I have been to Go Ape several times now and it’s always something I enjoy doing! It’s a great adventurous and adrenaline filled way to spend time outdoors. The Thetford Forest location is around 1hr 30 from where I am in Essex, so it’s a nice easy UK day trip for me! There are 34 different locations all around the UK (and 14 locations in the USA…including 6 across the Midwest!). Here’s what to expect when visiting the Go Ape Thetford Forest location!
Disclosure: AD | This post is sponsored by buyagift.co.uk, I received free tickets in exchange for my review and promotion. As always, opinions are 100% my own!
Go Ape Thetford Forest
*Visiting during 2020* Go Ape is currently operating in accordance to government guidelines. All adventures are outside. There are limits on numbers per group, hand sanitising stations are at the bottom of each course, only 1 family bubble allowed on a platform at one time and harnesses are sanitised after each use.
Thetford Forest is home to the very first Go Ape location! They offer 3 different adventures:
- Treetop Challenge (2-3 hours, minimum age: 10yrs, minimum height: 1.4m)
- Treetop Adventure (1 hour, minimum height: 1m)
- Forest Segway (1hr)
Treetop Challenge is the best adventure for adults, whereas Treetop Adventure is aimed at younger visitors. The course takes between 2 to 3 hours to complete and there are 5 different sections (plus a practise area). You are required to arrive 15 minutes before your experience. If you book online in advance (recommended) you can sign a safety waiver and check in before you arrive to save a little bit of time.
The first stage takes place with your feet firmly on the ground. Everyone is given a harness and then you can practise getting used to the equipment with low down wires. Go Ape operates on a self attachment system which can make some visitors a little nervous. Each harness has 2 static lines and a zip wire roller attachment. When I was a climbing instructor we used to refer to static lines in this style as ‘crab claws’, imagine you have one in each hand, like claws, one claw should ALWAYS be attached to the system. Unclip one, re-attach it, unclip the second, re-attach it. At the beginning of each obstacle there is a visual diagram in case you forget. Each piece is colour coded too.
Section one is a little higher off the ground. An instructor watches each guest to ensure everyone understands the process. It’s literally a short ladder section, a wire crossing and then a tiny zip line. During this section, those that are a little nervous can get used to the harnesses at ‘height’. You are able to feel what it’s like if you were to ‘slip’ and how far you’d drop (not far at all). The staff are very encouraging!
Section 2 to 5 you are then let loose on your own! Each of these courses have a coded gate at the bottom, where only ‘trained’ participants can enter. Those that are just observing are able to follow the course via woodland trails on the ground. The courses each start with a rope ladder and finishes with a zip line. Technically they are all one-way. Once you’re up the ladder, you’re then committed, the only way down is the zip line at the end. The highest platform at the Thetford location is 12m and the longest zip line is 140m (the Treetop Adventure is around half the height and length).
Sometimes the zip lines have a bit of a mind of their own and you may end up going down backwards. In that case you just have to dig your heels in and potentially scoop up all the wood chips with the back of your trousers. If you reach the bottom facing forward, just start running until you come to a stop. It IS possible to steer the zip line if you start spinning, but it does take a bit of practise.
At the start of section 3 and 5 is a water cooler with paper cups. Between the courses you are free to go to the toilet, but it’s a bit of a pain, as you’ll need to remove the harness and put it back on.
From section 3 onwards, the courses split in 2, giving you the choice of routes to take. The obstacles do sometimes change, they used to have marked ‘easy’ and ‘hard’ routes, but both routes now seem to have its challenging obstacles that can’t really be avoided! If you’re nervous with heights, all of the obstacles will be potentially challenging, but for physical challenges the only one I struggled with were the stirrup rings. This one can be avoided though, just take a few seconds at the top of the rope ladders to map out the potential route before committing to one!
Section 4 has racing zip lines which is pretty cool and my personal favourite obstacle is the Tarzan Swing on section 5! Both routes on section 5 have a swing (the ‘left hand’ route has a swing with a slightly bigger drop) but this is one obstacle that CAN be skipped.
The final zip line finishes right alongside the very first practise area, which is very convenient! Everyone gets a certificate of completion and a Go Ape sticker at the end!
What To Wear For Go Ape
Closed toe shoes are a must, it’s best to pick something that is most likely to stay on your feet. Long hair must also be tied back. Other than that, there’s not really any other requirements. I’ve done Go Ape in shorts and t-shirt and also jeans and a coat! Just make sure it’s something that you don’t mind getting dirty. Obviously if you wear shorts and t-shirt you may get a little scratched up, you’re more protected with long sleeves and trousers. If you have zipped pockets, this is handy if you have a car key or other small items that you want to keep on yourself.
At the Thetford location you are allowed to take cameras and phones up on the course, but they must be continuously attached to you. For example, GoPros are fine and if you want to take a phone you can buy waterproof neck pouches on-site or you can take your own to put it in. As far as I’m aware, Battersea (London) is the only location that doesn’t allow cameras on the course.
Go Ape does operate in all weathers (apart from lightning and ice), so you may get wet if it rains. There is a little bit of shade and protection from the trees but not everywhere. Gloves are also a good idea, even if it’s not cold, as they can help protect your hands from rope and wire friction.
Helmets aren’t required for the Treetop Challenge or Adventure, but if you decide to go on the x2 off-road Segways, you’ll be given a helmet for this experience. (I have done the Forest Segways on a previous visit, it’s another fun activity to try!).
High Lodge Parking
Go Ape is at the High Lodge section of Thetford Forest. Not going to lie, the parking charges for this area are a little on the steep side. Considering Go Ape could potentially take 3 hours to complete, you may have to pay for a full day rate (over 4 hours) which is £12.50 per vehicle. High Lodge does have other activities on offer, such as bike hire, archery and play equipment. There are also toilets and a cafe.
Booking a Go Ape Experience With buyagift.co.uk
As mentioned above, my experience was booked through buyagift.co.uk. They have a whole heap of different adventurous activities and days out which can be purchased for yourself or as a gift for someone else. You can search for experiences by: recipient, occasion, geographic location and more! After purchasing a voucher code, you can redeem it directly with Go Ape for a date and time that works best! It’s an easy process with step by step instructions provided on how to redeem the vouchers. You can find Buyagift Go Ape adventures here.