Flying through the Jungle, with the Greatest of Ease

I love rock climbing, but I hate roller coasters.  I love canyoneering, but I have no desire to go skydiving. Outdoor adventures are my thing…daredevil thrills are not. With that being said, I wasn’t sure how much I would really enjoy zip lining. But I figured if I was ever going to try it, it was going to be in Costa Rica.

IMG_1626If you search for “zip lining in Costa Rica,” you’ll be inundated with dozens of sales pitches. Apparently, I’m not the first person who thought zip lining through the jungle would be a cool experience. Aside from biased recommendations from other vacationers, it’s impossible to know which zip line company to choose. After a bit of research, you realize that there are  tons of competitive adventure companies in Costa Rica and that they all charge about the same amount. My choice was based on location convenience and online reviews.

IMG_1632Since I didn’t book a rental car, I was at the mercy of the Costa Rican public bus system…which surprisingly exceed my expectations. Although the buses were clean, safe, and on time, it always took a long time to get from Point A to Point B. Arenal’s EcoGlide canopy tour set me back $55 USD, which was a reasonable rate for such a touristy town.

Just minutes after checking into our cabin in Arenal, Eco Glide’s van pulled up and shuffled me into the back. A retired Canadian couple rode along side me in the van. I mentally reassured myself that if they could zip line, then so could I.

IMG_1646Unlike some other adventure companies, the sole business of EcoGlide is zip lining. So it made sense that they had the equipment setup and training instruction down to a science. Unexpectedly,  there were about twelve zip lines and about twelve people in our group, mostly “middle-agers gone wild” escaped from Florida.

IMG_1700The “zip professionals” geared the group up with helmets, harnesses, a sliding glove, and common-sense advice. Most of the staff spoke broken English, but I was still glad I’d studied key Spanish phrases on an iPhone app the night before. EcoGlide’s canopy tour is divided into two sections. The first section had eight cables, with lengths between ten and 110 meters, and the second section had five cables, with lengths between 100 and 430 meters. Given my limited zip knowledge, I had never expected to be riding on cables for over two hours.

IMG_1712When I stepped to the edge of my first platform, I felt a huge pit in my stomach. Although I’m not afraid of heights, free fall drops have always made me squeamish. Much to my relief, there are no “drops” in zip lining! I never got stuck in the middle of a zip, I never got tangled up, and I kept my eyes open to take mental snapshots of the colorful landscape whizzing by. After a few zips, I was even trusted to wear a fancy camera around my neck and snap a few real photos.

The one part of the experience that I said “no, thank you” to was the Tarzan Swing. After watching a couple poor saps free fall into the abyss, I knew I’d have no regrets about safely hiking to the bottom to listen to their blood-curdling screams echo through the forest.

IMG_1709EcoGlide’s friendly, encouraging staff never made me feel like a scared little wimp, and they even handed out complimentary beer after the last zip. That was a well-deserved Imperial, thank you very much. I don’t see myself becoming a professional zip liner anytime soon, nor do I expect to pay good money to do it again unless the scenery offers something dramatically different. However, I’m glad I tried it, I’m glad I waited for Costa Rica to try it, and I’m glad I lived to tell the tale.