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What is a toboggan?

Remember the movie? A seemingly hopeless bobsled team from Jamaica tries to compete in the 1988 Winter Olympics in Canada. Shocked by the cold and used to practising in the island heat, they quickly realise they’re out of their depth among the snow-efficient teams. That’s the feel-good movie – and what most people know about tobogganing. But it doesn’t snow in Cape Town? Nope, but Cool Running Tobogganning Park, inspired by the movie, is a concept that works in the Cape Town heat of summer or chill of winter.

Originally, a toboggan is a long, flat-bottomed light sled that is crafted from thin boards and curves up at the front to form a ‘J’ shape and allow for more momentum down the hill. It has low handrails at the sides for grip. Its original use was not fun and games: it was used as a form of transport in northern Canada. Men and women would bundle up their kids and goodies and set off, the men going first to carve the way. What an exhilarating mode of transport!

Nowadays it’s a lot less functional, and a lot more fun, with sports like bobsledding, luging (small one- or two-person sled, and the rider is face up and feet-first) and skeleton racing taking centre stage at the Winter Olympics, and fun amusement parks opening based on the art of tobogganing. Switzerland is home to the longest toboggan course in the world. A 25-minute gondola ride take
you to the top, after which it’s a two-hour hike to reach the start of the course.

Then the track is all yours for a whopping 15 km long – that about an one hour of thrilling turns and twists through the
Swiss mountains. Other parks have popped up all over the world, including Cape Town’s very own Cool Runnings.
Feel the wind on your cheeks as you fly through the 1.25 km track, experiencing Cape Town from
a very different angle with this unique, novel adventure.

DID YOU KNOW?

Penguins go tobogganing too! When they slide through snow and ice on their stomachs, it’s called
tobogganing.