Having just zip-lined for the first time just last month, I was thrilled to visit Florida Eco-Safaris in Forever, Florida and have another zip adventure as well as another surprise experience!
This special place (a 4700 acre eco-ranch)boasts nine distinct Florida ecosystems, home to an endless array of natural flora and fauna including alligators, black bears, white-tail deer, nearly two hundred species of birds and the endangered Florida Panther. In fact, Forever Florida has been identified by the Florida Wildlife Commission as a biological hotspot hosting one of the highest concentrations of endangered and highly threatened species in the State. Best of all, your visit makes a difference! A significant portion of revenues from all of the fun adventures offered by Florida EcoSafaris go directly toward supporting the conservation of Florida’s wilderness and wildlife conservation area boasting beautifully untamed wilderness, natural streams, wetlands and dense cypress forests. Choose from four amazing ways to explore Forever Florida: Coach Safari, Horseback Safari, soar over it all on Florida’s biggest and All New Zipline Safari or pedal through the treetops on the New Cypress Canopy Cycle.
After signing the waiver and getting weighed in (lb. limits), we headed to a safari coach to take us to where we’d start the zipline safari adventure. Along the way we passed horses and cows while keeping our eyes out for alligators along the banks of the surrounding creeks. Reaching our destination, we removed unnecessary bulky belongings into a locker (cameras are okay with a wrist strap) and climbed into our harnesses. We were led through the safety measures and then walked to the scaffolding to our first jump. Our guides Megan and Stephanie kept their banter light and comedic to keep our mind off of being scared. Because I had recently ziplined, I offered to go first not as the veteran but to get to the other side to relax watching everyone else.7 ziplines are on the course plus 2 rope bridges. The longest zip was about 600ft long about 68 ft off the ground. The lines were quick and my landings great. Unlike my Catalina zip, I made it to the end each and every time without getting the line thrown out, thanks to no winds.
Over one line we zipped over a pond where George the Alligator waded. As we flew overhead he basked in the sun watching us carefully, yet making the adventure that much more thrilling. Though I know I was safe, telling the story of zipping over alligators makes me look like a daredevil to impress my friends and kids!I felt safe and secure and had a great time with my friends and the spunky girls. I was brave at the end, let go with one hand and posed for the camera. The second time was just as exhilarating as the first and my fear wanes after each zip. I had a fabulous time.
Cypress Canyon Cycles
To our excitement, Eco-Safaris’ newest attraction-the first of it’s kind in the US!- was offered to us. The Cypress Canopy Cycles take the same wiring as the zip uses and with a pedaling motion you propel yourself along a course through the very same trees and “jungle” where you zipped. Making sure you stay an orange or black brackets-worth between you and the person ahead of you (so you don’t weigh the line), you get a bird’s eye view of the palm tree tops and floor below. We even pedaled over George where I got my own personal photograph of him.
The ride is a workout! Be prepared to pedal a mile and a half over a generally flat line with a few elevations but equal descents. Since you are slightly laid back, only my calves and quadriceps felt wobbly where my back felt good, if I must say, it’s the most comfortable “bike” ride I’ve experienced.
I surprised myself in being more anxious over the cycle ride, I felt as if I were riding the bike on a highwire rather than hanging beneath it. The zip-line gave me a thrill with each jump then getting “grounded” and if I had to choose I’d do the zip-line all over again there and on my next adventure!
Getting back to the gift shop and diner we were treated to a barbecue lunch of pulled-pork sandwiches, slaw, baked beans, and apple cobbler. The workout gave us a voracious appetite and the food was cooked perfectly and was filling. The entire staff was wonderful and our experience a wonderful memory!
If you visit Kissimmee, you must stop by Florida Eco-Safaris and have an adventure of your own. They also offer a safari ride that gets you up close and personal with the wild life conservation on the land and you experience the vast expanse of the park. Find Florida Eco-Safaris on Twitter, https://twitter.com/#!/FLEcoSafaris and Facebook, http://www.facebook.com/FloridaEcoSafaris to learn more!
Thank you to the Kissimmee CVB and Florida Eco-Safaris for hosting our adventures and lunch. Thanks to Travis Cole, our photographer for some amazing shots. All opinions are my own.