Ziplining, a thrill ride above an expansive forest or a river, is becoming the latest attraction for Kenyans seeking exhilarating adventure.
This is where you “fly” over a forest or a city on a heart-stopping network of lines, some of which are suspended 2,000 metres above the ground.
As more Kenyans take fun outdoors, they are opting to hike, cycle in the wilderness or on busy highways, paraglide, bungee jump, slide in mud and skydive to unwind.
These outdoor activities help people build their mental wellbeing, ease tension and fears that one has had in life for a long time.
Kereita Forest at the tip of Aberdare Ranges with an incredible nature trail, Sagana and Tana River are some of the places that are attracting adrenaline junkies in droves.
John Gachanja, a tour guide at Alvana Safaris has been ziplining for years now and organises trips.
“A ziplining trip takes you flying fast and high over Kereita forest, offering unique views of the stunning landscape,” he says.
The activity enables one to zip across mountain valleys at speeds of up to 60 kilometres per hour, skim the treetops, and glide under giant forest canopies, while enjoying an adrenaline rush like no other.
Being a tour guide, Mr Gachanja had to learn the do’s and don’ts first and have experience it severally to help him train and guide others.
“For this year alone, I have helped hundreds of people learn and experience the new adventure. More and more people are showing interest in ziplining in Kereita Forest,” he says.
The adventure helps people overcome the fear of heights.
“It is one of the activities that any person who likes to try new activities would want to venture in. For people who have certain fears, this is the best activity to engage in,” he says.
Mr Gachanja says, before he started ziplining, he looked at the heights and imagined the distance he will have to cover and fear ran all over his body.
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“However, after being taken through a safety precaution training session, I gathered my courage, closed my eyes and started the trip. I opened my eyes slowly and I could not believe what I was seeing, beautiful sceneries of trees, mountains was all that I could see,” he says.
The fear was gone and he got hooked. On a zip tour in Kereita forest, one sees Mt. Kenya from a distant and Colobus monkeys swinging from tree to tree and elephants near the forest.
Before you start ziplining, you are taken through a safety precaution training that helps you gain confidence of taking part in the trip.
The Kareita ziplining is built and operated to the international safety standards by Flying Fox, Asia’s leading zip tour operators.
The tour encompasses six big zip lines, with short walks between each, offering ample opportunities to explore.
“Two of our instructors give you safety training and a chance to practice on a short, low zip line before you set off on the tour. The instructors ensure your safety on every zip and point out interesting facts,” he says.
Mr Gachanja says since January, he has done more than 100 trips and each and every activity brings a new experience.
“We charge Sh3,300 inclusive of transport to and from Nairobi, two zip lines, professional photography, team-building facilitation, snacks and mineral waters,” he says.
Before it was introduced in Kenya, ziplining has been a common adventure in the USA and other countries across the world where riders soar from one building to the next in cities such as Las Vegas.
South Africa has one of the longest lines zip wires in the world which is 2,000 metres long, and is found in Sun City.
Ziplining was first traced in the 1700s, however, it become more common in military training institutions in the 1900s.
“This is because the activity is believed to build confidence and helps people to overcome fears making it appropriate for military trainings,” says Mr Gachanja.