Published on January 29th, 2014 | by Arienne Parzei0
Riding High on Adventure in Costa Rica’s Rainforests
Have you always wanted to explore the rainforests of Costa Rica? Arienne from seeyousoon.ca shares her experience riding high on adventure through Costa Rica’s many rainforests and what you can expect to see and do on your next vacation there:
I make my way up the creaky wooden steps, my heartbeat quickening as I inch closer to the top of the platform. I double-check that my helmet is on securely as my guide expertly attaches one of my harness clamps to the cable. The beating of my pulse is so intense it muffles everything out around me and I miss what he says. “What?” Then I see him motioning me to pull up on the cable so he can attach the second clamp. I dangle in the air peering at the path in front of me, a dense tunnel of canopy with a single thick cable guiding the way. Off in the distance I hear screams of joy echoing through the trees. My guide gives me the thumbs up, so I slowly release my grip on the cable above me and start moving forward into the abyss.
My speed increases exponentially and suddenly I’m thick within the jungle rocketing across like a bird finding it’s next perch. Before I know it, I catch sight of the next platform. The guide motions for me to start slowing down and considering the ferocious speed at which I’m approaching, my pulse ramps up again. I apply pressure on the cable with my leather-clad hand and instantly begin to slow down. I coast onto the platform elated from what I’ve just experienced, a big toothy-grin plastered on my face. The guide unhooks me from the first cable and attaches me to the next one. And without thinking, I launch myself off the platform and scream from pure exhilaration.
If you’re the adventurous type, then you need to be on the next flight to Costa Rica. The country is filled with heart-pounding activities from border to border, coast to coast. From surfing along the Pacific coast, volcano trekking in Arenal, or horseback riding through the rainforests, adventure awaits for all ages.
I recently visited the country and checked off a number of new activities I had never tried before, all of which got my heart beating just that little bit faster. Below are some of the adventure activities you can experience within Costa Rica’s rainforests. But let me warn you, once you try them I promise you’ll be hooked.
If the heat and humidity are too much to handle, there’s no better way to cool off while staying adventurous than whitewater rafting one of the many rivers in Costa Rica. One of the best in the country is the Pacuare River, 108 km of class 2-6 rapids. It’s interesting to note that most rivers in the world only go as high as class 5 rapids. The Pacuare River has even won awards as one of the best in the world, based on the criteria of cleanliness, type and frequency of rapids, difficulty, and number of classes. Some of the rapids aren’t for the faint of heart and with names such as Upper and Lower Indian Cemetery, you’ll definitely get your adrenaline pumping. Experience isn’t necessary as there are many tour operators who will expertly guide you through the river, shouting commands such as “oh my God” and “holy s#$t”, for half day or full day courses.
It might be an age-old practice, but this type of tree climbing isn’t anything like your childhood memories. Originally created to help researchers ascend to the top of the tree canopy with as minimal impact to the environment as possible, this technique of tree climbing uses a rope, harness, and your own body weight to climb the length of the rope. It’s all about the legs as you bend and push yourself up through your leg harnesses. Mechanical ascenders act as your levers to climb or descend the rope. When you push up through your leg harnesses and remove the weight tension on the levers, the ascenders can move freely in either direction allowing you to shimmy up or down the rope. It’s a lot harder than it looks but the great thing about tree climbing is that you can stop and rest whenever you please, to take in your surroundings of course. Just remember, don’t look down!
If you want to slow the pace down a bit, hiking through Costa Rica’s rainforests are an excellent alternative. With 30% of the country’s rainforests under protection, forests, vegetation and wildlife have been given the undisturbed freedom to flourish, thus making the hiking trails a vibrant activity for any age. The first thing you’ll notice is the smell of the vegetation, then the soundtrack of the forest becomes more amplified, and finally you’ll start to realize how humid it becomes the deeper you trek. Having a guide is highly recommended; not only for your safety, but also to point out and explain all the interesting plants and creatures you might not notice on first glance.
Last but certainly not least is Costa Rica’s most popular adventure activity, ziplining. It makes sense that this country knows how to do it best since they invented the sport! While it was originally invented to help transport researchers through the tops of the rainforest canopy with minimal disturbance to the plants and animals, ziplining (or also known as a canopy tour) took off quickly amongst the adventure-seeking crowd and can now be enjoyed in many parts of the world. Zipping from tree to tree gives you a unique perspective of the rainforest and considering the minimal impact on its surrounding environment; it’s exceptionally eco-friendly too.
There are many courses to choose from throughout the country but some of the most popular companies are Adventure Park, Sky Trek, and Pozo Azul where you’ll find yourself zipping over rivers, past waterfalls, and even through clouds. Having long been on my bucket list, ziplining in the country far exceeded my expectations and was one of the highlights of my trip. The only downside? It ended too quickly.
Aside from these activities, Costa Rica’s rainforests also offer up rock climbing, repelling, mountain biking, ATV riding, and even bungee jumping. And if water activities are more your cup of tea there’s surfing, snorkelling, scuba diving, and windsurfing on both the Pacific and Caribbean coasts to kick your travels up a notch.
Ready to start planning your own Costa Rica adventure? Contact one of our Travel Consultants across Canada at 1-877-967-5302 to help you get started!