TAKE A LOOK | Ground broken on God's Window Skywalk, SA's take on a Grand Canyon hit
- Ground has now been officially broken on the God's Window Skywalk at the Blyde River Canyon.
- The partially glass-floored bridge to nowhere is due to jut 12 metres over a sheer drop of not too much under a kilometre.
- Its accompanying infrastructure is supposed to fade into the background of the world-famous view site.
- For more stories go to www.BusinessInsider.co.za.
The long-envisaged God's Window Skywalk is now under construction, the Mpumalanga provincial government says, with completion due in 2023.
The project was financially modelled in 2013, and has been under consideration for even longer. But with its major construction at arguably the most scenic spot in South Africa, approvals were painstakingly slow.
Now the Blyde River Canyon spot is to get its second modern attraction, just a short distance away from the Graskop Gorge Lift, which ferries passengers to the bottom of the canyon in a glass elevator.
See also | For R175, this glass lift in Mpumalanga will take you down into a lush forest — with a massive gorge and hidden waterfalls
The Mpumalanga Economic Growth Agency (Mega) describes the skywalk as "modelled on the Grand Canyon Skywalk in Arizona", a $40 million project opened in 2007. That American attraction is a little over 20 metres long, more than 1.4 km above the floor of the canyon, and tickets start at the equivalent of more than R800 per person.
In some ways, the South African version will be better. The vertical drop right beneath the Grand Canyon skywalk is a mere 240 metres – compared to closer to a kilometre that will separate the glass of the God's Window skywalk and the ground beneath it.
The Mpumalanga provincial government hopes the skywalk will make visitors (who often pass to and from the Kruger Park) hang around in the region for longer, spending an extra day or three to properly experience the canyon.
At the sod-turning ceremony for the project last week, Mpumalanga premier Refilwe Mtsweni-Tsipane promised that the road network "leading to key tourism attractions" would be rehabilitated "in the short to medium term".
Here's what the skywalk at God's Window is supposed to look like.
With the skywalk's support infrastructure tucked away beneath a green roof, it is supposed to jut out from seemingly nowhere.
In reality, the partially glass-floored walkway will be just one part of a big complex clinging to the side of a cliff.
It will jut out 12 metres over the edge.
The design has changed a little, but not much, over the years.
The idea was to charge R30 for general admission to the site, and another R110 to access the skywalk, with the expectation that the average visitor would spend another R50 or so on food, drink, and merchandise.
The complex is due to feature a craft market...
... and event-friendly spaces.
(Compiled by Phillip de Wet)
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