Tsitsikamma canopy tour

Tour guide Tarky, left, helps Iain get ready to fly.

Have you ever heard of a temperate rainforest before? I had heard of tropical rainforests like the Amazon but I didn’t know that there was such a thing as a temperate rainforest until I visited the Tsitsikamma National Forest in South Africa. A temperate rainforest is one that has mild temperatures and mild summers and mild winters.

Tsitsikamma National Forest is along the Garden Route on the southeastern coast of South Africa. The word “Tsitsikamma” means “the place with much water,” and it was named by the Khoi people. The Khoi people are part of the original people that have lived in South Africa for over 2,000 years.

The forest has many old yellowwood and stinkwood trees. Some of the trees are over 500 years old! The trunks on those trees are very, very wide! The stinkwood trees really do stink when you pull back the bark. South Africa is protecting the stinkwood trees because too many people made furniture out of the wood and too many people used it for medicine to help people fight diseases.

My mom and dad surprised my brother, sisters and me by taking us on a canopy tour zip-lining through the forest! At the canopy tour, we had to fill out paperwork, watch a safety video and then they put on a bunch of equipment on each of us. I couldn’t believe how heavy the equipment felt! Our tour guide’s name was Tarky and he told us about some of the animals that we might see as we walked to the forest. He told us that we might see chameleons, baboons, monkeys, snakes, birds and chameleons. He said if we were really, really lucky we might even see a leopard!

I felt a little nervous when we reached the first platform, but once I did the first run I was relaxed about it. Tarky encouraged us to look down as we zipped from tree to tree. When I looked down, I was amazed how high I was! Tarky told me I was almost 100 feet above the ground!

My family and I felt like we were flying like birds! There were 10 runs and the tour lasted about three hours. We didn’t see any leopards on the runs but we did see a few chameleons in the trees with us. Tarky told us that chameleons spend all day climbing up trees looking for food.

At the end of the tour, Tarky gave us a DVD of our canopy tour and pictures of all of us zip-lining. I couldn’t believe the tour lasted three hours! It was so much fun and it went by so quickly!

I feel so lucky to have been able to go zip-lining through the Tsitsikamma National Forest and am happy to have a video to remember our trip. Thanks mom and dad for our canopy tour and the next time we go on a holiday, I hope you can take us zip-lining again!


Iain Ray

Second-grader at Normandy living in South Africa for 7 months

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Volume 5, Issue 7, Posted 10:44 AM, 04.02.2013