Anyone for a Canopy Tour in Costa Rica for Christmas?
If a canopy tour conjures up the image of something sedate or even coy, think again. It involves soaring through the rainforest high above the forest floor, Tarzan style, but strapped into a harness hooked onto a zip line, or cable and pulley. It’s the ultimate in sightseeing which, actually, could be re-named ‘height’ seeing, as it gets its name from the fact that you are ‘touring’ above, not below, the forest’s canopy of trees.
Featured on a BBC list of five wild ways to spend the December holiday season, it certainly involves an adrenalin rush. The reward is that you can view jungle life from a different perspective, albeit it rather fleetingly.
The idea of zip lines was developed by US scientists, who wanted to study trees without touching the plant, animal and insect life on the limbs and trunks. It has now become an exciting way to explore the unique habitat of the rainforests without disturbing the wildlife or endangering the trees.
More than a quarter of Costa Rica is covered by rainforests and there are now around 80 zip lines throughout the country. Most of Costa Rica’s national parks have canopy tour operators, with many of their head offices or branches based in the capital San Jose. You’ll still find many in Santa Elena and the neighbouring Quaker settlement of Monteverde.
There are a number of skywalks throughout Costa Rica’s forests that have bridges strung across a valley from where you can walk above the canopy of trees for an aerial view of the forest below. However, the most popular form of canopy touring is the kind where platforms are built into the strongest trees and a zip line is strung in between them.
Now is the best time to go as the rainforest is at its driest at this time of year.