The Mpumalanga Tourism and Parks Agency held an official sod-turning ceremony on Friday (September 17) for the God’s Window Skywalk in the Blyde River Canyon Nature Reserve.
Once complete (in 2023), the project will allow visitors to experience one of South Africa’s most iconic vistas in an entirely new way.
Located at the highest point of Mpumalanga’s Panorama Route, God’s Window offers visitors a panoramic view of the Lowveld more than 900 metres down into a lush indigenous forested ravine. On a clear day, visitors will be able to see as far as the Indian Ocean and Maputo, Mozambique.
The skywalk will be a cantilevered glass walkway suspended off the edge of the cliff to give visitors a 360-degree panoramic view. The walkway will protrude about 12 metres out from the cliff and will be about five metres wide.
Mapulana Canyon is a unique partnership between Motsamayi Tourism and Land Claimants from the Blyde River (The Blyde Valley Community Property Association).
Once launched, the concession for the site will be run by Motsamayi Tourism Group, which has experience, amongst others, in running the concession funicular at Cape Point, Kruger Shalati: The Train on the Bridge, and The Kruger Station.
The Skywalk is designed to be a global iconic attraction with a number of activities on-site – the skywalk, a sky bridge, a sky swing, a zero-gravity room, and a conference and meeting facility. The plan is for a significant part of the activities to be run by local unemployed youths from the area.
“As vaccination rates around the world pick up and COVID-19 becomes more manageable, we fully expect local and international visitor numbers at South Africa’s tourism hotspots to pick up,” said Jerry Mabena, CEO of Motsamayi Tourism Group. “We applaud Mpumalanga Tourism and Parks Agency for having the vision to develop one of its most iconic destinations and look forward to playing our role in making God’s Window a global must-see location.
“Our desire is to see this beautiful project acting as an instrument to put the area back into its place as a world-class tourism destination. We believe that this project will energise the area and create new jobs and support other attractions in the area,” he added.
With a 900-metre drop, the God’s Window Skywalk will be higher than the Grand Canyon Skywalk, which stands at between 150 metres and 280 metres, and the Zhangjiajie Glass Bridge in China, which is 260 metres at its highest point.
The project is expected to greatly benefit the Mapulana tribe, which owns the land on which the Skywalk is to be built. While the construction phase will be creating 300-plus job opportunities, it is expected to offer more than 100 jobs once complete and operational. Additionally, the community will get a shareholding in the concession through a special communal property association (CPA) named Blyde 04 CPA.