Fly like a superhero through the world’s scenic places.

Whether it’s flying through Fijian rainforests, gliding over Hawaiian waterfalls or floating across the vineyards of Sonoma, few other activities can give you such an eagle’s-eye view of the world as zip lining.

Once, human-powered flight was relegated to the stuff of legends and stories. If you’ve ever wanted to feel the pure rush of flying, zip lining is currently about as close as human beings can get.

Zip lines have been around in various guises for centuries, primarily for transporting people and supplies across ravines and flooded rivers. In the 20th century, zip lines (flying foxes) became a fixture at Boy Scout jamborees, an ingenious way for biologists and researchers to explore rainforest canopies and a mainstay of action movies. Today, you don’t need to be a scout, a scientist or 007 to experience the thrill of flying. Zip lining has exploded into a world-wide thrill-seeker pastime, with over 150 certified courses and lines now operating in the USA alone.

The variety of zip line courses now offered around the world is truly astounding, with operators continually pushing the extremes of speed and distance each year. At Icy Straight Point in Alaska, six thrill seekers can launch off six side-by-side cables at the same time, racing each other along mile-long lines above snow-capped pine trees. In Sun City, South Africa hit speeds of over 100 mph (160 kilometers per hour) on the Pronutro Zip, currently the fastest in the world. Operators are continually searching for ways to push the novelty envelope, too. In China’s Simatai, zip from a tower of the Great Wall. In Florida, hold on tight as you fly over a 600-pound (272 kilogram) alligator and in Las Vegas, take off from a towering slot machine over Freemont Street.

Zip lining is not just about high-speed kicks. It’s a great way to really immerse yourself in the spirit of a place. Whether it’s flying through rainforests in Fiji, past active Costa Rican volcanoes, over Hawaiian waterfalls or across the vineyards of Sonoma, few other outdoor activities give can give you such an eagle’s-eye view of the world as safely and as effortlessly as zip-lining can.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a typical zip line setup like?

Zip lines generally run along the same engineering principle; a pulley is suspended from a stainless steel cable, which descends from an elevated platform to a lower one. The distances between the platforms can vary from a hundred feet to over a mile. Riders are fitted with a secure harness, which is then attached to a pulley. Most harnesses are “free range,” allowing the rider to move freely beneath the pulley, allowing them to sit upright, stretch out al la Superman, or even hang upside down. Braking systems vary and are either user operated or remotely controlled by the operator.

How fast can I expect to go on a zip line?

Speeds can vary. On a classic zip line setup, expect to reach speeds of around 35 mph (56 kilometers per hour), while on the more extreme, new generation runs, be prepared for speeds of over 100 mph (160 kilometers per hour)!

How long does a zip line ride last?

Most single-run zip lines have a duration of between 30 and 90 seconds, but what intense seconds they are! It’s increasingly common now to find adventure courses of multiple zip lines, sometimes interspersed with sky bridges and canopy walks. These courses can take an hour or more to complete, especially if there is an educational component involved.

How safe is zip lining?

Zip lining is extremely safe, especially when run by professional operators. While all adventure activities carry an element of risk, zip lining has an enviable safety record, with most accidents and fatalities occurring on homemade lines. Most reputable operators adhere to the professional ropes and challenge course association guidelines within their country. In countries such as Australia and Germany, and in many U.S. states, courses are regulated and safety accredited. Professional operators routinely check lines, pulleys and platforms, and will provide the necessary safety briefings and equipment to ensure you return to earth in one piece.

Can anyone take part?

Conditions vary from operator to operator. There are usually minimum weight requirements, which sometimes restrict smaller children, however, some operators offer tandem services for children. Many operators are happy to accommodate disabled and visually impaired guests, but it’s always advisable to discuss your visit at least 48 hours in advance. Pregnant women and those with heart issues, neck and back injuries are usually discouraged from partaking. Those under the influence of alcohol or illicit drugs will be politely turned away.

What should I bring?

Solid closed-toe shoes are always advisable, especially on the outdoor canopy courses. Dress for comfort and with the weather in mind; at certain elevations, the weather can be more extreme than at ground level. Unless they are keen on an extended Marilyn Monroe moment, women are advised against wearing skirts and dresses. Long hair should always be pulled back into a ponytail and eyewear secured with a strap. Keys, coins and other loose items should be secured in your backpack or bag in the storage lockers that are usually provided at the base of the run. Harnesses are always provided, as well as any helmets, goggles or gloves that might be required.

What if it’s raining?

Zip lining is an outdoor activity, with many tours operating rain or shine. Always dress appropriately and if in doubt, contact your operator before your visit.

Is zip lining eco-friendly?

In many cases, yes! After the initial construction of platforms and lines, zip lining allows large numbers of visitors to experience sometimes fragile habitats with almost zero impact. Zip line companies are often started by outdoors enthusiasts keen to share their love of nature with others. These operators often ensure an educational component is embedded into the experience. Some operators are actively engaged in local environmental issues, sometimes contributing to causes which protect local flora and fauna.

How do I make it happen?

So, if you’re ready to fly like a bird, take off with Expedia. We’ll help you book the cheapest flights, the comfiest rooms, the best rental cars, and the most amazing zip-lining adventures, all zipped up into one handy, consolidated itinerary.