The Zipline is Open for Business
Updated: Jul 25, 2019
The Pattriya (Stony) River runs North-South about a mile from the Grace School in Peeperkoti.
A couple of shallow boats ply the river crossing at Bani, offering a precarious ride for up to 10 passengers, with their bicycles, and often a few motorbikes. In 2000, a bamboo bridge was installed during the dry season. It was meant to be a foot bridge but the intrepid locals rode bicycles and motorbikes across it, skidding down the loose soil from the river banks. Every year, the bridge was dismantled before the rains in June and then reinstalled in January.
The idea of a zip line germinated after a tree-top adventure in Costa Rica in 2008. In early 2009, we attempted to buy land on both sides of the river, but it was hard going. We eventually bought one katta (3600 sq ft) on the Peeperkoti side, right above the bamboo bridge. The river bank is slowly being eroded by the river, so the seller was motivated to sell before he lost it all. Nobody was willing to sell on the other side, but the local government allowed us to build on the strip of land between the river and the closest rice fields.
Construction started in March 2010, but the structure was not ready to build on until May. The contractor built the foundations 12 feet deep into the river bank, so it has little chance of washing away. On the October 2010 trip, we installed the cable and tested the line with different attachments and payloads. By the end of our trip, it was ready for individuals to travel across the river, and we had a few joy-riding on the line. An attachment was also tested to take bicycles across.
We are now working with a local welding shop to build a "gondola" that will carry bikes, people, and goods in the comfort to which they could easily get accustomed. People tend to arrive in groups for the boat, and will appreciate the comforts of instead riding in a car with benches over the risks of tipping over and getting wet, and losing bags and shoes, aside from engine rebuild jobs on soaked motor bikes. What is left to integrate is some western-style safety systems, which are hard to implement in a place where the local kids are already trying to hang bare-handed from the steel cable. We anticipate that the revenues from the zip line will go a long way towards paying the costs of running Grace School.
Now imagine our sales pitch for an "eco" adventure trip to Nepal: Motor bike ride to Bani, ride one way on the zip line, return on the teetering boat. Then ride a water buffalo, milk it, pet a goat, catch a greased pig, or a muddy one. End the day on a rickety bicycle back to Tikapur, take a shower before power goes out at 7pm. Swat a few mosquitoes, spray on bug goop, eat a sumptuous Nepali dinner, and check your shoes for scorpions before you head to bed. Sounds great, right?