Thursday, March 26, 2020

Costa Rica’s Monteverde Cloud Forest: Ziplining With The Original Canopy Tour

Ziplining in Costa RicaLooking to spot exotic animals in the cloud forest, zip through the lush treetops, or gallop on a sunset horse ride? Monteverde offers all this and more.

And Away We Go…

No adventure tour in Costa Rica would be complete without ziplining. We first zipped through the treetops in Ohio’s Hocking Hills and found the combination of speed, height and scenery to be marvelous. While in Monteverde, we hooked up with The Original Canopy Tour for our forest zipline experience. OCT is the originator of the canopy tour concept. The founders of the company moved from Canada to Costa Rica with the idea of creating an exhilarating experience while raising environmental awareness.

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TDescending in the Cloud Foresthe cost of the canopy tour is about $50 and you can book online. This is a half-day tour and you should be reasonably fit and comfortable with standing at heights of more than 100 feet. Be sure to wear closed toed shoes. Bring insect repellant and sunscreen. You can forget about your camera. I brought a small digital camera that had a wrist strap, but had almost no chance to use it. They have a professional photographer and the cost is a very reasonable $20. You’ll have lockers to stow your gear before heading out.

The zipline course is located in a 70-acre private reserve of the Monteverde Cloud Forest. After we were fitted with a harness and got a safety briefing we began with a vigorous hike up a hilly trail that winds through the woods. One of the nice things about the OCT is that it isn’t just ziplining. They have a few twists – like the Tarzan swing, which was the first course feature. This helps chase away the butterflies as you leap off the tower and take high, sweeping swings through the forest.

The canopy tour was part of the Eco-Adventure tour we booked with Green World Adventures. They did an outstanding job making all arrangements for our trip.


Into The Scary Tree

The course has 14 cables, but one of the most unique features doesn’t involve zipping. The Scary Tree is a large Strangler Fig tree that has overtaken a ficus tree resulting in a soaring tree with a hollow inside. Once atop the platform on the tree, our guide said the next step was to rappel – straight down -- from our 150-foot perch. This was different from our past rappelling experience as the guide was in control the whole way – and it seemed like he let me plummet for a good while before slowing my decent. I loved it!

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Once on the bottom, we had to get back to the platform in order to continue zipping. To do that we clamored up rope netting into the hollow tree. When you come out the opening, the path to the top is a vertical rope ladder. After that we were ready to get on the zipline and feel the wind blowing in our faces.

The longest cable is more than a half-mile long. For this one we were instructed not to brake as we would need all our momentum to make it to the next platform. I followed all the instructions. I swear I did. Still, I came up a bit short and finished the last 15 feet or so by pulling myself hand-over-hand to the platform.

The Original Canopy Tour is a first-class operation and an exhilarating experience. We recommend it highly.

TTree House Restauranteree House Restaurante

After a pulse-racing morning, we decided to enjoy a relaxing lunch in Santa Elena. One place had caught our eye as we drove past, the Tree House Restaurante and Café. The main feature of the restaurant is a giant ficus tree that grows right up through the middle of the restaurant and up to the roof. The first order of business was liquid refreshment.

We enjoyed two of our favorite local beers: Pilsen and Imperial. I first had Imperial after I got tossed into the Pacaure River during our rafting trip. As the first into the water, I had to buy beer for the rest of the crew.

We decided on burritos and they did not disappoint. The quality of the food, the surroundings and excellent service makes this a sure-fire pick for a meal during your visit to Monteverde.

After the short walk back to Villa Lodge we decided we had time for a nighttime activity. Through the front desk we were able to book a night tour of the Monteverde Cloud Forest.

My wife had her heart set on seeing a sloth and I figured the best way was to do a night walk. The evenings can be cool in the cloud forest, so dress accordingly. The weather can be changeable, too. We had a rain shower while waiting for our shuttle bus, but didn’t encounter any on our tour. The tour provides flashlights, but I brought my own.

Stick Bug in Monteverde Cloud Forest

Monteverde Night Walk

The tour cost is $25 and if you are expecting to see a menagerie of animals, keep your money in your wallet. We had the misfortune of having an unenthusiastic and just not very good guide. His name was Gopher (although the spelling may be suspect). This activity is very popular and the woods were crawling with other tour groups.

Other guides were animatedly talking to their people while Gopher spent a lot of time explaining why we might not see anything and then asking us to keep moving along. Other guides had spotting scopes they set up for their guests to use. Gopher appeared to have one in his pack, but he never got it out.

On the bus back to the hotel others were talking about how they saw tarantulas and how amazing they were. We got to see the legs of a tarantula before Gopher said, “She’s not coming out, let’s move on.”

We did see a green vine snake in a distant tree, a stick bug, a few birds sacked out for the night and the back two-thirds of a White-nosed Coati. No sloths.

Walking around in a Costa Rican cloud forest at night with flashlights is fun and that’s probably worth $25 a head. Dial down your expectations and you’ll have a good time and might, just might, see some amazing animals.

Monteverde is natural Costa Rica at its best. Your options to explore are plentiful and fantastic memories are guaranteed.

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