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Xplor park - It has to be said, there is no glamour in wearing a protective helmet, however camouflaged or cool they might try to make it. We once saw an article on a Swedish company which had a revolutionary invisible bike helmet, combining style with safety, which would be the ultimate solution to the dodgy helmet-clad, hair-stuck-to-forehead photos which you end up with…
The helmet has a dual function at the park, however. Not only does it help out with the unexpected stalactites, but it also serves as a way for the automatic cameras to identify who you are and thus pick out which photos are yours at the end of the day, by scanning the number at the front. We also used ours as a way to remember where we were sitting at lunch (and of course removed them for glamour’s sake), while we hit the varied buffet, again and again! You will definitely be ready for your lunch, even if it doesn’t feel like you are exerting yourself that much. The fun factor overrides any feeling of tiredness which may creep up on you.
Unfortunately, the helmet had to go back on after lunch, but as we were heading towards the water, it didn’t really matter. In order to let the food settle we decided on the underground rafts first, which can be done either in pairs or individually, and takes a bit of getting used to, especially if you haven’t done any kind of rafting or kayaking before, but the key is that, less force tends to be more, to avoid constantly bumping into the rocky ledges which you need to slalom around. Our equipment basically consisted of the raft and hand paddles, which we needed to attach before setting off. Advancing requires hand paddling at either side of the raft and a lot of hip and lower back strength, as you are sitting down. The caves were beautiful, with the odd surprise camera we suggest watching out for if you want to get a decent snap taken. There were a few bottlenecks at the tightest bends, and the typical competitive, need-to-overtake-everyone tourist, but it just made it all the more giggle worthy.
Just getting splashed by the underground water made people squeal, so the next activity, the underground cave swim, was not as inviting as it might appear at first sight! It took us a fair few minutes before we could brave the sudden shock of plunging into the cold water, but once done it was delicious! You don’t want to stay in the same spot for too long though, as you get chilly quite quickly, as we found out. There is a short and long route to take in the park, so we opted for the second, to make the most of the caves, and if you like swimming we would recommend doing the same. For some reason, the cameras were again positioned in such a way as to surprise you with the sudden glare of a flash when you least expect it, perhaps to get an action shot. Just keep your eyes peeled or keep a dazzling smile on your face all the way along, which is not hard to do! Perhaps the best bit was where the underground river emptied out into a circular clearing with forceful waterfall as a curtain. We loved the water beating down on our backs as we swam through, however for weaker swimmers it could be a bit scary for that split second, for which reason there was a helpful lifeguard treading water at that point, asking everyone if they were ok.
With a little bit of time left in the park before the bus left we went back to the ATVS, to see if we could find the waterfall we longed to drive through; this time we were able to choose which pathway to take, and discovered that there are actually two ATV routes you can take, both of which should definitely be done. This time we were rewarded with not one but two waterfalls on route, which were equally as cold as the underground river but thoroughly worth it…
At first glance we thought 4 main activities were very little, especially when compared to some of the other places we had visited. However, it was just right, and we had the perfect amount of time to mix action with relaxation, the day finishing up with the familiar snoring and open-mouthed drooling on the bus back to the hotel…
Our tip on attire: if like us you don’t want to walk around in a bikini all day (especially on the zip lines), wear something that is fairly quick drying and comfy. A short playsuit would be ideal for the girls.
Don’t forget to ask our concierge about trips to the park, transport and prices!