If you want to fly, but don't have the innate death wish to undertake base jumping, zip lining is naturally the best - and safest - alternative. With lines that can range from a few metres to a few kilometres long, zip lining can be a big adventure. Locations around the world offer an incredible array of zip lining, but some areas are better known for it than others. However, the areas not known for it can occasionally hold some of the best and most beautiful lines of this unique activity.
Icy Straight Point, Alaska
While Alaska is better known for dog sledding than zip lining, the line at Icy Straight Point proves the point that the best lines can be found in the strangest places. As a frequent stop for cruise lines touring the coast, those in the nearby town of Hoonah claim their ZipRider line is the largest in the world. This formidable ride features a 400-metre drop and runs for over a three kilometre in its thrilling run. Visitors soar over the ocean and tree-covered mountains as the line reaches average speeds of 60 kph.
All zip lines showcase some beautiful slices of nature, but few rides involve one of the Seven Wonders of the World. However, on the Simatai section of the Great Wall of China, this zip line does just that. In order to reach the line, visitors must climb the stair-laden section of the Great Wall, but they can also cop out and take the chair lift. The line sails down off the wall over Mandarin Duck Lake, giving perfect views of not only this ancient wall built in the 6th century, but the mountains the section sits upon.
La Tyrolienne, The French Alps
Connecting two resorts in the French Alps, the new La Tyrolienne zip line is the highest zip line in the world. At a heart-stopping altitude of 3,200 metres, this mega zip line runs for over a kilometre as it travels over the Maurienne and Tarentaise valleys from the Bouchet chair lift in Orelle to the neighbouring Val Thorens, the highest ski resort in Europe.
Soaring above waterfalls is no longer just for the birds; at least that is the case in Hawaii. Perched over the summit of the Haleakala Crater, the Haleakala Skyline Tour offers visitors a zip line thousands of metres above the ground as they soar along the 1,000-metre long aerial runway that is their zip line. Visitors fly over the rich volcanic jungle and past a number of some of the most beautiful waterfalls in the world.
Arenal Volcano Park, Costa Rica
Costa Rica is prime zip lining country, but once visitors have torn through the rainforest canopy, it is time for something a little more daring. It doesn't get much more daring than a ride down the Sky Trek line that runs through Arenal Volcano Park. This two kilometre ride takes visitors through the jungle, over Arenal Lake and right past the Arenal Volcano, so close they can feel the heat from the mountain. After its last erupted in 1984, the volcano is still active and occasionally leaks lava. However, park rangers regularly monitor the lava flows and will close the line down if there is imminent danger about.
British Columbians are known for how much they relish the outdoors, and with abundant nature right outside their back door, why shouldn't they? For those that can't make it to the tropics for their wonderful zip lines, British Columbia is home to a zip line tour that is beautiful any time of year in Whistler. The scenery showcased by the Whistler line changes with the season. In the winter, visitors will glider over snow-covered old-growth forests and frozen creeks while a summer ride showcases the same frozen wonderland transformed into a sea of green. The five lines run from 60 to 300 metres and allow free styling, in which zip liners dangle upside down.
For those that feel zip lines often have a sore lack of water views, the line at Labadee in Haiti will fulfill that need. Catering primarily to the cruise ships that stop at this resort town, the giant zipline in Labadee proclaims itself as the longest zip line over water in the world. Visitors travel 800 metres over the clear blue cove in their 100-metre drop that also showcases the beautiful green mountains in the distance.
Penrhyn Quarry, North Wales
Penrhyn Quarry stands as one of the most dramatic and rugged regions in the United Kingdom and nestled in the mountains of Snowdonia lies the Zip World zip line. Riders take this adrenaline-pumping ride Superman style, face down and head first. While the line travels over two kilometres and at a heart-pumping speed of 100 kph, visitors are treated to striking views of mountain lakes and jagged slate mountains.
Gravity Canyon, New Zealand
The Flying Fox zip line in Mokai Gravity Canyon gives visitors a chance to feel like Superman as they soar at top speeds. This zip line sends riders down on their stomach flying parallel to the ground through the canyon. While the Flying Fox only runs for about 1,000 metres, it makes up for its length with its speed where riders fly upwards of 100 kph. This unique zip line isn't a one way trip either, riders bounce back and forth a few times before stopping in the middle and being pulled in by the line crew.
Sun City, South Africa
Like the line as Icy Straight Point in Alaska, the Zip 2000 in Sun City, South Africa boasts itself the longest zip line in the world. With a four kilometre ride, it looks like the Zip 2000 comes out on top. Although not the world's fastest line, the Zip 2000 remains competitive with top speeds of 90 kph on their ride. Riders glide two-by-two Superman style from their perch and watch as the South African grasslands unfold before them. From this long, sweeping view, there is no better way to see South Africa.
Are you a zip lining junkie? Have you done any of these insane zip lines?
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