April 03, 2010

OAT Guatemala: Ziplining on Steroids Above San Buenaventura Bioreserve

We climbed up 40 minutes through coffee plantations and across hanging bridges to reach the start of our zipline-on-steroids adventure high above the 247-acre San Buenaventura Bioreserve canopy.  We were clipped onto a cable strung from one mountain edge to another.  I read somewhere that the farthest we could fall was 600 feet but it looked like a few miles down at least. 

Our guides told us to keep one hand on top of another to stay relatively stable and not pivot during our initial rapid descent.  But about 2/3 way down we needed to reach back with our leather palmed glove and pull down on the cable to brake.  I could not see the end (some ziplines were 1000 feet long) and asked how I could tell when I was 2/3 down.  They claimed they would wave a red flag from the other side when it was time to brake.  They did this some of the times.  One time I started braking too soon and almost had to pull myself in.  Another time I braked too late and got stopped in time by the safety knot before ramming into the side of the mountain.

After the first zipline, I was literally trembling.  I had to hike a way to the start of the next one.  I only started enjoying the experience after the 3rd and was admiring the spectacular views by by the last and 8th zipline.  My "Cables Extremos" diploma was well-earned.  

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