Day Adventure: Zip lines, Rappelling and Tubing
It's not where you go… it's the zip lines you take to get there. No trip to Arenal is complete without a fast-paced, high thrill adventure. Here's an itinerary for a half-day adrenaline fix in Arenal: Ride eight ziplines, rappel down a cliff and tube through class II and III rapids.
There were 13 of us total, a hodgepodge of families and couples on vacation from the U.S. and Canada, plus our two guides. Together we stared at a single steel cable that ran through our outlook beside the Arenal river valley; out the side and down the mountain. Harnessed to the cable, our guide Christian explained how to brake and hold our legs.
We took turns sliding down the first cable; a leisurely ride for first-timers getting comfortable with the sport. The next series of eight cables zigzagged down the mountainside. We moved at a relaxed pace taking in the views of the rainforest and the valley from each of the 10 platforms. The third cable was the longest, a 1,500 foot ride over the tops of trees along the side of the mountain with views of the Arenal river. On the last cable, Christian, hooked himself to one of the other guests and she flew, superman-style, over the valley.
The end of the last zip brought us to a cliff above the river. Our next challenge: A 130-foot vertical descent down to the river. We took off our braking gloves and traded them in for garden gloves (to protect from rope burn). Next we hooked into the rappelling tower that hung over the cliff side and dropped below. Each one of us tried it with a different technique. I preferred long jumps pushing off the cliff side. Each jump, I released the tension on the brake line with my right hand and slowly curled my fingers back around it; swinging back toward the wall.
Landing beside the river, it was time for the next leg of the journey. While the others left for horseback riding, Christian and I prepared for tubing.
The river was cool and the current swift. The sun shined down through the valley between the trees and glittered over the water surface. Just as I was getting used to the idea of calmly floating down river, I hit the first set of rapids.
Like the lazy river from hell, I bounced off boulders and spun in the frothing, undulating whitewater. I felt like a pinball, bouncing between flippers and bumpers racking up points for staying inside my tube. The excitement of the rapids was equally matched by the beauty of the surroundings; crystal clear spring water flowing underneath gargantuan rainforest trees, green moss rock walls and the occasional cascades flowing into the Arenal river.
After getting out of the river and back to my hotel, I couldn't wait to wrap my hands around another cup of coffee – or maybe just take a nap.