It is only recently that abseiling, also called rappelling, has become a sport in its own right. It used to be the way climbers got off cliffs, cavers descended into the deep unknown of the world and military task-forces used for all kinds of maneuvers. Now it's a sport as well.
It's basically taking the easiest part (and for most people the most fun part) of rock climbing and doing only that, skipping the ascent and just going down!
See also Encounter Magazine's comprehensive guide on abseiling in South Africa.
Abseiling has become very commercialized, so to the normal consumer it is stripped down to something very simple, however there is a lot more to abseiling than just lowering yourself safely down a rope. You wear a climbing harness, and are clipped onto the rope with one of many descending devices, with some high-tech name.
You then lower yourself down the cliff or obstacle which you are descending by walking backwards, supported by the rope, enjoying the scenery (or wishing you were already at the bottom for some people).
Most commercial abseils are belayed, which means that basically no matter what, nothing bad can really happen and you can always be lowered by the team-leader.Rapp jumping:
This is something for the more adventurous type - it is abseiling back-to-front. Instead of the ropes being attached at your stomach, it's attached at your back, so you go down the cliff facing down. It is like walking (or running if you like) down a cliff, and "don't look down" is not an option, which makes the rush much bigger. Western Cape:
The main abseil attraction in South Africa is without a doubt "The long drop", the second highest commercial abseil in the world, off one of Table Mountain's cliffs. A scary 112m drop with a beautiful view of the city of Cape Town and the ocean.
On South Africa's most famous and dramatic coastal drives is "The Peak"- extreme abseil. You will "hang out" over crashing waves in "freefall abseiling", and attempt face first "Rap Jumping".
Kamikaze Canyon offers you a hike into this magnificent river gorge, attempt "kloofing" - cliff jumps into rock pools, and the exhilarating thunderfalls 60 metre abseil.
Abseil Africa at Tel +27 (0) 21 424 4760 for details.
In the Garden Route you could abseil down a pretty waterfall on the beautiful Kaaimans River near Wilderness. There are also three abseil routes on the spectacular western head at Knysna, further up the Cape east coast, including a really high, very exposed site, hanging 55m over the crashing waves.KwaZulu-Natal:
Karkloof Nature Reserve waterfall has a fair 54m abseil and at Howick Falls there is a challenging 107m drop.Gauteng:
In Johannesburg (As well as Durban in KwaZulu-Natal) you can abseil or rapp jump off skyscrapers. Then there is also the Magaliesberg Crocodile River abseil of 45m at Hartbeespoort DamMpumalanga:
Compared to the previous heights, 27m doesn't seem so high, until you stand at the top of it! Try the Hazyview, Makuhlu, 27m abseil. Contact Induna Adventures at Tel: 013 737 8308 or Cell: 082 463 2334