Kids take high-altitude zipline to school

Kids in a remote village in Colombia travel to school via a precarious, high-altitude zipline, carrying their younger sibs in hemp sacks and slowing their descent with a wooden fork:
Despite her youth, Daisy is expected to travel down the flying fox at speeds of up to 62km/h with her younger brother attached beside her in a sack.

It's a high pressure journey, with a 400m drop into the Rio Negro river facing her if the pulley system gives way.

Children take flying fox to school (via JWZ)

(Image: cropped thumbnail from a larger image by Focus/Otto/Rex)


  1. That’s nothing. In my day we used to zipline 10 miles to school, back and forth uphill both ways in the snow. And we didn’t have no fancy pulleys and sticks neither – we did it with our bare hands. Yup kids got it so easy these days.

    1. Oh..believe me they have nothing fancy in there…if u see the picture she brakes with a piece of wood…

  2. This ninemsn article quotes the daily mail as the source, but I spotted this on a TV programme a few months back, anyone remember what is was?

    Searching “zipline to school” gives some youtube hits, youtube is access denied here so cannot check if it gives away the original source.

  3. Well you always want to be there on time, but you can take your time getting home.
    Also with anything that sounds cool at first I’m sure they’re pretty tired of it by now.

  4. For real? How many dead so far? Her long hair could easily get caught in that wheel.
    Can we please re-locate them? I don’t like this.

    1. Really? You want to uproot these families from their homes and move them somewhere else because you are freaked out by their mode of transport which safely sees 60 passengers a day to their destination? If it tugs at your heart strings so much, and you really think these kids need your help more than the hundreds of millions of children who can’t go to school, or eat regular meals, or sleep in homes with loving families, then please, do a bit of research and find a mailing address. I’m sure no one would stop you from sending some safety harnesses to Los Pinas, Colombia. Who knows, maybe you’ll do some good.

    1. Fear not, Walter: I’m confident the catapult-based alternative I’m working on will comprehensively address your hair-related safety concerns.

    2. Thing is, if you were to try and get them to use “modern” safety gear they would reject it because, to them, it looks unsafe compared to the cabulla harnesses they use normally. I used to know the secretary in charge of Ministry of the Interior’s Reintegration Office, the purpose of which was to travel to Colombia’s rural areas and convince the farmers there to replace their illegal coca/poppy/whatever crops with cash crops such as yuca and arracacha, although they also carried out several “quality of life” projects. He told me once that they traveled to the Río Negro area and attempted to hand out safety harnesses. The locals outright rejected them because they looked like they would snap at any moment, so instead of using them for their intended purpose they cut them up and used them as rigging material for their houses and such.

      Not many people know about this, even in Colombia. I guess it’s true what they say: Bogotá is very far from Colombia.

  5. This transportation system is not too rare here in Colombia considering our geography and I think one would be amazed to find out that there are not too many accidents despite the dangerous situation.

  6. We think that it look cool, for the kids…they’re just glad that they’re old enough to not be stuck in the sack anymore.

  7. We would have loved a zip line. When I was a kid, they’d just throw us off a cliff ever morning.

  8. Here in the good ole U.S., we’d make them wear helmets, elbow pads, knee pads,wrist guards and gloves. Then attach them with 15 different safety devices, then a safety net and then of course, child services would come down on the parents for living in such a remote location because someone can’t believe that they live in a way that doesn’t fit “their” view of how the kids should live. Finally, the killing stroke on this would be someone would sue the zipline “proprietor” for being racist by making one of the kids for being in the sack. All would be well and fine when the kids have to trudge through 6 miles of inhospitable rain forest filled with drug lords, poisonous snakes, giant snakes, spiders, jaguars and of course, the 600 ft drop into the river. But they’d be safe from the dangerous zip line.

    Man, we are a bunch of pansies.


  9. Reminds me of episode 794 in The Complete Dream of the Rarebit Fiend. “A man living in a house on a platform in the sky goes to work in a carrier.”
    Sorry that a search on Winsor McCay didn’t turn up a link to the episode.

  10. Yeah, I’d seen this on TV in Spanish.

    It’s pretty terrifying, as a person concerned for the children’s safety, but they’re probably better at this than we give them credit for. I mean, they’ve been doing it every day since they were about 6, probably.
    Also, as far as transportation goes, it’s pretty effective.

    What *would* make me happy is if someone made sure to do periodic checkups on their support systems – maybe get them new gear.
    Instead of whining about relocating them, that is.

  11. I know a nine-year old who would bite your hand off to trade places with Daisy. And she just got a haircut, so she’d argue that she would be safer, too.

  12. I bet they’re completely blase about it at this point. But the first few times had to bring on the shakes I’m sure. I would both love and hate to give it a shot.

  13. It looks like this story has been around for a while.

    As someone pointed out in the comments on Daily Mail ( almost exactly the same story was published in 2003 (see or even earlier – and on a page about the photographer from 2002 it says the pictures of 9-year-old Daisy Mora earned him international reputation (

    Maybe someone should find Daisy Mora today and ask her about it?

  14. Damn, that looks fun. Wouldn’t mind being able to get to school that way, even if there would be a bit more in terms of some danger. Doubt it’s too much worse than driving in terms of danger if the zipline is checked over occasionally.

  15. During a cycling tour down the West coast, I stayed at various campgrounds, RV parks and the like. One such campground had been the site of week-long “Jesus Camp” just before my arrival, and the zipline they had set up was still in place. One side had a “launch platform,” about midway up a tree. The other side of the zipline had…a tree. So my imagination showed me at least one rapturous ziplining Jesus Camper, sailing through the air to victory: “Praise Jeeeesuuu-BAM!”

    And that’s my zipline story.

  16. I bet that worst thing that happens is the occasional bug in the mouth, a really big, irridescent, multicolored bug. For safety, she just needs some steampunk brass goggles, a silk scarf and an aviator cap.

    1. “For safety, she just needs some steampunk brass goggles, a silk scarf and an aviator cap.”

      ditch the silk scarf… those things are lethal when near rotating objects…

      google Isadora Duncan… and some young girl was killed recently when riding a go-kart when her scarf got caught in the wheels……

  17. Man, this reminds me of my childhood fantasy of taking a water slide or roller coaster to school, just a bit more horrifying.

  18. Seriously, though: how do they get home? The article claims it’s their only option. That can’t possibly be the case, unless the way they go back up is also somehow irreversible. Is it a giant catapult?

    Or maybe there is no way back up. Most of them live their whole lives on top of the mountain, and only ones selected to school take the zipline down to civilization, never to return…

  19. It seems obvious to me that they would climb up a hill to take a different zipline back home. It’s doesn’t have to be a great difference in height to accomplish this.

  20. If the international news is any indicator, bus accidents are a leading cause of death in mountainous countries. This might be safer.

  21. I forgot; I have a friend that lives about a block away. We keep bringing up installing a zip line so the drunken stumbling trips home are shorter. I’ll have to see if the guys that installed this one are available. There’s nothing dangerous about using a zip line after a night of drinking, is there? Naah…

  22. This TV documentary is from some time ago. Actually after this was aired the government finally built a bridge in the area. P.

  23. I saw an article about this some where before and was completely fascinated. I would at least like to get them some sturdier bags to carry their little kids in.

    The article with photos says, “German Alexander von Humboldt was the first Westerner to see the flying fox in 1804.”

    That’s pretty amazing.

    1. I think the author of the article is getting confused by the two meanings of “flying fox”. Humboldt was a biologist whose writings inspired Darwin to travel to South America. Large bats are called “flying foxes”. The idea that Humboldt saw one of those in 1804 is rather more likely than a seeing a zipline.

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