10 Great places to zipline

Oct 19, 2009 at 6:34 p.m. ET

Few things beat soaring through the air on a cable over rich forests, bubbling rivers and native wildlife. With your adrenaline pumping as you glide above breathtaking landscapes, you'll hardly worry about how far you are from the ground.

Ziplining is growing in popularity around the world as a vacation activity. Here, we showcase 10 zipline tours and courses in a variety of locations and intensity levels:

10. Cutirre Canopy Tour, Nicaragua

For those wanting an explosive view of the Mombacho Volcano, the Cutirre Canopy Tour is tops. Its approximately 2,000 feet of cable stretches between 17 platforms situated from 10 to 100 feet above the forest floor, according to Mombotour.

"The ziplines are nestled on the slopes of Mombacho Volcano, which is topped by a cloud forest teeming with wildlife and colorful flora, including copious orchids and bromeliads," says Erica Rounsefell, author of Adventure Guide Nicaragua.

Each platform along the tour provides an opportunity to rest, bird-watch or just experience the view of the volcano and Lake Nicaragua's coast, according to the Mombotour website.

Combining the zipline experience with a coffee plantation tour is a popular option, Rounsefell adds; the drive up the volcano to the ziplines winds through the coffee fields.

9. Flightline, California

The Wild Animal Park in San Diego Zoo recently added a new zipline adventure, Flightline, which is now the longest zipline in the continental US. This zipline has one-of-a-kind views overlooking exotic animals at the park, as well as the San Pasqual Valley.

Zippers glide approximately 2/3 mile and up to 160 feet above exotic animals and open exhibits, according to the zoo's website.

A third of the funds raised this year will go to the San Diego Zoo's California condor conservation program.

8. Grande Lakes Adventure, New Hampshire and Florida

The Grande Lakes Adventure Courses in Chocorua, New Hampshire and Orlando, Florida -- part of the Monkey Trunks company -- are perfect for a family ziplining adventure, because they're designed so guests can choose their personal challenge levels.

"Roller coaster rides, you remember the turns and the loops and maybe the color of the roller coaster," says Eddy Lyons, general manager at Monkey Trunks' Grande Lakes. "With the zipline, you walk away remembering the choices that you made to get over a fear or accomplishing something."

Adventure Course's multi-level structure consists of poles, cables and platforms with 25 unique traversing and climbing elements. Adults and children 10 and above can climb 15 to 55 feet in the air to navigate. Additional elements include two 600-foot ziplines and a 40-foot giant swing.

7. Rainforest Bobsled Jamaica at Mystic Mountain, Jamaica

The 10-month old Mystic Mountain covers more than 100 acres and is more than 700 feet above sea level, according to the website. It supports a diverse ecosystem of natural springs, tropical foliage, native trees and a variety of colorful bird species.

The adventure features a unique Jamaican aerial tour through lush tropical forests, a chair-lift journey over the countryside, a zipline canopy adventure through tree tops, an island culture and heritage center, as well as mountaintop dining and shopping venues.

Canopy zippers can now experience the thrill of the nighttime zipline, sporting helmet lights as they travel among the rain forest treetops to platforms ringed with torches

6. Monteverde, Costa Rica

Dave Lee, who runs GoBackpacking.com, recently completed a 20-month trip around the world and recommends Monteverde Cloud Forest Preserve in Costa Rica. Lee did the Sky Trek zipline course at Monteverde.

"The ziplines started short and eventually lead up the longest -- a 1/4-mile one where I vividly recall flying through the mist and clouds, unable to see the end of the cable/landing area. Below was the jungle. It was beautiful."

Wildlife at Monteverde includes the jaguar, ocelot, baird's tapir, three-wattled bellbird, bare-necked umbrella bird and more, according to the Monteverde site.

Next: 5 other great places to zipline!

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