Monday, August 28, 2017

Vacation Fun in the Okanagan at the ZipZone Peachland

Traveling to the Okanagan region of British Columbia has become an annual tradition for our family each August. We enjoy biking, visiting beaches, touring wineries, and trying out new adventure parks.

Summer is for Adventure! Vacation Fun at ZipZone Peachland, BC

Last summer on our Okanagan vacation, we had fun challenging ourselves on an aerial park outside of Kelowna.The park also had a zipline tour which my son absolutely loved! Because of my 8-year old's intense interest in ziplines, we decided this year that we'd look for the biggest, craziest, zipline park we could find in the Okanagan.

Searching for an epic zipline adventure in the Okanagan, brought us to the ZipZone in Peachland: Canada's highest freestyle zipline at 381 feet high.

This kid loves flying through the air on ziplines!

The ZipZone promises:

"Six of the highest, longest , fastest, epic-est zip lines in Canada, criss-crossing the breathtaking Deep Creek Gorge. Breathtaking views, maximum exhilaration!"

I figured that sounded crazy enough for us, and maybe, just maybe, they'd even let my son fly solo (his absolute dream!)

Vacation Fun at Zipzone Peachland

Our History with Ziplines

My husband and I first went on a zipline tour when we were in Costa Rica more than 10 years ago, and I still remember how exhilarating it was to be flying over a forest canopy after jumping off of wooden platforms high up in the trees. Since then, we've done zipline adventures across Mexico and Canada, and have introduced our son to this cool activity.

Our son Noah did his first zipline crossing in Mexico a few years ago and was quickly hooked! He would now list it as one of his favourite activities (up there with downhill skiing and mountain biking.) His dream has been to gain enough weight that he would finally be able to do his crossings solo without a guide having to go with him. Success!!

Big enough to finally fly solo!

What sets the ZipZone apart from other Ziplines 

If I'm going to be honest, let's just admit that zipline tours are not cheap. It's definitely an investment if you're going to choose to pursue this activity while traveling.

There are also ziplines everywhere across North America so it's not exactly a "rare opportunity" when you find a zipline tour to do as a family.

So, how do you go about choosing which tour you'll spend your precious money on?

For us, we look at tours that are unique and different from the rest. We want ziplines that are higher, faster, longer, crazier, more epic, and more beautiful than the rest. - All of which the ZipZone delivers on.

No Hands! Freestyle ziplining was a lot of fun!


Freestyle Ziplining

If you've ever done a zipline tour and had to hold on to a handle or if you had to follow a whole bunch of rules about how to slow down if coming in too fast, how to position your body, etc., that was probably not a freestyle tour.

The thrill with freestyle ziplining is that there are relatively few rules. You don't have to hold on to anything! You can lean back and pretend that you are actually flying. And on one crossing with the ZipZone, you can even fly upside down!! You only get to do that on a freestyle zipline tour.

We were given a few basic safety guidelines which included the best positions to be in for speed (if you were on the light side and didn't want to get stranded in the middle of the line,) Vs. control (if you were on the heavy side and needed to slow down.)  Other than that, we were mostly told to let go, to lean back, and to have fun.

I've done a lot of ziplines and I know that I'll be looking for freestyle ones from now on. And I might attempt to go upside down next time. Maybe...

Flying upside down at the Zipzone

How the ZipZone Exceeded our Expectations

The more you do of something, the higher the bar gets set by previous experiences. And let me tell you, starting off our zipline adventures in Costa Rica was a big mistake! The bar gets set pretty darned high and it's hard to find other experiences that compare.

The ZipZone was a refreshing surprise for our expectations. We honestly thought it would be another typical "Canadian zipline tour" and figured it would be pretty tame. We were quickly blown away on the first crossing though, the highest freestyle crossing in Canada, and knew we had found the real deal here!

My husband on the "Dangle-ator" crossing

The Eagle Six Line Tour

The ZipZone gives you three price options so that you can choose an adventure that works for your budget and family's comfort level. Everybody does two crossings, but then you build your tour from there to include four crossings, or the full six.

We chose to do the Eagle Six Line Tour so that we could try every crossing offered. I'm so glad that we did the full tour because we would have been disappointed having to hike back early after only completing a part of the tour.

Our group for our zipline tour with two guides to keep us safe

We enjoyed the following crossings at the Zipzone:

The Bucket Lister -  the highest freestyle crossing in Canada at 381 feet in the air. This was the first crossing and the one that quickly told us we were actually in for a major thrill!

The Speed Freak - The longest, fastest, zipline in the Okanagan (and remember I said I wanted the longest, fastest, highest...)

Step into Space - The crossing that starts at the edge of a canyon, dropping 250 feet below you

The Big Chill - A great freestyle line where we got to practice our layback position

 The Dangle-ator - The upside down crossing (if you dare!)

The Powerline - The grand finale, fast, long, and fun

Geared up and ready to go!

What to Expect from a Day at the ZipZone

  • It's recommended that you book ahead so that you don't arrive to a 4+ hour wait (or even worse, to find out that the company can't fit you on a tour at all.)

  • If possible, I recommend booking a morning tour. We did an afternoon tour and we got very hot hiking between each zipline.

  • Kids must be at least 4 years old to ride tandem with a guide as a Little Zipper, and must weigh 70 pounds to fly solo.  And note if you are traveling with friends, each tour can only accommodate two Little Zippers riding tandem with guides.

  • Wear comfortable athletic clothing and running shoes or other close toed shoes. I also recommend sun glasses (as long as they'll stay on during the crossings.)

  • If bringing a camera, make sure you have a pocket with a zipper or that you have some sort of system for strapping it around you. Do not attempt to take photos or videos with your cell phone while crossing.

  • You can rent a helmet mounted GoPro if you would like for your tour, taking the memory card home with you.

  • It takes roughly 2.5 hours to do all 6 lines. If you choose to do fewer lines, you'll still start out with a group doing all 6. There are exit points after the first two lines, and again after the next two lines for those only paying for two or four lines.

  • Hydrate before going! There are a couple of water stations along the way but you will get thirsty hiking along the dry slopes.

  • Leave all of your valuables in your car. You can leave your keys, phones, and any other personal belongings with the staff before your tour.

  • Arrive early, enjoy the grounds for a picnic, play some free games on site, visit the bathrooms, and then lock everything up in your vehicle right before your tour.
Free games and activities at the ZipZone

Other Rad Things to do in Peachland

The number one place to visit after your tour would have to be Swim Bay! Located down in the Town of Peachland, you'll find a diving platform with low and high diving boards, a zipline over the lake, and a rope swing.

Beaches are quite common in the Okanagan, but diving boards that allow you to jump into Okanagan Lake are much more rare. And what child wouldn't love swinging into the lake on a zipline or rope swing?!

We also had fun at the new Wibit Aqua Park in downtown Peachland, located further down the beach from Swim Bay. And I can't recommend highly enough the coffee shop across the street!

Playing on the zipline at Swim Bay, downtown Peachland

More Information and Resources

For more information on our Zipline tour (along with pricing and hours,) please visit the ZipZone Peachland's website.

For information on tourism in the Kelowna area, please visit the Tourism Kelowna website.

For additional inspiration, please check out this story that I wrote last year: The Importance of Summer Vacations (and the BEST of the Okanagan.)

Water Fun at the Peachland Wibit Aqua Park

Disclaimer: Apologies for the hazy photos in this story (not my best photography,) but there were forest fires all around us during our stay in the Okanagan so we didn't have clear skies during most of our visit. I promise that on a normal day, the views at the Zipzone would be incredible!

Special thanks to Tourism Kelowna and the ZipZone for allowing my family to come out and play. We received a complimentary zipline tour but as always, all opinion and words are my own. 

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