You can now pretend to be Tarzan in a forest in Dubai. We’re not kidding.
We’ve written before about ziplining and expect to see more of these popping up across the region, but were surprised to find the latest one in a forest. In Mirdif. Friday sent its intern, Nouran Salahieh, to the new Aventura Park to see if she could stay
Yes, there’s a forest of ghaf trees on the edge of Dubai. That’s not all – in it you’ll find horizontal and vertical climbing walls, rope course challenges and ziplines. It looks like a whole other world, and it’s hard to believe it’s in the city’s Mushrif park.
‘We wanted to build Aventura in the midst of nature, but we wanted to conserve nature as well,’ says Hadi Fakhoury, co-founder and managing director of the park. ‘We used 71 poles of varying heights, 6km of cables, and made bases and foundations according to safety standards that went as deep as 8km under ground.
‘We wanted to fill a large gap that we felt existed – we wanted people to lead a lifestyle that was sporty and active,’ he adds.
Lina Malas, Aventura’s co-founder and director of corporate development, adds, ‘We believe that experiencing nature is a basic human need. Especially for youngsters who need persuasion to switch off their tablets, or adults who are looking for something to help them escape their daily routines. What better way is there to do that, than with a thrilling zipline through the ghaf tree forest?’
Heart pounding in my chest, I stood before high structures with cables, nets and ladders that blended in with the desert sand and trees. The first step was to put my safety harness and gear on. The harness fastens around your thighs and waist, and the two safety cables with hooks are hung to the front of the harness. Feeling like a cool character from Mission: Impossible, and already feeling like I was working out because the gear was a little heavy, things started to look up.
The second step was to head over to a training session with Noe Munoz, a park operator, to learn how to use the gear, and how to manoeuvre around the course. I learnt the correct method of hooking my cables on to the bars, so that if I slipped, the cables would catch me.
The cables are reassuring; unhooking one cable means that you can’t unhook another, except at certain spots of the course. This means that you’ll always be supported by the cables when necessary. I also learnt about hooking myself on to a zipline, sitting down to be supported by the gear, and holding on correctly. When ziplining, it’s important to remember to never put your hands on the zipline itself. That’s a common mistake that can really hurt!
After the training was done, it was time to climb up and get started. Safe to say that I was very clumsy at first, and hooking the cables up took a few tries, because all I heard in my head was ‘don’t look down’ on repeat. Finally having managed to get up on the platform, it was time to strap my cables on to the rail, and balance on thin panels of wood to get to the other side. Considering I can’t walk straight on normal ground, this felt like a bit of a challenge. I threw caution to the wind and got started. And guess what? It was surprisingly easy, and I noticed I wasn’t even that high up.
Ziplining came next. I used the method Noe taught me to secure to the line – hook one cable on to the line, followed by the zipline apparatus on your belt, and then another cable. Now that I was sure I was safely secured, I sat down, and, ignoring echoes of internal screaming, kicked my feet forward, and zipped through. That was amazing; I felt like Tarzan!
My inner child was jumping up and down yelling “again, again!” I went through the rest of the course, trying to balance on tight ropes, jump on to platforms, pull myself up, and, you know, not fall down. The best advice I could give someone going through the course is to not overthink things.
Being strapped on to safety cables, it would be difficult to really injure yourself. It’s best to relax and have fun.
‘We have had an almost unanimous response from people leaving the park. People say they felt amazing and challenged after going through the course,’ explains Hadi.
Granted, I was probably clutching on to the safety rails and ropes much tighter than Tarzan or Mission’s Ethan Hunt would have done, but it was still a great new experience.
If you’re anything like me – which means you would immediately reject the thought of any activities that include heights and sports – ziplining is a great way to start changing that attitude.
Of course, because you’d be going to an adventure park in Dubai, remember to put on sunscreen. Also, dress in comfortable clothes, and sports shoes. Flat tennis shoes would be hard to find your balance in. Entry is Dh150 for adults, and Dh125 for children whose height is above 1.15m.
Mushrif park is in a great area on the outskirts of Dubai; children are welcome on the courses