If you are an adventure sport lover then the flying fox or zip-line is something that might appeal to you. For people who don’t know what this is, I will quickly explain. The concept is fairly simple. A cable is fixed between two places (trees or designated areas) and a handle (wooden or metal) is used to transport the person to the other side. In the olden days people used this method to transport people or goods over a river. Today it is used for adrenaline junkies and it can be fun for the whole family.
I fondly remember the “Foofie slide” as we call it in South Africa. When I was a child we would try it when visiting relatives that lived on farms. It was not uncommon for a child to end up with a broken arm or foot. The last time I tried it was at the age of 19 and one of the guys in our group broke his foot. I haven’t tried it again until my father came to visit me in Argentina.
In the Calamuchita Valley where we live the “Tirolesa” is available in La Cumbrecita and Dique Los Molinos. We decided to give it a try in La Cumbrecita. At first I volunteered to be the official photographer but my dad insisted that I come along for the ride. He didn’t have to invite me twice!
The venue in La Cumbrecita is spectacular. You slide between mountains and waterfalls and the view is incredible. There are different platforms and spectators have view points from where they can watch and encourage the people. There are also two options available: 700m or 1,200m. The route is the same with the only difference that the people who chose the 1,200m option continue to the last platform and this one is incredibly steep and fast. We decided on the 1,200m option. If you do it, do it properly, I always say!
The guides are wonderful and they place a lot of emphasis on safety and technique. You don’t have to dress in special clothing but shoes are a requirement.You get fitted with a harness, gloves and a hat. We looked like miners and had a good laugh before we started to make our way to the first platform.
We had a couple of little ones in the group so they were going first. The guide piggy backed one of the girls and we all watched in awe as they were sliding across the valley. The nice thing about the tirolesa is that you go as fast as you want.If you are going to fast you brake with your hands. If you want to go faster, you release. Cross your feet and you are ready to go.
It was my turn. The adrenaline was pumping and my heart skipped a beat as I took position and left the platform. The distance to the next platform was not that far. I kept on releasing and braking and eventually I turned myself around into a still standing position. Oh no, this was not happening to me. My dad was laughing and I felt like a complete idiot! Instead of facing forward I was now facing backwards. I had to crawl backwards to the platform and it was very embarrassing!My dad did well.
Round two. Me again. This time I was sure not to disappoint and boy I didn’t ! When it was my turn I went down that rope like a flying fox! I went with such a speed that I nearly knocked the instructor off his feet.”Tranquilo, tranquilo“, he shouted but I didn´t care. I was not going to get stuck in the middle of nowhere again.
The 3rd one was very nice. By now I have managed to get a hold of the technique and I had a good landing without killing anyone. We said goodbye to the 700m´s and then we made our way to the last platform. It was time for the BIG one! The guide warned us that this one was very fast. The angle is at 45 degrees and we had to start braking before the time. He gave me a sideways glance. I got the hint.
It was phenomenal! You slide down that line at the speed of light. All you hear is the sound of the metal and you can feel your gloves burning. I remembered the warning of the instructor and I slowed down. I had a perfect landing and I was very proud of myself.
Afterwards we sat down at the restaurant and had a tall glass of ice cold beer. We have earned it!
Where: La Cumbrecita, Argentina
Date: February 2010