I’m hanging in the air about 30 feet off the ground, suspended by a wire, and I’m gyrating like a drunken monkey, trying to get enough momentum to wallow over to a net, where I can restore what little is left of my dignity, which I lost when I leaped from a treetop platform hanging from a rope, yelling like Tarzan, only to find out that I had to actually grab the webbing on the other side. I didn’t.
That would be too easy, and just what the (female) instructor probably toldme to do, but I’m not a good listener, as any of my wives could tell you, except with the proper amount of venom, castigating both my interpersonal skills and my manhood, though not necessarily in that order. The first part of the flight went great. I was swinging (sort of) through the trees on an ersatz vine, having a great time, and as I said bellowing like a baboon, full of my own bravado, not to mention crap. The trouble was I had absolutely no plan on what to do when I arrived at my destination, which would have been a good idea, because now, instead of confidently climbing up the net to the next “game”, as they call it, I just bounced off of it like an idiot, and came to rest between 2 trees, uselessly flopping around, while my instructor helpfully suggested that I try to wiggle back over to the net using my Spider Man skills, I guess. To her credit, she did this without laughing, and it just goes to show how professional the people at Treetop Trek are, because all of the tourists in the zoo below certainly didn’t hide their delight in seeing a grown man, a senior citizen at that, helplessly writhing in the triple canopy foliage high over the Orangutan paddock, and I’m sure they’re the same folks who believe in that old Irish proverb: “Ay, there’s not much to laugh about anymore…except other people’s misfortunes.” Of course, since you’re reading this, you know that I eventually freed myself from my predicament, albeit not with my pride intact, though regular readers will know just how little that matters at this point in my pathetic existence.
The “Tarzan swing” is just one of the many zipline thrills at the Treetop Trek in Melbourne Florida, which takes you by catwalk and ladder high over the Brevard Zoo, and it’s actually a load of fun, notwithstanding my uncoordinated aerial stunt. I heartily recommend the Treetop Challenge course, which incorporates that particular challenge and ALL of the others as well. Expect to be surprised by the difficulty. Expect to be delighted by the enthusiastic, courteous, (and youthful) staff, who always put your safety and comfort first. Expect to be thrilled as you fly over gator-infested waters. You can even get a glimpse of some of the arboreal zoo animals from your treetop perch as you negotiate increasingly difficult “games”, which can be as easy as an aerial sidewalk stroll or as difficult as an episode from the goblin caves in Lord of the Rings. This is 2 or 3 hours of the most high-octane fun you can find south of the Daytona Speedway, and people come from all over central Florida to enjoy it. If you’re in the area, it’s not to be missed!
-To get here, just follow the directions to the Brevard Zoo, where the Trek is co-located. But don’t be misled: the Zoo and the Treetop Trek are 2 different places, with 2 different admissions. Entrance to one DOES NOT get you entrance to the other. That said, you could do both on the same day. In fact, I highly recommend it!
–If you’re very agoraphobic, this isn’t for you, unless you want your kids to experience the joy of an early inheritance. But I’m afraid of heights and I made it. So there!
-Check the weather before you go because you won’t get a refund!
-Bring some water and hydrate up! Yes, they have water on the course, but not up in the trees, and in central Florida you can lose your own body weight in sweat over the course of a day. No, not really, but drink up before you get to the course.
–Use the facilities before you start. Ladies, are you listening? No restrooms in the trees, unless you want to water the tourists below.
-Apply lotion. Unless you like the smell of human bacon.
-Wear tennis shoes or you’re not going.
-DO NOT bring sunglasses or anything else you can’t afford to lose. If I need to explain this, I’m ashamed that you’re one of my readers. Really.
-If, as I suggest, you’re going from the Challenge directly to the zoo, bring some lunch. The food at the zoo is fit for animals, but not humanoids. There are some tables outside the main entrance, and it’ll be lunchtime when you finish your course.
-Arrive at the Treetop Trek at 9 AM. The courses aren’t as full in the mornings, and this is especially important on weekends.
-You will be presented with 3 options at the hut/ticket booth:
- Treetop Challenge-Allow 3 hours for this if you’re slow or old (or both like me). Yes, I finished it in 2, despite my epic fail Tarzan episode (and back-tracking for lost sunglasses), but it’s best to allow for slower parties in front of you. Think of it like a golf course. You’re no faster than the party ahead. Do not even think about this if you’re fat or out of shape. It isn’t Army Basic Training rigorous (the oldest participant was 82!) but it ain’t easy, either. $48 pp, no discounts.
- Canopy Walk-Allow 2 hours. This is just a shortened version of the Treetop Challenge, so do it if you’re strapped for time or it looks like the weather won’t hold. $25pp.
- Chutes and Ladders-Strictly for kids. Allow 45 minutes. $15 pp.
–The instructors are excellent. You’ll complete a short Orientation class, then you’ll start the course. Trek staff will be there to assist at every step of the way. Listen to them, especially when you get to the Tarzan swing.
-There are a LOT more “Games” than ziplines. The games, IMO, aren’t as fun. Not even close. In fact, I’d say they actually present a challenge, as the name of the course implies. I have rules in my life, and one of them is that challenges are thrown at you often enough just by accident without actually paying for the privilege of meeting them. But, if you like jumping from one swinging log to another, Donkey Kong style, while trying to traverse the cavern between 2 cypress trees, then this is for you!
-If you arrived early as I suggested you do, you’ll still have time for the zoo. Go there and enjoy it!
-Finally, don’t forget the website: