Cloud Forest Zip Lining / Tarzan swing / Rappel

Trip Start Nov 15, 2009
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Flag of Costa Rica  , Province of Puntarenas,
Thursday, July 15, 2010

From San Jose we took a 5 hour bus ride through winding mountainous roads to the very green cloud forest reserve of Monteverde.  Straddling the Continental Divide at 1440 meters (4662 ft),
the Santa Elena and Monteverde Cloud Forest area is one of the
most interesting place to visit in Costa Rica with plenty of animals, insects and plants to take in.
The boys and I arrived in the small, quaint town of Santa Elena and found a family run hostel / cabins to stay at.  the owners couldn't do enough to make us feel welcome and give us all the information we needed on tours in the area.  Cabinas El Pueblo comes highly recommended - anyone heading to Monteverde/Santa Elena should stay there ($10 including breakfast).

Calling all adrenaline junkies ...

The boys had booked a canyonning tour for the morning but had to cancel as Clement was in bed with flu (man flu! ha!).  We'd also booked a canopy tour the three of us for the afternoon.  It was just Thomas and I as Clement was still suffering in bed.  For those who don't know, a canopy tour is not for the faint hearted.  It is basically zip lining above the rainforest!!!  We had a quick briefing and geared up - harnesses, helmets and special reinforced gloves and off we went.  We flew across 20 zip lines.  I can't begin to describe the adrenaline rush.  Some of the lines were short and only a few metres high, others were HIGH!!!  Nearly 3.2 kilometers (2 miles) of zip lining that range in distance from 40 meters
(131 feet) to 750 meters (2,461 feet), including 4 cables that are
longer than 425 meters!!!  It was FUN to say the least!!!  There was also a 30m rappel (sheer drop down a rope) and the best ... a tarzan swing (video attached as it was indescribably awesome).  I've never bungee jumped before and am not a fan of free falling so naturally I wanted some instructions before I went ahead (hence the delay in "tarzaning" on the video clip).  The dude just strapped me in, gave me some rope to hold all folded up and was going to push me but I didn't know whether I was supposed to hold it the whole time or let go or what so I was telling him to let me know what I should do.  But this is central America, you don't get instructions for anything, you just DO IT!  So yes, I screamed as I was pushed off the platform.  My gloves got caught between the folds of rope and I couldn't let go but anyway, it was ... awesome / exhilarating / a thrill of a lifetime! Ha!  Then, the last zip line was a superman zip line - harness on your back, feet tied up and GO!  The superman zip line was 1000m long and the highest of all ... fly like a bird.

What a great tour and another thing to add to the list of adrenaline sports - scuba diving with sharks, mountain biking on death road, sandboarding on the highest sand dune in the world and now zip lining over a cloud forest.

I'd also booked a forest night tour to see all the nocturnal animals and creatures but then changed my mind as I'd done a night jungle trek in Bolivia and thought it was expensive for what it was / best save the money for scuba diving the Caribbean.


La Fortuna:
We decided on the jeep - boat - jeep transfer to La Fortuna for $25 as opposed to the local bus.  It was so much quicker and nice scenery.  We booked into Costa Rica's 5 star hostel - Arenal Backpackers - fully equipped with private bathrooms, a swimming pool with swim up bar and lush gardens.  As I have become accustomed to in central America, yet more torrential rain downpours.  La Fortuna was always going to be a quick stop to see Volcano Arenal.  I wasn't up for a 4 hour trek so opted for the night tour (the boys went on the full tour including trek).  I tried to book through the hostel but apparently they needed a minimum of 5 people and I was the only one who signed up, so I found a tour in town for the same price but kind of felt it was a bit fishy ... 2 other people had signed up (yeah right, whatever) but I only paid a deposit, so if I lost that, whatever.  Anyhow, the tour guide (Julio) showed up at 6pm and I paid the balance.  He stopped on the side of the street to pick some people up and drop them off at their hotel (taxi service???).  We then stopped at his house to collect binoculars and Julio came back drenched in aftershave and with a bottle of wine and 2 glasses!!!  We did end up collecting another 2 guests and then drove to a viewpoint to see Volcano Arenal erupt at night.  Arenal is an active volcano that erupts everyday via an explosion of magma from the main chamber (unlike the volcano in Hawaii, which has constant flowing lava).  It first exploded in 1968 and caught everyone unawares and destroyed the town and killed hundreds.  In 1992, the people were prepared and managed to escape unhurt.  Apparently the volcano erupts every 20 minutes and we did see a small explosion, but it was too quick to be able to take a photo.  the 2 other guests wanted to finish the tour there and went back to their hotel, leaving me alone with the tour guide to go to the natural hot springs.  Well actually it was a natural hot river with waterfall and cave behind the waterfall.  It was great and with wine as well, who needs a man made 5 star hot spring resort?!
Following the tour, the guide decided to show me the nightlife in La Fortuna and we went to some bars/clubs to salsa the night away.  I even got roped into joining the dancers on stage!!!
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