Zipping with Rhinos
There is nothing quite like the feeling of soaring through the air, 50-feet above the ground, surrounded by vast open land, rolling hills and – rhinos!? The Wilds, a unique experience in its own right, recently debuted the Wild Zipline Safari adventure for visitors, and I was fortunate enough to be harnessed in and sent for the ride of my life!
The Wilds, a non-profit conservation center, is located in Cumberland, about an hour and a half east of Columbus. It is home to rare and endangered species from around the world living in natural, open-range habitat, as well as home to hundreds of indigenous species. The Wilds has long offered popular safari bus tours that allow visitors to experience the animals up close. The new zipline adventure provides a completely different way to experience the Wilds.
No previous zipline experience is needed – though it may help ease your nerves early on. Each Zipline Safari group, of no more than 9 people, is accompanied by two very knowledgeable guides. They are there every step of the way, including step one – putting on your harness. (This worked for me! I’m pretty sure I could have pulled the right straps and such, but when I’m 50 feet above the ground, 70% sure doesn’t cut it).
After being strapped into your harness the entire group goes over to a zipline training area (right). You are less than two-feet off the ground, but this allows you to learn how to stop yourself (again, important things to know). This is also done under the watchful eye of the guides, who actually made one of our group members do the training twice to make sure she knew how to stop correctly. And don’t worry, if you suddenly forgot how to stop yourself mid-zip, there is an emergency stop the guides can use – it can be jarring, but better than running into the pole!
Our group climbed to the top of the first tower and off we went! I think we all had a few nerves before we took the first step off the first platform, but with each zip it got easier and easier. There are a total of 10 ziplines you traverse, which takes about two and a half hours. What I found great was no two ziplines were the same – some were fast, others were slow; one went under the tree canopy, another went over a lake!
By the third zipline, my nerves had eased enough that I was able to look around while flying through the air and marvel at the vast landscape that makes up the Wilds. (More than 10,000 acres.) Because you are at the Wilds, the guides are not only trained in ziplining, but also know a lot about the exotic animals you see while ziplining. We saw zebras enjoying the shade of a nearby shelter, rhinos, and, at one point, we were about 50 feet from a few giraffes.
The zipline tours cost about $85, but I’d say it is money well spent. This is a truly unique experience. I do not know of any place else in Ohio where you can go on an African Safari – on a zipline! Click here for reservation information. Many of the safari bus tours are about two and a half hours as well, making it easy for the adventurous family member to enjoy the zipline while others stay on trustworthy mother Earth.