If nature walks are a little too tame for your tastes, how about scanning treetop vistas in a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve while sailing along a steel cable at speeds up to 60 km/h?
Long Point Eco-Adventures, located just west of Port Dover, Ontario, offers an exhilarating zip line adventure that passes through a world-renowned Great Lakes coastal ecosystem.
Eight zip lines and two suspension bridges take participants on a two-hour, guided odyssey through pristine woodlands and alongside wet meadows and marshes. But before anyone can strap themselves onto the taut lines zig-zagging through the trees, they must first pass something called Ground School.
Like the name implies, the first lesson takes place on terra firma where expert instructors help you gear up with your safety harness, helmet and sturdy leather work gloves. Up to eight adventurers can accompany the two guides on each tour, but our group consisted of a married couple, a mother and her 11-year-old son, and one middle-aged journalist.
After a brief explanation of the basics, it’s a short stroll over to the first zip line for a short, low-altitude practice run where you can try your hand at sliding, braking and self-rescue techniques.
If you successfully navigate your way through Ground School, you head back to the main building and up a two-storey metal staircase for your first real challenge.
As the would-be adventurers soon find out, stepping off into thin air at a serious height takes a little more bravado and a good deal of faith in the harness cinched tightly around your waist and legs. But despite some hesitation and a few shaky starts, we all manage to reach the first treetop platform with little trouble.
Next up though is the tallest stretch of the tour, a dizzying 100 feet (30 metres) above the forest floor. Our destination is shrouded by leaves and barely visible at the other end of the line. But with the assurances of our zip guides we head off one-by-one into the green abyss.
This time we race much faster along the line and our hearts keep pace. Once safely clipped onto the safety lines on the next platform, our lead guide Josh Tchorek takes a little time to explain all the local flora and fauna in abundance at Long Point.
From the treetop platforms you can see a great deal of the more than 26,000 hectares that make up the area, which was designated as a Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO in 1986. It earned that designation with its unique blend of habitats that attract a diverse list of songbirds, spawning fish, turtles and frogs.
Long Point is also world-renowned as a refuge for migrating birds in fall and spring, as well as a late summer resting spot for thousands of monarch butterflies on their way to warmer, winter climes.
After the brief education, we’re off again to the next set of zip lines and landing platforms. Like over-grown Ewoks, we race from one stop to the next, then scurry across the “Skybridges,” a pair of wobbly suspension bridges that lead us towards the end of our tour and the big finale.
All of our other zipping pales in comparison to the “The Bomber,” an 800-foot (244-metre) stretch of cable that vanishes into distance. It’s a daunting expanse but even our youngest tour member, 11-year-old Braeden, takes the plunge without hesitation.
At more than twice the length of any other line, the scenery screams by in a blur and small bugs become airborne missiles aimed at your eyes and teeth. And when you finally reach the end safely and think the best is behind you, the guides inform you that the only way down from the final platform is a 40-foot (12-metre) rappel.
With no other option, one by one we all bravely hitch ourselves to the rappelling rope, which in turn is wound through something called a belay device. This bit of climbing gear creates friction on the rope, allowing you to lower yourself by hand without straining against your full body weight.
When we’re finally back on the ground, it’s all over except for the congratulations and exchanging of email addresses for those of us who snapped pictures along the way.
Info: lpfun.ca or 877-743-TOUR (8687)
Reservations are recommended and participants must be in good health. Zip liners must weigh a minimum of 70 lbs. and no more than 250 lbs. Tour cost is $87.95 for adults and $69.95 for youths aged 8-17 years.
Watch a video on ziplining at Long Point Eco-Adventures
To purchase this video or images from the video please contact us for a quote.
Video and editing: Anna Rodrigues
Article, video and images : Phil Raby