Legs dangling, heart in your stomach, wind at your back — and the childish burst of glee as you go propelling at full speed over the North West coast of Trinidad.
It’s ZIP-ITT, or ZIP lining In Trinidad and Tobago, to be precise.
Established in October 2012 at Macqueripe Bay in Chaguaramas, the Trinidad-based company ZIP-ITT is a joint venture between a group of investors in Trinidad, and Tree Top Adventure Park in St. Lucia, all of whom are related.
Tree Top Adventure Park has been offering soft eco-adventure tours in St.Lucia since 1995 and zip-lining since 2005. The idea of bringing zip-lining to Trinidad some 5 years ago came to fruition in June 2013, with the thrust of the Chaguaramas Development Authority along with the Ministry of Planning and Sustainable Development, both of which have been huge supporters and instigators of the project.
But the heart of the story, as Operations Manager Ronald Robertson states, is really the ZIP-ITT staff, which currently stands at 27 and comprises of young people — many in their teens and early 20s — from the Chaguaramas area and environs.
“Part of this effort was to boost this area of the country in terms of employment for young people particularly in these underdeveloped areas far from the urban centres,” Mr. Robertson says.
“The staff — I couldn’t ask for a better team. They are really the driving force behind this… professional, dependable, personable; and they always ensure all checks are in place.”
Safety & Hygiene
The idea of hanging from a cable in the sky may be scary to some, but rest assured: the ZIP-ITT team has it covered.
The course is internationally certified, and was designed by Tree Top Adventure Park’s competent professionals who are trained in the field. It is annually inspected by a certified inspector from the Association for Challenge Course Technology (ACCT), and there are inspections at different levels conducted daily and monthly.
All the staff go through rigorous training before being able to operate the zip line.
“We train with our eyes closed,” adds Daniel ‘Snoop’, a staff member and WellnessConnect’s host on the day. “Without looking, we are all able to put on all the safety gear on someone, and run the zip line course.”
Don’t worry though — all eyes are wide open for guests!
Operating the course becomes second nature for the team, who ensure everything goes smoothly and safely with all the zip-lining guests on any given day.
The number of staff operating on a typical day is 20, with an additional 4 or 6 during the high-peak seasons of July-August.
Each staff member is assigned to a particular platform, and one will always be there to ‘send’ the guest on the zip-line while another is there to ‘receive’.
Although between platforms the staff usually have line of sight of each other, they still use walkie-talkie radios to facilitate communication and ensure they are in sync as each person is on the line, and that the line is clear before another goes onto it.
There are special considerations to keep the equipment clean at all times, and avoid deterioration. Apart from regular cleaning and inspection checks, patrons are encouraged to use latex gloves, which then fit into the thicker leather gloves which will hold onto the line. Hair nets are also provided for guests to wear under the helmets. This is all part of the experience to ensure guests feel safe and enjoy the overall experience, while ensuring the highest standards.
The ZIP-ITT Experience
After your safety gear is attached, a staff member will lead you out to the ‘demo zip-line’ where he/she will demonstrate how to ‘zip’. Here are the basics:
- Hold onto your slings in front with your weaker hand, and extend your dominant hand behind you onto the bottom cable. Never put your hand in front of you on the zip line, unless you are pulling yourself in.
- You should lift your legs when coming to a platform.
- Your dominant hand is what controls your speed. Coming in too slowly can result in the ‘pull of shame’, which means that you will end up in the middle of the line facing the wrong direction, and have to physically turn around on the line and reel yourself back towards the platform you were originally heading towards.
- The guide will have his/her eyes on you as you come in, and if you are going too fast, will hold his/her hands up in an ‘x’ position to indicate that you should slow down.
- If you forget or ignore this instruction, the guide has a braking system they can send out on the line, which will cause you to slow down and safely reach the platform.
The Chaguaramas Development Authority has done a tremendous job in upgrading the area and providing a lovely green space for all to enjoy. From the drive down Tucker Valley Road, one enters the Macqueripe Beach Facility which offers both mobile and foot patrol security.
The level of customer service is exemplary — the staff is well-trained, very polite and friendly, and pay attention to every detail to ensure that all guests enjoy the experience.
It is a good team-building exercise or recreational adventure for any company. Encouraging your colleagues to overcome the fear and get onto the first zip line will surely be a memorable experience.
Many companies, families or groups of friends make a day of the event by having a picnic or ‘beach lime’ at Macqueripe.
“You’ve got to ZIP-ITT to believe it!” is the slogan — WellnessConnect zipped and we are happy to say we are now believers!
For more information, contact ZIP-ITT at 1-868-381-8543 or [email protected]. You can also check out their Facebook page http://www.facebook.com/trinidadzipitt.
What You Need To Know
The cost of the course is TT$120 per person and includes riding all 7 zip lines and 5 net bridges or canopy walks. Debit and credit cards are accepted.
- The opening hours are:
- Tue – Fri: 10:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.
- Sat – Sun and public holidays: 10:00 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.
- No reservations are required, but if you are bringing a large group from your company it would be a good idea to give the ZIP-ITT team a heads-up.
- Parking is available at the Macqueripe Beach Facility for TT$20.
- Bathroom facilities are located at the ZIP-ITT Welcome Centre.
- The entire course takes approximately one hour, and consists of 7 zip lines and 5 canopy walks.
- The zip-line itself consists of two lines running parallel, upon which the mechanism of the person’s harness is clipped. Each line can bear up to 15,000 lbs, while the harness can take up to 5000 lb.
- Despite the capacity of the zip-line, the weight limit is kept at 250 lb or 50 inch waist circumference for safety reasons and also to be able to fit into the harness.
- Children must be 50 inches or taller (approx. 4 feet) to be allowed on the zip-line. A 9-year-old will usually meet these requirements. Generally clients range between 10 and 50 years old and are families, students and companies. However, ZIP-ITT has had a patron over the age of 80!
- The highest line is over 100 feet from the ground, so be aware of this is you are afraid of heights!
- Slippers and loose footwear are not recommended on the zip-line, as you are likely to lose them. Sensible, properly-fitting attire should be worn under the harness. Typical sport/gym wear is best. Guests are required to tuck in their shirt and remove their shoes while gearing up and down. This is simply for safety reasons as it allows the ZIP-ITT staff to see the gear at all times and make it easy to get the gear on and off, while also ensuring it is kept clean.
- It is recommended that you eat something beforehand to ensure that you are not dizzy or ill during the course. Intoxicated persons will not be allowed on the zip line course.
- All participants are required to sign a waiver beforehand. Persons who are pregnant, physically challenged or have heart conditions are not encouraged to participate.