What It’s Like to Rappel Down a 630-Foot Waterfall

 

rappel waterfallDescend­ing down the side of a cliff with noth­ing but a rope between you and the void below is a huge rush. It’s even bet­ter when you’re doing it down a water­fall. If that sounds good to you, then look no fur­ther than the Semonkong Abseil.

The South African coun­try of Lesotho is home to Malet­sun­yane Falls, a 630-foot mono­lith of a water­fall that often cov­ers the area in dense fog dur­ing the country’s rainy sea­son. The steady appear­ance of fog in the area each sea­son aris­ing from the falls inspired the locals to name the town it lies in Semonkong, or “the place of smoke.”

The abseil­ing found here is the longest com­mer­cial­ly oper­at­ed sin­gle drop spot in the world and even made the Guin­ness Book of World Records. For per­spec­tive, this baby is rough­ly four times the height of Nia­gara Falls.

The falls lie at the end of a enor­mous chasm with walls of the gorge sur­round­ing the Malet­sun­yane Riv­er. It’s an impres­sive and breath­tak­ing sight to behold. This drop is def­i­nite­ly not for the faint of heart.

To plunge from the top of the Malet­sun­yane Falls abseil­ers are gen­er­al­ly required to wear bright col­ored jump­suits in order to be seen through the rag­ing waters and a hel­met in case you get knocked into the rocky walls. Hang over the ledge for a few min­utes and stare straight down before you drop. You know, just to make it a lit­tle more interesting.

Once you find the guts to take that plunge, get ready to be doused by Moth­er Nature as the water and mist envelops you while you drop next to the mon­strous water­fall. Of course, you’ll be com­plete­ly in con­trol of the speed of your descent; you can even stop mid-drop and admire the view if you want.

The water from the falls makes abseil­ing here a slip­pery trip, so you’ll have to work to keep your feet on the wall. Or, you could sim­ply let your­self drop. That’s an option. Watch out for the birds that seem to come dart­ing straight out of the mist around you, too. On the oth­er hand, you might be so caught up in the thun­der­ous pow­er of the falls and the coa­lesc­ing rain­bows of col­or you might not see them at all.

The trip down will take you, at min­i­mum, ten min­utes to make it to the ground. At the foot of the falls you’ll be ensconced inside in a mist so thick it might be hard to see your own feet. The abseil ends in a cave tucked beneath the water­fall, where (hope­ful­ly) some­one will be there to greet you and get you unhooked.

Of course, once you’ve done it once you’ll prob­a­bly be itch­ing to get back up top to have anoth­er go at it.