In the last few years, canopy tours have been added to many of the Caribbean cruise ports of call. Canopy tour is another name for zip lining. Basically you hang from a cable and glide from to tree to tree.
I had seen video of another couple doing one, and decided that I wanted to try it myself.
Actually I had made a small zip line in my back yard as a kid. We found some old electrical wire, and strung it between a couple trees. We attached a pulley to the wire, and had a handle attached to the pulley. My friends and I took turns zipping down the line. We had a blast for a couple weeks until the wire broke. It broke on my turn, and I fell about 10 feet straight down on my butt and bruised my tail bone! Ouch! Apparently electrical wire is not made to be a zip line. Live and learn! It had been fun though!
Now about 30 years later, I got the chance to try the real thing in Costa Rica! The professional zip lines are much safer than the home made zip that we had made as kids.
First, we got in line, and had harnesses attached us. The harnesses are the same kind used by rock climbers, and were strapped around our waist, and legs. There were several straps with carabiners attached to them, and also a big pulley. We were also issued helmets and leather gloves.
After we were equiped, we got went to the next station. Here we were given instruction about how to do it. Again, it was about safety. They showed us where to place our hands, and how to brake.
Following the instruction, we were set to go. We walked down a dirt road, and took a little side trail. There was a long line of people waiting to go. We had stopped to take a couple of pictures along the way, so were were in the back of the line. We took some more pics while in line. There were cool into lines of leaf cutter ants on ground carrying chunks of leaves.
After a while we made it to the wooden stairs that led to the first platform. There was a cable leading up the stairs. WE WERE ALWAYS ATTACHED TO A CABLE! We were attached to the cable as we climbed the stairs. At the top of the first set of stairs, they woudl attach another of our straps to another cable on the next set of stairs before disconnecting us from the first cable. After ascending a few flights of stairs, we were at the first platform about 50 feet above the ground. Were then attached to a cable that wrapped around the tree to wait our turn on the zip line cable.
When it was our turn, our pulley was attached to the zip line cable. Also one of our straps was attached to the same cable as a safety back up. And a second strap was attached to a second parallel cable. Only then were were disconnected from the tree.
To zip line across, you simply need to lift your feet off of the platform, and let gravity take hold, and slide you down the cable. There was a guy on the platform at the far end to catch you in case you get out of control.
There first zip line was the shortest. I think that was to give you a taste of what it was like before you saw any of the long ones in front of you. Probably if the first wire was a long one, more people would chicken out. In all, I think we slid down 10 or 12 lines with the longest line being about 500 feet long.
The Costa Rica canopy tour was a blast! I am sure that the canopy tours in other ports of call would be as fun. One guy was telling me about a canopy tour that took him back and forth across a valley and that he was as high as 500 feet above the ground. I don’t know where that was though. If you are afraid of heights, you will porbably not like canopy tours. But I think even slightly adventurous people will enjoy themselves!