This past weekend we took the girls Zip-Lining in Parys. Parys is a small town on the banks of the Vaal River in the Northern Free State, South Africa. Parys has a huge variety of activities to offer, and the fact that it is only an hour’s drive from Johannesburg makes it an idea getaway option for families, friends, adventure seekers, corporate team building, and just about everyone.
We actually live about an hour and a half from Parys in Central Free State, and have been there a few times, but this time we specifically booked to take the girls zip-lining.
In August last year we took them on a canopy zip-lining expedition in the Drakensberg. They had a specific ‘run’ for little kids and both my girls LOVED it! Dad and the girls all did it but I abstained to be chief photographer and bag holder. (I refer back to My Goals for 2017 – point no. 1)
My eldest is fearless, to the point that as her mother I experience a constant mix of emotions going from immensely proud to absolutely terrified! She is 5&1/2 years old!
My youngest is determined! She wants to do everything her big sister does! God forbid the eldest tells her to jump off a bridge! Seriously! I won’t get into that now, it’s a blog for another day! She is 3&1/2 years old.
Now, in my limited experience, canopy zip-lining is from tree platform to tree platform. This wasn’t that.
This was a ‘run’ of 600 meters, from one mountain platform to another and back again, and you reach speeds of around 60km/h depending on your weight.
My youngest was the youngest and smallest they’ve ever had do it at their facility. She is almost exactly 1 meter tall – the minimum requirement was 95cms. Kids under a certain weight have to do it tandem with an adult, a category both of them fell into thank goodness. I didn’t really think too much about this, I was just relieved that they would each be strapped to one of their parents. In hindsight I realize that it is because they are far too lightweight for the momentum to carry them all the way to the other end, and too young to pull themselves to the end from wherever they stop.
We were lifted most of the way to the top of the mountain on the back of the land cruiser, kitted out with benches for the zippers to sit. It’s a really twisty steep hill and you end up clinging on for dear life while the old cruiser grunts and groans to the top.
The guides strap you in, then in our case strap the kids on top of us. There are two runs so they set two people up at a time, only one of which is allowed a tandem zip per pair. You are held in place by a clip and once they release that clip you start zipping across the valley below you at a rate of knots! As I said above, the average speed you reach is about 60km/hr. It was drizzling a bit but other than a few drops of rain in your eyes, it really made no difference.
When you get to the other end you hike up again to reach the other platform and are presented with a bottle of water each. Such a small little thing but they number all the bottles so that if you don’t finish it, the guide packs them all back up in his backpack and takes them back over to the other side for you to have when you get there. As long as you remember your number, the bottle is yours.
After a brief break and a photo session, and you zip back to the other side.
A few “did you know” facts:
- The heavier you are, the faster you zip. During the safety speech they kept staring at my husband as the heaviest in the group and trying to subtly enforce the fact that he might have to assist them by braking himself as the momentum would be very strong. He weighed 110kg.
- The lighter you are, the slower you sip and if you are too light you may end up short if the platform and the guides will have to throw you a ropes to you for you to catch so they can assist in reeling you in.
- It really doesn’t matter if it’s raining, if you booked, you zip.
- There is a short, steep, rough, hike up the mountain. A bit tough for the youngest so dad had to carry her up. “Dad is best”! Dad is lucky he didn’t have to carry mom too!
- Being fit is not a requirement.
It really was a great, fun experience, and so much less scary than I had imagined. Never once did I feel like the girls were in danger, or us for that matter. The team were very professional (and ridiculously fit).
Company: Koepal Mega Zip Adventures
Total cost: R1260 (adults R350, kids R280).
Here is the link to their website: http://www.koepelmegazip.co.za/
As an added bonus to the experience, once you have finished zipping, I would highly recommend that you carry on further down the dirt road that took you to Koepel, about an extra 10kms or so and you will come across an absolute gem! The town is called Venterskroon.
There is nothing there except what appears to be an old post office behind a white washed wall. Behind that wall it’s like walking into an oasis in the desert, except it’s a lunch spot, pub, feast for the eyes waterhole in the mountains.
The eatery is one of maybe three buildings in the town, adorned in flags from all over the world. It boasts a simple (it’s this or that today) but mouthwatering menu to choose from, a pool, resident naughty ponies to harass the guests and sarcastic dry sayings and quotes which are literally written on the walls with a marker but patrons.
My favourite quote was the one written on the front entrance wall:
“Unaccompanied children will be given an espresso and a kitten!”
Needless to say we hung on to our precious angels for dear life!
I just loved everything about it. It is well worth a drive out there.
For more information about Parys, click here.
Disclaimer: This is not a sponsored post.
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