When you arrive in Costa Rica for the first time, you’ll see that this country is synonymous not only with biodiversity, but also with adventure. A few hours after getting off the plane, I was on my way to one of the most popular destinations: Puntarenas. There, I walked around the neighbourhoods, tried the food, met the people, and saw the giant red and white lighthouse which is an attraction next to the ocean.
The most exciting part of my trip was the second day, when I tried canyoneering for the first time in La Fortuna, San Carlos, which is a perfect destination for those who love nature and excitement. It’s true that anyone who arrives looking for a dose of adrenaline will find it, and those who arrive with a fear of heights – like me – will overcome it.
The canyoneering tour in La Fortuna takes place in a natural paradise: Mistico Park. This natural park consists of 650 hectares, 250 of which are a protected tropical rainforest reserve. It’s also in an ideal location in front of the majestic Arenal Volcano, and while I didn’t have the opportunity to see the volcano’s most well known characteristic – its perfect cone shape – I was still left speechless by all of its colossal beauty.
After having lunch with my group at the reserve’s restaurant in front of the volcano, it was time for the most exciting part: the canyoneering tour in what’s known as Spider Monkey Canyon in Mistico Park. We were taken in a minivan to the tour’s location where we were greeted by our guides. They had great energy, which set the tone for what would be an unforgettable adventure. My group and I were beyond excited and we all wanted to get started.
Before starting, the guides explained how to use the equipment and the safety features according to protocol. They were very patient while answering all of our questions, of which we had many, not only during the explanation but also during the tour. With all the adrenaline, you can forget how to position your body when descending, how to use your hands, whether or not you can touch the cords, among other things.
One fantastic announcement they made before the tour was that they would be taking photos throughout the entire tour. We had to remember to always look at the camera so as not to end up with weird poses or facial expressions in the photos. Even so, more than one member of the group ended up doing funny poses in photos, including me. I’ll share the photo so that you can see for yourself and have a laugh. (See photo on the right)
After listening to the instructions, it was time for the first stop. “It’s the moment of truth,” I thought to myself. I had to descend using a cord from a long meters high. For a person with a fear of heights like me, this distance made me feel as high up as a skyscraper. But my group and the guides motivated me, which gave me the strength to descend.
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I’ll never forget when one of the guides said: “Just enjoy it, don’t be afraid,” which was the key to enjoying the entire tour.
While descending, I looked up towards the treetops and it was impressive to see the lush nature surrounding me, and to hear the animals and crystalline waters as they flowed down the canyon. It was a magical moment when I realized that this was the real Costa Rica. What I had seen in videos didn’t come close to comparing with what I was living in real life, and it exceeded all of my expectations.
The most exciting part of canyoneering in La Fortuna is that it includes a combination of activities. After descending using cords, there were various descents, each one more exciting than the last.
Once we were back on solid ground, we walked through the rivers towards a great adventure: descending the rocky wall between waterfalls, where we used rappelling techniques, and all the while we were surrounded by lush plant life. We were undoubtedly breathing the world’s purest air.
Also read: What do we offer at Mistico Park?
Between the waterfalls, there were hidden surprises that no one in the group expected. One of these was the moment when we jumped into the natural pools. As I mentioned before, I have a fear of heights plus I don’t know how to swim, so the idea of jumping didn’t sound great to me because even though I was getting used to the heights, falling into the water still scared me. So, for the first natural pool I took an escape route and made my way down the rocks.
I later regretted not jumping, as there was another natural pool ahead of us that was higher up and deeper than the first. If I had jumped the first time, it would have been practice to avoid being scared by the second one. If you’re reading this blog and you will be taking the tour, remember: JUMP IN THE FIRST NATURAL POOL, as it’s an easy test for what’s coming.
When the time came to jump into the second pool, I was afraid and I couldn’t do it on my first try. Then, I remembered what the guide had said and I jumped, which was a liberating moment; it didn’t matter that I couldn’t swim as one of the guides was waiting to help us out of the cold water, and I made it out alive.
The adrenaline I felt in Spider Monkey Canyon was incredible, and I loved the extremely adventurous person I was becoming. Just when you think the tour is becoming less intense, the opposite happens, so get ready.
When everyone had jumped into the natural pools, it was time to cross a Tibetan bridge where we thought the adventure would end, but we were wrong. We were about to go ziplining, so they connected us to a pulley that safely connects to a steel wire, allowing us to literally fly across the forest. The shouts of joy and adrenaline rang out every time a group member went across.
La Fortuna’s most extreme adventure tour ended with a relaxing walk along the Arenal River canyon that flows towards the tour’s exit point. We were then offered drinks and fresh fruit, and we laughed as we looked at the tour photos.
One question everyone asks before going on a tour is: will it be worth it? I assure you that it is 100% worth it. The quality of service provided by the Mistico Park guides is excellent, just like the safety measures that are taken, and the tour’s layout that increases adrenaline and leaves you with unique memories.
Going canyoneering in La Fortuna was an excellent idea, and an experience that every global citizen should have. My name is Vanessa Martinez and I hope to go back to La Fortuna soon to experience new adventures.
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