Monteverde, Costa Rica – Watch Out Tarzan!

Set atop the spine of Costa Rica’s continental divide, Monteverde is a place of cloud forests, coffee plantations, monkeys, mist, and friendly locals, but it is a world above for one main reason – its zip-lines and suspension bridges are the longest, and most exciting, in the country. The cables and platforms that are built into the cloud forest rather than above it, allowed us to feel truly immersed into the forested environment. Furthermore, the so-called “Tarzan Swing” at the end of the tour (a large, swing-like contraption that allows participants to swing out above the forest ) was an unexpected, but welcomed, surprise. Once you do a canopy tour in Costa Rica, all other “zip-lines” will feel like child’s play.

The Extremo Canopy Tour began with an introduction to the safety equipment by local, albeit YOUNG, well-trained guides. During this segment, we were fitted with harnesses and taught the proper technique for riding the cables. Soon after, the flight through the forest began.

In total, there are 15 cables and 24 viewing platforms that stretch over 2 miles, which is the longest cable length of any canopy tour in Costa Rica.

Even before hooking our carabiner on the lines, the tree top walkways through the cloud forest were one of the most amazing ways to experience the beauty of this rare ecosystem.

We didn’t need to worry about braking at the end of the the line. Our guides utilized a pulley system to slowly decrease our speed as we approached the next platform. Since our guides took care of starting and stopping us along each cable, we could relax and enjoy the ride.

The tour didn’t require any kind of particular athletic ability. We only needed to be able to sit down, remain calm, and focus our attention on the zip line we were about to travel down; the guides and gravity basically did the rest.

Sometimes, the canopy tower where we waited for the next line was equally as nerve racking as the actual zip. One tower rests 72 feet tall in a group of trees. Unhooking from one line and hooking to another while 72 feet in the air was one of the most worrisome parts of the day.

The grand finale zip was a 1 kilometre long piece de resistance “Superman” zip-line that was over 456 feet high. It was so far that two people were required to ride the line together. Since I was there with my husband, we anxiously awaited this zip to have the greatest experience together. I felt like an eagle as we soared over the mountains and tree tops.  It was a clear day and I had a stunning view of Volcan Arenal, the Pacific Ocean in the Nicoya Gulf and the Guanacaste area in the North of the country.  It is a great juxtaposition to see the tress from below and then from this bird’s eye view above.

The “Tarzan Swing”  gave us the opportunity to free-fall a few metres before the harness safely lifted us into a relaxing swooping swing 50 metres high amongst the trees. Needless to say, it’s quite an adrenalin rush. Still, many people were content to simply watch us ride the “Tarzan Swing.” I didn’t mind the spectators; we asked them to take pictures and videos while we enjoyed the adventure.

This was my first canopy tour and one of the greatest experiences during my vacation in Costa Rica. I don’t think you can go to Costa Rica and truly experience what it has to offer without participating in a canopy tour. If you have the change to try the “Tarzan Swing”, don’t pass it up. You’d paid good money for an adrenaline rush like that anywhere else, but here, it’s part of the tour.

The drive itself is a worthwhile venture. The mountainous terrain, leading through villages with unique cultural heritage, is outlined by large, fluffy clouds and creates an amazing photo opportunity.

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62 thoughts on “Monteverde, Costa Rica – Watch Out Tarzan!

    • In one week in Costa Rica, we were able to go whitewater rafting, canopy touring, and Tarzan swinging. We also took a bus trip to Nicaragua and Monte Verde. Finally, we rented a car and drove to Tamarindo for a day of surfing and checking out local markets. It was one of the best trips of my life with the most adventures I was ever able to cover in 7 days. I’d recommend it to all adventurous travelers.

      🙂

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    • I walked across that very bridge back in 1994. I spent time studying at the La Selva Biological Institute, as a grad student. It was the eco-friendly spot for adventure seekers. A beautiful country with amazing people, culture, and food. In addition to studying I spent time at Arenal, Irazu, & Rincon de la Vieja volcanos, MonteVerde, Cahuita, , among others taking part in extreme hiking, mountain biking, snorkeling, rock climbing, repelling, and digging around in the wetlands, at Playa Grande with the sea turtles and photographing the vast flora and fauna. species.

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      • Yeah definitely! A really good friend of mine has gone like four times and says there is an awesome hotel with a swim up bar by a volcano and then there is (7 hours away in which I have already told my Fiance he could drive and he is stoked but I hate driving long distances haha) a hotel that is open and filled with monkeys :). Please let us know of anything else! We are hoping to go zip-lining at some point…

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      • We stayed at Occidental Allegro Papagayo. You can check out the hotel and my review of it at http://lesleycarter.wordpress.com/2011/09/28/a-world-above-occidental-allegro-papagayo/.

        In one week, we were able to go whitewater rafting, canopy touring (zip-lining), and Tarzan swinging. We also took a bus trip to Nicaragua and Monte Verde. Finally, we rented a car and drove to Tamarindo for a day of surfing and checking out local markets. It was one of the best trips of my life with the most adventures I was ever able to cover in 7 days. Renting a car for the day was a great idea and it didn’t cost much, but if you want to go to Monte Verde for the volcano, waterfall rappelling, or zip-lining, I’d suggest going by tour bus. The roads are not great, to say the least, and I’d save myself the worry.

        You can book all of these adventures directly at the hotel and they have good schedules so you can fit everything in.

        As for monkeys, you’ll see lots! Everywhere! You will not need to look for them 🙂

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    • If you’d like any suggestions, please let me know! We went whitewater rafting, zip-lining, surfing, and touring volcanoes. We rented a car, toured by bus, and walked through markets. We even ventured to Nicaragua for the day. It was an adventure filled week 🙂

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  1. My son has been there a couple of times and loves it. The zip line was also one of his favorites. Thanks for sharing and thanks for reaching out. I appreciate that you liked my work. It tells me that you must have exquisite taste. Have blessed & safe journeys. – Rob

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    • As a teacher, I had summers off and lots of vacation time. Since meeting my husband, we’ve had to manage our time a little more wisely but we make the best of it by planning long weekend vacations and thinking outside of the box. We recently went to Alaska for a long weekend and covered more territory and adventure than we thought possible. If you really want to make something happen, you find a way.

      You can check out our Alaska weekend of dog-sledding, helicopter touring, glacier landings, and tramway viewings at http://www.bucketlistpublications.com/2012/02/01/alaskas-hyperactive-tourist/

      Good luck on your adventures; may the world be at your doorstep,

      Lesley

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      • Wish it were that easy. We’re 4 in d family. 2 daughters, 6 & 3 yrs old. Plus my husband works weekends (pastor). Based in d philippines. We travel 3 or 4 times a year, mostly locally. I guess we’ll b able to do more when kids r grown. Any suggestions or advice? 🙂

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  2. Loved GoApe in England, UK – I’m sure this is on a totally different scale with an awesome backdrop. If I make it up to Central America, this sounds like something not to miss.

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  3. I’d love to cross that bridge, but I doubt you’d ever catch me on the Tarzan swing. I am too young to die! LOL. And I am too klutzy to be swinging through the air, but you guys look like you had a blast. Good for you! 🙂

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  4. Hi Lesley, again I thank you for well written, awesome photography and of course sharing it with all of us! Your zest for life, the actions you take, have woken my adventurous child! I look forward to acting on some of these with my husband Frankie, 17 year old daughter Elena, and 10 year old daughter Samantha. Your little one is in for a treat when she meets you! Blessings!

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  5. We visited Costa Rica and I totally chickened out from doing this! I did the couple of practice runs and then freaked! My husband did it and had a blast :). It does look like fun! Maybe when I go back I’ll get up the courage to do it.

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  6. I work with teenagers…this looks like it could be the best camp experience ever for them…but I would predict at least one trip to the ER 🙂

    Reminds me I soon need to get a trip scheduled to our local camp with ropes course and zip line.

    Thanks for the visit to my blog…you’ve got a great site here!

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  7. I actually think I’d like to do this which is strange because I’ve never had ANY desire to skydive, bungee jump or even jump from high cliffs into lakes.
    Thanks for sharing!

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  8. Both my father and my daughter have enjoyed Costa Rica and the forests. My daughter particularly enjoyed all of these canopy-viewing adventures! I am still benefitting that trip with an ongoing supply of wonderful organically grown Costa Rican coffee beans! Looks like you guys had yourselves a true Tarzan and Jane experience, so typical of you! My adrenaline stays up a long time after visiting this blog!

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  9. I did the zipline in Monteverde too! Was so nervous before but I loved it, the scenery was just amazing. Though my friend and I didn’t get enough momentum on the ‘Superman’ run and had to be towed the last 50 metres which was a little bit nerve-wracking!

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  10. Costa Rica is amazing!! I spent 8 days there doing a dual sport on/off road motorcycle tour! We traveled all over western Costa Rica, mainly on roads that most people don’t get a chance to see (perks of your mode of transportation as a motorcycle). We did zip lining in Arenal, surfing in Santa Teresa and every other thing in between. Definitely a place I want to go back and visit.

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  11. I just read several of your posts about Costa Rica, my fiancé and I are going there for our honeymoon so I’m definitely going to check out your links since we’re still researching where we’re going to stay and what we’re going to do. Thanks for all the great info!

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  12. I’ve been to the Monteverde Canopy Tour and it was incredible! So worth the money and I’m so glad I didn’t chicken out and managed to do the Tarzan swing! And something I got to tick off of my bucket list too 😀 I miss Costa Rica!

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  13. Wow, the zip line sounds awesome! I didn’t do that when I visited Costa Rica, but I did do a canopy walk. I, too, thought it was the best part of the trip, although there were many other good parts, like white water rafting, visiting a wildlife rescue center, night hikes, soaking in hot springs, and watching a volcano erupt while eating pizza. The highlight of the canopy walk, though, was seeing a colony of monkeys up in the trees, complete with babies riding on their moms’ backs! It was very special.

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