Welcome to the Toro Verde Adventure Park & Eco Resort, a 100-acre jungle oasis located in the heart of Puerto Rico. It's the ultimate playground, offering hours of mountain biking, rock climbing, and zip-line adventures with lush jungle landscapes as the backdrop.
Adrenaline junkies can fly on more than 20 canopy zip-lines (with more to come) that range from 100 to 3,000-plus feet in length, and are up to 800 meters high. My favorite fix is "The Beast," touted as the second longest zip-line in the world with average break neck speeds of 50-plus mph. Imagine ripping through the sky in a prone "superman"-style harness. Below on the forest floor is a network of world-class mountain-bike trails linking miles of varied jungle terrain.
The park itself is being developed in three phases, with a projected 316 acres at completion. With phase one complete, phase two promises "more fully sustainable, and primarily natural-surface mountain-bike trails," says seven-time world champion mountain biker and trail designer Marla Streb of Streb Trail Productions. Marla has turned her passion for trails, mountain biking, and land preservation into a full-time pursuit and is responsible for many sustainable development and education projects in several regions of Central America. Her philosophy is to "use, not abuse," expressing the importance of enjoying and interacting with these natural wonders without leaving behind our mark. The idea behind this project, she says, is to work with world-class athletes to design world-class trails, with a variety of options that appeal to beginner and advanced riders and hikers alike.
Phase three will unveil the resort, an eco-oasis that will feature suspended tropical-style villas. The ultimate "big kid" tree fort. The key word here is sustainability as the resort will use collected rainwater, solar panels, and recycled/reusable materials. The villas will literally hang from a tree and cliff on extended platforms with all the accouterments of a moderately priced eco-hotel room. Rooms will be sprinkled throughout the jungle, with most accessible by trail only (might want to bring your hiking shoes). Two main buildings will house a restaurant, lobby, and a handful of additional sleeping quarters. They expect to host their first guest in spring 2011.
In the meantime, following a ceremonial ribbon cutting by the governor of Puerto Rico on May 27, the adventure park opened for business. Local residents and guests have been invited to experience eight miles of trails and 20-plus zip-lines for a day fee of $25. Considering Puerto Rico has a population of 4.5 million, and with 5.4 million tourists visiting annually (90 percent from the States), it should be a busy place.
Puerto Rico, often thought of for its superb surfing, exotic rums, and mofongo (good stuff, Google it), seems the ideal setting for this truly authentic eco-experience...dishing up great fun for locals and a low-impact escape from the norm for adventure travelers from afar. So grab a bike, a flight, and your insanity. The jungle awaits!
About the Author: Ty Stevens is an adventure travel enthusiast. Be it for play... mountain biking, expedetion running, yoga retreats, or just plain exploring new places. Or work... offering public relations for clients, travel writing, or photography. As a single dad his favorite travel companion is his seven-year-old son, Caleb. In his travels his greatest pleasure is in meeting new people, and learning about the many unique parts of the world that create the whole.
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