For as long as I can remember I’ve wanted to go to Whistler. I had so many images of this mountain resort in my head, covered in snow, it was hard to imagine it in the summer.
When we were planning our Trans-Canadian road trip, Whistler was not part of the route across from Toronto to Vancouver. However, once I looked at the driving times, I was determined to include it as a stop on our trip.
We drove 4 hours from Kamloops to Whistler. The drive itself was quite an adventure. The scenery is stunning but there are most certainly a few moments when you find yourself questioning your life choices.
We managed to arrive in Whistler on the same day as a mountain bike event, so it was exceptionally busy. Parking was really difficult and we had to do that thing where you stalk the people who look like they might possibly be leaving in order to find a space.
It didn’t matter, Whistler was the gorgeous mountain village I’d hoped for. Despite the crowds, there is something about those kind of places that makes me feel very much at home.
We had booked to take part in a Ziptrek Ecotour, so after a little explore of the village and a quick drink to revive everyone after our journey, we headed to their pop up tent to book in.
Ziptrek Ecotours is a global leader in zipline based, adventure ecotourism. Ziptrek’s flagship location is Whistler, Canada, with other locations being Queenstown, New Zealand and Ziptrek Tremblant, in Quebec, Canada.
Ziptrek tours “allow you enjoy an unforgettable opportunity to explore, learn and delight in the thrill of an aerial adventure in natural environments that lend themselves perfectly to an enlightening ecological curriculum”. It’s an ideal way to learn about the area and indulge your inner adrenaline junkie too!
The journey through the forest happens via a combination of ziplines, ground based trails, observation platforms, and depending on the location, suspension bridges. Ziplines are suspended steel cables – some of which are over 15 stories high and 7,000 feet long – that you ride from platform to platform.
In order to fly on the zipline cables you are fitted with a custom harness that is then attached to the zipline with a specialised pulley. At each aerial launch platform you simply and bravely step down the stairs until there is tension on the harness tethers, lift your feet and soar down the line reaching speeds up to 100 km/hr (62 mph). The harness system allows you complete freedom to move, take a look around and even enjoy your zipline ride hanging upside down if you wish. Amazing!
Ziptrek Ecotours was founded by two lifelong friends and entrepreneurs, David Udow and Charles Steele, who came together with the goal of creating not only the first zipline tour in North America but also a tour that would provide you with the unique combination of true nature based learning and the rush of adrenaline felt while soaring over some truly spectacular scenery.
Since its inception in 2002, Ziptrek’s mandate has been to provide an experience that far and away exceeds your expectations while following a sustainable business model and promoting the importance of The Natural Step Framework for sustainability both locally and globally.
Ziptrek is proud to conform to the United Nations principals of ecotourism. Among other things, Ziptrek supports local and international organisations also committed to environmental education, provides sustainable jobs in the community and creates its own renewable energy in an effort to lead by example.
The Ziptrek experience
Our Ziptrek experience began by meeting our guide and driver who transported us to a wooden hut where we were kitted out in all the required safety gear. After that it was a short walk up to the first platform where we listened to the guides, admired the views and marvelled at how high up we were.
We walked across a bridge to a further platform, learning about the forest from the guides as we went. We then took a series of ziplines back and forth across the forest, along with another family. We were able to hang upside down on one of the ziplines, which everyone loved.
All this, before being safely deposited back down in Whistler village.
What we thought
From start to finish the Ziptrek experience was superb. The staff were fantastic. They are so knowledgeable about the area, the forest, and of course so skilled at the actual ziplining too – they put on a really good show. They were especially good with our youngest, who was initially quite frightened about being so high up. Their patience and understanding was very much welcomed and soon he was zipping through the trees with the rest of us.
It feels so incredibly special to be that high up in the trees. The views and scenery were spectacular and we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. When we reflected back on our Trans-Canadian road trip, this was one of the top three things we did for everyone. It was truly breathtaking and we didn’t want it to end. For me personally, this was a stand out moment and not something I will forget in a hurry.
I have zero hesitation in recommending that if you are ever in Whistler (or the other locations) you really must do one of the ecotours.
Here’s a little flavour of the fun to be had with Ziptrek Ecotours.