I love the drive to ziplining – the meandering, undulating road through the rainforest is the prettiest on the island. Even the name is charming: ‘Fig Tree Drive’.
If you don’t feel brave enough to zipline, just go along for the drive and enjoy a coffee/rum (obviously) and the view while the others try their hand at flying over the canopy of the forest.
Fig Tree Drive takes in the east coast of the island and, depending where you start, you will want to stop at the delicate, azure Caribbean beaches along the way, as well as the brilliant art gallery ‘Fig Tree Studio’ by Sallie Harker.
The Rainforest Tour itself is very professional and well-branded, with a good website, clever staff uniforms and bright paintwork all around.
I recommend booking in advance to arrange what time to be there, in order to avoid too much waiting, as it is frequented by big tour groups from cruise ships.
There are a few different tour options – 9 or 12 zips , with both tours encompassing ‘The Screamer’ as the main event and another zip that involves a steep drop.
Saying that, our 7 year old son has done the whole thing. It is a given, however, that some children are braver than adults (and I have watched some adults chicken-out after the first zip), so bring your big-boy-pants and have a laugh.
The tour involves a bit of waiting around, as each person has to zoom to the other side before the next can be clipped on. If you have a few characters in your group however (hopefully), the possible boredom clearly dissolves away in mirth.
Upon arrival and after registration, it is time to ‘gear up’ – they provide harnesses, helmets and gloves. Anyone wearing flip-flops will be sorted out with an ingenious elastic band trick to avoid loss of footwear.
Then there is a safety briefing: Antiguans speak a version-of-English. This is advertised all over the ziplining venue as most of the signage is comically written in English and Antiguan. However, when it comes to the briefing, which will be issued in Antiguan, you may have to concentrate very hard if you are at all interested in knowing what you need to know.
There is the obvious fear if you are slightly heavier than average, whether the contraption will hold you or allow you to plummet to the foliage below. In this case the staff, without any discussion or mild smirking, will strap you into a double harness and off you go….
There is always somebody who is itching to go first. Unfortunately, in this case it is the guide that gets to steal the show. They do it in the most casual way, making it look like it is not going to be fun at all. Except if you are nervous, and then it is their job to scare the wits out of you, and everybody else has a good laugh along the way.
It is expensive, but it is expensive to get to Antigua, so it is assumed that if you make it here for fun, you have probably got some spending money to boot.
Overall, it is skillfully operated and you can be sure of a fun few hours in nature with a hit of adrenaline, a little chaffing and a big smile at the end.
As for Ricky the Surf Dog, well of course he came along too. However, his attention was turned to someone much more feline, and he is never in a friendly mood with such creatures. The cat in question, was as bold as brass, and as neither of them could wear a harness and fly over the forest, they taunted each other mercilessly for an adrenaline-rush while we waited.
Antigua is a small island that relies heavily on tourism. It is also a third world country and there are not many systems in place that we would expect from the countries that we generally come from. Amongst the poverty and chaotic driving there are wonderful people and some great adventures awaiting visitors. The island is ready for the holidaymakers now, with live music on the beach and in the restaurants, gaily coloured street stalls and markets aplenty. From the last few months of ghost-town-liness, Antigua is a hive of activity of weddings and honeymooners, lovers and retired couples, some families and of course the residents partying on. As for me, I am excited to visit the art galleries and discover more about the island as the season progresses (and to catch up with friends on the yachts that are crossing the Atlantic as we speak).
Of course, I will continue to post on beauty and entertaining in the tropics. Let me know if you have any questions or contact me through the ‘Work With Me’ page above.