In the outskirts of Lake Correntoso, you may practice canopy: a funny experience that enables visitors to see the Patagonian Andean forest from the top of the trees.
The sun shines bright in the Village in the summer afternoons. If you are not on the beach or near the water, you had better look for shelter in the shade of the trees. A traditional and peaceful choice is the myrtle tree forest and a more intrepid alternative is practicing canopy. I chose the latter and, with that in mind, I headed for Mount Belvedere, where Canopy Argentina has its base. This new sport, very much developed in the tropical rainforests and the Canadian forests, enables visitors to tour and see the natural environment from a different perspective. Adventure and ecologic experience at the same time, canopy is about moving from one air platform on top of a tree to another, using pulleys on horizontal cables. I was welcomed by Fabián Rechioni, manager of this undertaking that has been in Villa La Angostura for a year and is the first one in the country. In order to set it to work, they made contact with José Flaqué de Costa Rica, eco-tourism spot in Latin America and pioneer in canopy. Having more than 18 years of experience, José designed the itinerary built by the people from Canopy Argentina.
The sites offered by the Belvedere slopes met all the requirements: beautiful ancient coihue trees with the right height to install the platforms and with air trails that connect one base to another, with no need to alter the environment. Matías and Pitu, the guides, helped me with the equipment: a harness furnished with carabiners and a pulley, helmet and gloves. All the staff was trained and assisted by Flaqué as regards safety measures in order to enjoy this original experience in the mountain forests. Once ready and after a basic chat about canopy, with a mock practice included, the entire group moved into adventure.
Like a Bird
As defined by its mentors, the tour is an environmentalism lesson. The idea is to preserve nature and appreciate it from the heights, without interfering much with the environment. It is an amusing way of discovering an ecosystem without causing a major environmental impact which can be practiced by a 3-year-old as well as by an 80-year-old. We walked approximately 300 metres across a leafy path up to the top of the mount where the first platform is located. Matías went down first in order to wait for us at the second base and Pitu prepared us for the first stretch. When I was finally suspended in the air moving at 25km per hour, I felt the freedom and vertigo of sliding through the trees. When I reached the second structure, Matías hooked the carabiner in the safety cable and I watched the forest. Without any doubt, changing the point of view makes us rediscover things that we considered familiar. We continued with the ride, passing by the various milestones of this amazing and amusing tour. The guides would indicate the stretches where we should slow down or let the cable free to reach the next base without any inconvenience. We had passed station number 6, with distances of approximately 30 meters, and we were approaching the longest stretch, measuring 300 meters. Before throwing myself into the void, I could not see the following platform and once I did it, the seconds I took to go down let me observe the changing greens of the leafy scenery much better. Almost 50km per hour, feeling the wind like the birds, I did not want to reach the next stop. We had four platforms ahead of us and the virgin nooks would remain behind to give way to an environment more transformed by human presence. The last part ended on solid ground and Matías made us jump a little to turn the descent more amusing. We had traveled 1,400 meters throught the highest branches of wonderful trees. Fascinated with the adventure, we returned to the base to take out our harnesses. Once there, Fabián was waiting for us along with the new group that was ready to experience canopy, including 3-year-old Francisco, who was ready to enjoy this adventure, which he will certainly never forget.
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