News day / As part of the Ministry of Tourisms Stay to get away campaign several tours were organised to take the media to various tourist destinations.
This tour was guided by Courtenay Bush Man Rooks, managing director of Paria Springs Tours, who created the rappelling trend at the falls.
On the way, Rooks pointed out that there was a lot of fun things to do in TT and said he has been surfing, mountain biking, hiking and bird watching every year.
The journey to Avocat began at the Queens Park Savannah, Port of Spain. Arriving off the Arima, Blanchisseuse Road, the bus stopped at Pops House where the team picked up harnesses and helmets and began the physical 45-minute trek to the waterfall.
Soon, we were knee-high in the cold waters of the Marianne River, navigating through slippery rocks, logs and trees. We occasionally stopped to observe the beauty of the rainforest while Rooks pointed out intertwined trees, acting as a natural protection for the ecosystem in the event of a hurricane.
What is fascinating about rainforests is many people think that the forest is here because of the rain, however, studies have shown that it is actually the forest which produces the rain, Rooks said.
When we arrived at the base of the waterfall, we were greeted with a a downpour. The group strapped on their harnesses to prepare for the rappelling adventure. We began our crash course in rappelling as a rope and large tree became our practise pad. Meanwhile, Rooks hiked to the top of the 72-foot waterfall to fasten the ropes to the hooks. He had drilled and anchored hooks into the rocks himself almost two years ago after learning rappelling from a friend who teaches the technique in France.
While some were adventurous enough to climb to the top, others opted to stay at the base of the waterfall and enjoy the river experience.
The waterfall is surrounded by rocks and trees which provide a serene landscape for a relaxing swim in one of the clear shallow pools of the river. At the top, we all experienced moments of fear at the edge, while some reconsidered the adventure. Rooks was the first to rappel down the waterfall, showing the proper technique.
All anxiety was soon forgotten as one after the other we had our own rappelling adventure.
We all agreed that the first phase, which was a cautious climb down, was the most terrifying, however, after being swung under the cascading waterfall, the feeling of excitement took over. Those who were timid on their first try rushed back to the top to have another go at the rappelling experience.
The river-goers who met the team at the river were shocked to see rappelling being done and said that they wished that they could have joined in.
Rooks said he began rappelling at Avocat because he wanted people to get a different experience at the waterfalls. The youngest person to have rappelled was four while the eldest was 86.
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