Zip-line and Canopy Tours

Since the dawn of time humans have dreamed of taking to the sky. For those of us living in the modern world it’s hard to grasp a world without airplanes, yet long before the Wright brothers famous flights at Kitty Hawk some hundred odd years ago, humans were soaring through the sky attached to ropes and pulleys. Indeed New York harbor nearly came to a stand still when the first engineer crossed between the towers of the Brooklyn Bridge during its construction at the end of the 19th century. Granted that traverse didn’t have much of a canopy to soar through. There is documented evidence of using zip-lines for transportation air since 1739 and it’s very likely that they’ve been in use much longer.

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Officially the tours are called a canopy tour because one goes soaring through the canopy of the trees; however the apparatus itself is usually referred to as a zip-line (or just as a cable) and often is used to describe the entire activity. The La Fortuna area has several zip-line tours available at varying price points and with different combinations of accompanying activities.

In the video above I have used footage from two of the three most popular–Arenal Mundo Aventura and GoAdventures. The other popular tour is SkyAdventures which is a bit further from La Fortuna and a bit pricier (although we do offer discounts for their tours too). My wife who has done the canopy tour with Sky tells me that it is a fantastic tour, so I won’t discount it as an option, I just prefer to have first hand experience for what I recommend.

Arenal Mundo Aventura

Located just outside of town–adjacent to the famous local swimming hole El Salto–Arenal Mundo Aventura boasts one of the longest zip-lines in Costa Rica at over half a mile long. That zip-line is definitely their flag-ship product as not only is it one of the longest, but it is also 100 meters high and sends you out over-top of the La Fortuna Waterfall (check out the video above for some footage of what that is like).

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The tour itself starts with the obligatory safety chat and a lesson on how to use your equipment. You then must ride behind a tractor for about ten minutes and then hike a another probably ten minutes to get to the first of the zip-lines. There are a total of 13 cables at Arenal Mundo Aventura. The first few are essentially practice cables of about 50-70 meters in length. Some cables are quite long (like the one mentioned above), others while not that long allow you to achieve speeds of about 45 mph (70 kph). Overall the zip-lining is a fun experience.

After finishing the zip-lines you will remove your equipment and endure get to listen to a well-meaning presentation about the Malekú indigenous culture. Costa Rica is home to four indigenous people, with the Malekú being the only ones in this part of the country. They now number about 650 people. Now I enjoy learning about all kinds of cultures and languages, but the whole Malekú experience is really nothing more than the gift shop at the end of the ride that theme parks have popularized.

They put on a token presentation about how to say hello in Malekú (“capi capi” as you tap your closed fist to the top of their shoulder) and what they traditionally used for clothing (now they just wear what just about any westerner wears). That part is educational and interesting, but the real reason for the presentation is so they can then spend the next while talking about spirit animals and their ideas of a deity to sell you the balsa wood masks and rain makers that conveniently are available in vast quantities and priced in US dollars. Maybe you will enjoy it, I know some people that have, but for me the Malekú tour is just the gift shop at the end of the tour needlessly preventing me from getting back to town to eat or go to the hot springs.

At the end of this presentation you again get in the wagon behind the tractor and ride back to the park entrance to end your tour and head back to town. If you’ve worked up as much as an appetite as I do with all the hiking and core-exercise that comes with ziplining you’ll want to check out our restaurant guide for some good places to eat.

GoAdventure

GoAdventure is located a little bit further outside of town heading up towards Arenal Volcano although transportation is provided for free by both companies, so there’s not much need to worry about finding it. The GoAdventure office is located on a plateau that in my opinion is one of the absolute best spots to photograph Arenal and see both of it’s twin peaks.

Zip-line BusOne advantage that GoAdventures has is that getting to the first zip-line is much quicker than it is at Mundo Aventura. They take you about two minutes in an old school bus and you’re there at the first cable. From there you get your safety talk and take off immediately; a much quicker process than at Mundo Aventura.

GoAdventures is a little bit cheaper than Mundo Aventura, but it also has less cables (9 to Mundo Aventura’s 13) and their longest cable is about 400 meters instead of 980 meters. However at GoAdventures you also get to do a rappel down a cliff of about 150 feet included in the tour (also in the video above). They also have a presentation about Malekú culture, but it is not nearly as drawn out which I for one appreciate. All this makes  their tour is a bit shorter because of having four less zip-lines, and also because you don’t lose 30 minutes getting to and from the lines which means more time for other activities in the area.

Conclusion

Overall I could recommend either of the two tours. In both tours the guides are experienced, professional, and friendly. If you’re looking for the budget option, and especially if you want to do a rappel, GoAdventures is a good option. I also prefer the tour experience (the trails between zip-lines, the personality of the guides, etc.) of GoAdventures. On the other hand I think the cables themselves are more fun and action packed at Arenal Mundo Aventura plus they have a nice wild-life garden at the entrance to spend some time in included in your tour that is a nice add-in as well.

For pricing and reservations you can contact us here. 

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