Having a swinging time in the woods

Guy Rogers

LONG WAY DOWN: Acrobranch participants, from right, Nicholas, 11, and Ben Rogers, 14, make their way across the tricky swinging poles obstacle. PHOTOGRAPH: GUY ROGERS
LONG WAY DOWN: Acrobranch participants, from right, Nicholas, 11, and Ben Rogers, 14, make their way across the tricky swinging poles obstacle. PHOTOGRAPH: GUY ROGERS

A LITTLE fear is a great leveller. Halfway into the relatively benign Tree Hugger course at Acrobranch Wildwoods on the Garden Route we encountered the first zipline. The floor of the forest was a long way down (8m but it looked like more).

Edging around the handkerchief-size platform was challenging. Detaching from the safety cables, clipping onto the zipline (always leaving one safety clip on until last) and launching into space was …more challenging still.

Our group comprised a healthy cross-section of gender, race, shapes and sizes and none of us knew each other. But by the time we finished, we were all friends, helping each other along, united in our exhilaration.

While the others headed back to base, my boys and I pressed on, our tails up, with instructor Ashley Rankel, to tackle the more adventurous Swinging Tarzan course.

Rankel, 22, was an interesting character. Having grown up poor in the townships outside Worcester, it was either become a gangster like so many of his friends, he told me, or make something of himself.

He chose the high road and was playing competitive football when he got the offer to join the Acrobranch team at Timberlake, the organic food and adventure oasis outside Sedgefield. Now he not only has fun every day, he also earns enough to be able to help support his mom and sister, he told me with pride.

Swinging Tarzan includes a number of ziplines, including a big daddy of 75m where you sweep down through the pines.

Then there is the obstacle where you have to make your way, wobbling wildly and trying not to do the splits, between suspended poles (still high above the ground) supporting yourself at each step on small flanges cut into the base of each pole.

The best of all, however, is where you have to make like Tarzan, grasp a rope, swing out and. let go. The idea is to sail across the intervening space, seize the dangling net on the other side and climb up to the next platform. We swung and leaped and clambered like champions. You can take the humans out the jungle.

 

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