“Braving” Latin America’s Scariest Zip Line

Our stay in Ecuador’s Intag Valley was incredibly lovely: we thoroughly enjoyed living in our “tiny house” at Pacheco Farmhouse: eating delicious, home-cooked meals, meeting new friends, and hiking around the northern Andes (more on our stay in Apuela, Ecuador to come!).

One of the most memorable experiences of that trip was also — at least for me — the most terrifying: being suspended 1,000 feet in the air from Latin America’s highest (and longest) zip line.

Let me rewind and say that I had absolutely no intention of dangling from a cable ONE HUNDRED STORIES from the ground; my instincts usually scream that something like that is precarious at best (and suicidal at worst). I should also mention that I’ve been zip lining before, but it was ultimately a pretty low-adrenaline activity. This was something else entirely.

Back to the story: earlier that day, Jeff and I had gone on a 10+ mile hike, which was mostly uphill (it would have been much shorter but for an unintentional, ahem, detour we took). When we arrived at the adventure park, we were tired and VERY thirsty as we had run out of water on the long hike.

The park was mostly abandoned, but we found a nice guy who led us to his brother/the zip line operator (casually farming in a field, as zip line operators do???). Five minutes and $15 later, Jeff was strapped into a harness and gleefully zipping out over the Intag Valley while I nervously watched the suspension wire for any sign of malfunction.

I told Jeff that if I didn’t watch him plummet to his death, I would consider following (but most likely I would just walk the four miles down and meet him at our guesthouse).

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Jeff is all smiles here (though he admitted later that he too was nervous about falling to his death)
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The view from the middle of the 1/2 mile-long zip line — eep!

I really didn’t want to do it. I guess I wasn’t expecting that the zip line would be SO HIGH and SO LONG. But I really, really didn’t want to walk another four miles in the rain. And I was SO THIRSTY. So the next thing I know, I’m forking over the cash and stepping into a harness myself.

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Are you there God? It’s me, Norah.

Ugghhhhhh the two-minute, half mile ride was terrifying! I was clutching the cable for dear life while wondering if, should everything go wrong, I could hang on — sans harness– long enough for someone to rescue me. I had a flashback to a conversation with my parents in January about the logistics of repatriating my remains, should I meet my end abroad (“My insurance will cover up to $500,000; if it’s more than that, don’t bother.”)

Needless to say, I did not meet my end. A very exuberant Jeff (bless his heart) met me at the other end of the valley, and we hiked down the hillside to relax in some hot springs before making our way back to the guesthouse.

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VERY happy to be back on solid ground post-zip line!

In sum: I’m glad I did it, if only to save myself from the drag of walking an extra four miles. Was it an exhilarating, life-changing experience? Sure.

Would I do it again? HELL. NO.

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