Canyoning in Costa Rica: The Perspective of a Professional Canyoneer
by Eliomar Durán Vargas, Canyon Leader for Desafío Adventure Company
Lost Canyon Adventures Canyoning: A Multi-Sport Tour with Rappelling, Guided Zip Line Rappels, Down Climbing, Jumping and Hiking -- The Lost Canyon has it all!
The other day, Christine and Suresh, the owners of Desafio, asked me to write a super-detailed description of our Costa Rica Canyoning tour at our Lost Canyon - they said "please give us your perspective of the Lost Canyon Canyoning near Arenal Costa Rica that explains every single step... everything you enjoy about the canyon and about doing canyoning in Costa Rica... everything you know clients have fun doing in the Lost Canyon... don't miss a beat!"
I am the Canyon Leader for Desafío Adventure Company and I am pretty sure I could do the Lost Canyon with my eyes closed because I have been guiding the canyon for more than 5 years. I knew it would be easy for me to write about my canyoning experience especially because my team and I have invented a lot of fun, new things for clients to do while they are with us canyoning near the Arenal Volcano.
For me, any canyoning trip in Costa Rica is considered an #EnviableExperience. But let me tell you about the Lost Canyon.
This Costa Rica canyoning trip starts off by having one of the entertaining bus guides from my team picking up clients at their hotels. Along the way, he explains the dynamics of the tour and answering client questions. Sometimes our clients are a little nervous and pretty excited about the tour, and ask questions about canyoning in Costa Rica:
Q: How long is the Lost Canyon canyoning tour in Arenal Costa Rica?
A: About 4 hours including transport, gearing up, time in the canyon and lunch.
Q: How long does it take to get to the Lost Canyon Base Camp from La Fortuna?
A: About 30 minutes. We travel up the side of the mountain in our cool "Jungle Limos!"
Q: How high are the canyoning waterfall rappels?
A: We have the highest rappels of any commercial canyoning site in Costa Rica. Two of our Costa Rica waterfalls in the Lost Canyon are over 50-meters or 150 ft high each.
Q: What are the general logistics of the Lost Canyon Canyoning tour?
A: After we pick you up at your hotel and then change from the minivan to our famous Desafío "Jungle Limos" for a fun 15 minute ride up the side of the mountain. Then we get our gear at our Lost Canyon Ops Center (we call it our Canyon House) and head into the Lost Canyon. The tour takes about 2 hours and then after the tour, we end up hiking back up to the Lost Canyon Ops Center that has showers and changing rooms.
Q: Where will we eat and what kind of food is served? What if I have special dietary needs?
A: You'll have a delicious homecooked meal called the "Warrior's Buffet" back at the Lost Canyon Ops Center. It's home-made, fresh, all-you-can-eat, traditional Costa Rican food - perfect for Vegetarians and those looking for Gluten Free options!
So... Once customers get to the Lost Canyon Ops Center, the guide directs tourists to the locker room area where clients can leave personal belongings, get to know the rest of the guide team and use the restrooms. We then proceed to get clients geared up in high-quality equipment: helmets, carabiners, harnesses, and Figure 8s.
When the group is ready, we jump back on the Jungle Limos again to reach the top of the mountain, where the tour begins.
Once on top of the mountain, your instructor will discuss Deafio's two most important rules: 1) Be Safe! and 2) Have Serious Fun!
Our canyoning team has added another rule: 3) GET WET!
They will explain step-by-step, the how-to of canyoning and take a photo of you and your canyon crew getting psyched up for your adventure.
Here is how your Costa Rica canyoning trip will unfold: we start with our smallest rappel of about 25 feet - you will be assisted by two guides - one at the top to help you ease your way down the rappel and one at the bottom doing the belay (holding the "brake" rope.)
This first rappel called "The Baby" gives you the opportunity to get a feel for your equipment and learn how to slow and stop and proper foot positioning, etc
You'll feel a bit of an adrenaline rush once you finish that first easy rappel and then we walk about 5 minutes to finally arrive at the second rappel we call "The Big Boy" waterfall in the Lost Canyon.
This second rappel is about 150-feet high and is combined with a technique called a guided or assisted abseil (a diagonal rappel that zips you down 30-50 meters away from the base of the waterfall.)
This waterfall rappel is divided into 2 sections: First, rappel half-way down the waterfall wall and then let go of the ropes and zip down to the bottom of the canyon. People love this exhilarating drop.
This Arenal canyoning tour is not just rappelling down waterfalls, it is a full-body workout. You will need to use your whole body to climb your way through the canyon.
After each rappel we get to walk through this jungle obstacle course and use our entire body to help us through. There are large rocks, small waterfalls, and pools of water, all surrounded by pristine rainforest.
One of the best parts is the trail is called "The Matrix," a two meter drop into a pool of fresh crystalline water. If you are not wet already...prepare to get wet here!
We then reach Surprise #2: our famous "Tsunami!" I won't go into too much detail - you'll have to experience this fun water feature for yourself!
Get ready for another 3 minute-walk or so to reach the third rappel which is about 22 feet high called the "Big Mama" waterfall.
After finishing the third rappel, we walk again through the canyon for a few more minutes taking in the incredible natural surroundings before finally arriving at fourth and final rappel called the "Big Daddy."
This is the highest waterfall of about 220 feet in height. This rappel will also combine rappelling the rock wall in the waterfall for about 20 feet and then finish off with the guided-rappel zipline -- tourists will be zipping through the air for most of the descent and have the opportunity to have a panoramic view of the canyon and the waterfall.
You've made it!
Once we finish the last rappel, we will walk about 25 minutes to make our way out of the canyon. Don't rush during your hike back up; relax and enjoy the challenge of this pretty steep hike and take in the beauty of the surrounding jungle.
When we reach our Canyon House, we will give you a towel, a plastic bag to put your wet clothes in and opportunity to use the rustic outdoor showers and change your clothes.
Once you've freshened up, you've probably worked up quite an appetite. You'll appreciate our Warrior Buffet, an all-you-can-eat natural, home-cooked meal! During your meal, the Canyon Paparrazzi team will show you the photos they took of you during your tour and you'll have a chance to purchase photos to show everyone back home.
Finally when you are done eating, and you're ready to go back to your hotel, be sure to grab all of your belongings and a guide will drop you off. This is where you say "good-bye" to the rest of the guides!
You descend down the side of the mountain on our Jungle Limos and then change to our minivan with FREE WiFi so you can immediately share your #EnviableExperience with your friends and family back home on your favorite social media (don't forget to #DesafioCR!!)
And speaking of more Desafío Adventures... after you've done the Lost Canyon, next time you will have to try our new Gravity Falls Waterfall Jumping Canyoning Tour in the Arenal area - Gravity Falls is Costa Rica's MOST Extreme tour!
I look forward to being your guide!
Eliomar rappelling in the Lost Canyon.
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