With more than a quarter of the country covered in rainforests, one of the best ways to explore these enchanting ecosystems is by ziplining in Costa Rica. First developed by American scientists, who wanted to study trees and the animal life in the canopy without touching them, ziplines emerged as the perfect solution. These have since evolved into canopy tours — an ideal way to get a bird’s eye view of the forest without disturbing the wildlife or endangering the trees. The country offers a number of zipline courses, from the Monteverde Cloud Forest to the Arenal Volcano, that fly over beaches, through treetops and across canyons.
Certainly not a sport for the faint hearted, canopy tours are definitely meant for the more adventurous tourists, who will enjoy the adrenaline rush. While it is relatively safe, canopy tours are not without their own risks. While most people of all ages can partake in one of these experiences, some are more strenuous than others and might involve pulling yourself along the cables up to one of the platforms.
You are advised to wear a t-shirt, long pants, insect repellent, closed-toed shoes, and to bring rain gear just in case. It is suitable for anyone over the age of four, but for safety reasons a weight restriction of 280lbs and maximum waist width of 120cm often apply. Here are a few ziplines worth checking out:
Selvatura’s canopy tour has some of the longest cables in in the country and is the only one truly immersed in virgin forest. The tour consists of 15 cables and 18 viewing platforms and traverses over two miles of forest. For the adrenaline junkie, you can also try the Tarzan Swing, a high security rope that swings you through the forest.
For a more docile experience, the park also offers treetop suspension bridges, one of the largest butterfly gardens in all the Americas, a reptile and amphibian exhibit, a hummingbird garden and the one of the most extensive private insect collections in the world.
High atop the a mountain, the protected Monteverde Cloud Forest provides zipliners intimate views of many species of frogs, birds, snakes, lizards and even the tropical fox. Many consider the ziplines and canopy bridges are around Monteverde the best in the country. One of them goes over 11 waterfalls.
This two-hour tour, which features over 2 kilometers of cables, is ideal for all ages. It is one of the most extensive tours, featuring 11 cables and platforms that allow you to enjoy views of the forest, river and Arenal volcano while zipping through primary rainforest. You can take a tram to the high observation point and then zipline back down the mountain. Try to go in the morning to beat the weather and cloud cover.
The canopy tour at Manuel Antonia includes 18 platforms, 10 ziplines, 2 repel lines, and one suspension bridge. There is also a Tarzan Swing, a device that will have you swinging through the air like the chest-beating jungle man. After the canopy course, you can also visit the butterfly garden and serpentarium.
Adventure Park Costa Rica
Adventure Park is one of the country’s most extensive canopy parks. The park boasts 25 cables (with spectacular views of Nicoya Gulf from above the rainforest canopy), 11 waterfalls, two rappelling mountaineering maneuvers and a swing over a hanging bridge. It also has one of Costa Rica’s only Superman zipline courses, where you’ll leap from a 2,200-foot (660-meter) platform and zoom across 13 different zipline cables.
- David Jennings