SA tourism on a high Graskop Gorge Lift

Graskop Gorge Lift Co has created a tourism storm since opening at the end of December


The centre – which boasts Africa’s first viewing lift – opened its doors to the public in mid-December, even though the lift itself only started operating on December 30. People visited to see the breath-taking view from the deck and restaurant and to enjoy a meal or drink.

“News of the opening of South Africa’s newest and most innovative tourism development – situated on the Panorama Route in Mpumalanga – was received with excitement by the country’s social media consumers. The Graskop Gorge Lift Co’s best performing non-boosted Facebook post reached 11 781 people; it received 705 reactions, comments or shares, and 495 likes. The post was a photo of the lift, with the mountains in the background, and was posted on January 11,” says of the directors, Oupa Pilane.

A video of the development posted on December 30 – the day the lift became operational – was viewed 7 787 times.

From mid-December, when the restaurant and bar opened to the public, until the end of that month, there were 8 999 visitors to the site. Total visitor count for January was 15 831. 

On Christmas Day, 2 018 people visited the centre, and on its second day of operation, on December 31, 382 people bought tickets to ride the lift.

Whilst the lift, which travels 51m down the cliff face of the Graskop Gorge, was a feat of engineering skill to construct, it is the Afromontane forest below that is at the heart of this development.

In South Africa, Afromontane forests cover only 0.5% of the country's land area. They occur in pockets along mountain ranges in well-watered areas, including ravines and south-facing slopes. Under the vivid green canopy of trees lies a lush wonderland filled with a spectacular variety of plants, animals, insects and birds.

The Graskop Gorge Lift Co has constructed a 600m circular trail through the forest. Elevated boardwalks, suspension bridges and thoughtful interpretation boards allow visitors to become one with the environment. Special features add extra magic, like the mushroom and butterfly bar sections.

The centre, which is perched on the top of the cliff edge with spectacular views of the Motitsi waterfall, the forest below and long views down into the Lowveld, also has a contemporary African art gallery, colourful African fashion clothing shop, curio shop and community craft market. There is ample parking for cars and busses.

Under four hours from Johannesburg and Pretoria, the Lowveld makes for a wonderful, accessible getaway from city life.


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Issue 57


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