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The best ziplines around: the Great Wall

Is it a bird, is it a plane, no it’s a zipliner

There are a lot of people in the world who have irrational fears. Perhaps all fear is irrational in a way. Some people can’t cross the road except at a walk sign, but they’re capable of acting on stage in front of thousands. Fear of heights is a big one for lots of people. The idea of jumping out of a plane to parachute to the ground may sound crazy to some, but to others seem like an amazing experience. Extreme sports like those are for the adrenaline junkies, and ziplining might just be a walk in the park.

Popular alternative for the adrenaline junkie

A zipline consists of a pulley suspended on a cable mounted on an incline. It is designed to enable a user propelled by gravity to travel from the top to the bottom of the inclined cable, usually made of stainless steel, by holding on or attaching to the freely moving pulley.  Longer and higher courses are often used as a means of accessing remote areas such as a rainforest canopy. Ziplining is becoming a popular alternative for the adrenaline junkie who likes the idea of bungy jumping but just can’t bring themselves to the point of leaping head first over a cliff, just yet.

China has an unrivaled zipline, whose starting point is the Great Wall of China. It is the only place in the world where you zipline alongside one of the Seven Wonders of The World, which is why it is regarded as one of the best ziplines in the world. Ziplining not only delivers a one of a kind adrenaline rush, but it also gives you a truly incredible view of your surroundings.

20 seconds of extreme elation

The Great Wall ziplining adventure is located at Gubeikou Town of Miyun County, about 120 kms northeast of Beijing. After your climb to the top of the Great Wall or after you’ve completed the four to five-hour walk along the Great Wall from Jinshanling to Simatai, you can explore the Simatai section of the wall, with its 35 watch towers and architecture from the sixth century. The good news is that there’s no need to walk back down after sightseeing. You can travel by zipline over Mandarin Duck Lake, which offers a unique and marvelous view not only of the Great Wall but of the mountains over which it climbs. It is 800 meters long.

From $70 USD per person, travelers can experience about 20 seconds of extreme elation from top to bottom. Afterward, a boat collects the zipliners and takes them to a landing area across the dam, where they can walk a short distance back to the car park. Or they can circle back and do it all again. The Great Wall zipline is temporarily closed due to safety concerns but will reopen soon.

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What defines the best?

For the real ziplining experience, though, it’s hard to go past the Zip 2000 in South Africa or New Zealand’s zipline over Gravity Canyon. These two are generally considered the two best ziplines in the world. Zip 2000 offers a 6500-foot ride, with riders hanging two by two, Superman style from the cable with a fin between their legs for extra speed. As the South African grasslands unfold nearly 1000 feet below, it’s easy to understand why this is the best ziplining has to offer: high speed, a long ride, a gorgeous view and a great adventure. But it’s not as fast as the Gravity Canyon zipline.

If the best zipline for you is the fastest then maybe Taihape New Zealand is where you should head. Known as the flying fox, it’s length is 3600 feet, but it speeds are up to 100mph, which is not for the faint-hearted. The flying fox is the ride of a lifetime; that begins over the Gravity Canyon riverbed, some 600 feet below. The zipline then runs under a bridge and up towards a cliff face at truly spectacular speeds.

13 of the best ziplines around the globe

  • Zip 2000, Sun City, South Africa
  • Icy Straight Point – Hoonah, Alaska
  • Pena Aventura Park, Ribeira de Pena, Portugal
  • Toro Verde Nature Adventure Park, Orocovis, Puerto Rico
  • Finca Mi Universo Zipline, Cali, Colombia
  • The Kapohokine, The Honolii Mountain Outpost, Hawaii
  • The Heavenly Flyer, Lake Tahoe, United States
  • Skyrider Tour, Hunter Mountain, United States
  • The Zip Zone, Bukidnon, Philippines
  • The Dragon’s Breath, Labadee, Haiti
  • Skyline Zipline, Calgary, Canada
  • The Gravity Canyon Zipline, Taihape, New Zealand
  • The Great Wall of China, Simatai, China

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Conclusion

For me, a zipline at its best, traversing a jungle canopy with great agility, resembles a vine that Tarzan might use to swing through the jungle. More commonly described as birds of flight or Supermen, zipliners are the new adventurers. ‘Faster than a speeding bullet,’ they may say before hooking up to the pulley and eyeing the breathtaking feat before them. I’d be more inclined to let out a Tarzan yelp myself, but each to their own. The best ziplines in the world are out there waiting to be experienced.

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