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Zipping between ancient trees on a steel cable sound like fun?

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Spending time hanging out in trees may not be something you consider doing every day, but it most definitely should be on your list of “must-do’s” here in Pucón.

Known as canopy rides, zip lines, aerial runways, flying foxes or even the rather ominous death slide, this activity is a no go for anyone with an aversion to heights.

Here in Chile the “normal” style of canopy ride consists of a series of zip lines and aerial bridges located in-between trees. The process begins first by establishing a route through the forest which allows for pre-determined length sections of zip line to be erected. The zip lines themselves are made from steel cables which can withstand the weight of a person, or people, and are also weather resistant. Once the main route is drawn up, the construction of aerial platforms around the tree trunks begins. The zip lines are then attached to the platforms and to the ground at the beginning and the end. The idea is that you launch yourself from each platform into the void, you zip along the line and will be caught at the next platform to prepare for your next launch. The platforms themselves offer respite from your zipping experience and also allow the tree top tour to change direction through the forest itself.

Canopy pucon 1

A canopy tour can include any amount of zip lines possible. The 1,5 hour experiences in Pucón include around 11 lines which vary between an easy peasy 40m to a jaw dropping 240m in length with maximum heights above the forest floor (or the river in some cases!) of 25 metres. Depending on your own weight amongst other variables, you can reach a speed of between 20 and 45 km/hr.

Canopy pucon 2Canopy pucon 3

When you arrive at each platform and have to transfer to the start of a new zip line, you are always attached to a safety line by carabiners and there are trained guides manning each station. The experience is a very different one to a hike in the forest. Standing on a platform attached to a tree 25m off the ground is akin to feeling like our feathered friends. From that position you really do get a bird’s eye view!

As detailed in previous blogs, the forests and national parks around Pucón are areas of extremely rich biodiversity, so if you can suppress your squeals of excitement about your canopy ride you just might be able to see the brilliant red head of the male Magellanic Woodpecker, or the Chucao Tapaculo with its distinctive call, flitting between the trees.

Magellanic Woodpecker

Chucao Tapaculo 1

Historically the zip wire was used as a transportation method in mountainous countries, and also as a way to cross rivers in remote terrain. Nowadays canopy tours have become an established part of tourism infrastructure in countries such as Costa Rica, Mexico, Brazil, Thailand and New Zealand and have thus spread in popularity to many other destinations across the globe.

The whole trip from the centre of Pucón takes 3 hours return including the transport, guide, equipment (helmet and harness), as well as the safety talk. Drop Sol y Nieve a line here to find out how to book and also for advice on how to make the best of your time in Pucón. Meanwhile, check out these previous blogs. Enjoy!

Villarrica volcano ascent 1 & 2



River rafting


Huerquehue National Park

Quetrupillán section of Villarrica National Park

©Sarah White2014-Author’s rights reserved


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Guest Wednesday, 18 October 2017