"One last thing before you fly," said Chelsey, the Flightline Safari tour guide, calmly. "Do not scream. You'll alarm the rhinos, and they'll start a stampede."
There I was, standing 160-feet above unidentifiable-but-still-threatening animals, about to soar over them at 50 miles-per-hour, being told to keep all of the yelling I had planned on doing on the inside.
Now that's the real challenge. Let's back up to the beginning.
The latest dare for this series - to go ziplining - had me surprised to find that the San Diego Zoo Safari Park boasts its very own wire ride. Despite living here for nine years, I never knew that we could zip across wild animals, right in our own backyard.
The Flightline Safari is actually the longest continuous zipline in California and one of the longest in the world. It opened in 2009 and runs two-thirds of a mile over the Asian and African animal exhibits.
The experience began when I met the peppy Flightline team first thing in the morning, and they sat me down to watch a brief pre-flight training video. I then strapped into my gear, and we walked to what they call the "fledgling run," a practice zip only 470-feet long to get a feel for what will happen on the real deal. I whizzed through the trees on this short flight, as nerves slowly perked up. The toughest part? My legs flew into the sky upon landing, a bit abrupt when the catch stopped my speed rather quickly.
Next up, the guides and I packed into a safari car to drive up to the top of the mountain where the launching pad overlooks the stunning San Pasqual Valley. The ride itself provides a behind-the-scenes tour of the 1,800 acre park while the staff point out elephants, condors, succulent gardens and more, emphasizing the remarkable conservation progress made by the San Diego Zoo .
Standing on the ledge overlooking the vast landscape below, my fear of heights began to bubble up. It's an unbeatable view of the Safari Park though, and a vantage point that can rarely be seen. Chelsey led me to the edge, hooked my harness into the cable trolley, and reminded me, once again, not to scream.
Right. Got it.
"3... 2... 1..." she counted down, as I held my breath and clenched my fists. After about two seconds of fear overtaking all common sense, I relaxed a bit in the hammock-like contraption. It was beautiful, serene, peaceful even. It certainly didn't feel like 50 miles-per-hour, but more like a gentle float through the clouds.
Address: 15500 San Pasqual Valley Road, Escondido
Phone: (619) 718-3000
Price: $75 plus park admission
Below, I could see grazing antelope and even a few rhinos, although most of them blended in with the rocks. It's such a unique way to see the park and get a true bird's eye-view of the animals. I focused on taking it all in, as the wind whipped past my face. I was sure to keep my mouth shut, but inside I was screaming something like, "WOOOOOAAAHHH!"
Two minutes later, the ride ends. The second my feet hit the ground, I was itching to go again.
The entire experience, from start to finish, takes about an hour. The Flightline Safari is available for ages eight-and-up and between 60 and 300 pounds. You can fly up to four at a time, which would make for a memorable family experience.
- I dare you to... try aerial yoga
- I dare you to... ride the scariest ride at the SD Fair
- I dare you to... unlock the Great Escape Room
- I dare you to... try cryotherapy
- I dare you to... go indoor skydiving
- I dare you to... meditate in a float tank
Do you have a dare for me? Send an email to michelle.dederko@... with subject line "I dare you"
Or dare me in a Tweet! @michelledederko