by Shannon Farley
What worry me most are not the huge bullet ants, as big as my little finger, crawling all over the trees. Although if one were to bite me, that would indeed be a worry. What worries me is that there is nearly no sound as I fly through the tree canopy, so I can’t tell how fast I am going. Really fast, as it turns out.
I was trying out the Original Canopy Tour in Costa Rica at Veragua Rainforest Eco-Adventure Park in the Caribbean mountains. I have been on a lot of zip line tours in Costa Rica. Some of them really scary; most of them adrenaline-inducing. But this silent “stealth” canopy tour is the most unusual one yet.
Your average canopy tour in Costa Rica uses metal cables and a metal pulley system. When you’re zipping down the cable between platforms, the friction of the metal pulley on the metal cables produces a high-pitched whine. The faster you go, the higher the pitch of the sound. So, more or less, after the first few cables you’ve zipped on, you know by the sound if you’re moving at a moderate pace or at lightning speed.
At Veragua Rainforest, the Original Canopy Tour uses a new system of innovative carbon fiber zip lines, which makes the cables quieter, more resistant and environmentally friendly. The point being to glide silently through the rainforest canopy – apart from screaming tourists – so that metal zipping sound does not disturb monkeys, sloths, birds, and all of the rest of the animal life living in the rainforest.
Conservation, education, reforestation and safety are the hallmarks of the Original Canopy Tour founders, Darren Hreniuk and Rick Graham. The canopy tour at Veragua Rainforest is built to rigid safety standards, and uses a double zip line system, where you are connected to two cables at the same time for greater safety. No nails are used in the trees to construct the suspended platforms, which can be moved and adjusted as the tree grows.
The first cable of Veragua’s “stealth” canopy tour is not that long, but without the familiar metal whine, I didn’t know how fast I was going until I saw one of the guides rapidly signaling me to brake and slow down. I was “coming in hot”, as they say in the military. Not to worry, though, since they have a system to help stop you if you don’t brake well enough. By the middle of the tour on the longer and faster cables, it was a joy to fly soundlessly through the treetops … and I now knew how to brake.
The Original Canopy Tour in Costa Rica at Veragua Rainforest consists of 11 zip line cables, of varying heights and distances. The views are spectacular of La Amistad International Park, the Chirripó Reserve and Costa Rican rainforest as far as you can see. Safety is a priority, and all guests are outfitted with proper safety equipment and provided with thorough instruction.
The Original Canopy Tour is a separate tour from the regular Veragua Rainforest Eco-Adventure entrance fee.