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Forget Ziplining; Costa Rica is All About Canyoneering Next to a Volcano

November 30, 2011 at 11:25 AM | by | Comments (0)

Canopying goes hand-in-hand with Costa Rica. Maybe it's the allure of the seven volcanoes and the lush flora and fauna they support or the desire to get down and dirty, but visitors to the country often have communing with nature on their minds and we're no different.

Instead of ziplining through the trees and crossing swing bridges on the Caribbean/rainforesty side of the country, however, we were able to go whole hog on the Pacific/dry forest side in the Rincón de la Vieja Volcano National Park of the Guanacaste region, where canopying combines with ziplining, rappeling, rock climbing, canyoneering and—yes, swing bridges—to make an experience simultaneously exhilarating and exhausting. There's no one word to describe it, but for now "adventure" will just have to do.

It begins easily enough. The lower half of your body is jimmied into harnesses and a helmet buckled onto your head, where nervous sweat is already starting to bead. From base at the Hacienda Guachipelin's Adventure Tours HQ, it's only a 2-minute walk to the first platform, from which you will take the plunge to zoom the longest of 12 ziplines.

All in all, there's those 12 ziplines, 24 platforms, 2 climbing walls, a stop to rappel (upside-down or rightside-up) above the rushing river, Tarzan moments, a swing bridge and some light hiking. It feels awesome while you're getting the grit under your nails and some air time, but bring Icy Hot for the next day, trust us.

Pricing for the Hacienda Guachipelin Adventure tour is $50 per adult/$40 per student/$30 per child, and your hotel can typically arrange the transfers and tours. You don't need to be in American Gladiator shape to go for it, by the way. Every platform has one or two guides to hook you up, answers questions, help out or just calm you down before doing that spider rappel only feet from Class IV rapids.

Pro-tip: While strapping your camera around you works on most parts of the course, don't try to keep your iPhone in your pocket or even bring a bag. Minimal or nothing is the rule here, which is why we don't have any videos of the action. Come prepared with more than a wriststrap, and a plastic baggie in case of rain would be advisable.

Disclosure: We zipped down to Costa Rica as guests of JetBlue and the Costa Rica Tourism Board, but rest assured that all opinions and all photos are completely our own.

[Photos: Jaunted]

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