By Lauren Tjaden

I stood at the edge of a tiny platform, perched some 80 feet above a sprawling wilderness of pines, swamp and grassland. My knees clattered together and a bead of sweat escaped from under my helmet, tickling the side of my nose.

“I don’t know if I can do this.” I leaned back from the empty space in front of me, trying unsuccessfully to swallow.

“Sure you can.” Themal’s voice came from behind me, steady and soft.  “Just step off. Don’t jump. You’ll freefall for a few seconds, but then the cable will catch you.”

I grasped the shoulders of my harness, forced my legs to move, and walked out into nothing but air. The ground rushed towards me, I screamed loud enough to shatter glass – and then the cable did its magic, slowing me more and more, until when I reached the ground, arms outstretched and still howling, I had almost quit moving altogether.

I’d just conquered the Panther Pounce, part of the fun offered by Florida EcoSafaris at Forever Florida in St. Cloud.

The adrenalin-laden adventures just got crazier at the 4700 acre eco-ranch and wildlife conservation area, which boasts untamed wilderness, natural streams, wetlands and dense cypress forests. This special place now offers six extreme experiences, including the Swooping Crane Extreme Swing, the all new Zipline Safari, the Cypress Canopy Cycle, and the Rattlesnake, the first zipline roller coaster in the USA.

It’s wild, it’s challenging, and it’s utterly unique.

You can also enjoy Forever Florida in more relaxed ways. You can explore it from the back of a trusty steed on a Horseback Safari, or kick back and relax on a Coach Safari. The ranch has been identified by the Florida Wildlife Commission as a biological hotspot, hosting one of the highest concentrations of endangered and highly threatened species in the State. It’s home to alligators, black bears, white tail deer, the endangered Florida Panther, and many more species.

And your visit makes a difference. A significant portion of revenues from Florida EcoSafaris go directly towards supporting the conservation of Florida's wilderness.

You should add this one to your bucket list. After all, why live on the edge when you can step off of it?

Stay tuned for the video of my adventures at Florida EcoSafaris, coming soon.

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