Go Ziplining at Forever Florida
It’s a safari of a different sort—sailing over the trees at 25 mph.
Sometimes ecotourism means camping out in the jungles of Madagascar. Other times, it’s whale watching in Indonesia. At Forever Florida in Osceola County (foreverflorida.com) it’s all about ziplining above the treetops at speeds up to 25 mph.
As you climb the tower to the first “zip” you’ll have a bird’s eye view of the 4,700-acre wildlife conservation haven. It’s Old Florida at its best and includes nine beautifully preserved ecosystems, not to mention the zipline trail, which has seven zip sections and three walk-across skybridges.
As you hurl yourself off the launch pad, between the “whees” and “wahoos,” you’ll take in deep whiffs of jasmine and hear the sounds of nearby owls. The dense, rugged landscape, however, is hard to focus on while whizzing through the treetop canopies. Nevertheless, keep your eyes peeled for bald eagles and black bears, which have been spotted in these parts.
Believe it or not, the zipline is tamer than you think. In fact, many adventurers—from 8-year-olds to grandmothers—have found this thrill ride enjoyable, just as long as they are not afraid of heights.
Conservation happens to be Forever Florida’s raison d’être. The owners, Dr. William and Margaret Broussard, lost their son to Hodgkin’s disease nearly 20 years ago. The last wish of the 29-year-old—a wildlife ecologist and biologist—was that they protect the surrounding ecosystems.
The couple painstakingly amassed the property, parcel by parcel, from the more than 500 people who had snatched it up during the 1960s and ’70s. Today, Forever Florida has a significant focus on minimal disruption to the environment; the zipline system was built and is maintained with that focus in mind.
At the end of the session, guests make their way back to the safari buggy, a swamp mobile made of recycled car parts. And, as if the zipline weren’t cool enough, there are also 10 miles of trails you can hike. Better yet, the Florida National Scenic Trail, one of eight national historic pathways running from South Florida to the Panhandle, also runs through the property.
The ride back offers plenty of sights, like the largest herd of Cracker Cattle in the state, an endangered breed that the Broussards are committed to protecting. If ever there were a place begging you to savor the tonic of nature, this is it.