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The metaphors of conquering an adventure park in Jabal Akhdhar

In the Middle East, there is no doubt that Jabal Akhdhar is one of the best natural adventure parks offering exhilarating experiences and adrenaline-pumping activities.

Not only a place best for hiking and offering some of the most scenic trails, but the "Green Mountain" is also a fine escape for abseiling, via Ferrata and even survival training.

The latest addition to Akhdhar's mountain offering comes in an 8,000-square metre Adventure Park found inside the Dusit D2 Naseem Resort filled with ropes courses, wall climbing adventure, and even a zipline.

Over the long holiday, in one day alone, the adventure park has seen nearly 100 adventure seekers hoping to check out what the park is all about.

Overseeing the park is Brighton Vitolwe, Ranger Park Manager supported by a team of three with a possible expansion of 6 experts by the end of the year. He came to Oman with over 15 years of experience as an adventure instructor, survival trainer and adventure safety expert.

"I started my career as an Instructor for Outward Bound Zimbabwe, moved all over the world conducting different learning and camp activities for kids and even adults. I am a certified survival trainer where I trained people on where to get water and food in the wild, and how to adapt to a survival situation. Before Oman, I worked in UAE. I only visited Oman but I'd been hearing it's a beautiful place that offers lots of outdoor adventure. When I heard they were looking for somebody to manage the adventure park, I thought it was a great opportunity to see and explore the country as well as offer my kind of speciality in outdoor training and adventure management," he said.

"Adventure gives people a better opportunity to know themselves. Many people are scared of going out of their comfort zones but when you face the challenges heads on, that's when you will get to know yourself better. The best way to know yourself is to push yourself, to force yourself to take on a challenge," he added.

"I'd been in Oman for six months now. During that time, we worked so hard to create a great adventure park with multiple adventures to choose from. We have a ropes course system with three levels: the green level is the lowest level which can be done by somebody from the age of 7 to 11. it includes about 12 activities or obstacles. The next one is the blue level which can be done by ages 12 to 15. It also has about 12 activity zones. The top one is the red level for 16 years and above," Brighton shared.

"For every level, we have separate safety operating procedures. There were lots of considerations made regarding which stage is best for a particular age group. This is not just about the adventure, it's about the experience. We don't want to scar participants for life instead give them a meaningful experience," he shared.

"Other than the ropes courses, we also have freefall adventure which is more like a bungee jump that's about 8 meters deep. We also called this the quick jump. We have a zipline which is 107 metres long offering a very fast, very cool way of moving one tower to another. We also have a climbing tower which is 10 meters high with three sides. These sides are for beginners, intermediates and experts. All three can be done in one visit depending on your confidence," he explained.

Asked regarding the safety measures in place, Brighton explained, "We have to make sure that it's very safe for our participants. We subscribe to the safety standards of the European Union EN 15567 which has something to do with ropes courses and ziplines. This includes making sure that we have standard operating procedures in conformity with the international standards."

He added, "we have safety gears that include helmets, harness, pulley system and what we call a sassa that connects participants to their lifeline. We also have gloves as an option. Anything that happens, participants are not gonna fall, they're just gonna hang there."

"The adventure park is fully operational now. When people come here, they will have a nice experience. I am a professional myself, we have Sammy as well that assists me in the safety and instructional needs of the participants. We have two other team members working with us and two more will be joining us later part of the year. It's a full team looking after the safety of the adventurers," he shared.

A metaphor for life

While Jabal Akhdhar is filled with outdoor activities, the adventure park is a necessity according to Brighton because some needed proper instructors and that way the controlled environment will look after the safety of the first-timers.

He said not everyone is cut out right away for adventures in the wild and while Oman is a country of rough terrains and thousands of possible activities, confidence is not built overnight and this is where they come in.

"I didn't start as confident in outdoor adventures just like a lot of people. I'm from Zimbabwe and as a young man, I was looking for something adventurous to do. In 2006, I was accepted to work with Outward Bound. I trained for one month to get the certificate," he shared

"In the beginning, to be honest, it was very tough. I didn't know that going on adventures will be that tough. We would go on expeditions for four days. We would carry our bags with 20kg of weight and sometimes we have to walk on foot for kilometres. But that whole experience taught me to believe in myself and to keep going. It was a hard experience but a learning one because, by the time you reached our destination, I looked back and said, "Oh man, I did it." That's how I got into this adventure management and training," he said.

With Outward Bound, Brighton used to train the youth in different life skillsets like climbing, abseiling, rafting, and teambuilding to build their confidence and let them understand the need to work together as a team. Enjoying his job, he would move to a different organization four years later as a senior instructor emphasising teaching and training kids on how to go on adventures, boosting their confidence and developing their sense of leadership as well as making them more compassionate towards others.

"Majority of kids, they usually grow with one view of life but adventures give people a wider perspective. These outdoor training and adventures make people look at life in a grander context and not just through a narrow lens," he said.

He added, "These kinds of activities, they are metaphors. They represent the real things in life. For example, in this wall climbing course, the goal is to reach the top. The top defines your goals, dreams and ambition. You start from the bottom and work your way towards it. It teaches you that to get to the top, you have to put your hand on the left and your foot on the right, that you needed to push yourself.

"The way that you manage to conquer the challenges on these activities is the same way you conquer the challenges in your life. When you're rock climbing, you don't see your path because sometimes, you are too close to the rock, but other people, they can see, so they must guide you. Some people are cheering you on. You have to trust your parents, your mentor or your friends because they have a better view of what's happening than you have," he said.

Overall, Brighton said that the Dusit D2 Jabal Akhdhar Adventure Park was created in such a manner that participants not only enjoy it but that they also learn through the experience. For inquiries or details, Adventure Park can be contacted through their Instagram: dusitd2.jabalakhdar

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