After overcoming many obstacles, including an inferno and a pandemic, the Knysna ziplines are finally open.
A project that would normally take eight months to complete took constructors more than three years, in the end.
SA Forest Adventures, the company awarded the tender to build the ziplines, was given the green light to start with construction in 2017, but the project was put on hold by the Knysna fires that year.
Subsequently work started in late 2018 and was completed just before the lockdown in March.
The Knysna ziplines, which were officially opened to the public on Friday, have the longest and highest zipline on the Garden Route.
The zipline is 2,2km in length and will start operating with four lines, to be increased to six lines by the end of the year.
SA Forest Adventures managing director Clinton Lerm said he was extremely excited the zipline was now operational.
“This is by far their biggest project to date,” Lerm said.
“The reason for that is not the time and the effort that we have put in here, but because we were extremely sensitive towards anything in the national park because this is our first introduction into a SANpark property.
“It took us eight months to build the ziplines. We have spent about R4 to R4,5m on the project so far.
“We were unfortunately hit by a number of factors, one of which was the lockdown itself. We were literally a couple of days from announcing our opening.
“We could have held back and opened in October or November when the international [tourism] comes back, but our company does not cater for internationals that much.
“We have 65% of the domestic market in our company across all the sites that we have.”
The ziplines are located at the Kranshoek gorge, with scenic views of the ocean, fynbos and indigenous forests.
The material and products used for the project were sourced locally, from the specially recycled plastic material used for the lines to the specialised zipline equipment.
Lerm said plastic cables greatly reduced noise pollution, which was an important aspect of operating within the tranquil environment of a national park.
SANPark manager for Knysna Megan Taplin said the zipline project was expected to double the number of local and international visitors to Knysna.
“We are really grateful that things can get going again so that we can start drawing back tourists to the area,” she said.
“Knysna really needs a boost at the moment and I think this whole product fits in so well with SANParks’ vision of sustainable national parks connecting to society.
“So we want to draw people in so that we can boost the local tourism market and employ people here.”