Our next destination in Costa Rica was La Fortuna, a charming little town near the Arenal volcano and lake. My dad wanted to see waterfalls, and my mom wanted to go ziplining and Arenal seemed like the perfect place to do both. We started our day at Sky Adventures Arenal for a hanging bridges hike and ziplining. There were so many ziplining options in Costa Rica it was hard to sift through them and pick the perfect experience for us. Safety was a top priority, and I wanted to do a hanging bridges hike as well, and it was cheaper to bundle them at the same location vs. go to two separate locations. This was our first time ziplining, so we wanted it to be a longer course with epic views of the surrounding area. Sky Adventures had a $99 combined package with hanging bridges nature hike and ziplining, plus great reviews and safety ratings.
We started out our day with an incredible hike through the rainforest. Our knowledgeable guide pointed out many creatures hiding near the trail that we would have otherwise missed- including eyelash vipers and frogs. He filled the tour with interesting facts about the rainforest and different ecosystems in Costa Rica, as well as pointed out noteworthy plants along the trail.
While most of our time was spent hiking through the rainforest, there were strategically placed viewpoints where we could look out over the rainforest canopy to Arenal lake. It was a perfect mix of easy to moderate hiking on the rainforest floor and breathtaking vistas. Although we saw some of the same views while ziplining, I’m glad we opted for the hike so we could enjoy the views for longer, and on more solid ground!
While most of our group was fit and kept up with the guide, there were a few stragglers and those not quite physically fit enough to hike the entire way. I would definitely call this an intermediate hike with uneven ground, inclines and declines, and, of course, the thrilling but unstable hanging bridges. Our guide did a great job accommodating for different hiking levels, but at the end, we ended up forging on by ourselves in order to make it to our zipline experience on time. About midway through our hike, we started to hear howler monkeys. We looked up in the canopy for quite some time before seeing several walking around on the branches above us, including a mother and baby!
After climbing to the viewpoints to look out over the rainforest, we descended to the rainforest floor and hiked past two beautiful waterfalls. This hike was so much more than just hanging bridges across a ravine. While I would not feel comfortable just tromping around in wild jungle habitat, this path and guided tour gave us the peace of mind to enjoy the scenery in a safe way. The hanging bridges hike took about 3 hours, and when we finished, we were ushered into preparations for ziplining.
This was my first time ziplining on a multi-line course. First, we enjoyed a tram ride up the mountain after being outfitted in our harnesses and helmets. We had a few minutes of safety instruction, and a practice line where we practiced proper take offs and braking using a pulley. I totally failed the practice, but thankfully there were other systems in place on the real ziplines to slow us down if our braking attempts didn’t go well. The first line, it started to rain and the drops stung my face as I whizzed over the treetops. It was equal parts exhilarating and frightening. As a mother of young children, my first priority is always to protect myself to I can be there with my kids, and ziplining hundreds of feet over a deep ravine seemed too risky for me. However, I soon became accustomed to the height and the mechanics of ziplining and started to enjoy myself more. I always felt safe and had fun! The rain stopped and the sun came out. There were 6 large ziplines, with a drink and bathroom stop in the middle. Our group had 10-15 people, which was a perfect amount of time in between lines. We had two guides with us, one to go before and stop us, and one behind to hook us up and ensure we went off safely.
We understandably left our camera behind for the ziplining, although there was an option to rent a GoPro helmet attachment to record the experience. So unfortunately, we don’t have any pictures of this part of tour package. All too soon, we were back at the main office where we had a delicious, though pricey for Costa Rica, late lunch. There was also a large gift shop and restrooms in this area. I’m so glad we opted for a pricier zipline/hanging bridges experience. We felt safe the whole time, saw incredible views of Arenal volcano and the lake from viewpoints and ziplines, and had an epic adventure!