Zip Lining in a Costa Rica Rainforest

Zip lining in Costa Rica takes daring adventure travelers over the rainforest canopy: It’s a thrilling ride that can’t truly be replicated on miniaturized, inside zip lining courses. It takes a leap of faith to let go and send yourself across the treetops, despite the safety features in place. Costa Rica’s rainforests, like all places allowed to remain wild and self-sustaining, are teeming with the perfect balance of flora and fauna, of predators and prey. Left to itself, the Costa Rica rainforest is more than a natural resource; it’s an ever-changing yet unchanging part of the world’s geography. Zip lining in Costa Rica is a wonderful way to see the forest while supporting a small local economy in an ethical way — this is an important factor for many travelers to Costa Rica.

This capuchin monkey in the Costa Rica rainforest wanted our snacks.

This capuchin monkey in the Costa Rica rainforest wanted our snacks.

My younger kid would basically throw herself off a roof with a rope tied around her waist, but this story isn’t about her. My older daughter is cautious. She is hardly the type to laugh in the face of (perceived) danger, and instead prefers to take her time getting acclimated to new situations. She has a certain level of anxiety about heights, too; when we went to the Grand Canyon she hovered close to me while her sister skipped gaily up and down the trails. We somehow convinced this pre-teen that she should try something new while in Costa Rica (a new destination for us in the first place) and come zip lining with the rest of our volunteer vacation travel group.

The Arenal Rainforest Reserve Conservation Area is within the Arenal Volcano National Park’s larger rain forest, straddling the dormant, eponymous volcano (Arenal is one of the world’s ten most active volcanos). Our volunteer vacation group came here, to the ATHICA Canopy adventure company, for a day of zip lining, swinging, and general fun. ATHICA uses a wrapped bungee cord type of system with their ladders and cables, to reduce the stress and impact on the trees. The guides are bilingual (English and Spanish), friendly, and fully trained.

We had traveled to Costa Rica with my parents, and my older kid didn’t want to show her height anxiety in from of her grandparents…but it was pretty obvious. As we all got buckled and helmeted and strapped in, she sidled up to me and urgently whispered that she had to either have her turn be right in the middle, or skip zip lining altogether. We arranged that she’d go right after my dad, and I’d immediately follow her.

Zip Lining in Costa Rica Rainforest Near Arenal Volcano

There she goes! Nervous daughter takes a leap of faith into the rainforest canopy.

ATHICA Canopy has ten zip lines total, starting off only around 43 feet (13 meters) from the ground and working its way up the tree levels to the top, or canopy, of the rainforest. We were able to see a few animals along the way, though the thick, lush greenery hid many more from sight. A group of

Toucans watch Zip Lining Costa Rica Rain Forest

aracaris, a type of toucan, seemed a bit perturbed — who were we, to invade their space? — but the other rain forest critters barely gave us a second look. A row of leaf cutter ants, marching along at eye level, seemed both industrious and comical at the same time. These busy bugs distracted my 6th grader from her worries, and she loosened up. For the second zip line, she was already chatting amicably with the other members of our group, and after a while scooted ahead of us to “go first.”

The last zip line ATHICA has set up in the Arenal Rainforest Reserve is half a mile long! Younger kids had to hitch rides with guides for this one, because if they slowed to a stop in the middle, well, it could cause something of a traffic jam. I thought she’d be scared, but I was wrong; my previously intimidated older daughter had the time of her life! It may have been because her fear of embarrassment trumped her fear of heights, or it may have been that her love for wild animals surpassed those fears. Who knows? All that’s for sure is, she tried a new experience, in a new travel destination, and she loved it. More than a travel memory, zip lining in Costa Rica gave her a sense of pride and accomplishment.

Costa Rica Rainforest Tree Frog Not Interested in Zip Lining

This tree frog, photographed by my dad, seemed uninterested in Costa Rica rainforest zip lining.

Half a mile of skimming the treetops is incredible. It’s a long enough amount of time and distance that the thrill of the height and speed slips away, until what’s left is an appreciation of the wild world all around. The light wind is warm through our hair. Howler monkeys jabber away, tree frogs peer over broad leaves, and peccaries nose around below us. The scent of flowering tropical trees and the cool humidity of the air is pure life. Before the last, long zip line through the Costa Rica rainforest is done, we all know this: We are witness to something larger than us. We depend on the world’s rainforests to give us fresh new oxygen, and the rain forest here depends on us to ensure its sustainability. Being part of it, even for only a short time, is a remarkable sensation. It’s a memory that we, my family, my children and I, shall hold onto forever.

Zip Lining in Costa Rica with Mom and Grandpa

Older daughter is elated after zip lining with Mom and Grandpa!



22 Responses to “Zip Lining in a Costa Rica Rainforest”

  1. 1

    […] The Vacation Gals: Ziplining in a Costa Rica Rain Forest […]

    • 1.1
      Jaco Tours says:

      Costa Rica a Country full of adventures and The Arenal Rainforest Reserve Conservation Area is within the Arenal Volcano National Park’s larger rain forest, with many activites to do there..

  2. 2

    […] The Vacation Gals: Ziplining in a Costa Rica Rain Forest […]

  3. 3

    brava, to your daughter! it looks amazing. and life-changing!! how VERY cool.

  4. 4

    A year ago I went zip lining with my daughter and her family in the Dominican Republic, so I understand your excitement when you tell of your adventures in Costa Rica. It sounded fabulous!

  5. 5
    Stella says:

    Zip lining is so much fun! I’m glad you got an opportunity to do this!

  6. 6
    Barbara says:

    We went zip lining in Mexico and had a blast. I was unsure about it, but it was such a great time. I would love to go in Costa Rica!

  7. 7
    Kate says:

    Looks like you all had a bunch of fun! How memorable to do this with your daughter and Dad. Great Memories!

  8. 8

    OMG, love that frog picture!

    I have never zip lined, and want to. And now I REALLY want to. Great story, thx for sharing.

    • 8.1
      Branson Traveler says:

      It’s an awesome experience! It must be a fad going around because we just had three zipline attractions open here in Branson within the past couple of years. However, it doesn’t even compare to the Costa Rican Rainforest :-)

  9. 9

    […] The Vacation Gals: Zip Lining in a Costa Rica Rainforest […]

  10. 10
    SoCalGal says:

    Thanks, Andy! My dad’s a terrific photographer. It was such a joy for my parents to travel with their grandchildren on the volunteer vacation in Costa Rica.

  11. 11
    Marlee says:

    What an experience! I can’t think of a better way to experience the beauty of the rainforest. I love how the zip line gives visitors a chance to be right in the middle of all the happenings of nature. This seems to be a great way to get to know the creatures and vegetation that you can’t even see from the ground. I can see where being so high up could be terrifying, especially when going through unknown territory. However, once that fear is conquered, it seems like an unforgettable event and trip! I will definitely keep this in mind if I ever get the chance to head south.

  12. 12
    Lucy says:

    This sounds SO FUN and is something I’ve always wanted to do. My question is, how fast does the zip line go? How long are you in the air? It seems like Costa Rica is the perfect destination for zip lining :)

  13. 13
    Lucy says:

    Great photos and article! It’s quite the rush, isn’t it? I did the zip line in CR and the best part for me (other than the rush!) was getting to see the animals in their natural habitat. I loved it!

  14. 14
    Costa Rica says:

    Sounds like a great time. My friends had to convince me to go an a canopy tour the first time I was in Costa Rica, and now I am hooked. I live in Jaco 6 months out of the year, and at least once a month I find myself taking my house guests on a tour. to much fun. Great read!

  15. 15
    Byteful Travel Blog Carnival #5 – 2011 Feb 22 | Byteful Travel says:

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    Travel Blog: zipline adventures in the us and beyond - Tree.com says:

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    rainforest ec says:

    Fantastic web site. Lots of helpful information here. I’m sending it to a few pals ans additionally sharing in delicious. And of course, thank you for your effort!

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    Top 5 Best Luxury Resorts in Costa Rica | Yourgoodchoices.com says:

    […] Staying in one of the best luxury resorts in Costa Rica combines luxury with a wide variety of Costa Rica outdoor activities and perhaps, a chance to soak up some of that Costa Rican […]

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    […] Zip Lining in a Costa Rican Rainforest from The Vacation Gals Back to Austria in 2011 from Nerds Eye View Where to Travel Next from BootsnAll A New Destination for a New Year from Sharing Travel Experiences The Quirky Traveller Top 10 Destinations 2011 from Wandering Educators Africa with Kids from Ciao Bambino Travel to Southern Sudan, the World’s Newest Country from Spot Cool Stuff […]

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