“The three most important factors for the canopy tour are security, a family-oriented experience and promoting nature,” Antigua Canopy Tours Manager Pascu Robredo asserts.
And man do they take security seriously. Before obtaining permission to participate in the canopy adventure visitors are asked a series of questions about their health to ensure they are in suitable condition to “fly” among the treetops. Pregnant women, for example, are discouraged from participating. The adventure company asks for visitors to please advise their guides of any special health issues, incapacities, etc… such as heart problems, epilepsy, asthmatic problems and/or problems with equilibrium. Furthermore, each participant is required to sign a waiver before his/her “flights.”
The guides that lead visitors are trained in the specialized techniques required for helping the participants swing through the canopy, from one platform to the other. When visitors arrive at the first platform (see El Santuario) the guides give a thorough explanation of the correct way to soar: legs up, knees bent, rocking back slightly in your harness. With your stronger hand reach back behind your head and loosely form an “O” around the cable with your thumb and index finger. With your weaker hand grasp the lowest clip (attached to your harness) by reaching your index finger through the loop and wrapping the rest of your hand around the clip. Visitors remain connected to either a cable or a tree platform for the entire duration of the adventure in order to safeguard against falls or minor accidents of any kind. The guides, most of whom speak both Spanish and English, are also qualified in First Aid care, CPR and vertical rescue.
As mentioned in the Constructing a Canopy Course post, the tracks themselves are constructed with a double-cable that can hold five times more than the allotted weight. And again, only professional, internationally recognized equipment is used, such as PETZL and PMI.
Antigua Canopy Tours has an emergency protocol in place and the business conducts regular inspections of the maintenance of the track and the equipment used. I personally witnessed one of my guides “Tono” marking a permanently placed inspection sheet located on the course. All participants, visitors and guides alike, are required to wear a helmet while enjoying the canopy adventure. You can spot the guides by the red helmets they wear. Visitors wear white.
Visitors should consider the natural environment of the tour when dressing for the adventure. High heels are absolutely prohibited. Pants, a T-shirt and athletic shoes or secured sandals are recommended (flip flops are also prohibited). In case of rain, visitors are recommended to bring protective rain cover. Antigua Canopy Tours asks for participants to refrain from smoking while on the tour and advises visitors not to wear insect repellent to ensure their safety while secured to a harness.
Antigua Canopy Tours outlines several other requirements regarding physical fitness. Basically, you should be up for a slight, minimally strenuous hike. You might not want to go if you are one to seriously freak because of heights. A little apprehension is normal, but don’t go if you can’t chill on a tree-mounted platform that sits several meters from the ground. Nonetheless, Antigua Canopy Tours says a fear of heights is something their guides are prepared to mitigate. The adventure company assures that their canopy course is an exciting adventure that all must experience.
text and photos by Laura McNamara
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