Batey Zipline Adventure is a Life Changing Mountain Soul Trek (5 stars)
What’s better than ziplining through the mountains of Puerto Rico? Doing it 7 times, then rappelling and kayaking down a river that passes through a cave. We took the tour with Batey Zipline Adventure, which also offers horseback riding and tours of a famous home and “Eco-Farm”.
Batey was the one tour operator that did not offer a pickup from San Juan, so we rented a car and drove the 80 minutes, way up into the mountains where the roads are narrow and dangerous. Arriving, we got fitted for helmets and zipline gear and then took off with our guides Edwin and AJ, as part of a small group of eight people.
We found on our Puerto Rico trip that the guides make the experience, and especially Edwin was a great host. He put us at ease, without making us feel bad if we weren’t macho. And he constantly made jokes, such as pretending it was his first time driving while rocketing a van on a hair-raising single-lane road farther into the forested mountains. Then we hiked even deeper and higher.
On the hike up, Edwin taught us about local plants, which was informative and interesting. We got beautiful views of the Tanama river, and saw plantain trees, coffee plants, cilantro plants, and a breadfruit tree. It was an easy hike, though sometimes a steep staircase that the kids in our party needed help with. And the trail was often dangerously narrow and cliffside, where our helmets wouldn’t have helped much. They offer a walking stick, but my recommendation is to skip it, so that you have nothing to distract from your remembered sense of balance. Our fellow guests were all families who were friendly and not looking to yell or party.
Edwin’s humor and expertly delivered safety guidelines made us feel safe as we braved the seven ziplines, one after the other. It was just scary enough to brag to your friends back home without actually being hazardous. Unlike other zipline tours, Batey uses two separate zip lines at all times for extra safety. And of course there was no physical challenge in sitting there being slid along. If I regret anything, it’s that some of the landing pads, where you end the zipline and put your feet down, were awkward enough that I spent most of my zipping overly worrying about sticking my landing instead of admiring the view. The longest portion of the ziplining was 600 feet. Guides did zipline tricks for us, hanging upside down.
After the ziplines, we had a chance to rappel 75 feet down a cliff face, which to me was the scariest event of the day, and some of us opted to walk down instead. Watch yourself as you descend! I had major butt crack in the photos. It takes some getting used to, especially that first step off the platform, but within 60 seconds you’ll be descending like a pro.
We then went for a swim at a strikingly beautiful natural pool. Here, you’ll need swim trunks, and if you have shoes that can get wet, you’ll navigate tiny rocks better. If you’re brave you can jump from specific spots into the water, too. In groups we kayaked along the river and through a natural cave. What a way to go caving! There’s no way to describe the absolute darkness, the pristine wholesomeness of how you bond with nature in such an experience. When they clear out more debris from the recent hurricane it will be even better.
When the trip ended it was 3pm, and we were hungry. The tour does not include lunch and we did not bring one. (By the way, skip the local pizza shop on your way out.) So even though our guides gave us the option to continue the hike for another 45 minutes, to see another cave and go swimming again, along with half the group we opted to return directly to headquarters.
Ziplining through a rainforest and kayaking through a cave would each be a bucket list experience on their own. Doing them together, in the beautiful countryside, was nearly life-changing. With a van pickup from San Juan, a grilled hot lunch, and a few more safety fences along the hiking trail, it would be 5 stars PLUS, a must-do. Instead, I’m glad to give a perfect 5 stars to Batey Zipline Adventure. You will love your day with them.