Skycycle: Pedaling through Paradise
Posted by Tony & Cheri on June 29, 2007
Yesterday we discovered a new adventure tour: the Skycycle Jungle Adventure Tour at Hidden Worlds. Hidden Worlds was already one of our favorite tour operators. They offer snorkeling and diving through beautiful underground cenotes. (More about that on a future blog entry.) So when we heard that earlier this year they opened a new tour, the Skycycle Jungle Adventure Tour, we couldn’t wait to check it out.
The Skycycle is a seat which is attached to a steel cable running through the jungle treetops. The seat is moved forward or backwards by pedaling action. It also operates with both hand and foot brakes.
The tour started on one of Hidden Worlds’ infamous “Mayan Limousines,” a brightly painted gas-guzzling, oil burning jalopy with a flatbed truck on which has been welded a steel frame. As it turned out, the other people who had reserved for the tour never showed, so we had the trip to ourselves. We climbed on the back of “Chango,” our truck, got a good grip on the steel bars and held on for dear life as we went bouncing through the jungle Indiana Jones style, scattering birds and iguanas as we went.
Ten minutes later, we were deep in the tropical forest and arrived at what looked like a base camp out of “Survivor.” This was the Skycycle launch platform area. Here we were fitted with harnesses which wrapped around the waist and legs and then strapped to the Skycycle. People sit in the cycle in a reclining position with feet extended out in front to the pedals. It’s a little cramped, but doable. We were told that the cycle is locked onto the steel cable in such a way that it cannot fall, and we could not fall out of the cycle. Cheri was first. Strapped in, she started pedaling, and off she went. Tony followed a few minutes later.
One of the nicest things about this tour is that you can go at your own pace. You can stop and gently sway in the breeze as you look about, or pedal forward as slowly or as quickly as you wish. You can even back up if you want to see something again. Cyclists are required to keep a sizeable distance between each other, so that you really have a feeling of being alone and surrounded by nature.
The incline of the cable is not very steep, and it is a relatively easy effort to pedal the Skycycle. In a few moments we were among the treetops. Below was the jungle, cenotes, caverns and wonderfully bright flowers and plants. All around we could hear the singing of birds and the cries of monkeys. It was amazingly peaceful and beautiful. The landscape beneath and around was constantly changing. Sometimes we traveled through the highest tree branches and other times we were in the open, going over a palm tree meadow. Many of the trees are filled with orchid plants which have not yet bloomed. We are told that when the flowers do open in early autumn it is quite a sight. We saw a large number of brightly colored birds with long blue tails called Mot Mots. They would rest on the cable in front of us, and then fly away when we got too close.
Halfway through the tour, the Skycycle descends to a cenote cavern. Staff members were there to help us out of our cycles, into a lifejacket and on to the guided snorkeling tour of Iglesias (“church”) cenote with Jose. We have done the other cenote snorkel tours with Hidden World, but we had never seen this cave. We were told that even though it was an older cenote than the ones normally used for tours, it has only been open to the public a few months. It was well lit with many stalactites. The water was crystal clear and full of small, translucent fish. It was a refreshing break from the heat and humidity of the jungle. We decided the cenote was called the Church due to the fact that the cold water made us cry out “OHMIGOD!” when we first jumped in. Don’t worry, you get used to it in no time. Our time in the water lasted about 45 minutes. Then it was back onto the Skycycle.
After leaving the Iglesias cavern, we pedaled through three more cenote caverns. For these cenotes, you don’t get out and swim, you pedal above them as you move through the cavern. Then it was back into the treetops. A short while later, the route returned us to the Skycycle landing where Alan, our Mayan Limousine driver, was waiting to take us back to civilization. The entire cycle route is only one kilometer, in case you’re wondering how difficult it might be.
The tour lasts approximately 2-1/2 hours. The cost is $75.00 per person. Wear tennis shoes or sandals and a swimsuit under your clothing. Bring sunscreen, bug spray and drinking water. You can put these items in a small bag or backpack which will be hooked to your chair. And bring a camera if you like to take photos, as there are many great shots to be had. There is no size or age limit (children too small to pedal are allowed to ride on a parent’s lap, but children as young as 6 have ridden by themselves, we were told). There are lockers available at the front desk for the rest of your belongings.
Hidden Worlds is on Highway 307 about 8 km south of Akumal, easily accessible by car, bus or colectivo. Skycycle tours start at 10am, 12pm and 2pm. For more information, check out their website, www.hiddenworlds.com. Or, if you’re staying at the Luna Blue Hotel & Garden in Playa del Carmen, we can set it up for you once you arrive.
We thought this was a great tour. The Skycycle allowed us to truly experience the tropical jungle without the necessity of roads or man-made enhancements. We think it’s a real alternative to the mass-produced so-called adventure tours that are so popular in the Mayan Riviera.
Tony and Cheri give it two big thumbs up and say “check it out!!”