The extremely popular adventure sport that gives people the opportunity to traverse from tree-top to tree-top by way of a series of cables has many different names. Most commonly it is referred to as “zip-lining” or “canopy tour.” Zip line tours in Costa Rica are one of the most sought-after activities for visitors to do when visiting the country. Most of the major destinations in Costa Rica offer some form of a canopy tour or zip line adventure.
The History Behind Costa Rica Canopy Tours
The history of this adventure activity dates back to biologists who sought to study the canopy of the Costa Rican Rainforest. These biologists wanted to get long-term, close up views of the life and environments that existed in the canopy of the rainforest in Costa Rica.
At first, biologists would set up a platform or canopy camp in one specific tree and their observations would take form from this one tree’s canopy. As time progressed and biologists sought to study more than just one canopy they developed methods to traverse from one canopy to another by means of cables, harnesses & pulleys.
The individuals that were given credit for this advanced system of rainforest canopy observation were graduate students, John Williams, and Donald Perry. Rock-climbing enthusiasts seeking a closer view of their botanical and entomological subjects, they adapted their equipment to climb trees, clipped themselves to a line, and zip-lining was born.
Costa Rica Zip Line Tours Catch On with Local Business
As years went on various tour businesses created canopy & zip line tours in Costa Rica. Zip line tours are made up of various platforms built into and onto trees in the rainforest. These platforms are normally located high in the tree-tops, can vary in distance from the ground, and act as stations between cables that stretch from tree to tree.
As this activity continued to develop and gain popularity in Costa Rica, many canopy tour operators began to get creative by integrating other activities into their canopy tours. Instead of a series of 12 cables, an operator would often times install or set up a waterfall rappel section or a hanging bridge. These types of variations would be substituted for a cable and add some variety to the tour. In some cases, these tours begin with a horseback ride, tractor ride or brief hike to the first cable.
Costa Rica’s Arenal & Monteverde Regions
Costa Rica’s zip line & canopy tours are most popular in the Arenal & Monteverde regions. The sport was “founded” in Monteverde and the original canopy tour operator still runs these tours there. Travelers can find canopy tours in virtually any part of the country: from the Central Pacific region to the Caribbean Coast and everywhere in-between.
The goal behind taking a canopy tour is in the eye of the tour-taker! Often time people want to see wildlife or the beautiful birds that Costa Rica has to offer. Others are looking for an adrenaline rush or to conquer their fear of heights. We can guarantee the adrenaline factor will be present; however, it can be difficult to spot wildlife aside from birds.
Often times the animals in the rainforest will stay away from these cables knowing full well people are around. From time to time a sloth can be spotted and you can always expect to see some birds on tours like this.
Interested in a Costa Rica zip line adventure or canopy tour? Let us plan a trip for your next adventure!
John Rabenau has been working in the eco-tourism & adventure travel industry in Costa Rica since 2002. He has worked in a variety of capacities from Outdoor Educator & Principle Guide to Itinerary Design Manager & Business Owner for numerous organizations. He has grown Costa Rica Escapes into one of the most reputable Costa Rica travel agencies since its creation in 2006, hosting more than 5,000 people with custom vacation itineraries.