1 Zip wires can give trav­ellers a new an­gle

Is it a bird? Is it a shrill plane? No, it’s some­one zoom­ing through the sky on travel’s lat­est ad­ven­ture craze! But should all lo­ca­tions be fair game for the zip wire?

Wanderlust Travel Magazine (UK) - - 360˚ Need To Know - ‘Zip wires ab­so­lutely have their place, but we must en­sure they are in the right place’

The world’s wilder­nesses all have fa­mil­iar sounds: the crack of a calv­ing glacier, the rus­tle of sand whipped up by a fierce desert wind, the chat­ter­ing of mon­keys in a rain­for­est canopy. In­creas­ingly, though, the whoops and cheers of an­other va­ri­ety are be­ing heard – those of some­one hurtling along a thin wire in search of new thrills.

Zip wires are the cur­rent buzz trend in the ad­ven­ture travel in­dus­try – a length of steel ca­ble stretched over an area that whizzes you from A to B. They were orig­i­nally in­vented as a nec­es­sary means of trans­port across rivers but are now seen as a must-do ex­pe­ri­ence for adrenalin-seek­ers in some of the world’s wildest places. But why?

“It fur­ther en­hances our moun­tain, beach and desert of­fer­ings,” says Haitham Mat­tar of the Ras Al Khaimah Tourism De­vel­op­ment Au­thor­ity, which has just opened the world’s long­est zip wire (2.83km), send­ing peo­ple soar­ing off its tallest peak, Jebel Jais (1,934m).

The Emi­rate can al­ready boast the Mid­dle East’s first com­mer­cial via fer­rata and many hik­ing and cy­cling routes. But a zip wire is seen to add some­thing unique for vis­i­tors – a dif­fer­ent kind of ex­pe­ri­ence.

“Where else can you go for an early swim, sa­fari in the desert, then zip line su­per­manstyle over the moun­tains?” adds Haitham.

The views as you’re whizzing through the sky may be im­pres­sive, but such at­trac­tions are not al­ways wel­come, says An­drew Hall of the Cam­paign for Na­tional Parks, who helped fight a re­cent pro­posal to build one of the UK’S long­est zip wires in the Lake District. “In Thirlmere, the peace and beauty of the val­ley were qual­i­ties that would have been at risk from a zip wire’s installation,” he says.

But it’s a case-by-case ba­sis, ad­mits An­drew: “Zip wires ab­so­lutely have their place, but we must en­sure they are in the right place.”

In Snow­do­nia, for ex­am­ple, a dis­used quarry has been trans­formed for the bet­ter with a zip line. Here, user’s wails echo out only over bar­ren, scarred rock, rather than ru­in­ing the ex­pe­ri­ence of oth­ers in more serene places like the Lake District. It’s not only a clever way of taking back dam­aged land, but per­haps a blueprint for how zip wires can take our trav­els to new heights.

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