Abseiling is the art of making a controlled descent down a rope. It was initially a skill used only by climbers to safely descend after a climb, or by fire fighters, special forces personnel and James Bond-type spies for all sorts of nefarious reasons. But it’s really fun and there are loads of commercial abseiling operators all over the country just waiting to lower you gently over the edge of some beautiful cliff.
You don’t need much in the way of skill, as the abseiling instructions are very specific and you will learn all that you need to know on the day. You do need a pretty good head for heights, as you can be very exposed out there, and it can be a tad scary. Most commercial abseils are in absolutely beautiful spots with awesome scenery – usually spectacular mountains, dramatic gorges, rugged sea cliffs jutting out over the crashing ocean or pretty waterfalls.
The act of abseiling is really easy. You wear a harness, helmet and gloves and – firmly attached to a strong climbing rope that is controlled by well trained guide – you walk backwards off the cliff or over the waterfall. Once you’re over the edge and safely horizontal, you can bounce off the rock face if you’re feeling confident. And there is usually a bit of an overhang so you get some time with no rock contact, just swinging around checking out the view. Sometimes you get wet, which is half the fun.
If that does not sound like a sufficient challenge, you can try rap jumping. This is a tad more extreme as, instead of walking backwards over the edge like you would for traditional abseiling, you go down face first. Yes, that means you have to look down, which is not a good idea if you’re a little bit nervous. For a really extreme version, you can run down cliffs face first. As rapp jumping is all about the experience not the scenery, there are a couple of urban rapp jumps down sky scrapers. Spiderman watch your back.
Abseiling can be dangerous if you practice it unsupervised, or if you do not have sufficient skill and experience. Abseiling can potentially result in environmental damage, so it will be prohibited in some areas. If you are interested in an abseiling adventure tour, Cape Town has some spectacular places to try this adrenalin pumping sport like Table Mountain.