I was over at my sister’s apartment the other day and she pulled out a new book she’d recently picked up, Lonely Planet Great Adventures. In mainly picture format, the book highlights some of the marvelous adventures available to us humans on this magnificent planet – that is, if you happen to be a scuba master, rock climbing expert, kayaking pro, veteran hang glider and an all around fearless adrenaline junkie. Also, a death wish might help.
The pictures and stories were amazing but they weren’t exactly realistic inspiration for your average traveler. It was stuff like this…
Don’t get me wrong – adventure travel is great for some people but I just don’t have the time to commit to all that training to become an expert at anything. Okay, I lied, I do have the time, but it just sounds so hard.
Luckily, for all of the not-willing-to-take-the-time-to-learn-something and/or non-athletic travelers (I’m both), there are still plenty of things out there that satisfy that urge to get your blood pumping and add a (healthy) amount of fear to a trip. You don’t have to have nerves of steel to hike the extremely steep ancient temples in Tikal (like we did here), brave some white water rapids in Honduras (like we did here) or even tempt fate with sketchy electrical elements in your shower. For these activities you only need nerves of, oh I don’t know, aluminum foil.
Most recently, I used my aluminum foil nerves on a zip-line in Colombia. Right now you’re probably picturing us careening through a tropical jungle dodging snakes, vines and drug lords – it wasn’t really that kind of zip-line. Our trip was a short one and we didn’t have time to make the trek up into any wild jungles. Instead, we did what we could, where we could. It was in Guatapé that we strapped ourselves into the rickety harness of the small, waterfront zip-line and hoped for the best.
At the top,
the zip-line expert some guy who worked there kept telling us stuff in Spanish that we couldn’t quite get. In the end, he just gave up and pushed us down the zip line one after the other. It was a little disconcerting to know that he’d had instructions for us that we never understood… but all’s well that ends well.
Here is when Andy left me. We didn’t even get to say goodbye, the guy just unhooked him from me and there he went.
So I mentally wished him well and snapped a few more pictures before the guy pushed me on my way as well.
As I headed swiftly down the line (which was oddly much less scary than being slowly hoisted up the mountain) I watched the tiny people on the sidewalk, I took note of the colorful boats and I thought about how it might be a little less scary if the lake was actually below me instead of the hard ground.
The whole thing is a little deceiving. For starters, it’s higher up than it looks.
And secondly, the landing sounds incredibly violent but it really wasn’t that bad.
We’d been hearing the crash landing sound echoing through the streets and along the waterfront all weekend. People would scream down the zip-line and then CRASH, they’d be done. See for yourself here…
And here I am landing…
Despite the loud sound, I barely felt the impact.
If you ever find yourself in Guatapé, here are the details.
Who: Older kids, teens and adults. There was also a much smaller and safer zip-line for little ones.
What: A zip-line, of course! Thick cables tow you up to the top and then you zip back down to the bottom.
When: I should have paid more attention to all the details but it seemed to be open all day and into the evening.
Where: Right along the waterfront in Guatapé. You can’t miss it.
Cost: I think it was about $5 per person.
Other good things to know: You don’t actually have to hold on quite as tightly as I did. My arm’s ‘hold-on-tight’ muscles ended up embarrassingly sore as did my feet’s ‘don’t-lose-my-flip-flops’ muscles. Although, to be fair, I didn’t fall and I didn’t lose my shoes. So who knows.
In the end, an extreme sports fanatic would have been underwhelmed, but for us, it was a fun, cheap thrill and a nice addition to our little trip. I’ve never been much of an armchair traveler, but when it comes to the type of stuff featured in adventure travel books, I’ll go ahead and stay on the couch. Still, it’s good to know that even if you pass on the extreme stuff, you don’t have to settle for sitting in an actual armchair – instead, you can find a little seat attached to a little zip-line somewhere in South America.