Canyoning in Costa Rica: The wildest, craziest, most adventurous thing I've done!
by Tui Frye, Events & Incentives
My first time canyoning came somewhat unexpectedly. I actually had it scheduled earlier in the week, but had to postpone as I was planning on going with my hubby and he hurt his arm.
I then got the opportunity to go solo at the last minute. Fortunately with short notice I had no real time to think about it -- or talk myself out of going! Living in Costa Rica for the past 10 years I think I am a pretty adventurous person, we spend a lot of time in the outdoors, in and around rivers and playing in the waves at the beach. Canyoning in Costa Rica however turned out to be the wildest, craziest, most extreme Costa Rica tour I have ever done!
We left downtown Fortuna around 7:30 am and after a short van ride through the Costa Rican countryside we met up with the “Jungle Limos" (cool Toyota Land Cruisers with bench seats) that would take us the rest of the way to the canyon house. In my group that day was a family of five – parents traveling with their adult children from Central Florida and a super cute engaged couple from Massachusetts. Once we reached the Desafio Canyon House, the guides then fitted us each with a rappelling harness, a helmet, and gloves.
Then we climbed back into our Limos and drove up, up, up. We then were given basic instructions and walked down a little unassuming path and down to a cute little river. I couldn't see much from where I was, but I knew that people ahead of me were all getting connected to ropes and then quickly disappearing from view and the adventure was beginning!
I have to admit that I wasn't sure if I would be able to do it. I am not what most people consider a thrill-seeker. I am a 39 year old mom. I hike and do yoga a few times a month and I am not an athlete - by any stretch of the imagination. The truth is adrenaline took over and I was just fine!
The day I went, the tour was full and I was at the back of the pack. I am not sure if this was a curse or a blessing as I was able to witness many others go ahead of me and do a fine job – admittedly some better than others. That gave me lots of confidence! However I also witnessed two people who lost their nerve and had to turn around and go back after the first waterfall. If this experience was anything – it was real. There are no simulated rocks here.
Having never rappelled before I have to admit that I was
pretty nervous. Fortunately, group-mentality soon set in and I found myself
slowly stepping backwards over the first canyoning waterfall rappel. It took me a few moments to
really get my balance and figure out what I was doing. I let my line go out too
much in my first few attempts and ended up arching too far back, but the guides
quickly corrected me and had me back on track. As I finished the first rappel,
my confidence flew and I was eager to check out the next one.
I think the biggest surprise to me was what we did in between rappelling Costa Rica waterfalls. Looking back I feel pretty silly that it had never occurred to me exactly what “canyoning" was. Duh. You see all of the pictures of all of the waterfalls you get to climb down and experience, but what never occurred to me is how you got from waterfall to waterfall. I guess I just expected that we would walk along a trail that led us along the river and to each waterfall and platform.
In fact what we did was walk down the actual river (and canyon) to get to each waterfall. The rappelling I was expecting as I had seen the many photos and it didn't surprise me. What did surprise me was HOW we reached each one. It took quite a bit of focus and concentration to watch where you were stepping.
That part was for me much more intense and adventurous that I had ever thought it would be! I think that also gave me so much more of a sense of accomplishment. And walking in the river? I can't recall a recent time feeling so completely immersed in nature. It is so over-the-top adventurous - and you know that while you are doing it.
The second waterfall was my favorite and though much longer than the first, but I thought it was much easier. It was probably due to the increase in confidence - and maybe in part - the increase in adrenaline. Either way, this was the waterfall where I really feel that I got the hang of “rappelling".
We then continued down the river in what I can only describe as the absolute middle of the jungle. (Even for me - and I live here!) It was like in the movies – or like in the reality survival shows my hubby loves to watch. It was all so much to take in! As the river twisted and turned, we followed her and had some wonderful surprises along the way. There were deep pools, and places to jump and splash. We continued down to the Big Daddy – a 220 foot waterfall. It was amazing! And SO. MUCH. FUN.
It was total sensory overload and I tried to really stop along the way and take in what I was doing and experiencing in that moment. I had to shake my head at the fact that such an amazing, once-in-a-lifetime experience has been made so accessible to so many people. This is the kind of thing that the hero in your favorite action movie does. Or Bear Grylls. Not a 39 year old mom. Not me. Life is really crazy sometimes...
*Note – I am not going to lie, I was sore for a few days after this. But every time I thought about why I was sore, a big smile came across my face and I had to look again at the pictures of what I did. It made me proud of myself and made me feel pretty awesome!
If you are wondering who took all of these pictures for me to remind myself of how amazing I am and prove to the world that I did it, Desafio has professionals on site to snap these incredible moments. All participants are offered the opportunity to share their adventures with friends and family. Pretty cool – huh?
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