There are lots of opportunities to go ziplining in Patagonia, one in every town. Pagatonia is into outdoor adventure tourism, with touts for ziplines (tirolesa), horsebackriding, rockclimbing, 4x4 rides, and trekking. The kids had been talking about going on a zipline since Ushuaia, where there is a course through the trees at the bottom of the ski slope leading up to Glaciar Martial. So in El Califate, we found a zip line course that would allow adventurous 5-year-olds and decided to go for a ride. We found this one by walking down the main drag in El Califate and stopping in at their storefront booking office. For some reason, both this activity and the fossil walk we did later in the week were not in the guidebooks, and both were great.
The course was on an estancia, of course. Every estancia tries to make the biggest possible tourist buck out of their resources. This estancia, Cerro Frias, had a fancy hotel, ziplining, 4x4 riding and other activities, as well as a restaurant/outfitting area. Like with many day activities, the estancia van picked us up in our hotel and took us to the estancia, about 20 K outside El Califate towards the mountains. Those 20 K made a big difference in the vegetation, as the closer you are to the mountains, the more precipitation. And since the estancia is close to Lago Argentina, which was formed as glaciers retreated, it's lucky enough to have a big hill with a nice valley and 2 parallel ridge lines. I'm unclear if this is a foothill or a glacial moraine. They use the ridge lines to run the zipline across the gorge. So we weren't in trees in the woods, but rather zipped from one ridge line to another over the 500 M wide gorge. It was awesome.
First, we got fitted up there in helmets and harnesses. From there, we went uphill on a 4x4 track to the first platform.
From the parilla/gear shop, there was a great view back of over the estancia's piece of Patagonian prairie, with a view of Torres del Paine, Chile, in the distance. That part of the estancia was good for grazing, and the few patches of green are fields of alfalfa that they grow with irrigation to supplement the livestock's diet. There are also some free-range guanaco under the trees.
The part we were on for the zipline was also used for cattle, and we passed a few overhead.
Our zip lining guides were great. They called Silas "Puma" as he was into pumas, the apex Patagonian predator, and Maeve "Pluma," or feather. Mike and I were Mama and Papa. There were several other folks in our group, including a couple of rotund gentlemen, and they were called "musculoso." The kids thought this nicknaming was great, as the guides talked back and forth on their radios, letting the other side know who was coming so they'd be ready for the landing and getting the OK. Silas wanted very badly to go on his own, but he was generally too light and went hitched onto Mike.
Maeve had a great time. Except for one time when she rode tandem with me, giving us enough mass to go a bit faster, she went on her own. You can see the take off pad on the other side of the canyon.
On the last run, they let Silas go on his own because there was enough downward pitch that he could make it to the end. He was screaming and doing acrobatics the whole 500 M. An awesome day.