A Sweeney First: Zip-Lining in Mazatlan

By Mr. TWS — It’s always fun to try something new, especially if there is a feeling of daring involved. Last week, Sweeney and I had the opportunity to go zip-lining in Mazatlan, Mexico in the Sierra Madre foothills where we’d be whizzing 50 feet in the air for a mile through the trees!

"Sweeney Zip Lining at Huana coa Canopy Adventure"

Sweeney Zip-lining at Huana Coa Canopy Adventure

Sweeney enjoys a little adventure but she’s not particularly fond of heights. So it was with some apprehension that she anticipated this new exploit. Our zip-lining was to be followed by a tour and tasting at the nearby Los Osuna tequila distillery, and Sweeney joked that the itinerary might be better if the order was changed to do the tequila first.

"Huana Coa Canopy Park near Mazatlan"

Huana Coa Canopy Park near Mazatlan

Arriving at the Huana Coa Canopy Adventure Park (about 45 minutes from the resorts of Mazatlan), we were greeted by a friendly, welcoming staff amid attractive grounds.

Before our trip, Sweeney found one online description of zip-lining cautioning that a requirement was to “…be able to be on a small platform approximately 5 stories high without experiencing excessive anxiety or reactions, such as dizziness, hyperventilation, freezing, vomiting or fainting” and one Wikipedia alternative name for zip-lining — “death slide”. Yikes! Nonetheless, she put these cautions in proper perspective and was quite eager to get started. Any apprehension was alleviated by the professionalism of the guides, their attention to safety procedures and maintenance of the equipment.

"Zip Lining Gear"

Zip-line Trolleys

"Zip Lining Gear at Huana Coa Canopy Adventure"

Zip-lining Gear

Our guides, Roel and Jimmy, helped us into the gear: body harness, helmet and leather gloves, modeled by Sweenie below. I believe the slightly tense smile was for dramatic effect. (Incidentally, I appreciate her willingness to let me share what she considers to be less-than-flattering photos. I think she looks cute.) The scarf had to go for safety reasons and was placed with a few other unneeded things in a secure locker provided.

"Sweeney in Zip Lining Gear at Huana Coa Canopy Adventure, Mazatlan"

Sweeney in Zip-lining Gear Looking Totally Ridiculous (Her Words)

The journey to the zip-lining platform continued with a short drive up a very narrow, steep and rough dirt road appropriately in a rugged WWII Austrian truck.

"In the World War II Truck Up to the Zip Lining Platform"

In the World War II Truck to the First Zip-lining Platform

Then it was a final short walk through the terrain (“where the desert meets the jungle”) and up about 50 stairs to the first platform.

"Where the Desert Meets the Jungle near Mazatlan, Mexico"

Where the Desert Meets the Jungle

As we approached the first platform below Sweeney looks like she is considering bolting back to the truck but I think it was just one of the odd poses one sometimes captures with candid shots. We were quickly given brief instructions and an additional mention of safety before mounting the first platform.

"Sweeney at Huana Coa Zip Lining Park"

What is She Doing? Trying to Bolt?

Roel exemplified the attention to safety with his rule that he alone touch the equipment. Carefully monitored by Sweeney, Roel attached the zip-line trolley and harness mount to the cable and to her body harness. He also attached the backup harness strap.

"Roel attaching the gear on Sweeney"

Roel Attaching the Gear

Roel reviewed the instructions with Sweeney — hold the line connecting the trolley to your harness with your left hand; reach your right arm behind you and place your hand very loosely around the cable to be used to keep your body in a straight line by pulling on the cable to right your position if you spin to one side; use your right hand to slow down by pulling directly downward on the cable; keep your feet up and straight forward, and watch the hand signals of the guide as you approach the tower to signal if you need to brake.

"Ready to Zip Line in Mazatlan, Mexico"

Nervous Smile but Ready to Go!

Sweeney was told to sit down in the harness and lift her legs. Doing something a first time sometimes includes the fear of getting hurt, but mostly the fear is about looking stupid. The three main concerns we had were slowing too much and not maintaining enough momentum to get to the platform (in this case we were directed to spin and face backward and use both hands to grab the cable behind, pulling hand-over-hand until reaching the platform); gaining too much speed and coming into the platform hot; and getting twisted around.

"Getting ready to zip line at Huana Coa Canopy Adventure"

Last Chance to Change Her Mind

Sweeney had a few last-second nervous questions and then she was off. I expected to hear a scream but I think she was completely focused on getting it right and she did with a good landing on the second platform. (By the way, the photos don’t capture the height of the zip line which was about 50 feet above the ground.)

"Zip Lining at Huana Coa Canopy Adventure near Mazatlan, Mexico"

And She’s Off!

The full course consisted of nine runs totaling a mile with 10 platforms. There were views of the Sierra Madre and the jungle/desert below us with cactus, flowers and butterflies everywhere, including a black butterfly with red dots that landed and camped on my nose. The only snag for Sweeney was at the end of the third run where she stopped 5 meters short of the platform but quickly recovered using the backward hand-over-hand technique. The perfect form and confident look in the photo below characterize a much enjoyed experience.

"Zip Lining at Huana Coa Canopy Adventure near Mazatlan"

Coming in for the Last Landing

"Rappelling from the Final Platform at Huana Coa Canopy Adventure"

Rappelling from the Final Platform

The last platform had one other new activity — rappelling to the ground below.

"Back on the ground after rappelling from final platform"

Back on the Ground

Though Sweeney’s first time, she handled it calmly with a big smile.

"Huana Coa Zip Lining Guides, Silverio and Jimmy"

Guides, Silverio and Jimmy

The friendly staff and especially our guides, Roel (in earlier pictures) and Jimmy and Silverio (just above) contributed to a fun outing. Their expertise, instructions and frequent humor helped quickly remove any nervousness enabling us to thoroughly enjoy the activity. In fact, the ride was so fun that we wanted to do it again!

Now that we’ve tried zip-lining, we highly recommend it as an activity for any adventure level and from our personal experience can recommend Huana Coa Canopy Adventure if you’re visiting Mazatlan.

For more information: Huana Coa Canopy Adventure

Disclosure: We were guests of the Mazatlan Tourism Trust, but the perspectives and opinions in this article are totally our own — as always!

Note: This post may contain affiliate links. If you make a purchase through these links, I will earn a commission at no extra cost to you. Thanks!

73 thoughts on “A Sweeney First: Zip-Lining in Mazatlan

  1. jade

    Ha, I hate how the harness looks on me too! You are so brave- I scream and holler the entire ride and Bob makes fun of me every time. I’m scared to death and he laughs at me! 🙂

  2. Leigh

    I’m not sure that it’s possible to look good wearing a harness – maybe if you’re 21 or so. Glad you had fun doing it. I’ve now done it in three places and always love that adrenalin rush you get as you get off the platform.

    1. Mr. TWS Post author

      You are right about the approach to the platform, especially the first couple where you’re trying to gauge the right speed.

  3. jenny@atasteoftravel

    What fun!! Now I know what to expect, I think I’d give it a go. Nine runs sounds a lot though…maybe I need to look for a shorter course! I’m sure the tequila was as welcome after as it would have been before.

    1. Mr. TWS Post author

      Each of he runs was over very quickly, even the longest (over 300 meters). Hope you get to try. Not much of a tequila drinker but it was yummy.

  4. Andrew Graeme Gould

    Well done on both the reporting and daredevil adventurer sides! (I would have stuck with the former, myself.) Perhaps we’ll see you bungee jumping next, Cathy!

    1. Mr. TWS Post author

      Thanks for your comments; much appreciated. Sweeney is really good at letting me use pictures that she doesn’t like very much. I still snicker when I see the bolt picture.

  5. Vera

    Excellent post, Randy! …Although it seems that you got most excited by the butterfly landing on your nose…;) I love it how the pictures show that Cathy starts out rather tense, until she gets her full-beam smile back – kudos for signing up for this activity. And the concerns about not looking good in the gear are also wasted – she could model these helmets!! Anyway, it was especially interesting to read after I did the zip-lining for the first time not too long ago myself. How come I didn’t get a tequila afterwards, though? Sad.

    1. Mr. TWS Post author

      Thanks. I really liked the zip-lining more. The butterflies were interesting – usually they are much more elusive. Sorry you missed out on the tequila. It was lots of fun too. Very tasty and pure.

    1. Mr. TWS Post author

      I believe Sweeney got a lot out of this. Part was the excitement and fun itself. Part was being able to accomplish something that seemed difficult but turned out to be easier (and more fun) than she feared.

  6. santafetraveler

    You are a brave woman. For some reason, I thought ziplining was a short ride from point A to point B. A mile, 10 platforms! I was thinking I might try this some time- now I’m not so sure. Maybe if I could find the short course I imagined. Great photos!

    1. Mr. TWS Post author

      Thanks. I’m not sure but expect that there is quite a bit of variance in the courses. We really wanted to do the course again right away. Even the longest run of the 9 – over 300 meters – went very quickly.

  7. Nancie

    Cheering for you Kathy. After seeing this and how easy it looks, I am tempted to try it again. Frankly, I am a wimp when it comes to heights, unless I’m enclosed. Lots of zip lining opportunities in Thailand, so no reason for me not to try, except of course…I’M A CHICKEN!

    1. Mr. TWS Post author

      Thanks. Cathy said she also thought she would never have tried this but was quite encouraged by others that had done it. She was really glad that she did it because it was lots of fun.

  8. Sofie

    I have a terrible fear of heights and I think it’s so cool you dared to do the zip lining.
    It seems like a good course, building up the height of the platforms. But still, I think I’d stop after the first one:D

    1. Mr. TWS Post author

      Thanks. I hadn’t thought about the fact that the course was good building the height. That’s a good comment. I agree with you also about Sweeney daring it.

  9. Christopher

    Zip-lines and tequila! A great combination. The first time I did zip-lines (in Monteverde, Costa Riica), I could have used some hooch! We were so high up in the cloud forest that the ground wasn’t visible.

  10. Jennifer

    Great post by Mr. TWS! We’ve done zip-lining in a few places and no matter how many times we go, I still get nervous. I have a slight fear about gaining too much speed and a huge fear of just looking stupid. But it always ends up being a great time and a real adrenaline rush!

  11. Charu

    You are so brave! I could never do zip lining but more power to you! I’m off to Mexico next week but will be in the relatively non adventurous area of Puerto Vallarta…

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  15. Turkey's For Life

    Yeahy, well done Cathy! Loved the write up, Mr TWS, especially the bit about having to be 5 stories high without hyper-ventilating. I did the zip wires once when I was on an adventure weekend with the kids from school (I was a teacher in a former life) and I have never been as scared, or screamed as loud, in my life. Was buzzing afterwards though! 🙂

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