Saturday 18 November, 2017

WATCH: Rappelling the Avocat Falls; Loop takes the plunge

It takes an immense amount of trust to dangle 72 feet above a chilly pool, churning white under the immense weight of the Avocat waterfall.

With a harness, helmet and lengths of rope secured to the rocks above as my only insurance, I lowered myself, gingerly at first, then, spurred on by Sheldon of Paria Springs Tours, more quickly, legs outstretched, trying to plant them firmly on the rock face in front of me, then push off.

The feeling itself, once you get past the initial unfamiliarity of swinging through the air, is exhilarating. There’s a degree of liberation in letting your feet leave the ground, trusting the equipment and the guide to do what needs to be done to keep you secure. For those of us who struggle with control issues, rappelling can be as therapeutic as it is exciting.

 

In case you’re wondering how exactly I ended up swinging from a waterfall, Loop tagged along with Paria Springs Tours owner, Courtenay “Bushman” Rooks on the Avocat Waterfall and Rappelling Adventure as part of the Ministry of Tourism’s Stay to Get Away campaign.

The tour itself consisted of a short, manageable trek through the Blachisseuse forest, sometimes wading waist-deep in the Marianne River to get to our final destination - the stunning Avocat, or Petit Marianne Waterfall.

The trail is easy enough and suitable for a range of fitness levels and hiking experience. It was only made slightly challenging by the downpour that started just before we reached our final destination.

Another shower later in the day sent the cameramen scampering for the relative protection of the trees.

A word to the wise - this is a tour you should prepare to get drenched on. Ziploc bags and dry bags are highly recommended, otherwise be prepared to have your electronics spend the night in a bowl of rice instead.

After a short but comprehensive tutorial by guide Sheldon, the rappelling crew clambered up to the top of the falls to get ready for the unconventional descent.

Bolts in the rocks above the falls served to anchor the climbing ropes in place as Rooks kitted up his willing subjects in preparation for their rappel.

With Rooks’ voice resounding from above us, “Keep your hand by your butt”, one by one, we descended, jerkily at first, then more smoothly as our mind, hands and legs worked in tandem to lower us to the waters below. 

Just before I touched the surface of the water, Sheldon swung the rope into the path of the rushing waterfall, shocking but refreshing all at once, a fitting conclusion to an already adrenaline-pumping drop.

After I emerged from the water, hauled in by Sheldon, there was really only one thing left to do: head back up to the top and do it all over again.

Click here to book this, or another of the tours on the stay to Get Away Campaign.