Stuck in the clouds

Since the 1950’s Costa Rica has had an interest in protecting their amazing natural habitats. Embracing conservationism in the name of tourism, the “Switzerland of Central America” has done a fantastic job of preserving pachamama. Costa Rica has whipped up the perfect cocktail of flora and founa with a shot of adreniline mixed in! Explore any number of the first class national parks and hang out with the wildlife, or get your heart racing as you zipline one kilometer over a stunning cloud forest. If that isn’t your thing, surf down the Nicoya Penisula lounging on one of many deserted, white sand beaches. Costa Rica is a travelers playground, and the only drawback being: It’s expensive!

Central Costa Rica - Santa Elena

This is a country where Chels and I could spend months. All of the things I previously mentioned are exactly what get our juices flowing, but as I also mentioned it’s expensive. Unfortunately because of our tight budget we were forced to choose only one cool thing for our ten days on the Rich Coast. After much deliberation and consideration we went with Monteverde’s Cloud Forest.

Art Gallery in Santa Elena

The town of Monteverde is mostly protected forest so the majority of visitors stay in the neighboring town of Santa Elena, but getting here is no short trip. Set 1400 meters (4600ft) above sea level the roads into town are mostly unpaved and wind through the gorgeous countrysides peaks and vallys. Santa Elena is a small but friendly village with a mountain-town feel and upon arrival we were reminded of what we came for. A large electronic billboard advertises videos of bungee jumping, tarzan swinging, canyoning and ziplining seducing the adventourus. With a number of available activities to choose from we had to make yet another tough decision.

Sloth Backpackers

Sloth Backpackers was our hostel of choice. It was just outside of the hustle and bustle in town, and offered a really cute and cozy atmosphere. Run by 2 sisters, they help you organize anything you want from tours to tranport. The breakfast is delicious and legitimate compared to some of the bread and jam breakfasts other hostels offer. The only complaint was that man…MARK YOUR FOOD! The second you leave the kitchen with ANY item unmarked (even salt, oil, dressing!) the sisters grab it up and lock it in their cupboard. We lost out on our butter and popcorn because of their well..greed.

DUO about to fly

Under the recomendation of passing travellers and Kelly we narrowed it down to ziplining (canopy tour) and canyoning. Canyoning is sort of deceptive in it’s name because from what I can tell, involves no canyons. Basically you absail down eleven flowing waterfalls – pretty excellent but comes with a price tag of $50. The other option, ziplining, is probably how the area became famous amoung backpackers and is the most popular. A series of 20 odd platforms strung together with metel cables takes you on a wild tour of the cloud forest offering some great views at high speeds; all for around $45.

Good to Go

At first we decided on doing both, but our bank accounts had the final say and we ended up choosing the zipline canopy tour. Out of the serveral companies that offer this we went with EXTREMO because they have the fastest and longest lines. They arranged a pick up from our hostel and provided/dressed us up in the required gear once you’re there. After a quick demonstration of the essentials: what to do if you get stuck; how to slow down/stop; ect., we were off. They start you off light; a couple of short ones before you get hooked on for a big one. The day we went the wind was howling and it was raining. In these circumstances you pair up with someone on long lines so that you don’t get stuck in the middle. So together, Chels and I whizzed 800 meters over Monteverde’s famous cloud forest!

zipline action

..more zipline

Now they call this a canopy tour but lets face it, it’s about the ziplining. I guess a few times we were able to appreciate they beautiful scenery around us, but it was more of an ancillary benefit than the focus.

Suspension Bridge!

After about 12 or 13 cables and a speedy repel , they let you experience the “Tarzan Swing”…and it’s scary!! All of a sudden, they are attaching all these cables to you, tell you to squat…and before you know it, you’re being pushed off the edge and start falling before it turns into a huge swing across the canopy! It is AWESOME! !! What a rush. Brad swung out so high that he almost hit a tree! To catch you, they throw a big rubber inflatable out in front of you to hold you in while they un-hook you!

Tarzan stopper!

After we watch everyone scream and laugh until they cry on the swing, we set out on a hike to the top of the canopy where we are set to experience the much-anticipated “Superman”. This was a highlight simply because of the length of the zipline that allowed you to truly appreciate the beauty below you! They connect you from your back, pull each foot up into a harness behind you, and away you go…face-down like superman for a kilometer .. flying over a beautiful valley of lush green below!


coming in for the landing

Afterwards, with everyones adrenaline pumping, they give you the option to experience the MEGA-Tarzan Swing or Bungee Jump! It would have been tempting if it weren’t for finances, but now we have

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something to look forward to next time we visit Costa Rica :)


If it is one thing that Monteverde’s tour companies do well that is combining nature with adventure. We could have spent all ten days here just trying out all the crazy stunts you can pull, if time and budget would have allowed. No doubt we’ll be back one day, with wads of cash, ready to raise the heartrate a few bpm!


This entry was posted in Canopy Tour, Central America, Costa Rica, Extremo, Hostels, Monteverde, Sloth Backpacker, Ziplining and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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