Posts Tagged With: virgin islands

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

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

Plant of the Week: Manchineel Tree

While our past plants of the week have been fruits widely consumed in the islands, we are going in a different direction this week.

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A large Manchineel tree on a beach.

This is the Manchineel Tree. It is one of the most poisonous plants in the world. Native to Florida, the Bahamas, and the Caribbean, the Manchineel tree is commonly found along sandy beaches. The tree produces small apple like fruit, has oval shaped shiny green leaves and can grow in excess of fifty feet tall.

The tree is notorious in the areas in which it grows. While no deaths have ever been recorded from the tree, it is indeed seriously poisonous. In fact, the fruit of the tree were supposedly named “manzanita de la muerte” or little apple of death, by Christopher Columbus himself. Records indicate that several of his crew were made gravely ill after consuming the fruit. The tree gets it’s nefarious reputation from a caustic form of latex in it’s sap. If touched the tree or leaves can cause dermatitis, swelling, burns, and blisters. The most common injury from the tree comes from taking refuge under one during a rain storm. The sap is so caustic, the rain drops coming from the tree can cause burns. Even the smoke from a burning manchineel can cause injury. The fruit of the tree carries the same dangerous chemicals, and its effects when ingested are similar to its external effects. Compounding the danger of the tree is the fact that some people report that the fruit actually taste pleasant at first. Allowing an unsuspecting creature to take several bites of the dangerous “apple.”

The tree isn’t all bad though. It is classified as an endangered species in Florida due to it’s important role as a wind break. It also plays a crucial role in the prevention of beach erosion. In the caribbean, this is extremely important to protecting vulnerable coastlines during tropical storms and hurricanes.

Luckily, injuries from the manchineel are rare. In areas where the tree is common they are well marked, and public education about its dangers makes people aware. Signs are often posted, and their warnings should be heeded. Any tree with a red band, or a skull and crossbones (the poison symbol) painted on it should be avoided. If contact occurs, seek medical treatment.

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A warning sign found in Virgin Islands national Park, the fruit of the tree can be seen laying on top of the sign.

Here at Tree Limin’ Extreme, we offer samples of local fruits, but the fruit of the manchineel isn’t on the menu. Because we are not located near beaches, we have no manchineel trees on our property, and most of these trees in the Virgin Islands are well marked.

To see many other types of plants and animals from high in the rainforest canopy, come have the ultimate caribbean experience on our ziplines. See us at Tree Limin’ Extreme. Call for reservations at 340-777-9477 or visit our website at www.ziplinestthomas.com

Stay Extreme!

-The TLE Botanical Crew

Categories: Adventure, Other Islands, Plants, 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

Meet the Pinzgauers

We get a lot of questions here at TLE concerning transportation. Our tour begins just below the summit of one of the tallest mountains on the island. But our office, where you begin, is hundreds of feet below. How do you, the guests, get to that first zip?

Meet the Pinzgauer:

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One of our Pinzgauers

Officially known as the Pinzgauer High-Mobility All-Terrain Vehicle (it is easier just to call it a Pinzgauer). This truck can go almost anywhere. It has 6 wheel drive, a capacity of 2.5 tons, and a top speed of 62 miles per hour. These things are awesome.

Designed in Austria and manufactured in The United Kingdom since 1971, they are primarily military transport vehicles widely used in European armies. It is comparable to the U.S. Army Humvee, and although not as fast, it has a greater carrying capacity. It is still in use today by several nations including the United Kingdom, New Zealand, Austria, and several South American Nations.

Tree Limin’ Extreme has two Pinzgauers, formerly used by the Swiss Army. Our trucks were built in the 1970’s and have been refurbished since. Our pair came with storage racks in the rear, and were retrofitted with seats and seat belts.  You will be glad for the addition of seat belts when you catch a glimpse of our hills! So come on out to take a ride in our Pinzgauers, and our zipline. There is no vehicle better suited to our course.

To take a ride in a Pinzgauer, and on a zipline give us a call for reservations at 340-777-9477.

Buckle up and hold on!

-The TLE Off Road Crew

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The passenger area of our Pinzgauer

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

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