Last November, I had the good fortune to return to one of my all-time favorite Caribbean islands, St. Lucia. The lush tropical island has dozens of lovely secluded beaches, stunning topography, and friendly people who are happy to share their paradise with visitors. These are just a few of the reasons I think so highly of St. Lucia, but this time, I got to add a new escapade to my adventure resume: Zip lining!
This is something I have wanted to do for ages and it was everything I hoped! The Treetop Adventure Park is a 35-acre park in the rainforest about three miles inland from the east coast town of Dennery. You can take an inexpensive public bus to Dennery, but there is no public transport from there to the zip line course, so you’d have to hike along a very narrow hairpin road. We chose to take a four-hour tour from Soufriere with Palm Services, which included transportation in an air-conditioned minibus and a very personable guide who shared lots of information about St. Lucian life. The bus held about 10 people and upon arrival at the Treetop Adventure Park, our group was outfitted with of all the necessary gear: harness, gloves, helmet (and hairnet). You do need closed-toed shoes that won’t fall off, and they suggest long sleeves and pants to prevent getting scratched as you zip through the trees, although the heat makes these oppressive and short sleeves are acceptable.
The course consists of 11 lines, totaling 5100 feet, with the longest line being 800 feet and the highest one being 150 feet above the ground! Our group of 10-12 was given instructions on how to ride, where to put our hands and feet, and most importantly, how to stop. Four or five guides escorted us through the course, one always hooking each person up to the double strung, thick cables, and one would zip off ahead to help us stop at the other end and transfer to the next line. I have to admit, I was a wee bit hesitant on the first run to fly off into the rain forest when I couldn’t even see the other end of the line, but I was at the front of our little band of intrepid zipsters, nonetheless.
And then I launched from the first platform, high above the ground. I heard the zing of the metal carabiner system vibrating against the heavy twisted cables. I saw the treetop canopy rushing by from a vantage point normally reserved for birds. I felt the warm wind in my face as I zipped along this amazing adventure – and I couldn’t get enough! Just then, I spotted a smiling face, standing on a small platform high in a tree with his forearms arms in an X. I had to quickly come back to reality and remember how to brake because that tree was coming up FAST. I’m happy to say that I did not knock the guide out of the platform and did not knock myself out hitting the tree. He unhooked me and I watched for my companion to come flying in from the canopy. Some of the next zip lines connected directly off the same platform, others were a short walk by trail, or adding to the adventure, required negotiating a rope net bridge high above the ground.
The whole course took less than an hour to complete, and wound through the rainforest back to the starting point. We checked in our equipment, and then were treated to cool and welcomed refreshments of water and juice. This was a thrilling adventure that almost anyone can do (minimum age 3 years, maximum weight 300 pounds). The 20-something guides added to the fun, regaling us with stories while insuring every safety standard was met. I rank this as a must-do when in St. Lucia and it was truly a highlight of my trip.
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