What is Zip Line
A zip line is made up of a pulley appended to a stainless-steel cable extended between fixed points of different elevations. Also known as ‘zip wire’, ‘flying fox’ and ‘Tyrolean Crossing’, it allows a person, fastened to the moving pulley, to ‘zip’ from the top to the bottom of a cable, propelled by gravity. For gravity alone to propel the user, the zip line must be inclined to a certain degree.
Besides their obvious functional value, zip lines have become a popular outdoors activity, located in adventure camps and resorts. In a professionally run recreational set-up, the user is attached to the cable by a harness, which is attached to a trolley. These zip lines are located in deserts, forests, and over rivers and canyons.
The ‘flying fox’ is a collective name for zip-line equipment in Australia and New Zealand, but instead of a steel cable, the zip line here consists of a rope.
The height of cables varies from 30ft (9m) to as high as 200ft (61m), and can cover distances of over 1500ft (457m). The average speed on a zip line is around 50 km/h and 60 km/h. The world’s longest zip line (1.8km, 1.1mi, from one end to the other), in Nepal, is also the tallest (with a vertical drop of 2000ft, 610m) – and has a top speed of 120 km/h (75 mph) to boot!
As a recreational activity, zip lines are popular in the Americas, specifically in the rainforests of Nicaragua and Costa Rica. After the launch of the first ‘canopy tour’ in Costa Rica in the mid-1990s, the activity has grown in popularity across the world – it’s perfect for those seeking a dose or three of adrenaline rush.
History of Zip Line
From early times, zip lines have been used as a means of transportation – of people and goods – especially in remote, mountainous areas, or across rivers, ravines and rainforests. In such places, like China and the Central American rainforests, zip lines were (and still are) the only way to travel from one place to another. In the Australian outback, zip lines were used to transport supplies between settlements.
Those climbing mountains also used cables to move between steep points (it is from mountaineering that the term ‘Tyrolean Crossing’ comes from; Tyrol is a state in Austria) – as did wildlife biologists, who wanted to explore and study jungles from a higher perspective (through being perched above the canopy).
In his story, ‘The Invisible Man’ (1897), the science-fiction writer H.G. Wells makes mention of something resembling a zip line (though here it was called an ‘inclined strong’) – the protagonist moves from place to place on a cable, without having to set foot on the ground.
Zip Line in India
The story of zip line in India is barely a decade old, but there has been an increase in the number of adventurous folk willing to ‘fly’ through the air. There are a handful of operators offering this thrilling pursuit in India, of which ‘Flying Fox’ is the most reliable. Zip lines are located mainly in the north of the country – in Rajasthan, Punjab and Madhya Pradesh.
Helmet, harness, leather gloves (so that the user can bring himself/herself to a halt)
Best season in India
Save the monsoon months, zip lining is possible throughout the year. The winter months are best for experiencing the unique thrill of this adventure activity.
Zip Line sites in India
There are a couple of sites in Rajasthan – in Neemrana (near Delhi) and Jodhpur (Mehrangarh Fort) – alongside one each in Bhopal (Madhya Pradesh) and Ropar (Punjab).
Zip line is a fun and safe adventure activity, but do check that the operator is well trained in terms of experience, safety and maintenance.
Anyone above the age of 10, weighing under 115kg (18 stone), and between 4’7” (1.4m) can travel along a zip line – all one has to be is of reasonable fitness and health (a daredevil attitude will come in handy!). Pregnant women, however, are advised against zip lines. And if you have a fear of heights, it’s best that you stay on the ground!
Zip lines do little (if any) damage to the environment. They are of a simple design and have been used for many centuries as a means of getting from A to B. But as with all outdoor activities, remember the golden rule: Respect your environment. And strictly no littering!