WATCH: New gorge lift thrills thousands in Graskop + SA’s new attractions to check out

2018-02-14 12:30 - Kavitha Pillay
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Graskop Gorge Lift. (Photo: Twitter)

Cape Town –  The new Graskop Gorge Lift is taking tourism in Mpumalanga to new heights since its opening at the end of December 2017.

This man-made marvel is built amid the immense natural beauty in the Graskop area of the province’s Panorama Route. It gives visitors a chance to view the stunning landscape from a breathtaking height, as well as immerse themselves into the depths of the gorge to experience the walkways and waterfalls that hide at the mountains’ base.

Built by Graskop Gorge Lift Company, the centre which is said to be Africa’s first viewing lift, offers spectacular views from the deck and a restaurant to enjoy meals and drinks.

ALSO SEE: WATCH: New R40m glass lift gets underway in exciting new Mpumalanga tourism project

According to Graskop Gorge Lift Company, the lift which started operating on 30 December 2017 has since been used by over 15 831 visitors.

The lift is on the top of the cliff edge boasting views of the Motitsi waterfall, the forest below and into the Lowveld, which is merely four hours away from Johannesburg and Pretoria.

The centre at the top also has a contemporary African art gallery, colourful African fashion clothing shop, curio shop and community craft market. There is parking space for cars and busses.

“The lift, which travels 51m down the cliff face of the Graskop Gorge, was a feat of engineering skill to construct,” says Graskop Gorge Lift Company, adding that the Afromontane forest below is at the heart of this development.

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“In South Africa, Afromontane forests cover only 0.5% of the country’s land area. They occur in pockets along mountain ranges in well-watered areas, including ravines and south-facing slopes. Under the vivid green canopy of trees lies a lush wonderland filled with a spectacular variety of plants, animals, insects and birds,” says the Company.

There’s also a 600m circular trail through the forest, with elevated boardwalks, suspension bridges and interpretation boards to allow visitors an immersive experience in nature. “Special features add extra magic, like the mushroom and butterfly bar sections,” says Graskop Gorge Lift Company.

We’re pretty sure that this lift and its mind-blowing surroundings have you planning a trip to the Lowveld. Here are some other new attractions in Mzansi to add to your #LoveSA travel bucket-list.

SA’s new attractions to check out

Living Heritage: Campanile memorial re-opens after 2 year-long renovations

Tourists at Nelson Mandela Bay get to walk the 204 Campanile memorial steps, after 2 year-long renovations at the heritage landmark.

Port Elizabeth’s iconic Campanile memorial was officially relaunched and opened to the public in August 2017. It comes with breathtaking views, an art gallery and state-of-the-art bells - and the renovated 50m-tall building now boasts a top-notch lift topped with a viewing portal where visitors can enjoy 180-degree views of the harbour from the observation deck capsule.

Some of the upgrades and renovations to the 1820 Settler commemorative memorial include a complete overhaul of the interior of the building as well as the Campanile’s 17-ton bell carillon. 

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WATCH: Zeitz MOCAA Museum is a 'cathedral' for African art

A visit through the grand doors of Zeitz MOCAA Museum, in the restored trendy Silo District in Cape Town's V&A Waterfront proves to be a hair-raising experience for more reasons than one.

A geometric marvel in its own right, the museum structure is a seamless collaboration where architecture and art meet. Yet it is unique in combining the usual white walls we see in art galleries with the raw concrete of the silo. The building is simply nothing short of mind-blowing - even if you are not an art-lover or architecture fanatic. 

ALSO SEE: Zeitz MOCAA Opening: Highly anticipated, rather hair-raising!?

The museum’s design and the display of artwork influence each other, in a new creative paradigm - redefining the way we consume art. 

High walls, curvature of the silos, the way natural light enters parts of the building or installed lighting creates shadows, the spiraling staircase leading to corridors and galleries which curve and flow from one exhibit to the next, all add to the overall viewer experience, while giving artists a unique and interesting exhibition space to play with. 

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Climb like a spider with Sun City's newest attraction

A new rope adventure park is open at the Valley of the Waves in Sun City, made up of elevated obstacles, connected with high balancing beams, zip lines, spider nets and rope bridges.

This newest entertainment addition, that comes after the R1 billion upgrade at the resort last year, will offer an alternative to the water activities that the holiday destination is known for.

ALSO SEE: Sun City revamp: What R1 billion will change

Safety measures will be taken on the 45-minute course, with highly trained professionals at each entry and exit point, who will also make sure that all equipment is up to standard.

The adventure park will also be available for day visitors.

Langa Quarter: New tourism enterprise in Cape Town

Zoned for tourism, the Langa Quarter SEP (Social Enterprise Precinct) consists of a nucleus of 207 homes. These have been transformed into restaurants, galleries, informal bars (shebeens), craft stores and The Langa Quarter Homestay Hotel, a 40-bed cluster of Homestay accommodation in the residents’ homes, nine of which are listed on Airbnb. 

Past, Present, Future Tour forms part of experience which includes the exclusive Apartheid Pass Museum re-enactments, traditional foods, local art, entertainment and walking tours. Click here for the full story.

Coming soon…

Mpumalanga Glass Skywalk

A much-anticpated glass skywalk is set to open in Mpumalanga alongside the Graskop Gorge Lift, if all goes according to plan.

The R84 million cantilevered glass walkway is set to be at Blyde River Canyon - the world’s third-biggest river canyon - as part of a tourist attraction that will reward visitors with a 360° view of breathtaking scenery.

The project by Mpumalanga Tourism and Parks Agency (MTPA) has been ongoing since 2016, and will see the development of tourism at God’s Window and the Panorama Route. "The project is still work in progress," says Kholofelo Nkambule of MTPA.

ALSO SEE: View from God's window: SA to get its very own glass skywalk?

Nkambule told Traveller24 that after relevant stakeholder engagements, a comprehensive feasibility study will be compiled and submitted to the Department of Treasury by the end of June "to obtain the TA 1 approval based on the PPP Tourism Toolkit".

"The next step will be to compile the bid documents as part of the procurement process," says Nkambule, adding that the entire process will be "finalised by June 2018 if all preparations go according to plan".

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