The countdown to the opening of the Graskop Gorge lift development is underway.
Situated just outside of Graskop on the R553 to Hazyview, the focal point of the development is a viewing lift that will carry visitors 51 metres down into the gorge. There, a wooden walkway, rising and falling and crossing suspension bridges, will take visitors along a 500-metre interpretation trail through the indigenous forest.
Interpretation is the business of revealing the significance of place, processes, artefacts and cultural heritage. The interpretation media has been developed by Nelspruit-based interpretation specialists Hamilton-Fynch, whose interpretation projects have included the Barberton-Makhonjwa Geotrail.
“As well as offering a spectacular tourism experience, the Graskop project has an educational role — revealing the significance of our indigenous forest biome that covers just 0.56% of South Africa but is home to about 5% of plant species.
The forest environment and its importance are interpreted through a series of large panels that have been beautifully designed and illustrated by Lesley Lane of Hamilton-Fynch. These panels are installed at strategic points along the trail, covering elements such as birds of the forest, biodiversity, fabulous fungi, tree communications and much more.
“Each of the panels has a short overview of the topic but for those visitors with a deeper interest, there are nuggets of fascinating facts on each panel.
There is a large and very beautiful stained glass window made by Sharon Patterson from Ponieskrantz Arts and Crafts in Pilgrim’s Rest. Eight stained glass panels have been inserted into stainless steel frames to create a final product that is 2.4m high and 2.1 wide.
In addition, there are giant mushroom sculptures by local artist Laura Batchelor, a large, sweet-water butterfly feeder and a large indoor, wall-mounted observation beehive where visitors will have the opportunity to safely watch bees at work.
Braille panels have been made for installation on only a small section of the trail. The terrain has unfortunately required that the walkway have steps and stairs that may be difficult for the sight impaired to negotiate but the trail from the lift to the waterfall is very accessible.
The lift is expected to be operational in mid-December.
For further information, visit www.graskopgorgeliftcompany.co.za