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Bobsledding in Jamaica

Inspired by the national Olympic team, Jamaica now offers a cool run through the hot Jamaican jungle at Mystic Mountain.

 

In 1988, the first Jamaican bobsled team made its way to Calgary to compete in the XV Olympic Winter Games. The team’s perseverance to qualify in a sport that most Jamaicans had never even heard of was met in Canada with disbelief.

Yet the team managed to become a fan favorite, famously finishing its third run by walking their sled across the finish line after a spectacular crash disqualified them. The team is currently gearing up for an appearance at the Vancouver Olympic Winter Games in 2010. [Read about where to get tickets and lodging packages for the 2010 Winter Games].

On my first trip to Jamaica this past winter, I was determined to find a place to try bobsledding for myself. Off the highway in Ocho Rios, I found it—a new attraction called Mystic Mountain, which opened in July 2008.

Join the Bobsled Team—Or Just Pretend To

More than 3,000 feet of Jamaican bobsledding track silently cuts through jungle, seemingly not interfering with the trees or wildlife. The forest that Mystic Mountain was developed on covers more than 100 acres of wilderness, including tropical plants, trees, natural springs and a variety of birds.

There is no snow, of course, so the track is made from stainless steel rails and is designed to curve and bend around the jungle terrain.

I got into the black, green and yellow bobsled, feeling quite like an Olympic athlete. There was even a handbrake that allowed me to speed up or slow down, depending on how adventurous I felt. Instead of pushing off like the bobsled team does, though, I stayed put and just pushed the kid-friendly handbrake to “Go.”

Weaving in and out of the jungle canopy track took me about six minutes to complete. I held back a bit on the corners, though, so when I got off the ride, I was right back in line again, waiting to go full speed. The second time I did, reaching up to 25 miles per hour. I guess practice makes perfect.

Sky-High Activities

The attraction also has the Rainforest Sky Lift Explorer, which takes riders from the park entrance up 700 feet to the top of the mountain. The chairlift ride takes about 15 minutes each way, a great time to explain what an eco-park is to the younger generation while looking out over views of the Caribbean Sea.

There is also a fantastic Rainforest Zip-Line Canopy Tour, with five zip lines, one vertical descent and one suspension walking bridge. Make sure to take your camera (in a case around your neck), as there are many opportunities to snap photos of your family zipping through the jungle.

Don’t miss the Jamaican Railway Station, a replica of an early 20th-century Jamaican railway station, and the adjacent Mystic Pavilion with an exhibition of the country’s history through sports and culture. Between rides, you can use this exhibition as downtime for the kids.

Bobsledding on Mystic Mountain may not be an exact replica of the Winter Olympics experience, but it’s as close as you’re going to get while vacationing in sunny Jamaica.

Mystic Mountain. Tel. 305-704-3350, www.rainforestrams.com. For more information on Jamaica, check with the Jamaica Tourist Board (tel. 800-233-4582). www.visitjamaica.com


Destinations: Jamaica

Themes: Family Travel, Outdoor Adventures

Activities: Zip Lining


User Comments

I do agree that the Zip Lines were short. I've been on some much longer zip lines before.

My Fiancée and I just got back two days ago, and we had 100% the opposite experience. After our 15 min Ski Lift or Sky Tran (what ever you want to call it) Ride to the top of the mountain, we ate lunch at the restaurant food was decent. It took us 2 minutes on line for the Bob Sled and then we spent about 45min making our way down the mountain on the Zip Lines. We had a great time! Over priced-- maybe, however it’s vacation and nothing is cheap on vacation.

Mystic mountain is terribly overpriced for what it offers. My wife and I spent 248 US on the bobsled and zipline. We waited over an hour for the bobsled which lasted about a minute and a half and the zipline was 5 lines none longer than 100 yards iwth no real excitement. We spent about 6 hours there acomplishing those two things and left feeling ripped off and angry. It was the only thing we did in jamaica we did not enjoy.

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