As I sat down to write this story, I beamed with satisfaction. My procrastination of over six months was over; I had finally ticked zip-lining off my bucket list.
By Solomon Oleny
As I sat down to write this, I beamed with satisfaction. My procrastination of over six months was over; I had finally ticked zip-lining off my bucket list. However, behind the victorious smile was a story of a shaky guy who had almost wet his pants just 24 hours earlier.
Arriving at Mabira Forest Camp, a zip lining destination in the western part of the tropical forest, I could not wait to put up an impressive display of Superman-like skills.
Going by the enthusiasm of Gregory, Gerald, Waswa and Kato (my pilots of the day), I knew it was going to be a great day. I was unstoppable and determined. But that was only until I was asked to sign a disclaimer whose details seemed to rule out any possibility of my bouncing back from the two-hour-long activity alive.
I could not have been more terrified after the crew fastened the harnesses and protective gear, paying extreme detail to safety.
Wasswa had to show me how easy taking on the zip-lining adventure is
Once airborne, you feel like Superman!
While this was supposed to reassure me, I instead felt intimidated. My heart almost burst out of my chest and my skin pores started unleashing streams of sweat that soaked my shirt.
From the empathy which Gregory, the team leader, exhibited towards me, I could tell that my fear was visible for all to see. It did not come as a surprise that my bladder filled up fast and I had to dash off to flush out the fear that was building up in me.
To calm me down, Kato pulled out his phone and played video clips showing how safe zip lining is. They were testimonies from those who had done it before in the two years since it was set up here.
“You can make it brother,” Kato repeatedly said while patting my shoulder.
It worked. My fear started to ebb as we took a 20-minute walk to the starting point.
Getting me readied for some adventure
Tightening my harness
Up the tree and ready to zip-line off!
Yahoo! Yipee! When my nerves finally faded away, I felt like I was on top of the world
The activity comprises a network of six lines between six platforms, each nestled on gigantic branches of imposing indigenous trees that are anywhere between 70 and 150 years old.
The takeoff platform is about 40 feet above the marshy floor of the forest on a sturdy hardwood tree. There are hooks securely stapled along the tree stem to act as steps. Once up the tree, it was exciting being at the same height as the forest’s tree canopies.
It was almost like being at the top of a 15-storey building. The fresh breeze and animals like red-tailed monkeys and great blue turacos added to the thrill. Even someone who is afraid of heights could feel at home here, I thought.
Unlike what I expected, the most terrifying part of the adventure was not flying at heights that reminded me that death was real. It was letting go at the takeoff of each flight. Thankfully everything went so fast that there was no time to think things through.
Each of the six cords is about 300m long and sliding down takes between 20 and 60 seconds, depending on the elevation to the next platform.
To a first-timer like me, they looked like electricity transmission cables. And yes, sliding down their length felt electrifying.
Phase one and two were the most terrifying as the cord unfolded at blinding speeds. Course three and four were very calm, with picturesque views.
The vegetation below looked like a soft cushion. If I had the option of staying at any of the lines, it would have been five and six, from where one can see lots of colourful vegetation and the beautiful Griffin Falls.
The lines unfolded moderately fast, allowing me to soak in all the beauty of what I imagine the Biblical Garden of Eden must have looked like.
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Swing high, swing low: A memorable adventure!