The best canyoning in Costa Rica is the Lost Canyon with Desafio Adventure Company.


Canyoning in Costa Rica: The Perspective of a Canyoning Professional

by Eliomar Campos Vargas, Desafio Canyon Leader

The other day, Christine asked me to write a super-detailed description of our Lost Canyon Adventures Canyoning tour - she said:

"Please give me your perspective of the Lost Canyon that explains every single step... tell me everything you enjoy about the canyon... and tell me what clients love the most about going canoyning in the Lost Canyon..."

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 it especially because my team and I have invented a lot of fun, new things for clients to do while they are canyoning with us near the Arenal Volcano.

Eliomar rappelling in the Lost Canyon.


The 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 clients questions Sometimes our clients are a little nervous and pretty excited about the tour, so we explain:

* How long is the Lost Canyon canyoning tour? The Lost Canyon tour is about 4 hours in total, but that includes the transport time, gearing up and lunch. We are actually inside the canyon about 1.5 to 2 hours, which is the perfect amount of time.

* How long it takes to get to the Lost Canyon Ops Center?  It takes about 30 minutes to get from the center of La Fortuna to our Canyon Operations Center.

* How high are the waterfall rappels? We have the highest waterfall rappels of any commercial site in Costa Rica. Our amazing waterfalls are all over 50-meters or about 150 feet high each.

* What are the logistics of the Lost Canyon Adventures tour?: We change from the mini-van to our famous Desafío 4x4 "Jungle Limos” that bring you to where you get your gear. There are lockers and changing rooms for your convenience. We then head into the canyon and descend down the canyon for about 2 hours, after the tour, we head back up to the Lost Canyon Ops Center to us the showers and changing rooms

* Where we will eat after the tour?: Our lunch is at our new riverside restaurant Hunters & Gatherers. We offer you our Warrior Buffet which is a tropical, all-you-can-eat smorgasbord of locally-sourced, delicious Costa Rican cuisine. 

* What kind of food will be served at Hunters and Gatherers?: It's home-made, fresh, all-you-can-eat, traditional Costa Rican food - perfect for Vegetarians and those looking for Gluten Free options!


Arriving to the Lost Canyon Ops Center in the Jungle Limos.

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 Desafio'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.

So, the following are my tips on canyoning in the Lost Canyon in Costa Rica.

A group geared up and ready to enter the Lost Canyon
This is how the canyoning trip will unfold: we start with our smallest rappel called “the baby” which gives you the opportunity toget a feel for your equipment and learn how to slow down, stop and use 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”. This 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)

David, one of our Canyoning Guides showing off his Costa Rica pride during his rappel.

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 canyoning tour is not just about rappelling - it's a jungle obstacle course. We need to use our whole body to climb our way through the canyon. 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! 

Jumping in to a freshwater pool in the Lost Canyon.

After a couple more surprises and another smaller rappel, you'll reach 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. 


Starting the descent down a rushing waterfall in the Lost Canyon.

Once we finish the last rappel, we will walk about 25 minutes to get out of the canyon.  Don't rush during your hike back up; relax and enjoy the challenge of this steep hike and the surrounding jungle.

When we reach the Canyon House we will give you a towel, a plastic bag to put your wet clothes in and opportunity to use our showers and change your clothes.

Once you've "freshened up," you've probably worked up quite an appetite. You'll appreciate a quick fruit snack with nice hot coffee or hot chocolate. The Desafio Canyon team will show you the photos they took of you during your tour and you'll have a chance to purchase them and show off to your friends and family.

Having lunch after the Lost Canyon

We then head back down the mountain on a Desafio Jungle Limo 4x4 to the Hunters & Gatherers restaurant next to the El Salto waterfall swimming hole. 

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 drop you off. This is where you say "good-bye" to the rest of the guides!

Be sure to 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... we have also launched our new Gravity Falls, High-Intensity Canyoning Tour in the Arenal area - so once you've done the Lost Canyon, you will qualify to give our new Gravity Falls Waterfall Jumping canyoning a try!

I look forward to being your guide!



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