Take a speedboat to a fishing village, hop in the back of a multi-terrain truck to go up the side of a mountain, then ride a mule higher still, then hike the rest of the way up. This is just to get you to the place where the adventure really begins.
The name "Outdoor Adventure" sounds pretty tame for what you're getting yourself into on this excursion. It's an ingeniously designed circuit with seven ziplines through the jungle (in various heights and positions - including upside down if you choose), rope bridges, rappelling down a waterfall and two extreme waterslides.
Yes, you will get soaking wet. No, flip-flops are not appropriate footwear.
Vallarta Adventures offers a variety of excursions to visitors staying in Puerto Vallarta or Riviera Nayarit. From a romantic sunset cruise on a sailboat, to a beach and water sports day at Las Caletas, there's something for everyone. The Outdoor Adventure is the most extreme of their tours, and takes place high in the Sierra Madre mountains.
Outdoor Adventure Circuit
I did the Outdoor Adventure on an overcast day in early October. There was a light intermittent rain nearly all day and the mountains and dense forest were misted. It was a bit muddy, which made me somewhat nervous about the mule going up the sometimes steep trail, but there wasn't any trouble.
I'm not the most adventurous person and I had only minimal experience with ziplines prior to this occasion. Some of these ziplines are very long (almost 1,000 feet) and high (250 feet). I decided to not think about it and just do it. The guides explained that we should keep our right hand behind us on the line - that would keep us from spinning around - and pull down when instructed, to brake at the right moment.
The ziplines were fun and as we went through the quick-paced circuit I enjoyed the adrenaline rush.
When it came time to rappel down the waterfall I was a bit more wary. The guide explained that I should stand backwards on the edge of the cliff and just lean back over it. That was terrifying, but once over the edge it was easy to go down - another guide at the bottom of the waterfall held a rope, controlling the speed on the way down.
There are two waterslides, and the final one is the most extreme, with a drop of nearly 850 feet. At the top you exchange the helmet and harnesses that you've used thus far for a hockey helmet with face grid, elbow pads and a mat to lie on. Here we were instructed to tuck our shirts into our shorts, keep our legs tight together and enjoy the ride. This is a hard and fast ride and is over in just a few seconds. A guide at the bottom helped me up and gave me a towel and my heart rate returned to normal as I enjoyed watching the remaining members of our group come down the slide.
On every excursion I've been on with Vallarta Adventures' (and sister company Cabo Adventures that operates out of Los Cabos), I'm always impressed with the staff. The guides are both fun and safety-conscious. They keep the jokes running, but they're always on top of any safety and comfort considerations. All the excursions are very well planned and this one in particular is a great option for adventurous travelers looking for an adrenaline rush.
If you go:
Eat a hearty breakfast before you go, because the whole experience lasts several hours. They offer you some fruit and water at the end of the circuit, and you can buy quesadillas when you get back to base camp, but if you haven't eaten before, you'll likely be ravenous by then.
Dress appropriately. You will get soaked, but shorts and a t-shirt are a good choice - you'll need more coverage than a bathing suit offers to protect from chafing from the harness. For your feet, watershoes are your best bet, sneakers are second best. They need to stay on - if you drop a shoe (or anything else) while ziplining, you won't get it back. If you wear glasses, it's a good idea to have them on a strap or croakie.
What to take: Take mosquito repellent and sunscreen, and re-apply at the base camp before the mule ride. Also take with you a change of clothes and money for snacks, photos and souvenirs.
You can't take phones or cameras with you on the adventure circuit; you'll have to leave them at base camp where they have a box for valuables. The company's photographer will get shots of you through the circuit and you'll have the opportunity to see and purchase them on your return to base camp - and trust me, you will want photos to remember this crazy, fun adventure.
Restrictions: The minimum age for the Outdoor Adventure excursion is 10, and there is a maximum weight restriction of 260 lbs (118 kg). You don't have to have experience with any of the activities - they coach you through everything, but you should be in fairly decent shape - able to hike an uphill trail, climb a ladder. If you have a fear of heights you'll probably want to skip this excursion. Keep in mind that once you're on the circuit, you pretty much have to continue through the whole thing - ziplines, rappelling, rope bridges, waterslides and all. You can't skip any of the activities because it's a circuit. The final waterslide takes you down to base camp.
Learn more about this excursion on the Vallarta Adventures website: Outdoor Adventure or find out about more things to see and do in Puerto Vallarta.