Mexico has been a well known tourist destination for many decades and not by chance. Well, perhaps the fact that it shares the longest border in the world between a first and third world country with the US has helped a bit, but it’s undeniable that the warm weather, fine beaches, cheap costs, thick jungles, arid deserts and unique food have are the major reason for putting the land of the sombrero on the world map.
Destinations like Cancun and Acapulco were once the hotspots for Hollywood superstarts looking for a retreat, while Mexico city and Chiapas remained unknown except for the adventure and culture seekers that still exist today. Cancun is a world known resort city that caters to the all- inclusive tourists and spring breakers, with spectacular beaches and a thrving nightlife second to none. However, those that are looking for less known beach towns opportunities still exist, like Mazatlan, Cabo San Lucas or Puerto Vallarta.
Most of Puerto Vallarta’s attractions are ocean related, but not all: if hiking in the jungle, zip-lining over trees and accross valleys and rapelling down waterfalls is your kind of fun then Puerto Vallarta will suit you just right.
A couple of weeks ago I participated in the Outdoor Adventure offered by Vallarta Adventures, a reputed local company that provides all kinds of tours in the area. It was my birthday present from my wife Liza, who knew that I would prefer an adventure activity like this over a dinner at a fine restaurant or a pair of nice shoes (and I’m pretty sure you would too if you are reading this!).
The adventure begins with a 30 minute high speed boat ride to a nerby bay where a Mercedes 4×4 truck will take you to the starting point. After a thorough safety explanation the amusing staff members will gear you up and have you on a mule for a 20 minute uphill walk. The animals will stop (yes, they do know where they’re going) near the first tower from which you will begin your several zip-lining sections. Their distance varies, the longest being a couple of hundred meters and sure enough you will fly high above the trees. One of the questions you’re asked when signing up is if you’re afraid of heights.
“Me? Afraid of heights?? Hell no!” (lie number 1) ” I once jumped off an airplane (lie number 2) so there’s no problem…really, I feel totally at ease when it comes to heights (lie number 3)”
I cleverly made sure I was not the first person in line, or the second, or even the third, but I had to make sure I was not behind the 12 year old girl and her 10 year old brother- my ego was at sake.
My turn came, the staff member hooked my harness, I double checked (pretending I knew what I was doing) and I jumped into oblivion. OK, maybe it wasn’t that big of a jump, but that first second is quite a thrill. Surprisingly zip-lining is not near as scary as I thought it would be. In fact it’s quite a lot of fun, the only drawback being that by the time you’re comfortable hanging from a rope and sliding along it over trees at lightning speed you are already on the other side. The tour includes 7 section ( or something like it) which at the beginning seem like a lot, but when you leave you do so wanting more- I don’t know if there would ever be enough, but they sure whould have to be a lot!
The other highlight of the adventure is the waterfall rapelling. As I looked down the 10 meter waterfall thinking that my life depended on that rope I remembered that my brother had done this when he was 9- it couldn’t be that bad. And it wasn’t. In fact I was caught by surprise when I suddenly felt my ass was wet and freezing- I had reached the pool and hadn’t even noticed.
After some more zip-lining, another rappel and a little walk you make it back to the starting point where a light snack is available (hot food and sodas cost extra). You’ll be able to see your pics and decide if you want them or not, stop at a tequila factory on the way back to the boat and head back to the headquarters of Vallarta Adventures.
The 6 hour tour is a bit pricey at 98 USD/ person but you can knock more than 14 off if you reserve online at least 3 days in advance, and sometimes more if you book as a group or from a travel agent. Safety standards are high and the staff is helpful and enthusiastic. Water is provided at several stations along the way, but the snack given at the end is a bit too light. All things said I had a lot of fun, and eventhough I feel it could be somewhat cheaper I guarantee good fun and recommend it if you can afford it ( for any information about this activity visit http://www.vallarta-adventures.com/ )
Note: This was not a press trip- I paid full fare and got the same treatment as everyone else in the group. However upon knowing I would write this post Vallarta Adventures kindly provided these photos at no cost.
Have you ever tried zip-lining? How about rapelling? Were you afraid? If you liked this post please remember to share it!