The World’s Top 10 Terrifying Zip Lines

Flying through the sky at speed with just a harness between you and the earth requires the peak of fitness and can be the equivalent to a heavy workout. Adventure sports expert Angela Youngman explores the most extreme zip wire experiences worldwide.

Zip wire experiences have gone beyond children’s playgrounds and entered the field of extreme sport. A head for heights is definitely required, a strong back and neck are essential and participants may have to meet a specific weight limit. ZipFlyer Nepal, for example, requires participants to weigh between 35-125 kg (75-275 lbs).  Many of the zip wire experiences involve an arduous walk to reach the jumping off point. At Screaming Eagle you have to walk on uneven terrain, climb towers, have a good sense of balance and be prepared to control your breaking with a gloved hand. In some places, you can even race others on parallel lines and undertake stunts.

Colca Ziplining, Peru

Soar like a condor with this incredible adventure, which offers a series of stomach clenching rides. The first two rides – at 610m (2,000ft) – serve as training. You can learn how to brake the hardcore way on these using a reinforced, insulated leather glove, and try them in a variety of ways including head downwards. Then comes ‘Monster.’ First you have to climb an 18m (60ft) vertical ladder, pinned against a rock wall. On the plateau, you attach your harness and leap off the mountain reaching speeds of 110kmph (70mph). Next is the ‘Chickenator.’ Many choose to walk back down rather than go on it. It is very steep, and fast. If you’re brave enough to do it twice, try the second time without a drag chute and be responsible for your own braking from training.

Whistler, Canada

Here you can fly upside down through the forest – if you dare! A network of suspension bridges, boardwalks and trails leads to 10 separate zip line combinations at Whistler. These include a 730m (2,400ft) zip line with a 30-storey descent at speeds of up to 100kmph (60mph) across Cougar Mountain and the Whistler valley.

Icy Straight Point, Alaska

At over 1.6km (1 mile) long and 1,300ft (400m) high, this zip wire experience takes you across lush, tree-covered mountains and towards an icy sea at speeds of almost 100kmph (60 mph). There is a series of parallel wires leading down to the ground; six people seated in special harnesses can launch at the same time and race to the bottom, passing 91m (300ft) above the treetops.

Screaming Eagle, Georgia, USA

According to the Guinness Book of Records, Screaming Eagle is the longest and largest zip line canopy tour in the world. Located at the Historic Banning Mills and covering more than 16km (10 miles), there are 101 zip lines and 72 sky bridges, as well as the incredible Flight of the Falcon at 1,030 m (3,400ft) long. Another line flies across a 60m (200ft) deep gorge, crossing it three times. Jump off a 60m (200ft) cliff or the highest timber pole tower in the world at 46m (150ft) high. Experiencing everything takes several days.

Flying Fox, New Zealand

A tough walk through a nature reserve leads up to the stunning Flying Fox jumping off point over 50m (175ft) above the canyon of the Rangitikei river. Along the 1.1km (0.7m) zip line, you pass under the bridge that you crossed earlier at 160kmph (almost 100mph). Once there, you roll backwards and forwards along the cable to slow down – and then find yourself winched backwards up the canyon. It is then time to hike back to watch yourself on the big screen below. If you still have some energy, try the Giant Swing: 50m (164ft) of pure free fall and New Zealand’s highest bridge bungee jump.

Zipflyer, Nepal

High in the Himalayas, ZipFlyer Nepal has been described as the most extreme zip line in the world. On a platform with a 610m (2,000ft) vertical drop, you fasten yourself into a harness and jump. Gravity takes over as you plunge down at speeds of over 160kmph (almost 100mph). Within minutes you will have experienced breathtaking views of the Machhapuchhre and Annapurna ranges, and the raging Seti river far below. The braking mechanism kicks in as you approach the village of Hyangia. Video cameras attached to your helmet enable you to take back images of the ride.

Vallarta, Mexico

This is the site of Mexico’s longest and fastest zip line at over 1,200m (almost 4,000ft) long and reaching speeds of up to 100kmph (62mph). Cross the desert like Superman: horizontally, with arms strapped tightly against your sides. The zip line speeds through a tropical forest and across desert canyons, offering views of the Pacific Ocean in the distance. To reach the site, you have to cross suspended walkways, hanging bridges, climb a 15m (49ft) wobbly ladder and rappel off elevated treetop platforms.

El Sanctuario Canopy Adventure, Costa Rica

Reached by trekking across six hanging bridges, air stairs and jumping off tree platforms, these journeys take you 90m (300ft) across the jungle tree canopy – and through it! The views stretching across the jungle to the ocean beyond are spectacular. This is not for the faint hearted though, and you definitely have to be very fit. El Sanctuario offers 3.6km (over 2 miles) of zip lines across 11 different cables, including the longest line in Central America at over 1,310m (4,300ft).

Skyline, Calgary

Experience what a ski jumper feels when they jump off into the air. Skyline Calgary has been set up using the 90m (295ft) jump used in the Canadian Winter Olympics.  The result is an ear splitting, 100m (328ft) vertical drop at speeds reaching 140kmph (87mPH). The views are stunning… if you can bear to keep your eyes open. It is also open all year so you can try it in both summer sunshine and extreme winter conditions.

Great Wall Of China

A 10km (6 mile) hike from Jinshanling to Simatai leads across a rainbow-like chain bridge to reach the Great Wall of China. Hike along the wall for another hour and a half to reach the Flying Fox zip line. Once hooked up, you can fly across the lake and reach the ground 20 seconds later. Along the way you gain spectacular views of the Great Wall and the surrounding countryside.

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