This question is often asked, "What is the difference between a zip line tour and a canopy tour?"  Originally, canopy tours (when speaking of tourism related activity) involved hiking, other obstacles, a naturalist guide, etc... Zip lines were just lines. Strap you on, zip you over to a platform...done!  Eventually however, people have interchanged the two so much that when searching for an "adventure on a zip line" it's almost indistinguishable as to what someone is actually searching for.  This is why you'll often see companies use the term "zip line tour" when, in fact, it's actually a canopy tour.

In the end, we do know that the term "canopy" came from the 1970s when biologist and ecologists set up traveling lines in the tree tops above the canopy. It was actually just a practical way for scientists to do their work more efficiently and quickly.  The thought was, travel above the canopy quickly or trudge through thick forest below.

However, this was not the origin of zip lining.  It's difficult to trace but we do know that the Chinese have been using zip lines to transport goods across rivers and streams since the 18th century.  Being such a simple concept, we are confident that people have been using zip lines for centuries, not as a recreational activity, but for many other practical uses.  As a quick anecdote, did you know zip lines were the "secret" way H.G. Wells had his infamous Invisible Man move so quickly?

More on Zip Lining vs. Canopy Tours:

Zip Line:  A cable or rope line suspended between two support structures with an elevation drop between the beginning and end points sufficient to allow a rider attached to a pulley through which the line has been reeved to roll downward by the force of gravity from a launch station to a landing point. Riders may traverse a zip line as a way to travel at altitude, sometimes for the purpose of exploration but more frequently for the thrill of the ride.  A Zip Line tour is zip lines strung  from man-made towers or ground anchors.

Canopy Tour: A guided exploration or transit of the forest canopy, most commonly by means of a series of zip lines or aerial walkways and intermediate viewing platforms. Such tours feature views of the forest canopy, but they are also generally designed to afford scenic views of the surrounding landscape including local flora and fauna and landmarks that may be of cultural or historic interest. The focus of such tours is generally educational and interpretive, but it may also be primarily recreational.

Did your eyes glaze over when you were reading those definitions?  Many people read those definitions and still don’t get the difference so we found an explanation online that we think is fantastic from Lake Geneva Canopy Tours:

Ziplining: Leaping off a high platform and going really fast down a cable.  Usually from pole to pole in an open area.

Canopy Tour: Experiencing what the biologists did to explore the ecosystems of the tropical rainforests (and pretending to be Sean Connery),  all with the comfort of trained guides doing all the work of making sure I’m secure and encouraging me to overcome my fears in a patient and caring manner.  Other benefits include having a strong, massive tree to hug (if needed) between zips, getting high on the adrenaline rush and having the experience of a lifetime (especially when you DO IT with friends and family).

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