Its time to jump, climb, scream and let off steam. PRIYADARSHINI PAITANDY writes on the increasing number of adventure sports zones
As I roll around, strapped within a giant zorb ball at GRT Temple Bay, blurred patches of the cerulean sky and green grass appear intermittently. I can't hear anything beyond my shrieks, which put even the crash of the waves to shame. Finally, there's peace as the ball comes to a halt!
Outside, my friends have a good laugh. I wriggle out, feeling a tad shaky and try to look nonchalant. And, despite all the giggling, they look at me with admiration. I feel heroic and ecstatic, a feeling that's guaranteed every time there's an unbeatable rush of adrenaline.
“Adrenaline is addictive, and adventure sports provide that instantly. That's why they are so popular,” says Tuhin Mehta of Headshot, the latest paintball place in town.
Little wonder, people seeking adventure have, through the ages, resorted to many things for that heady feeling. “It's not just the thrill factor; these sports also make people more confident and outgoing and help in decision making,” says Major S.R. Roy, who set up Adventure Zone, an adventure sports facility, in 1998.
Though movies and even TV commercials introduced many to a variety of extreme sports, it was initially the domain of the well-heeled, who could take off to New Zealand or Down Under to rappel, bungee jump and sky dive. “Now, there are adventure sports centres literally in our backyard. So, anybody can do it,” says Major Roy.
The winding ECR and OMR are home to numerous nerve-wracking sport zones. Set on 11 acres, Adventure Zone lets you challenge yourself as you rock climb and rappel, scuba dive or parasail and soar high. You can also stay overnight at their Swiss cottage-style tents with bunk beds.
Ah, so you have something less aggressive in mind. How about fishing? Art of Fishing, a part of the Anglers Club, India, lets you try your hand at backwater, surf and deep sea fishing. It will come in handy if you ever decide to settle in the Bora Bora islands!
What could be more fun than pelting opponents with paint pellets? Don the gear, equip yourself with the paintball gun, hide, dodge and shoot. Apart from Headshot, Planet Adventure, too, offers this engaging sport. “It's great for team building, communication and leadership skills. It lets you think on your feet,” explains Tuhin.
True. Adventure sports also help in personality building as is evident from the number of corporates flocking to these places.
“Almost all the big business houses are associated with one form of adventure sport or other. J.R.D Tata was an aviator, Anil Ambani is a cross-country racer…,” lists Roy.
Hotels are not far behind in the adventure race. Ride the waves on a catamaran at Fisherman's Cove. Once there, stop being chicken and dive into the ocean. Ensure you make an appointment, for if the sea is rough, Patrick, the activity co-ordinator, won't allow you this pleasure.
A back-up plan is to go snake catching with the Irulas. “You accompany the person in charge and see the snakes up close and personal. They then let go of the snakes. This is just a way of getting over your fear of these shy reptiles,” smiles Patrick. The hotel also has a few surf boards. If you are confident enough, give it a shot.
Drive down further and GRT Temple Bay lets you whiz through the dirt track in its bright red All Terrain Vehicle. Bummer is, you need to have a two-wheeler license to try it out. But when there is something as awesome as zorbing, the ATV ride can wait.
The newest entrant in the realm of extreme sports providers is the The Wild Tribe Ranch in Ponneri. “Since everything was coming up along the ECR, we decided to start something North of Chennai,” says Babu Dayalan, senior guide. Like Adventure Zone, this place too gives you the option of shacking up at its military-style camps or huts. Try its obstacle course, bull ride, rappelling, trampoline jump, paintball and more.
The best thing? Age is no bar. “I get clients from four-year-olds to 80-year-olds. I even have people on wheelchairs trying out a few activities. Nothing is impossible. The only problem is between your ears,” says Roy.
GRT Temple Bay (27443636)
Zorb: Rs. 250 for 10 minutes; ATV ride: Rs. 500 for 20 minutes
Adventure Zone (2754 0178)
Activities range from Rs. 200 to Rs. 500
The Wild Tribe Ranch (96770-67706)
Activities range from Rs. 50 to Rs. 400
Headshot (Ph: 98847-44400)
Rates start at Rs. 250
Anglers Club (98400-28553)