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Friday, January 15, 2016

Tim of the Jungle...Watch Out For That Tree! (Accessible Zip Lining in Costa Rica)

Need to catch up? Read our previous Costa Rica posts...part 1, part 2, and part 3.

Our hotel is on the beach. This is a beach vacation. All our activities were supposed to take place on or near the ocean.

This was the task at hand when planning our trip and I was researching things we could do on the water.

Watch the Video!

While looking in vain for a boat that could take us on the ocean,  and maybe even go snorkeling, I came across a video on Youtube of a guy in a wheelchair zip lining in Costa Rica.

I knew my timid son would never go for that but, just for kicks, I went over to the living room.

"Hey Tim, guess what?"


"I found a video on Youtube that shows a guy in a wheelchair zip lining."

Before I could say anything more, the reply came back immediately "Sign me up!"

A few e-mails back and forth to Erick Zalaya, owner of Volcano Lake Adventures in La Fortuna, Costa Rica, and we'd set a date.

Twenty years ago, the three of us went to Maui and drove the road to Hana. Today, this three hour drive over mountains covered with thick jungles reminds of of that trip with its narrow roads and dozens of one-lane bridges.

Finally, we break through to see Lake Arenal.  Once across the dam, it's just a few more miles to the busy but little town of La Fortuna.

Volcano Lake Adventures is located off the lobby of the Hotel Central Lofts in the middle of town. The parking lot is being repaved today so I park around the corner and leave Letty and Tim in the car while I go check in.

I meet Erick and he tells me he'll call the zip line park. At first, it's 1:30 then it's a no-go. 

"They're booked."

"I though you booked us when I e-mailed you six weeks ago and confirmed it last week?"

"Let me call another place that does it, is there anything else you'd like to do if you can't go zip lining?"

"No, I emailed you six weeks ago before we flew the 3,000 miles here and drove the three hours this morning to get here. I thought we had an iron-clad reservation to go zip lining. That was the only thing it seemed we could do."

Luckily, his plan B came through and, with voucher in hand, we drove over to Ecoglide Adventure Park just outside of town.

We arrive at the office about a half hour before our new appointed time of 12:30. The guy in the office tells us it's 3:00. I tell him what Mr. Zalaya said.  

"My guys are out to lunch, you'll have to wait until they're through."

No problem, we brought a lunch and the gardens at Ecoglide are a pleasant place to have a picnic.

1:00, the tour guides show up. There's Armando, Eduardo, Alfredo and Warren. We make introductions and they proceed to gear-up my wife and I with all the safety equipment we would need. It is cinched up very tight all around, let's just say it's a good thing my child producing years are behind me or this would put a big crimp in that plan.

In a nearby clearing, there's a zip line strung up between two poles where we learn the pun intended...of zip lining.  We're shown how to regulate our speed with the thick, padded glove on one hand and how to hold on to the ropes on the other hand.  Once that's done, we take a test glide on the training line in the clearing.

Next, they put Tim into the front seat of a large, four wheel drive truck while the rest of us ride in the bed. We're driven up a rough, jungle road up to 2500 feet on the Arenal Volacano and hike the last couple of hundred feet up to the first platform.

And Tim? How does he get up here? Well, notice I said "handicapped accessible" not wheelchair accessible. One of the crew, Warren, is called "la mula" by his mates.  He's a big, strong man and carries Tim on his back, piggy back style, to the first platform. A plastic patio chair is brought along to set Tim on between platforms to give him and Warren a little break.

It's quite a bit of hooking up, clipping onto lines, and making sure we're ready. Warren is not only Tim's mule but his zip lining companion, too, and helps Tim fly through the trees with the greatest of ease.

Soon, him and Warren are a couple of lines ahead of us on this 12 line, approximately 2 miles course down the volcano.

Letty and I follow behind, on our own with no companions, and it's a glorious sight, skimming the treetops through the jungle, with miles of views across the Arenal valley.

About halfway through, we take a break and are given an opportunity to take a ride on the Tarzan Swing, which is kind of like a bungie jump but is instead a giant rope swing where you jump off a cliff and trust the the rope will hold and swing you high into the trees safely.

Of course I'm doing it. Scared the crap out of me, too.

Letty passes and, since he'd have to go on unaided, I advise that Tim take a pass on it too. Wisely and with rarity, he takes my advice.

The last few lines take us to a platform very high into a ceiba tree and on to another line that's half a kilometer long.

Finally, a rather tame last line takes us back to the visitor's center.

It's a blast and Tim has said this was his biggest highlight of the trip. It's a fantastic day that, unfortunately, does not leave us any time to do any other adventures while we're in the area.

It's a long, windy road back so we stop to get a couple of strong cups of Costa Rican coffee for the ride home.

Click on the links, above, if you'd like to take advantage of this very unique opportunity while you're in Costa Rica. You'll thank me later.

Ecoglide  -
Volcano Lake Adventures

Copyright 2016 - Darryl Musick
All Rights Reserved

Photos by Letty Musick - Copyriht 2016
All Rights Reserved

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