Posts Tagged With: caribbean

What is Ziplining, and where Did it Come From?

Here at Tree Limin’ Extreme ziplining is what we do. So we sometimes forget that some people aren’t as familiar with the concept as we are. We often get questions concerning what ziplining is and about where it came from. Maybe we can answer those questions today.

Ziplining has been around for a very long time. While historians say it was first done in the Himalayan region of modern day India, some believe that several ancient cultures in South America were actually the first to zipline. It was originally used to travel across rough terrain, and to access remote villages. The equipment was rudimentary, using a natural fiber rope and homemade harness. For many years ziplining simply remained a transport mode for the remote and wild areas of the world, but in 17th century England, ziplining first used for fun and entertainment. Steeplejacks, the high climbing people that maintained church spires, devised a quick way for them to reach the ground at the end of a long day. They would slide down a long angled line instead of climbing down. Some steeplejacks noticed that a crowd would often gather to watch this feat, and so a few of them started performing their antics for large crowds all over England.

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Steeplejacks hard at work.

These were very primitive forms of early ziplining though, so modern ziplining can trace its roots back to the golden age of mountaineering. In the early 1900’s mountaineering was becoming popular as equipment and training was improved. During this time many of the climbing techniques still used today were developed. One technique is called the Tyrolean traverse, named after the Austrian mountain range where it was invented. The Tyrolean traverse features a rope strung between two points, and a pulley is applied then attached to the climber. The climber then had to pull themselves across as the line is level. They were used to cross crevasses, chasms, and canyons. At some point, it was noticed that if one end of the line was elevated then one could simply slide, or zip, across.

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A Tyrolean Traverse

In the 1970’s and 80’s many scientists were performing expeditions into the unexplored jungles of Central and South America. These scientists used many climbing and mountaineering techniques in order to travel through the tough terrain. A group of biologists studying the rainforest canopy in Costa Rica, grew tired of having to climb up into, and then down from the canopy on every different tree. They decided to connect several trees with inclined Tyrolean traverses to make their research more efficient. After the 1992 film Medicine Man, starring Sean Connery was released, many people began to see opportunities for ziplines outside of transportation and research.

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Poster for the movie Medicine Man

Today, ziplining is one of the fastest growing forms of eco-tourism in the world. Just the United States alone has over 200 ziplines. They are now one of the most popular adventures for vacationers, and locals alike around the world. The cruise industry, especially, has helped ziplining, as it is the most asked for shore excursion on many cruise lines. Modern ziplining has little in common with its historical counterparts though. Modern ziplines are marvels of precise engineering, and immense safety. Long gone are the days of natural ropes and homemade equipment. Steel wires and specially made pulleys and harnesses are now the norm.

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Our modern zipline here at Tree Limin’ Extreme

So if you are looking for a bit of adventure on you next vacation, or close to home, be sure to look up the nearest zipline for some good times. If you find yourself in St. Thomas be sure to look us up at Tree Limin’ Extreme, as we offer the first and only zipline adventure in the Virgin Islands.

For more information visit our website at www.ziplinestthomas.com

Categories: Adventure, Culture, Extreme Sports, Rock Climbing, Tree Limin' Extreme, Ziplining | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Critter of the Week: Crabs!

It’s a new week here at Tree Limin’ Extreme, and therefore we have a new Critter of the Week. This week we are gonna take a look at some of the Virgin Islands crabs.

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A hermit crab found on a trail in Virgin Islands National Park

Hermit Crabs are a group of crab species found all over the world. There are about 1100 hermit crab species. Most live in marine environments, but the ones most commonly encountered here in the Virgin Islands are of the land loving variety. Hermit are related to other crabs, but they differ in that they carry around their home on their backs. Their abdomen does not have the hard shell of the rest of their body, and so it is vulnerable to injury and predators. They remedy this by finding the discarded shells of other sea creatures (most often sea snails), and crawling inside. Hermit crabs can be found all over the Virgin Islands, although always near to the water, which they need to reproduce. The are also mostly nocturnal.

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Ghost Crab at Salt Pond Bay, Virgin Islands National Park

Ghost crabs, or sand crabs, are common along our beautiful white sand beaches. Called ghost crabs because of their pale color and nocturnal nature, they are mostly seen quickly scurrying down the sand. They are responsible for the holes found dug in the moist areas of the beach. The crab uses these burrows to escape the hottest part of the day, and to spend the cooler winters in some areas. They come out at night to feed on clams, and other smaller crabs. They are also a natural predator of sea turtle hatchlings. You can try to catch them if you see one, but they sure are fast!

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A Land Crab found in Christiansted National Historic Site, St. Croix

Several species of so called “land crabs” are also native in the Virgin Islands. Also called pond crabs, in the British Virgin Islands, they can grow quite large and are a popular food source here. They are the main ingredient in the popular dish called “Crab and Rice.” They can most often be found near muddy holes along the edges of mangrove swamps, salt ponds, or other perpetually damp areas. The crabs mainly live on land, having organs that get oxygen from the air rather than the water, but these crabs still live and feed near the water. Keep a lookout for these large crabs, and be sure to try some crab and rice if you can, it is a rare treat!

Stay Extreme!

-The TLE Carcinology Department

www.ziplinestthomas.com

Categories: Culture, Food, Other Islands, Virgin Islands, Virgin Islands National Park, Wildlife | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

What do you think?

We want to know what you guys would like to read here on the blog. We have some cool posts in the works about travel, surfing, climbing, and exploring. But what do you want? Is there an island you want to know more about? Perhaps and extreme sport you want us to feature? It’s all about you! Our guides and friends are a really talented bunch of folks and the possibilities are endless. So let us know in the comments what you would like to read about, and we will try to get right on it.

Remember to Stay Extreme!

-The TLE Crew

Categories: Adventure, Culture, Diving, Extreme Sports, Food, Hiking, Other Islands, Plants, Rock Climbing, Sailing, Sports, Stand Up Paddling, Surfing, Tree Limin' Extreme, Twitter, Video, Virgin Islands, Virgin Islands National Park, Weather, Wildlife, Ziplining | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Critter of the Week: Mongoose

We have a new critter of the week! This week we are taking a look at the mongoose:

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A Mongoose

Mongooses (yes, the proper plural is mongooses) are a group of small weasel like mammals, originally from Asia. Here in the West Indies, including the Virgin Islands, the species of mongoose is called the Small Indian Mongoose. Native to India, Afghanistan, and Pakistan, the mongoose was introduced to the Virgin Islands in the 1800’s. They were brought here due to their fierce predatory habits, and it was hoped that they would help to eliminate destructive rats on the sugar plantations. It is an often repeated fact here in the Virgin Islands that the tree rats are nocturnal, while mongooses hunt during the day. Mongooses also do not climb trees, so they wer not effective in controlling tree rat populations. The mongooses adapted well, though, and they are now quite common. They can be seen especially easily in the national park on St. John, and at Magens Bay on St. Thomas.

Despite the success of the species, they are still considered a destructive pest. They have no natural predators in the West Indies, and as such their population has exploded. They are especially adept at hunting snakes and lizards, and within the Caribbean, they have been responsible for no less than 7 extinctions. While dangerous to snakes, they pose virtually no threat to humans. They are quite curious though, and will often follow hikers down the trail for a bit.

Even with it’s status as a pest here, the mongoose is still a big part of local pop culture. You can find many things named after them including shopping centers, and even an anti-litter campaign mascot. The mongoose has become a classic part of Virgin Islands culture.

Come visit our islands to see a mongoose, and for a chance to see one while zipping through the trees give us a call here at Tree Limin’ Extreme at 340-777-9477, or visit our website at www.ziplinestthomas.com.

Stay Extreme!

-The TLE Zoology Unit

Categories: Adventure, Hiking, Other Islands, Virgin Islands, Virgin Islands National Park, Wildlife | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Magens Bay from the Landing of Zip 5

Magens Bay from the Landing of Zip 5

This was such a good photo, we just had to share. Thanks to our guest John P. De Jongh III for this amazing picture. We love pictures (and videos) from our guests! Send them to info@ziplinestthomas.com and you may see them on one of our pages!

Categories: Adventure, Other Islands, Tree Limin' Extreme, Virgin Islands, Ziplining | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Island History: The Taino Petroglyphs

The Virgin Islands have a storied and fascinating history, and it goes back further than one may think. A team from TLE recently ventured to the Island of St. John, and it’s Virgin Islands National Park to experience this history first hand.

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One of the Natural Pools at the Petroglyphs

Deep within the Virgin Islands National Park, miles down one of the parks longest trails, lies one of the few natural water sources (other than rain) on any of the Virgin Islands. It is a small trickle of water coming out of rocks some twenty feet up a small cliff. Below, small pools are in an idyllic setting of lush jungle filled with palms and ferns. Dragon flies dart about trying to capture their next meal. A mongoose scurries up some rocks off to the side. No where is there a more perfect representation of the Virgin Islands of the past.

If you were to look closer though, just above the highest pool, an odd shape can be seen on the rock face. Next to it, even more shapes can be seen. These are the famous Petroglyphs of St. John. Carved by the Taino people beginning around 200 A.D. and ending with the collapse of Taino settlements in the area after European arrival in the late 1400’s. The small water fall and pools were sacred to the Taino as they were one of the only reliable water sources on the Island; the trickle of water is unaffected by lack of rainfall. Around the pools the Taino carved depictions of local animals and plants, ones that they relied on for sustenance and medicinal uses. Other carvings seem to represent people or gods. Relatively little is known about the glyphs themselves however, with many theories concerning their origin and meaning. Other carvings have been found throughout the park, even as recently as last year. Other collections of ancient petroglyphs ca be found throughout the caribbean.

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Some of the well known glyphs above the pool.

The petroglyphs in St. John are protected by the National Park Service within Virgin Islands National Park. To see the glyphs for yourself, find the park’s Reef Bay Trail off Centerline Road. Follow the trail downhill for just over two miles, then turn right at the marker for the Petroglyphs Trail. The waterfall, pools, and glyphs are only a further three tenths of a mile down the trail. Be prepared for the steadily uphill two mile climb back to the trail head. Always bring water, proper clothing and shoes, and use sun protection. Never hike alone, and always tell someone where you are going and when you will be back. Free maps, basic trail guides, and park specific safety information are available from the Park Visitor Center in Cruz Bay.

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One of the largest glyphs in the park.

For more information on the Petroglyphs and the National Park, visit the official NPS website at: http://www.nps.gov/viis/index.htm

For information on visiting St. John or the other U.S. Virgin Islands please visit U.S. Virgin Islands Tourism at: http://www.visitusvi.com/

If you are feeling even more adventurous after your hike you should try our ziplines! Visit Tree Limin’ Extreme at our website www.ziplinestthomas.com, or call us at 340-777-9477. Reservations are required.

Stay Historically Extreme!

-The TLE Historians

Categories: Adventure, Culture, Hiking, Other Islands, Virgin Islands, Virgin Islands National Park | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Island of the Week: St. Croix

A view from Fort Christiansværn, Christiansted, St. Croix, United States Virgin Islands

We took a well earned two day break, but we are back with an all new Island of the week. And this is a big one!

This week we went to St. Croix, the Garden Island. Also known as twin city, St. Croix is the largest of the 3 main US Virgin Islands, but has nearly the same population of the smaller St. Thomas. While only a 20 minute seaplane journey from the territorial capital of Charlotte Amalie, St. Croix is another world. Even the terrain is different than the rest of the Virgins. While St. Thomas and John are rocky, rugged, and of volcanic origin, St. Croix is a coral and sand atoll that is mostly flat. The island has two cities (hence the nickname Twin City). The largest city is the Danish colonial gem of Christiansted. The city is a center of traditional architecture, quaint homes, colonial warehouses, and an imposing fort. It is also home to the Christiansted National Historic Site, a collection of historically significant buildings administered by the National Park Service. The second city on the island is the small Frederiksted. Located on the western end of St. Croix, Frederiksted still retains a small village feel, and has sweeping views of the Caribbean Sea.

At Salt River Bay National Historical Park and Ecological Preserve, you can visit the only place that Christopher Columbus set foot in what is now America. He didn’t stay for long however, as he was driven out by the native Carib people. Other points of interest include the Buck Island Reef National Monument’s coral reefs, and the wildlife of the Sandy Point National Wildlife Refuge. Even more than it’s natural wonders though, St. Croix is famous for it’s Rum. Two large brands have there distilleries on St. Croix. Cruzan Rum is headquartered, and was founded on the island. Cruzan can be found in nearly every bar in the Virgin Islands. As of January 2012 all Capitan Morgan in the United States is now distilled in St. Croix. Capitan Morgan is now made at a brand new state of the art distillery. Both Cruzan, and Captain Morgan have visitor centers and offer tours.

Danish Scale House, Christiansted, St. Croix, USVI

Many people visit St. Croix by itself, and spend their entire vacation there. St. Croix is often overlooked by visitors to the other Virgin Islands, but it is only a short, and fun, 20 minute seaplane ride away. It makes a great day trip!

For more information on visiting St. Croix visit: http://www.visitusvi.com/

For information on the National Park Service holdings visit their website at: http://www.nps.gov/state/vi/index.htm?program=all

To fly the seaplane to St. Croix from St. Thomas visit: http://www.seaborneairlines.com/

While in St. Thomas come Visit us at Tree Limin’ Extreme! Call for reservations at 340-777-9477 or book now at www.ziplinestthomas.com.

-The TLE Island Hoppers

Categories: Adventure, Culture, Other Islands, Virgin Islands, Virgin Islands National Park | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Plant of the Week: Soursop

In this installment of plant of the week, we are again checking out a popular fruit here in the Islands. This is the Soursop:

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The soursop is an evergreen tree native to Mexico. It now grows throughout the tropics from the Caribbean and Africa, to Southeast Asia. The tree is adapted only to warm climates, and cannot grow in areas with cold winters.

The soursop is also know as a guanabana, graviola, or a Brazilian paw paw. The last name is a reference to the fact that the soursop is indeed related to the paw paw tree. The tree produces a large fruit that has become a popular edible in the tropics. The fruit is even mentioned in Sri Lankan mythology. The fruit is large, green, and has the appearance of being covered in spines. Inside, the white pulp is edible, and is highly prized for it’s tasty juice. Some say it tastes like a cross between strawberry, pineapple, and citrus.

The soursop is not just prized for it’s flavor though. In virtually all of the areas in which it grows, it is highly sought after as a herbal remedy. The fruit, seeds, and leaves all have a variety of uses in traditional and herbal medicine. There have also been recent scientific studies that have found that certain soursop extracts may have cancer fighting properties.

Soursop is very popular here in the Virgin Islands. They can be found at many fruitstands and markets all around our islands. If you want some adventure with your soursop come see us at Tree Limin’ Extreme. Our ziplines are located in a rainforest with a variety of tropical plants and fruits. We even have soursop! But be sure to call for reservations at 340-777-9477.

Stay Extreme!

-The TLE Garden Club

www.ziplinestthomas.com

Categories: Culture, Food, Plants, Virgin Islands | Tags: , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Tree Limin’!

Yet another amazing video shot by our guests. If you have pictures or a video taken here at TLE and want to share, be sure to post them on our Facebook (and like us too), or send them to info@ziplinestthomas.com. Keep ’em coming, we love it!

Categories: Adventure, Tree Limin' Extreme, Video, Ziplining | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

Critter of the Week: Green Iguana

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One of our resident Iguanas here at TLE

Meet the Green Iguana! If you have ever been to St. Thomas (or many of the other islands) then you have almost certainly encountered these large reptiles. They seem to be everywhere!

They aren’t small either. They can grow in excess of 4 feet in length. Quite large ones can be found all over our islands. Although large and fierce looking, they are very calm and peaceful creatures. They are actually vegetarian, mainly grazing on leaves and flowers. When cornered however, they will use their tail as a whip, and can leave painful marks. They are often found in the trees here in the Virgin Islands, and will sometimes drop  to the ground, giving some people a fright!

Iguanas have been found in the Virgin Islands since the beginning of recorded history, but are actually not native to the islands. They were brought here by Amerindians in the past for use as food. While they are still eaten in some parts of the world, they are no longer eaten here. Today, the Iguana is sometimes seen as a pest, but most often it is just another creature we share our islands with.

Want to see some of our Iguanas? We have plenty of them here at Tree Limin’ Extreme. You can say hi as you zip over them through our jungle canopy. But make sure you call for reservations at 340-777-9477.

Stay extreme!

-The TLE Herpetology Department

Categories: Virgin Islands, Wildlife | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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