Have you ever dreamed of flying through the trees for a bird's eye view of life? The Adventure Kids experience flying with Alltournative Off Track Adventures on a Maya Zip-Lines tour soaring through the air and learning more about the intriguing Maya culture in Riviera Maya, Mexico.
We are always ready for another adventure, and since we have always enjoyed "zipping," when we found out about Alltournative Off Track Adventures' Maya Zip-Lines tour, we knew that this was an experience that had our names written all over it.
For those not familiar with the terms "zip-line" or "zipping," this sport requires the use of a safety harness that straps around your waist with additional straps that run between your legs and hook to the waist harness. There is a wire attached to the waist harness with a locking carabiner on it which you hook to a suspended cable that runs from tree to tree or pole to pole, allowing you to slide along the cable or "fly" as those accustomed to the sport like to think of it.
Although our guide Eduardo told us that the half-day Maya Zip-Lines tour usually begins with a bicycle ride through the farmlands of Don Silvano to see Maya farming, since it was an especially warm day and we were on a private tour, we opted to bypass the bicycle ride and head directly to the zip-line experience.
Alltournative Off Track Adventures is a sustainable tourism company focused on ecotourism to help promote and preserve the Maya culture, so before we began, Eduardo told us a little about the interesting history of the Maya. Although many people know about the Maya in Mexico, he told us that the Maya region extends to El Salvador, Honduras, Guatemala, Belize, and the Mexican states of Quintana Roo, Yucatan, Campeche, and Tabasco. In total, there are more than 6 million Maya.
Following Eduardo along the jungle trail to the zip lines our hearts started revving in anticipation, as we would soon be flying. We arrived at the first zip-line site, where the knowledgeable and professional staff equipped us with safety harnesses, helmets, and a piece of wood that looked like the number 7 that we would use as a brake while zipping. Dressed and ready to begin, Eduardo briefed us on how to use the equipment, we walked up to the platform, and after deciding that (Edward) would be the first to zip, a staff member secured the locking carabiner to the cable and it was showtime.
Edward. Debra, and Eduardo
Edward: Whenever I go zipping, I always feel a rush of adrenaline, and this time was no different. Secured to the cable with the locking carabiner, I held the guide wire in my left hand and the wood "brake" in my right hand, poised myself for excitement, pushed off, and suddenly I was gliding along the cable flying over a natural swimming pool, which was rather interesting watching the people below me. I enjoyed the sensation of flying over the jungle foliage, but alas, I had almost reached my destination and it was time to use the wood brake to slow down my arrival before reaching the landing platform.
Eduardo Reviewing Setup With Edward
Debra: I was up next to zip, and like Edward, this is a sport that I am absolutely hooked on. There is nothing like the sheer thrill of flying and soaring through the air that provides a unique view and experience every time you zip.
Once Edward had cleared the landing platform, I secured my locking carabiner to the cable, pushed myself off, and away I went. Suddenly, the old familiar thrill rushed to greet me full on; I was flying. Yippee! Although the ride was definitely exciting, it ended way too fast, and only served to whet our adventure appetite for more.
Eduardo reassured us that there was more zipping to come, and we eagerly followed him as he continued along another trail farther into the jungle foliage until he reached what appeared to be a very tall lookout tower. This, he explained, was where our next zipping adventure would take place. Climbing to the top of the wood structure was an adventure in itself, as we secured our locking carabiners to the wire that ran between the stair landings as a safety measure, and slowly climbed up the steep steps, as we continued to make our way to the top of the tower. It took us awhile, but we finally reached the top, all we could say was "wow." The panoramic view was incredible from our aerie, and we must admit that it was also a little bit intimidating at first, knowing that we would soon be leaving the tower and zipping along 160 meters (175 yards) suspended high above the treetops.
Debra Zipping Along
Debra: Making a last check of my equipment, I took a deep breath, slowly released it, and then pushed off for the ultimate ride. Getting into my comfort groove, I eased back and committed myself to fully absorbing the experience. Ride complete, as soon as I reached the landing platform, once again the ground crew unhooked me from the cable, and I immediately started photographing Edward's zip-lining experience.
Debra's Zip off the Tower
Edward: As Debra wrote; riding the zip-line from "The Tower," as we fondly started referring to the structure, was truly an amazing experience, and one that certainly had the adrenaline rushing in an all out full-throttle. It was really an incredible experience when you factor in the height of the tower and the length of the zip-line. Once again, no matter how long the ride, I had a mixture of emotions running the gamut from "I finally arrived" to "It cannot be over already" which is the perfect way to end an experience, always wanting just a little bit more.
Edward's Zip off the Tower
Thinking that we were done with our zip-lining experience, we started to remove our helmets, when Eduardo told us to keep our helmets on and to follow him, which we did, whereupon we arrived back at the tower for one last zip-lining experience of the day. The second tower zip-line experience was even better than the first one now that we were more relaxed, and we took the time to really notice the natural beauty that surrounded us in this special area.
Back on terra firma, and free of equipment, it was time to experience a traditional Maya purification ceremony in the dry part of a cenote. Eduardo explained the importance of the cenote to the Maya, which is a sinkhole filled with ground water, and is a sacred place for the Maya, as it is their sole source of water, since there are almost no rivers and few lakes in the region. The Maya believe that it is also a gateway to the afterlife. Before people can enter the cenote and swim, the Maya believe that they need to ask permission, which is why there is a purification ceremony.
Entrance to Cenote
The ceremony had a mystical feeling to it with the burning copal rising in the air, the chanting of the Mayan ceremonial words, and the dimness of the cenote, which all added up to a rich and culturally stimulating sensory experience.
After the ceremony, we had a better understanding of the Maya, and as we left, we noticed the fossil shells embedded in the ceiling at the entrance of the cenote, providing long forgotten clues as to the origin of the region.
We explored the wet part of the cenote walking over wooden bridges to have a better look at the formations, and admired the interesting designs created by tree roots that broke through the limestone in their efforts to reach the water supply.
Tree Roots Searching for Water
Feeling decidedly warm, it was time for a swim in the cenote. We changed into our bathing suits, took a shower to remove any lotions or oils from our skin, as Alltournative Off Track Adventures focus is on preserving nature, and by this time, the day was now very hot and humid, and entering the cool, underground water for a swim was a delicious dream of an experience as we floated on our backs.
After zip-lining and swimming we had worked up an appetite and were more than ready when Eduardo invited us to have lunch sitting in the shade of a palapa. Lunch was a delicious assortment of homemade fresh black bean empanadas with a variety of tasty salsas, a salad of carrot, jicama, and melon, as well as chicken, accompanied by refreshingly cool beverages.
The Maya Zip-Lines tour was a most memorable day of adventure and new experiences for us. The tour is available everyday. To learn about other tours offered by Alltournative Off Track Adventures, please visit their website.
Alltournative Off Track Adventures
Carretera Federal Chetumal-Puerto Juarez Km 287
Playa del Carmen, CP 77710
Quintana Roo, Mexico
Telephone: 800-507-1092 (Toll-free in United States and Canada)
Telephone: 984-803-9999 (Mexico)
Telephone: +52-984-803-9999 (International)
Please read other articles on Riviera Maya in the Destinations, Hotels and Resorts, Spas, Restaurants, Chefs' Recipes, and Adventures sections.
Read other articles on Mexico in Destinations: Cancun, Hotels and Resorts, Restaurants, Chefs' Recipes, Spas, Liquor Cabinet: Xtabentun, Adventures: Scuba Diving in Cancun, Music Scene: Interview with Paco Renteria, Music Scene: Paco Renteria - Gitanus and Oceano, and Travel News: Luxury Avenue.
For information on Riviera Maya, Mexico, please visit the website: www.RivieramMaya.com.
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