Pick your poison
Just how daring are you? There are two zipline circuits offered by Antigua Canopy Tours. The first is Forest Express: six distinct zipline “flights” that send you plunging from platforms into tunnels of canopy foliage in spurts that last anywhere from 50 up to 220 meters in length. Each track is positioned at varying heights, offering participants different perspectives during their “flying” experience. The Forest Express circuit also includes an assisted rappel descent from a 12-meter high platform.
In addition to the Forest Express, Antigua Canopy Tours offers the more exhilarating supplementary circuit called Canyon Express. This circuit offers the particularly brave two more “flights” that span a whopping 430 and 520 meters across a forested canyon, offering a most unique birds-eye view of both the Finca Filadelfia coffee farm and Panchoy Valley. Graduates of this circuit can boast having dangled in mid-air more than 150 meters above the ground. While rather scary to watch, for me, the ride was quite refreshing. I was able to leisurely take-in the stunning spectacle of mountains, volcanoes and villages surrounding La Antigua Guatemala while a cool, fluttering breeze caressed my face. These are the tracks where you really do feel as if you are “flying.”
One unique aspect of this particular tour at Finca Filadelfia is its location in the topography of the terrain. Both circuits are constructed a level around 3,000 meters, where rainforest meets cloud forest. Rainforests are characterized by high rainfall and 40 to 75% of all species on Earth are considered indigenous to rainforests. At times, they are even referred to as “the world’s largest pharmacy” because of the large number of natural medicines discovered in rainforests. In contrast, cloud forests are defined by a nearly continual occurrence of low-level cloud cover at the canopy level of a forest or jungle. They can also be referred to as fog forests or even mossy forests because of the abundance of mosses.
If launching from platforms and taking off in air-borne “flights” just isn’t for you, not to stress. You can still take advantage of the UNIMOG ride and beautiful landscapes – not to mention prime photo ops of braver souls whizzing by on the canopy tour overhead – through a network of trails on the ground that echo the course of the canopy circuits zigzagging through the trees.
When I visited, the tour was currently enhancing its services by offering one additional zipline as an alternative to the assisted rappel descent. The track is brief but seems to offer a prize opportunity to capture your family and friends dangling from a zipline with a looming volcano in the background. In preparation for travelers that will begin visiting as part of cruise packages in October of this year, Antigua Canopy Tours is also currently constructing an on-site café, souvenir shop and restroom facility.
Since its opening in January of 2008, Antigua Canopy Tours has given wings to more than 10,000 visitors. You too can enjoy the experience:
A single circuit run through either Forest Express or Canyon Express is offered at the rate of $50 ($40 for national citizens and Central American residents). Kids can fly for $35.
Visitors can also opt for both circuits for $75 ($60 for national citizens and Central American residents). Children can enjoy both for $55.
If you’re keeping you feet planted on firm ground, you can tag along on the Forest Trail for $15 ($10 for national citizens and Central American residents).
Payment can be made with US dollar, Quetzales or by credit card. Antigua Canopy Tours uses an exchange rate of $1 US = Q8.25 at the time of writing.
Text and photos by Laura McNamara
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