes. The typical flat Limpopo landscape suddenly transformed into a mountainous masterpiece.
It reminded me of all those Canada National Park Instagram pictures. All of a sudden I was surrounded by giant trees stretching out for as far as the eye could see. I found myself driving around a curvy mountain pass, that was beautiful as it was something out of that cult classic movie The Wrong Turn. I LOVED IT.
This is my element. My phone had lost signal. My radio went dead. All around me was just nature.
I eventually pulled into Magoesbaskloof Adventure's, just in time to check into my chalet before reception closed for the evening. As cheesy as it sounds, I had to mentally pinch myself at this point. I couldn't wrap my head around the idea that I was going to be staying in Limpopo for the next three days, surrounded by forest and in a chalet that looked like it had stepped straight out of my Pinterest feed.
And this was only day one. Tomorrow I'd be going on a canopy tour!
About The Magoebaskloof Area
Magoebaskloof lies between Polokwane and Tzaneen surrounded by lush plantations and forests. The mountains form part of the very North Eastern tip of the Drakensberg mountain range and the area itself is often called "The Land of Silver Mist." Or as I like to think of it, a beautiful place to film a home Blair Witch Project remake while enjoying Earth's natural wonders. The area gets its mist belt from the afro-montane forests and is a welcome oasis to the Limpopo bushveld.
Keep an eye out for the local wildlife that call these forests home such as the baboons, bushbuck, jackals and the endangered Cape parrot!
Ziplining Through The Forests And Over Waterfalls
Magoebaskloof Adventures has been around since 2005 and opened its 11 ziplining circuit in 2009. The canopy tour starts in the forests of George's Valley, an area known for its densely forested ravines and the Great Letaba River. We would be flying through the southern end of the gorge, an area with dramatic cliff falls and beautiful waterfalls that are largely inaccessible unless on an adventure tour. After a brief safety talk and putting on our gear, we started the hike to the first zip line station.
If you have been around on my blog for awhile, you will know that I have a few fears. Another one that we can add to the list is an occasional meltdown over heights. When faced with the prospect of being far from the ground, I usually get chicken shit and bail out.
Leading up to the canopy tour, I pictured myself screaming in pure terror and crying for my mother.
Thankfully, facing a few of my other fears this year seems to have given me an extra layer of bad ass. I went off the first platform without a single whimper, moment of hesitation or a flinch of "oh shit what the fuck have I just agreed to?"
Instead, I found myself on the next platform grinning ear to ear, eagerly waiting to tackle the next line. By the third line in, I was hooked. I had just flown over a waterfall with a 160-meter drop and it was exhilarating. The views from the mountain ledges were nothing short of amazing and flying over the forest floor and sparkling waters of the Groot Letaba river was just EPIC AS FUCK.
The 2.5 hours went by way too fast and before I knew it we were at the second last line of the circuit. This is the longest line, stretching an awesome 160 meters over the gorge and the only one where you get to run and jump off the platform. At the beginning of this year, the thought of doing that would have terrified me and moved me to tears. But when it was my turn, I felt excited and eager to fling myself off the side of a mountain. Who would have guessed that facing my fears of the ocean and going to war with Thailand's bugs would have made me less chicken shit?
Maybe one day I'll even work up the courage to go Kloofing.
Canopy Tour Information
- Price: R 550 includes lunch and snacks
- Age limit: 7 to 70 years old
- Duration: 2.5 hours
Hiking The Magoebasloof Red Trail
For my last day in Limpopo, I decided to hike the Red Trail that started a few meters from my chalet. I had just received my new Canon 700D camera a few days ago and wanted to practice shooting with my two new lenses.
This untouched trail forms part of the Woodbrush State Forest, the largest indigenous forest in the Limpopo Province. And when I say this trail is untouched - I mean it. I walked into countless spider webs face first during the 2 km hike. The trail takes you right down to the river edge and way up high on top of the mountain looking into the gorge below. It's a fairly easy hike that I felt completely safe doing by myself and only has a moderate incline towards the end.
During the hike, I found myself fascinated with the moss that was growing on the trees and even attempted to take my first macro photo of a spider before having second thoughts and running away.
But my favourite part of the hike had to be right towards the end when I discovered this post-apocalyptic storm drain. It looks like something out of my favourite game, Dead Island. Can't you just imagine zombies crawling out of here? Or survivors fleeing into its pit of darkness seeking shelter while attempting to hide their brains from the zombie hordes?
Yes. This place has brought out the horror film fanatic in me. But it doesn't mean Magoebaskloof is scary, I just have an overactive imagination and spend too much of my spare time watching The Walking Dead.
All in all, the Red Trail hike turned out to be a great way to spend an overcast morning in Magoebaskloof. I'd love to come back and do more of the hikes in the area, especially the Haenertsburg Grasslands. The grasslands are the most threatened vegetation type in Limpopo and are home to an amazing diversity of flora and fauna.
Thank you so much to Magoebaskloof Adventures for hosting me! The whole experience made me appreciate South Africa's diverse landscape even more and made me feel better about coming home early from Thailand!
Have you done any of the Canopy Tours in South Africa?
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Hey, I'm Lauren! I'm passionate about inspiring young South Africans to travel for less and sharing my experiences and how to navigate the endless visa paperwork along the way. When I'm not busy preparing for the inevitable zombie apocalypse, I'm having a travel fail somewhere and geeking out in countries all over the world. Connect with me on Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat!