On my last day in South Africa, Frixion Adventures took me canyoning on an adrenaline filled adventure to see a different side of Cape Town.
Canyoning or kloofing as it’s known in South Africa is an adventure sport where you abseil down canyons and steep gullies or valleys to explore beautiful waterways and waterfalls rarely accessible by road or foot.
My mate Jon has been talking about taking me canyoning for years so it seemed like the perfect opportunity to try it out for the first time while we were travelling together in South Africa. Driving about 80km outside of Cape Town to the mountain ranges, we met up with Brett and Devon, our friendly and knowledgeable guides from Frixion Adventures. We followed them to the top of a mountain on a private estate where we started the morning before canyoning down Smalblaar.
Over coffee and sticky buns they explained what the day would entail and we made rolls with chicken, ham, cheese and salad packed into dry bags to eat by the river at our leisure. Then it was time to put on wetsuits, base layers, jackets to keep us warm and dry. Plus harnesses to keep us safe and allow us to abseil down the waterfalls.
Being technically winter still here in South Africa there aren’t huge numbers of people going through the canyons at the moment, even though the water levels are at their best. I think the chilly seven degree water temperature acts as a bit of a deterrent! It was certainly fresh when you got wet that’s for sure. Although our guides did a fantastic job of keeping us warm and relatively dry with plenty of dry base layers to change into if (and when) we got too wet and cold.
Jon took the plunge and did a jump off the 15m high rocks while I was happy to scramble down the side and watch! One of the other canyons that Frixion Adventures take adventurers through is called suicide, because of all the compulsory jumps you have to do. While there are the usual waterfalls to abseil down, there are a number of places where the only safe way down is to jump. Only experienced jumpers can take that route and you must be able to jump a minimum 15m! Maybe another day..
Our route didn’t have any compulsory jumps thankfully (I was trying to stay as dry as possible), but there were plenty of nerve wracking moments for me still. Standing on the top of a fast moving waterfall before getting clipped in I had visions of myself slipping and tumbling right off the edge! What would Jon tell my parents?!!
Luckily that didn’t happen and we safely abseiled down various waterfalls. I’ve not abseiled since a child so was a bit slow and hesitant initially but my confidence increased over the day, even managing a few (small) abseiling jumps or pushes on the last waterfall which was straight down. Naturally, abseiling down a waterfall pretty much guarantees that at some point you are going to get wet. Particularly if you slip and fall in. That happened to me a few times but that’s part of the fun, a shock of ice cold water to the face! Jon had control of the GoPro and as you can see in the little video above, I seem pretty good at slipping over!
While waiting for our guides to set up the next abseil we sat in the sun like lizards warming our hands on hot cups of lucazade. In the summer months when it’s warmer it’s all about getting wet and spending as much time as possible jumping and playing in the water, while in winter it’s probably more about staying dry and keeping out of it!
I had a great time canyoning, definitely something I would do again. If you’re in South Africa and looking to go canyoning in the Cape Town region, I would also totally recommend having Frixion Adventures as your guides.
Photography credit to Brett at Frixion Adventures with GoPro videography by Jonathon Lawrence.