WELCOME TO THE JUNGLE

If you are reading this then you should really be doing so while listening to my 10-year old son’s favourite Guns N’ Roses track, ‘Welcome to the Jungle’! We recently took him, his 2 brothers and 2 of his friends to the Jungle NI to celebrate his double-digit birthday, where they enjoyed an hour on the Mowgli Treetop Adventure.

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The night before our big day out we pitched a tent in our back garden and treated the boys to a pizza party and campout – at 12.30am there were still giggles emanating from the tent and I wondered how on earth they were going to muster up the energy for an afternoon of physical exertion among the trees at the Moneymore-based activity centre. And, when they traipsed indoors one after the other, hopping because they were still cocooned in their sleeping bags, at 6.30am I was convinced they would all be exhausted by the time we arrived for our 1pm pre-booked slot!

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Thankfully, it was a glorious bright day and while my husband and I prepared a picnic, wiped the sleep from our eyes and fuelled up on copious amounts of coffee, the kids all happily played Jurassic World in the garden and enjoyed breakfast al fresco!

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By the time we were ready to leave, excitement was at an all-time high with it being a first-time visit to the Jungle NI for everyone in the party. A one-hour drive from Belfast around the top of Lough Neagh and through rolling green countryside made for a peaceful and relaxed journey with everyone happy to chill-out and look out the window.

The Jungle NI is set on a vast farm site – as soon as we arrived I could see that it was spotlessly clean and well maintained. We were welcomed at the reception and given directions up the winding lane to the Mowgli Treetop Adventure log-cabin reception. On such a hot day it was lovely to leisurely dander along and see the cute mini ponies and llamas in the fields and watch as brave/crazy people zorbed down a hill to cheers and rounds of applause. The boys obviously wanted to stop and watch, eager to have a go themselves, so we had to gently usher them on reminding them we had our own adventure booked!

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Once at the log-cabin we were taken by a staff member to the beginning of the treetop adventure trail, specifically designed for children (although there is also an adult course with an awesome zip-line which I am very keen to go back and try out!), harnessed up and given a brief safety talk – and off they went to swing and jump through the forest assault course. There were no pre-course nerves which I was quite surprised at as the course is fairly high and my youngest boy is only 8 years old.

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From our viewpoint amid the trees we were able to watch and call out encouragement and snap a few pictures. The kids were all calling out to one another if they reached a scary point which made them a little jittery, and so as a team, they worked their way around the 2 tailor-made courses – crawling through nets, tunnels, trekking cautiously over see-saws, wobbly rope bridges and climbing across nets like a spider on a web. The variety of obstacles kept them well and truly interested and challenged and their shrieks of glee reverberated throughout the forest, indicating a good time was being had by all involved!

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Soon the one hour was up and the boys reluctantly returned to shed their harnesses and chat among themselves about how ‘Epic’ and ‘Awesome’ it had been. We slowly trailed back downhill for a well-earned picnic lunch, where everyone agreed that the treetop adventure had been a great way to mark a special birthday.

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After lunch, we allowed the boys to pick 2 more activities and they decided on the Segways and Paintballing – both of which turned out to be a whole lot of fun. The Segways especially were high-adrenaline for young boys with a need for speed – and my youngest son had one of the instructors running downhill after him as he got a little carried away and went off course! All good fun!

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Ice cream, birthday cake and a game of football at a beautiful lakeside park on the way home rounded the day off nicely, with everyone well and truly shattered from their big day of adventure combined with the boiling hot weather. Safe to say, they were all snoring as soon as their heads hit the pillow that night – and I wasn’t long after them to slip off to the land of nod!

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