We could feel the platform swaying beneath our feet as we climbed to the top, the massive carabiners that our guide had connected to us hanging from our waists. The sway was subtle, but it was enough to trip our nerves as the ground continued to get further and further from us.
I couldn’t see his face, because I was behind him, but Dominic never stopped climbing. He never hesitated, until we reached the top. There, hesitation was mandatory.
We were about to zipline over a wildlife park that was full of lions, tigers, bears, rhinos, giraffes and wolves. Oh, and a jaguar that was pacing in its enclosure not far from the platform we were standing on. And that platform? It felt like a high dive, shallow and abrupt.
So, Dominic hesitated. We all did. Not for fear, but for safety. Our guide suited us up with harnesses and all the gear we would need to slide out onto those lines safely before we began to climb the platform. They were peacefully snug – meaning, they were slightly uncomfortable in a very comforting way.
Don’t hold onto anything above the connecting carabiner. Lift your legs at the next platform. And, keep your head back as you approach. Those were the tips we received, in their entirety. So, it couldn’t be that dangerous, right?
And it wasn’t. Or, at least it didn’t feel that way. Instead, with the San Francisco Peaks and the distant red rocks of Sedona in the background, and some of the planet’s wildest animals below, those half-dozen or so zips felt totally awesome in an out-of-body way. An “Is this really real?” moment.
Even if we fell, we joked, the animals had just been fed, so they wouldn’t be hungry for a scared human. And if you want to get in on the feeding game, park officials let visitors feed a Siberian tiger every afternoon.
Along the way, the guides told us stories about the sleeping Bengal tiger in the enclosure below, how he was discovered in a Phoenix apartment. And they filled us in on how the park came to adopt a rhino that Busch Gardens referred to as the “flamingo killer.” And, both guides melted when talking about the park’s new baby tiger, an itty bitty Bengal that looks dangerously close to a stuffed animal.
The photos tell the story of the adventure, one given to Dominic as his Christmas gift. And his smile after, a nine-year-old who just did something some adults would avoid, or at least use a multitude of expletives to carry their shaking knees through their launch (<which we witnessed).
You can hang on tight during the ride, which is called the Predator Zipline at Out of Africa Wildlife Park in Camp Verde, or you can just dangle. Because, the carabiners are holding onto you. So it’s totally fine to throw your arms out, sit back and enjoy the view.
So, we did. And we recommend it.