Zip lining is an experience unlike any other. It's the anticipation and butterflies that build as you don your helmet and harness. The momentary grip of uncertainty as you gaze out over the precipice at the impending jungle, beach or mountains below. The wild explosion of adrenaline as you muster up the courage to leap off the platform. Fright chokes you. Terror seizes you. And then just as suddenly, effortlessly, you are flying. The world passes beneath and around you as you soar through the sky like a bird.
Zip lining has become a staple vacation activity. These roller coaster-like cable courses have been set up in almost every imaginable climate and landscape, so the views they offer are almost as spectacular as the ride itself. Here are some of our favorites around the world.
Zip 2000 - Sun City, South Africa
For the action-addicted adrenaline junkies out there, the Zip 2000 is for you. Measuring in at almost a full mile, this track in South Africa is one of the longest single zip lines in the world. It is also one of the steepest, and claims to be the world's fastest. Zip liners can expect to cruise at speeds of upwards of 75 mph and can even approaching 100 mph! To really put a cherry on the high speed cake, zip liners descend in the superman position (face first, belly down) just to fan the flames of your terrified exhilaration. Because this is such an extreme course, as you can imagine, it's also extremely popular. Pre-booking is essential as only four tours to depart each day -- be sure to reserve your spot well in advance.
Zip Adventures - Vail, Colorado
Most people think of the Vail Valley as a place for winter sports, but summer can be just as eventful (and the crowds are negligible in comparison). Zip Adventures in the Vail Valley runs a zip line that will take you sailing over the Eagle River, past the Gore Range, and between the great sandstone cliffs of Wolcott Canyon. Reservations are not required, but it is recommended to book in advance. Located just 20 minutes west of Vail, their base is amongst the picturesque Rocky Mountain alpine grandeur you come to expect from Colorado.
Haleakala Skyline Tour - Maui, Hawaii
Haleakala Skyline Tour is an historic zip line, because it was the first ever to be built in the US. Called the “World’s Most Amazing Zip Line” by Fodor's, the launch point is thousands of feet above sea level way up on the Haleakala Crater. The tour takes you through the clouds of the Haleakala Forest, a lush jungle full of sweet-smelling eucalyptus trees with 90 foot drops along the canyon. They pride themselves on being an eco-friendly attraction and are listed as a “carbon neutral adventure,” so you know the folks in charge are doing their part to conserve the beautiful environment surrounding them.
Toro Verde Nature Adventure Park - Orocovis, Puerto Rico
Toro Verde offers several tours that give spectacular aerial views, but perhaps their most impressive zip line is known as The Monster. This zip line was certified by the Guinness Book of World Records as the longest zip line on Earth (and is advertised as “the Longest Zip Line in the Universe”). A staggering 1.6 miles in length, this zip line swoops you out over the tropical jungle of Puerto Rico at a hair-tingling 95 mph. Upon completion, you'll receive a flight certificate boasting the achievement. Bookings should be made in advance and fill up fast -- you don’t want to miss your chance to fly on The Monster.
Miss Sky Canopy - Nosara, Costa Rica
The fine fellows at Miss Sky Canopy in Costa Rica are pioneers in the sport of zip lining and continually push the limits. The zip line here is the longest zip line tour in the world (not to be confused with the longest single zip line in Puerto Rico) and takes riders through 21 runs amounting to a full seven miles! Several hundred feet above the ground, you'll glide through pristine Costa Rican rainforest past a waterfall and over river pools. Keep your eyes peeled for wildlife like sloths, toucans, and howler monkeys moving through the trees. Despite being larger and longer than any other zip line tour, their prices are fairly reasonable with prices setting you back just $45-$65 -- you don’t have to break the bank to experience an adrenaline rush.
AdrinaLUNA - St. Lucia
This relatively new adventure is a spectacular way to get acquainted with St. Lucia’s jungle at the highest speed possible. The tour starts out with a gondola ride up into the sky with a short scenic hike to the first platform. From there, zip liners drop and glide from platform to platform (10 in all) through a lush canopy of trees. Be on the lookout for vivid flowers, brightly colored birds and other wildlife as you descend through the rainforest.
Tzuk Manara - Kiryat Shmona, Israel
The Israeli landscape is much more than desert, and this is a good way to get a lay of the land. Boasting the “most acute angle in the world,” Tzuk Manara encourages riders to adjust their speed during descent so as not to miss the scenery. Located in the Galilee region, zip liners are exposed to the Hula Valley, Mount Hermon and the Golan Heights. Besides the incredible views, the price tag is also one of the most appealing features of this adventure. For just $14 visitors can strap up, link on and zip down this steep, thrilling ride.