Treetop tours offer an eco-adventure

Rincon de la Vieja is one of Costa Rica’s many beautiful national parks. It offers visitors breathtaking nature and an adventure you simply won’t find at home.  Rincon is located about 25 kilometres north of Liberia, a city served by frequent charter flights from Canada. The park has miles of hiking trails, an active volcano, and tours of the canopy (as in top of the rainforest).

The park is also about a one-hour drive from the popular beach towns on Costa Rica’s west coast, so a day trip is feasible. But Rincon is definitely worth a couple of days if you have the time. The adventure begins as you turn off the highway onto the road into the park.  A 4-wheel drive vehicle is an absolute must, as the road quickly becomes a trail. Just as you approach the park, a gate blocks the road, and a local landowner emerges from his house to collect an inexpensive toll before you can pass.

This is where the road gets really rough, and you see why it would be virtually impossible for a conventional car to make the grade. You pass a working ranch which also serves as a guest lodge. As it was full, I continued on into the park to discover Rincon de la Vieja Mounta Lodge.

Built as a hacienda for a wealthy landowner in the 19th century, the lodge offers a beautiful setting, rustic (but well-appointed) rooms and cabins, very friendly staff, and excellent food. It also serves as a great point for hikes and horseback riding in the park, as well as the fabled canopy tours.

Guests are outfitted with a rock climbing harness and heavy leather gloves, and transported by van into the rain forest. From there, your group of about 6 people is lead up to a platform built into the top of a tall tree–about 25 metres or 75 feet. From here, you can see that there is a network of platforms running through the rainforest’s canopy.
After a very stern safety lecture, your guide hooks your safety line to the steel cable running about 25 metres to the next platform, and you’re off, flying through the air in the middle of a rainforest. Once you land at the next platform, a guide immediately attaches your safety line.

The canopy tours are a very exciting (and safe) adventure that give you a whole new outlook on the rainforest. As you move through the platforms (there are about 10 at Rincon),the guides deliver thoughtful information on the rainforest and the research into medicinal plants that spawned the platforms and canopy tours.  Our guides told us that they have never had an accident in more than 10 years of operation. Their oldest canopy tour adventurer was an 87-year-old woman.

If you’re seeking a good dose of excitement, don’t have an inordinate fear of heights, and are in reasonable physical condition, a canopy tour is a safe bet.

There are several operations in Costa Rica.