The adventure started with a demonstration on the zipline. // © 2011 Janeen Christoff
Toro Verde Nature Adventure Park
Zipline tours start at $75; The Beast is $50; The Wild Bull and Escape if You Can start at $85; and mountain bike circuits start at $25. The park is open daily, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
I had no idea what to expect during my recent visit to the Toro Verde Nature Adventure Park in Puerto Rico. I had looked up the park online before I left, but the website is all in Spanish (as is its Facebook page). So, while I thought there was some ziplining involved as well as mountain biking, there were also images of people flying through the air in strange cocoon-like contraptions that just looked uncomfortable. Needless to say, there was a mixture of excitement (I love ziplining) and nervous anticipation (I wasn’t sure I wanted to be in a cocoon). I needn’t have worried; the cocoon part turned out to be my favorite. However, the park did offer some unexpected challenges.
Far from a regular canopy tour, Toro Verde, located in the lush mountains of Orocovis, Puerto Rico, is the ideal setting for nature-lovers and adventure-seekers. The park offers one of the most extensive ziplining courses in the islands, as well as intricate mountain biking trails, challenging bridge tours, rappelling and more.
The best way to experience the park and all it has to offer is to opt for one of its tours. There is a canopy tour (Canopy Tour I) that includes eight different ziplines, including the second longest in the park, the Flight of the Phoenix, which has a cable length of 2,526 feet long and is rated “fast.” All the lines on this tour are either medium- or fast-paced except for one, the Flight of the Red Tail Hawk, which is slower.
The Bridge Tour (Bridge Tour III) and also known as The Wild Bull, is what I would recommend if your clients are relatively fit thrill-seekers. The tour begins with the Flight of the Condor zipline with a cable length of 1,476 feet and medium speed. A thrill itself for its sheer length and breathtaking scenery. The fun is followed by a series of bridges. As you come upon each of the bridges, you think that they look tame until you take that first step, and you realize, these aren’t ordinary suspension bridges. Some wiggle and wobble as you try to make your way across. One is just a series of moving, narrow planks, and none are as easy as they look from the starting point. However, you are, of course, harnessed in, so there’s really no danger if you were to actually fall.
My favorite bridge was The Coqui Jump Bridge. Just like the other bridges, it looks like an ordinary suspension bridge — and it is — until you get to the end. About three-quarters of the way across, the bridge comes to an abrupt end. There are no more planks, just a vertical rope waiting for you to jump to it, grab on and rappel down. It took my breath away to leap from the bridge about three feet onto the rope in front of me knowing that, with one misstep, I would be plummeting to the earth — well, theoretically at least.
Tour IV is called Escape if You Can. This is a combination of four ziplines and a rapel called Chief Orocovix’ Jump. Three of the ziplines (Tarzan’s Expressway, The Hummingbird’s Buzz and Flight of the Manatees 2) are more than 1,000 feet long and the rappel is a 164-foot drop and a 230-foot walk.
Any of these tours should be combined with what Toro Verde calls Canopy Tour II, which really isn’t a tour at all. It’s a single zipline known as The Beast — and it’s where the cocoon-like contraption comes into play. The Beast rivals the world-famous Superman zipline in Monteverde, Costa Rica, and is almost double the length of any of the other ziplines in the park — 4,745 feet long. It’s also one of the highest in the world at 853 feet. It is so long, in fact, you can’t see the rider after they are about halfway along the zipline. And, it’s not your typical ride, either. Instead of a harness around your hips and waist, such as those used for most ziplines and rappelling, you are wrapped in a cocoon that starts at your shoulders and ends just below the knees. The harness sits at about the middle of the back. Tour guides clip riders in and, then, you sort of lay down, suspended in the air. After a huge push, you fell as though you are flying through the air, hands in front of you, just like Superman.
For those looking to do some mountain biking in Puerto Rico, the Toro Verde Nature Adventure Park also features the Marla Streb Singletrack Jungle, a world-class eight-mile trail developed with the professional mountain bike racer for whom the trail is named.