Zip lining (also known as ziplining) is a sport in which participants “zip” between platforms on a series of cables.
Zip line courses can consist of one or many cables that are suspended between trees or man-made structures. Participants (often referred to as “zippers”) are suspended from a pulley that moves across the cable, propelled by gravity. The cables are mounted descending from a higher to lower point. The amount of incline as well as the weight of the zipper determines the speed at which the participant travels from point to point.
Zip line courses can be designed purely for speed (adrenaline rush), while others are designed to allow zippers to enjoy the natural surroundings such as forest, jungle or waterfalls (often referred to as canopy tours). Others employ elements of both.
- Zippers: The name given to zip line participants
- Zipping: The action of zip lining.
- Flying: Another term used to describe the act of zip lining
- Guides: Professionals who accompany groups of zippers through the zip line course.
Professional zip line courses offer mandatory training sessions for participants. During the training sessions guides teach participants, proper form, how to take off from a platform, how to land on a platform and how to break/slow down. Depending on the complexity and difficulty of the course, training sessions can take anywhere from a few minutes to a half-hour.
Since courses are built to deliver varying experiences, it is a good idea to research courses to ensure you get the kind of experience that is most appealing to you. It is also important to keep in mind that courses have different age, health and weight requirements, so check with the tour provider before heading out for your adventure.
It is likely you will get all of the gear you need from the zip line operator including gloves, harnesses and helmets. However, many courses do require:
- Closed-toe shoes
Since courses are almost always outdoors, be sure to wear weather-appropriate clothing.
Be sure you are provided with and wear a helmet, leather or suede gloves (if using your hand to break or slow down) and that the course has a good safety record. Professional US zip line courses often have double cables, ensuring that if one cable is compromised, a second will continue to carry the zipper. It is also important to adhere to all safety requirements given during the training session and to advise guides of any health issues.
Courses have different age an weight requirements, so check with the course operator before heading out on your adventure.
Zip line courses include:
- Eastern Cape
- Plett Zipline - over a valley just outside Plettenberg Bay
- Tsitsikamma Falls - over gorges across the Kruis River, near Storms River and the Tsitsikamma National Park
- Tsitsikamma Forest - in the indigenous Tsitsikamma forest, over ancient yellowood trees, near Storms River and the Tsitsikamma National Park.
- Alaska Zipline Adventure, toll-free: .
- North Carolina
- Lake Travis Zipline Adventures, 14529 Pocahontas Trail Leander, Texas 78641.
- La Fortuna
- Hollybank Treetops Adventure, 66 Hollybank Road, Underwood, Tasmania.
- Western Australia
- ** Forest Adventures South West, 12 Ludlow Park Road, Busselton, Western Australia.
- Zip Trek Park, Alvie, near Aviemore. 14 zip wires over a 2,-km course.