On a recent vacation to Puerto Rico, I knew our children would want to go zip lining, and I knew that meant I would have to go with them. I am not an adventurous person by nature, so when it comes to engaging in activities that could be considered life threatening, I tend to tread carefully. I was not sure what zip lining was all about, but I knew I had to research my options to find the “right” company for our family, one that could accommodate our youngest (age 8), and calm the nerves of an anxious mother. I finally came to terms with the entire adventure by telling myself I would be teaching my kids how to face their biggest fears head on if I could lead by example.
We were staying in San Juan, so I searched nearby options first. I discovered Campo Rico Ziplining Adventure, located just outside the San Juan metro area, which accepts participants between the ages of 8 and 68. They offer morning and afternoon sessions and each one ends with an authentic Puerto Rican meal. They have seven zip lines and seven suspended bridges, which I thought would be plenty, so we made arrangements for pick up at our hotel and eagerly awaited our tour day.
The Tour Begins
Our van picked us up at our hotel in Condado on time and our guide, Ludgardo, informed us we would be meeting other members of our group at the site. Ludgardo was a wealth of information, giving us a tour of San Juan along the way, pointing out sights, sharing insider tips about the island and its food, and explaining what we could expect at our destination. We arrived at the property in less than 20 minutes, and found ourselves on a 2200 acre property that had evolved over the years from a sugar plantation, to a cattle farm, to its current use as an eco destination.
We were immediately introduced to our fellow danger seekers for the day, a couple that was also escaping the Chicago winter. We met Andre, the other tour leader, and he proceeded to give us an overview of the equipment we would be using and a lesson on safety. At this point, I the kids were chomping at the bit to climb the first tower, while I was just trying to muster the strength and courage to go through with this crazy idea.
Time to Zip Line
Once we were fully outfitted, we posed for the obligatory photo before we ascended the first 50 foot tower. Our youngest was apprehensive and I tried my best to reassure him, which wasn’t easy given my own anxiety. We took turns clipping on the line and just like that, we were off, sailing over the canopy of trees, holding on for dear life, until we safely found the platform on the other side.
We repeated this adventure six additional times, crossing over lagoons and enjoying the views of the tropical forest below and beyond. Each zip line ride is unique. The longest is 1000 feet and 200 feet high, providing breathtaking views of the surrounding mountains and countryside. We also managed to successfully navigate seven hanging canopy bridges. Each one has a line above to clip to and the steps on some bridges have large gaps in between, offering an additional challenge on the tour.
While walking from one zip line to the next, our guides Ludgardo and Andre shared their knowledge about the history of the area and unique finds along the path. They were really engaged with our kids and you could tell they loved their jobs. They were informative, funny, and extremely passionate.
As a special treat, the final zip lines ends in a Mojito Bar! Not that our kids cared, but it was nice to have a celebratory drink and enjoy the homemade Puerto Rican meal that was included as part of our tour package. There were also animals (pigs, roosters, cats) that entertained our kids while we were able to rest and recover.
Tips for Your Adventure
Hopefully it goes without saying that you should wear comfortable clothes. I would recommend shorts and a t-shirt, sunscreen, bug spray, and shoes with a good grip. If you want to film the adventure bring a Go Pro (some hotels will let you rent one) or bring a camera with a wrist strap. Bring a bottle of water to drink along the way.
While you are hiking, keep a look out for animals. We saw a variety of birds, and iguanas and other lizards. The kids were constantly looking for them and the guides would point them out if we didn’t see them first.
Our youngest has a peanut/tree nut allergy, so I asked if there would be any problems with the meal they served at the end of the tour. They assured me it would be allergy friendly and it was. The meal was chicken, rice, fruit, and salad. My kids will typically eat anything and we all thought the food was delicious. If you have picky eaters, you may want to bring some snacks along in a backpack because the only food available is the traditional meal. If you want to purchase beverages (other than water), be sure to bring cash or a credit card to cover that expense (just be sure to keep it in a safe pocket so you don’t lose it somewhere over the jungle).
Campo Rico Ziplining was a highlight of our Puerto Rico vacation. The kids could not stop talking about it and my husband and myself were pleasantly surprised by how much we enjoyed ourselves. Andre and Ludgardo gave our family an unforgettable experience, and I now know to not be afraid of these types of challenges, but look forward to them.
Other Traveling Mom posts you may enjoy: Three Family-Friendly Accommodations in Puerto Rico, San Juan’s Condado Plaza Hilton