A view from God’s Window
Faint-hearted tourists will just stay away. The adventurous ones, however, will be enthralled by the adrenaline-pumping stroll over a planned glass skywalk hanging from a cliff to get the perfect view of God’s Window in Mpumalanga. The current viewpoints at the popular tourist attraction are already dizzying to those who fear heights, and this skywalk, on which they will see 700m below their feet, will probably not be the best place for them.
God’s Window is deemed one of the most scenic points in Blyde River Canyon Nature Reserve, where plunging cliffs make for several spectacular spots. On a clear day one can see across the Kruger National Park to as far as the Lebombo Mountains on the border between South Africa and Mozambique.
This is where the Mpumalanga government plans to build an R84 million cantilevered glass walkway. Expected to be 5m wide, the walkway will protrude 12m from a cliff and hang in the air, providing daredevil tourists with the ideal place in the province to get their kicks.
However, it may not rival the horseshoe-shaped glass floor walkway in Chongqing, southwest China, which extends 26.67m from the edge of a cliff. Yuanduan, which means “at the end of the clouds”, is considered the longest cantilever bridge in the world, beating Arizona’s Grand Canyon Skywalk in the US by 5m.
The Mpumalanga skywalk will have a 700m drop, which is higher than the Grand Canyon Skywalk, which stands at between 150m and 280m, and the Zhangjiajie Glass Bridge, also in China, which is 260m at its highest point.
Tourists who dare to saunter across the planned skywalk will be rewarded with a 360° view of breathtaking scenery at the world’s third-biggest river canyon.
Xolani Mthethwa, Mpumalanga Tourism and Parks Agency head of tourism, said the parastatal had appointed a transaction adviser to kick-start the project and it had been registered with the treasury department.
“A comprehensive feasibility study which will include updated figures pertaining to financial model, future revenue, specifications of the project design and forecast of visitor numbers will soon be completed and will be submitted to Treasury by end of June 2017,” Mthethwa explained.
Thereafter, the process to appoint a company to build this tourism facility will begin. The project is expected to create 114 direct jobs and 77 indirect ones. Plans include a restaurant and a curio shop to be built on site.
Mthethwa said the appointed company would also be tasked
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The department believes that the skywalk will be an exciting addition to the many tourists attractions on offer in Mpumalanga’s Panorama Route, including the province’s cascading waterfalls and mountain gorges. Tourists often visit the historic gold mining town of Pilgrim’s Rest, Bourke’s Luck Potholes, the Three Rondavels and Mac Mac Falls.
The Grand Canyon Skywalk is a U-shaped cantilever bridge with an elevation, and was opened to the public on March 28 2007.
The Zhangjiajie Glass Bridge is considered the most terrifying, longest and tallest glass-bottomed bridge in the world. It measures 530m in length and 6m in breadth. It was opened to the public on August 20 2016.
The bridge spans the canyon between two mountain cliffs in Zhangjiajie National Forest Park in China’s central Hunan province. It was designed to carry up to 8 000 visitors at a time.
IN THE AIR The God’s Window Skywalk will be an exciting addition to Mpumalanga tourism