I just went zip lining. It was INCREDIBLE! Oh yeah baby, that was the shit! ha ha ha ha
That was so much fun. I don’t know if I was running on adrenaline or just having a genuinely good time, but that was great.
Ok, I’ll go back to the beginning…. Today I went to a place called Sky Adventures. They have a Sky Tram (a big cage hanging off suspended wires), a Sky Walk (8 hanging bridges over the rainforest and a walk through the rainforest itself) and the Sky Trek (10 zip line suspended cables over the canopy).
So I started at 7am at the Skywalk. There were only 3 of us and the tour guide which made for a very quiet tour (you could hear all the noises in the forest). The tour guide was really great and explained many things about the plants & animals we were seeing and then being quiet for a while so we could take everything in. There was a young American couple with us asking the most absurd questions and generally being rude about how long the tour was (2.5 hours) so I spent much of the time by myself or talking with the tour guide and keeping far enough away from the couple that I couldn’t hear them.
I really thought I would freak out about being on the hanging bridges (actually I thought the whole day would be a test for me) but I was actually fine on the bridges. They didn’t swing from side to side like I thought they would, just moved slightly up and down when you walked. But nothing dramatic or gut lurching. They were upgrading two of the bridges (so we couldn’t walk on them) and the constant checking and maintaining of the bridges really made me feel comfortable that Sky Adventures were serious about safety.
The trees were amazing to look at (anyone who knows me really well, knows I’m obsessed with trees) and I took some good photos of them. It was really interesting to understand the life cycle of the plants in the forest as well. For example, the plants at the bottom of the forest compete for sunlight in the cloud forest (it’s not called that for nothing. It’s cloudy all the time, so only so much sunlight shines through). So only when a large tree dies and falls to the ground, do the smaller trees have a chance to grow exponentially. Some plants have seeds that lie in wait for up to 3 years to get enough sunlight to grown. Then the large tree that has fallen down becomes the home to many different bugs and fungus. After a while it breaks down and becomes fertiliser and food for the new plants. Beginning the whole cycle again. I know many of you are like “tree woopee doo” but I don’t feel that way. I think they’re fascinating, how they evolve to survive, the tricks they utilise to get pollenated, and the life and death cycles of trees, to me is just really interesting.
During the Skywalk, we were lucky enough to see a 3 toed sloth munching away on some leaves in a tree. It is really rare for them to be awake during the day (the sleep for 18hrs/day) and seeing him (or her) hanging off some branches, stuffing it’s face with food was really cool. They live in the trees full time, except for once a week when they head to the forest floor to poo. Why they have to go all the way to the forest floor to do that I don’t know.
Along with the sloth, we saw hummingbirds, robins (Costa Rica’s national emblem) and lots of different types of trees, plants & mushrooms. Even a blue mushroom (which the guide had never seen before either).
So after the SkyWalk it was onto the SkyTram. This was the part I was really packing my dacks about. I avoid sky lifts where ever I go because the swinging motion scares the crap out of me (I think I’ve been on Adventure World’s sky lift once in my life), but it was the only way up to the SkyTrek, so up I went. It really wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be. It wasn’t really like a sky lift, where you’ve only got a single bar of steel holding you in, these were more like big cages and the cables were new and sturdy (the SkyTram is only 5 years old). It might have been that the guides (there were 2 for the SkyTrek) were distracting me with their talk and making fun of me because I didn’t know any swear words in Spanish. There was only one moment when we came high over the canopy and were in the clouds that the wind really caught the cage and moved it around a bit, that I though FUCK! but other than that it was all good. We arrived at the top and then it was onto my SkyTrek adventures
For the first 4 zip lines we had to climb large towers to get to the place where you jump (or glide) off the edge of the platform. once I got up to the top of the first one, my fear of heights…. well I didn’t have a fear of heights at all, the whole time I was doing the zip lining. I don’t know why exactly, whether I’m getting over that fear or whether the experience was too cool to care about about the fact I was really high up, but whatever it was, I wasn’t afraid for one moment of the zip lining experience. It was just pure fun.
So anyway here I am on the first platform getting rigged up onto the first cable. The first guide has already leapt off the platform so he can get the braking system on the other side ready for me, and I’m just about to take off. It’s windy, really windy as I am sitting in the clouds themselves at this height. So now I’m ready to go and I just get my body into the correct position (lean back, legs tucked in and crossed) and then off I go speeding down this huge steel cable. It was noisy and it look a few moments for me to not look at the cable and to look around to where I was, but I do and I’m in the clouds man! I’m flying in the clouds. Wooooo hooooo. I’ve got the biggest smile on my face and I think I’m actually laughing right now. Ha Ha
After the first big cable (you do a practice zip line before you head up the mountain, picture above) I just want more, so we walk to the next tower, walk up the steps (I’m trying not to run) to the second platform. Then it’s time to get rigged up and go again. This time I forget all about the cable and just concentrate on looking around. We’re a bit lower now, just out of the clouds and I can see some of the canopy far below. The cable is just as noisy (the cables making the noise have been newly replaced in the last 2 weeks) but who cares about the noise, look at the view.
The next couple of cables is completed by myself, they are older cables and I’m getting covered with water. rust and grease as you glide down them. Then on cables 5, 6 & 9 I have to go with one of the guides as the cables need more weight on them to make you go forward at a decent speed so you don’t stop & get stuck in the middle of the cable and have to pull yourself along (the wind hampers your progress along the cable without enough speed). Usually they send two people down the cable a small length apart, to counteract the wind, but today it’s just me and the two guides on the cables and as one sets up the brakes on the other side, the other one has to come with me. But it’s still a great amount of fun and on cable 9, which is both the longest and fastest cable (750 mtrs & 80km/hr) we speed along at an awesome pace because there are two of us with weight on the cable.
Then it’s a short ride on cable 10 and it’s over. It took maybe 40 mins to an hour to do the whole thing, but I could have just gone straight back up there and done it all over again. I’m seriously contemplating doing the superman zip line before I leave (you are flying through the air like superman) and there is something called a Tarzan swing here as well. But who know, I’ll just wait and see
If you’re ever in Costa Rica I highly recommend Sky Adventures. They have an excellent safety record and are the only company in Costa Rica to use a braking system. There also the fastest cables in Costa Rica. The company is run and owned by Costa Ricans (one is a biologist and the other an engineer) and the guides are knowledgeable and funny. 10/10 experience.
As for what else I’ve been up to, yesterday I went to El Trapiche Farm. They farm coffee and sugar cane and are just starting to get into cocoa (which creates chocolate). It was really interesting and they let you taste the coffee in various forms (straight out of the seed just picked off a tree, after it’s been dried, after it’s been roasted, and in a drink – black or with sugar and milk) . They also let you taste the sugar cane raw (which is really yummy) and the small amount of cocoa they have (very bitter). The sugar cane was everywhere and they make brown sugar, fudge, alcohol and normal white sugar out of all the sugar cane they harvest on the farm. We ate some of the sugar cane in it’s rawest form (cut straight from the tree, you’re literally eating the inside of the tree) which was sweet but had a slightly different taste to white or brown sugar. Then we had a shot of fermented & distilled sugar cane (really strong, like tequila). We watched how they harvested the juice from the sugar cane trees and then we made fudge. It’s really simple to make, pure sugar (the sugar cane juice is heated and boiled to make it thicker) on a board, chuck in your favourite additions (peanuts, chocolate, coconut etc) and mix really quickly to cool it down and form a solid lump. Taste, put it in a bag and take it home, where you can continue your sugar overdose there.
By this stage I was sugared out. Seriously way too much sugar. Needed to eat something savoury stat! So I went into town and grabbed some lunch. Nachos.
Later on the bag of fudge was calling me (I was coming back down off my sugar high) so I had another taste and my teeth were not thanking me for it, so I decided to put the fudge in the bin, where I wouldn’t be tempted to eat it. I’m really a hopeless sugar addict.
Today I’m going to head to the frog and butterfly farm they have just down the road after I have some lunch.
Catch ya’ soon.
P.S. Once again all my photo’s are on my Flickr account, viewable in much better quality than the ones in this post.