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

2017-08-04 06:30 - Kavitha Pillay
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Graskop Gorge in Mpumalanga.

Cape Town - Excitement is in the air as Graskop Gorge Lift Company started work on the glass elevator project - a first for Africa - that’s set to boost tourism in Mpumalanga.

The glass elevator that "will cost in excess of R40 million to construct", is situated near the Panorama Route.

Graskop Gorge Lift Company, that is heading the operation, says that people travelling on the R533 between Graskop and Hazyview in Mpumalanga can already see the machinery and construction in place, adjacent to the Graskop Big Swing.

“Work is going full steam ahead on a project that will add to the tourism offering of Graskop,” says Graskop Gorge Lift Company, adding that the lift should be open by December 2017.

ALSO SEE: R84m Glass Bridge: Readers respond to proposed Blyde River Canyon attraction

The elevator will allow tourists improved access to Graskop Gorge and waterfall, all while providing scenic views and giving visitors an adrenaline-fuelled experience. Just imagine being able to see and move down a 51m-high gorge in a transparent lift …

“The development includes a glass lift that will transport guests down into the gorge where they can experience the forest via a 500m elevated boardwalk and interpretation stations,” says Graskop Gorge Lift Company.

Once the 51m high glass elevator is complete, visitors will be able to explore the floor of the forest after enjoying a one-of-a-kind trip from the cliff top to the bottom of the gorge.

According to the construction company, at the bottom of the ravine is an “elevated forest walkway complete with suspension bridges over the river”. The Graskop Gorge Adventure Centre will also offer shops, restaurants and a bar.

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

So far, Quality Steel has completed 28m of the 60m shaft and the steel work is expected to be completed by the middle of August when the lift installation will commence, says the construction company.

Graskop Gorge Lift Company adds that the rugged terrain “forced out-of-the-box thinking that has resulted in some innovative solutions to the challenges presented by the rocky ground and the sheer drop of the gorge”.  We’re excited to experience the outcome!

Here’s what to expect once the lift is complete:

(Source: Graskop Gorge Lift Company/ Facebook)

Blyde River Canyon, Bourke's Luck Potholes, God's Window and the Sabie Waterfalls are all within driving distance of Graskop, so be sure to make a stop at these marvels of nature right here on our doorstep.

R84 million glass walkway

The department of tourism in Mpumalanga also plans on building an R84 million cantilevered glass walkway at Blyde River Canyon's God's Window as part of a tourist attraction that will reward visitors with a 360° view of breathtaking scenery. This will be at the world’s third-biggest river canyon.

SEE: Panorama Route: Long weekend relaxing at 'the place where the sun rises'

While some citizens have shown concerns, with others even questioning the project as a whole, many South Africans are giving it the thumbs up.

Traveller24 did a survey to find out what readers thought about the project. While 7 641 votes were cast in favour of the attraction saying it would be a boost for tourism in the area, 4 508 votes raised the concern that this project would be a disturbance to nature, and a total of 1 976 votes were unsure about the attraction being built there, but hopeful that it would create much-needed jobs.

In the meantime, tourists and locals can still visit the natural view of God's Window, the historic gold mining town of Pilgrim’s Rest, Bourke’s Luck Potholes, the Three Rondavels and Mac Mac Falls.