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Sunday, November 17, 2013

Rainforest Adventures Helps Meeting and Incentive Travellers Fight Nature Deficit Disorder


With Rainforest Adventures (a collection of sustainable eco-adventure parks located in some of the most sought-after conference, meetings and incentive destinations in the world), meeting planners can give delegates and business teams “nature time” in some of the richest and most diverse rainforests on the planet.

“Each of our parks work with meeting and incentive planners to create rainforest and nature themed parties and tours that tie into their corporate goals,” said Annika Bratt, vice president of sales for Rainforest Adventures. “Our team also works out the best timing so each group has either full access to the parks or private tours. Planners only have to visit www.rainforestadventure.com or call 1-866-759-8726, and we’ll put them directly in touch with the park of their choice to customize a visit.”

Nature Deficit Disorder, a term coined for the growing epidemic of people (particularly children) who experience a decreased interaction with nature, has been credited to Richard Louv, author of Last Child in the Woods (2005). This alarming lack of outdoor enjoyment is said to be due to our growing reliance on technology. Over the past few decades, research has cited numerous restorative benefits to spending time in nature – a simple walk in the woods and smelling the jungle can alleviate fatigue and stress. Add in team-building activities, such as ziplining at night, a flora and fauna scavenger hunt or an hour spent in a butterfly garden, and a day out of the office has even more inspirational and health value.

“And because Rainforest Adventures has also been recognized as a socially-responsible business, we are happy to give groups behind-the-scenes tours of our sustainability initiatives. Many businesses appreciate this offer as a way to help inspire new thinking around sustainability within their own companies,” said Annika Bratt.

Operating under strict conservation guidelines, Rainforest Adventures launched in 1994 when the first park (Costa Rica Atlantic) constructed the world’s first rainforest aerial tram – without removing a single tree in the process. Today, Rainforest Adventures has expanded its parks (locations include Costa Rica Pacific, Costa Rica Atlantic, St Lucia, Mexico and Jamaica) and tours (Panama), each destination offering groups and conference planners thrilling, eye-opening and educational rainforest activities. Adventures range from bobsledding through a Jamaican rainforest and aerial tram rides to the top of mountains to bird-watching tours and naturalist-led nature walks. Some locations even expand beyond the rainforest to include historical walking tours and visits to an authentic Embera Indian Village (Panama).

Each park, attractions and tour is unique, built around the natural history and culture of each country. All excursions are carbon neutral and the company has been certified by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) and Association of Challenge Course Technology (ACCT) for safety.
  • Experience soft adventure at Rainforest Adventures Costa Rica Atlantic. Located just 80 kms (50 miles) from Costa Rica’s capital city of San José, Rainforest Adventures Costa Rica Atlantic was the company’s first park, introduced in 1994 with the non-invasive construction of an aerial tram. Today, the park has grown to include guided tours (pick from nature hikes, bird-watching treks and family-friendly adventures) and attractions like the AdrenaLine – a 700-metre (2,297-foot) zipline that takes thrill-seekers flying 55 km/hr (34 mph) through the jungle. Group incentives include Rainforest Encounter (an interactive performance based on the awakening of the rainforest), Tastes Like Colour (a dinner show featuring dancing and music) and Treasure Hunt (a team-based scavenger hunt). For softer adventure, guests can explore the butterfly and frog garden: a 200-square-metre (1,250-square-foot) open-air space where nature-lovers can immerse themselves in a world of bug-eyed bullfrogs and tiny tadpoles. And with bilingual naturalists overseeing the grounds, this garden is an eye-opening and educational experience for adventurers of all ages. Unique to Costa Rica Atlantic are the 10 modern bungalows of the Rainforest Lodge, each with private baths and terraces and available for overnight accommodation. Read more about Costa Rica Atlantic Group Incentive Programs.
  • Explore phobias at the Serpentarium and experience the thrill of climbing the waterfall at Rainforest Adventures Costa Rica Pacific. In our Pacific open-air Serpentarium, visitors get a close look at 20 species of snakes and reptiles – some for the first time – and learn about the “scariest” reptiles that call Costa Rica home. And while at the park, the new Rainforest Adventures Costa Rica Pacific Waterfall Climb takes guests up a tropical waterfall. After a short 400 metre walk through the rainforest with a naturalist, guests arrive at the site of the waterfall climb, which is approximately 50 metres of vertical course, followed by two ziplines down to a hanging platform. To descend from the platform guests will perform a 25 metre free-fall rappel. Dedicated to ecotourism, the team at Rainforest Adventures Costa Rica Pacific has constructed this attraction with minimal environmental impact and uses it to showcase the natural beauty of the rainforest and watershed. The Waterfall Climb means that the only way to the top of the zip line is human power – no vehicles allowed.
  • Take a blind leap on the AdrenaLUNA zipline tour at Rainforest Adventures St Lucia. Planners can up the zipline stakes and leap over to Rainforest Adventures St Lucia, located in the highland community of Chassin, Babonneau and set in St Lucia’s longest protected rainforest (1,250 acres are protected by the company). While not for the faint of heart (or for those afraid of the dark), the AdrenaLUNA nighttime zipline tour starts with a dark walk through the rainforest and launch off a volcanic boulder, continuing with a zipline through the high jungle canopy (only a headlamp leads the way) and a swing on a Tarzan-like rope, and finishing with a rappel back down to Earth. St Lucia also hosts an aerial tram, daytime zipline (called the ArenaLINE) and rainforest trails. According to Travel + Leisure, this park’s ArenaLUNA/LINE ranks amongst the World’s 16 Coolest Zip Lines. This property also offers bird-watching tours, waterfall walks and nature hikes in addition to an open-air hummingbird garden.
  • Jungle bobsled at Rainforest Adventures Jamaica. With Rainforest Adventures Jamaica, bobsledding isn’t just a wintertime sport for northerners. Rainforest Adventures Jamaica’s staff can help arrange the perfect meeting or incentive event, including closing down the park at night to accommodate a private function. Guests who visit the park, located on Mystic Mountain in the resort town of Ocho Rios, will discover a wild ride that’s inspired by the famous Jamaican bobsled Olympians and ranked by TripAdvisor.com as one of the top attractions in Ocho Rios. Bobsledders are safely strapped into a sled and then sped, using only gravity, down a 1,000-metre (3,281-foot) mountainside track through the dense rainforest. (Going a bit too fast? Slow down using a handbrake). To get back to earth, guests can drop by the butterfly garden (a spot designed to attract these insects in non-enclosed setting) and the hummingbird garden (a place for visitors to see and learn about Jamaica’s national bird in a natural setting). Finally, guests may cool off after a long day of jungle adventures with an exhilarating ride down the 77-metre (253-foot) mystic waterslide, ending in an infinity-edged pool.
  • Explore the Hidden Worlds of Rainforest Adventures in Mexico. Hidden Worlds, located in the Mayan jungle, is one of the Yucatan Peninsula’s best known locations for exploring the fascinating world of underground caves. Hidden Worlds features the world’s only Zip Coaster and Aero-Cycle. The Zip Coaster is a zipline adventure – designed to emulate the thrills of a roller-coaster – that weaves through the jungle before entering the darkness of a cave and terminating with a splash in the water. The Aero-Cycle is a bicycle suspended on a zipline and powered by pedalling through the rainforest canopy to the underground caves. Sustainablitiy improvements for Hidden Worlds began in early 2013 and are expected to be completed by mid-October, in time for the busy winter season. Ranging from the dining spaces to the ziplines, six months of work went into the park to further improve the sustainable adventure park.
  • Explore the depth and breadth of the Pearl of the Pacific with Panama Excursions. To open visitors’ eyes to the true heart and soul of Panama, Rainforest Adventures offers seven diverse tours, adventures and experiences: Shaping of Panama, Chagres River Adventure, Authentic Embera Indian Village, Miraflores Locks Observation Center, Eco Cruise on the Gatun Lake, Panama Canal Partial Transit and Panama Canal Railway. On the Authentic Embera Indian Tour, guests take a dugout canoe ride into Chagres National Park en route to a remote village. Once there, explorers will meet the chief, watch a series of traditional dances and take time to explore the village, meet the local people and purchase a crafted keepsake. With four exhibition halls, a visit to the Miraflores Locks Observation Center is an eye-opening and educational look at the shaping and importance of the Panama Canal and its locks. Nature-lovers wanting to be immersed in Panama’s lush flora and fauna needn’t look further than the Eco Cruise on the Gatun Lake tour, an experience that takes guests aboard a small boat for an exploration of back channels, islands and bays and to the Gatun Locks. Birds, monkeys, sloth, iguanas and crocodiles are just a few of the animals that can be spotted on this tour. Read more about the Meetings and Incentive Programs in Panama.

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