Walking the tight rope at Busiika
Posted Sunday, December 8 2013 at 02:00
Having tried out a number of adventure sports including but not limited to white water rafting, I was happy to sit out this particular rope course adventure and hand over the reins to the young generation represented by my seven year old daughter and six year old nephew.
About two kilometres past Bugema University on the Gayaza-Zirobwe road is thae previously little known township of Busiika now popularised by motor sporting sprints.
This vast chunk of rolling valley that is, the Uganda Motorsport Arena does not look like a big deal. In the absenace of racing cars and motorbikes, it could pass for some abandoned and barren space with a few donkeys and cattle roaming around. Yet, the tight security at the arena gate should tell you that there is a hidden treasure inside.
Down the winding road, past the motor tracks is Uganda’s premier extreme adventure park. To the untrained eye, the park might as well be an UMEME substation of sorts because the first thing you will see is a cluster of eucalyptus poles strung with metallic cables similar to what is normally used by the electricity distribution company to connect power to buildings. What is even more interesting is the hanging assembly of coloured loops, steps, boards and nets suspended on the copper cables.
At first glance, the set up looks like the stuff only circus performers and the people from the Ninja Warrior TV show would dare to climb. But then the General Manager of the adventure park, Mark Mukisa Raczynski starts to name the type of people who visit the park and they include corporate team building groups, Ugandan cultural royalty, ambassadors and top politicians.
The Extreme Adventure Park as it is properly called is in fact a rope course, one of the few rope courses in Africa outside South Africa. The rope course and zip line are designed both as a mind and body challenge. What this means in real terms is that if you sign up for the adventure, which costs Shs60, 000 per person, you will be walking the tight rope with only a few pieces of wood which are thinner than your feet to support you.
In some cases, it is just your feet balancing on the cable and stamina is what will keep you from falling off and hanging rather unceremoniously in mid-air by the cords of your safety harness. Yes, I hear the collective sigh of relief at the mention of a safety harness. As an adventure company, safety of their customers is something the extreme adventure does not take lightly. The safety guides—young Ugandan men—all have at least 140 hours of top notch international safety training some of it done in South Africa.
Before you are permitted to go rope walking, you are given a safety kit that includes a helmet, a safety harness strapped around your stomach and hips and a set of instructions which should keep you out of harm’s way.
“We are going for 100 per cent safety record because with just one accident, you could go out of business,” says Raczynski Mukisa, the naturalized adventure park manager.
The rope course is made up of three levels and the starting course is the ninja level. Once one has complicated the ninja course which ends with the rope climber zipping down 135 metres of copper cable to the finish line, there is the commando level and finally the extreme level reserved for the brave hearts.
Having tried out a number of adventure sports including but not limited to white water rafting, I was happy to sit out this particular rope course adventure and hand over the reins to the young generation represented by my seven year old daughter and six year old nephew. The rope course the youngsters were given is the ninja level; the same starting level for adults.
The children were given the same set of instructions given to adults attempting that level but given their small size, the children probably had an advantage over many pot-bellied adults when it came to balancing on the ropes. The children did not once fall off and while the seven year old went all the way via the zip line to the finish, the six year old opted not to take the free fall zip ride because it probably looked too long and scary at 135 metres.
Contrary to what the name might suggest, the Extreme Adventure Park is more than just a place to go for fun and thrills. While we watched the children walking the tightrope, Mukisa regaled us with stories of how corporate teams and departments bonded on the rope course and they came away swearing that after handling the challenges of the rope course they felt they could do anything. Climbing and walking the rope course is an exercise designed to sharpen your problem solving skills.
When you are hanging up there wondering where to put your foot, you improve your ability to focus on the task at hand and how to reach within yourself for motivation to get to the finish line. Now that my seven year old daughter has completed the ninja level, I feel like I have no choice but to rise up to the challenge.
EXTREME ADVENTURE PARK BUSIIKA
Located in Uganda Motosport Arena in Busiika village on Gayaza Road, Wakiso district Uganda.
Opened to the public in November 2013. Extreme Adventure Park Busiika was designed and built by a Polish constructor Marek Raczynski.
All age groups: Can be used by both amateurs and experienced climbers. It is extreme adventure and individual challenging course requisite physical activity and brave.
Contains 32 elements located on 16 poles on the level from 3.5 meters to 11 meters high. Is a composite of the three routes NINJA, COMMANDO and EXTREME. Each route is from 9 to 11 obstacles of varying difficulty levels. Park is equipped with Self-Belaying System that is used by the participant .
All safety equipment used meets standards of international climbing organisations. It is not allowed to use any other safety equipment. One set for each and every participant contains harness, 2 dynamic ropes 10.2mm, 2 bent gate carabineers, sling, pulley and helmet.
All the parts of safety equipment are recognized by UIAA (International Mountaineering and Climbing Federation) and have individual serial number. Safety Equipment is inspected on the same condition and frequency like ropes course.