There have never been more places to raise your game above ground-level. Zip-wire rides, high-ropes courses and canopy walks are ways to enjoy the overview or turn height into an exhilarating challenge.
Greatest altitudes sound most thrilling, but the fun feels more real and the rides much faster, nearer the ground. The Hocking Hills Canopy Tour in Ohio, USA, brings fabulous proximity to richly-coloured forest and a peregrine’s perspective as you whistle down the wires.
Suspended walkways between the branches of mature trees, are especially memorable. From Lough Key in Northern Ireland to Kakum in Ghana, from the Lake District to the Peruvian rainforest, genuinely wild yet totally safe elevated trails allow humans to appreciate fabulous natural scenery, from a squirrel’s-eye viewpoint.
Beach situations are ideal, with Caribbean mountainsides providing launch-sites for rapid, spectacular ‘flights’ over surfing shores alive with spectators. At the ‘Dragon’s Breath’ zip-wire in Haiti, the far end is half a mile away, barely visible from the start.
In the UK, river gorges and wooded lakeside hills make perfect scenery for ‘death-defying’ zip-rides which aren’t actually dangerous, and the appeal is obvious and enduring.
Forest canopy-walks are more serene but equally rewarding, evoking Avatar dreams that feel very real in the enormous peace of lofty treetops. New Zealand’s Redwood Tree-house Restaurant is constantly fully-booked with diners keen to enjoy ‘high tea’.
High-ropes courses offer a really exciting, practical encounter with the lifestyle of creatures that rely on their head for heights, for survival. The exercise of upper-body muscles isn’t natural in human experience, but the fun involved is addictive!