My feet were poised at the edge. My eyes staring past my toes to the ground 30 feet below. In front of me, my hands shakily gripped the ropes. David, beside me, started the countdown. 3 – 2 – 1! I told myself to jump forward, but my body froze in panic. It took a sturdy push from David to force myself over the edge and into the swing. A Tarzan swing to be specific. Something I didn’t really know what it was when I signed up for our Monteverde zip line tour with Original Canopy Tour. And that jump was just the beginning.
You see, there are 4 parts to the Original Canopy Tour: Tarzan Swing, Zip line, Rappel, & Hollow Tree Climb. And you start with the Tarzan Swing. To ease the nerves David told me. But watching Ryan swing first definitely didn’t relax me too much. Hence the needed push.
But by the time my toes touched down again, I was ready to get my zip line on.
Want to skip ahead and see how our zip line trip went? Check out our video below!
Okay, so after the Tarzan swing, we started on the zip lines. Original Canopy Tour’s platforms are small (very small sometimes) and are more in the canopy than above it. You’ll see this in the video above.
Some of the platforms are at the top of hillsides. But many others are attached to the trees themselves. Just little wooden platforms, a couple of feet wide, ringing a wide tree, suspended high up off the ground.
Now I was never worried about our safety. Our harnesses were put on the moment we left the office and stayed on till we got back. And once we started the tour they were always attached to the cables on the zip line or the tree.
And then, if I do say so myself, there were the super sexy helmets. Oh yea.
Ok confession time. I’m embarrassed to admit that on my very first zip line I didn’t make it all the way across. Nerves maybe? Regardless, I braked way too much and stalled 6 feet or so from the platform. And then started to go backwards. Our other guide, Gabriel, had to come out to get me and tow me back to the platform. Not my finest moment for sure.
I made up for it on the remaining zip lines by making sure to brake just enough so that I wouldn’t stall out again. (Or slam into Gabriel – my original fear.)
One thing I loved about our Monteverde zip line tour? That it was just the two of us. I’m not sure if this was due to the booking confusion (see below) or the time of day we choose (7:30am), but we were the only ones on our tour. Just us and the two guides.
Now the ziplines start off pretty easy and then get longer as you go. At least for the most part. And I grew more and more comfortable with the whole zipping through the trees thing (and you do go pretty fast on these lines).
But then it was time to climb the tree.
Actually first it was rappel down to the forest floor. Which was scary in itself, but it had nothing on the tree climb.
After we rappelled down (45 meters the guide estimated), we had to climb back up. The first third of the climb was easy (and pretty awesome).
It starts off inside of an old strangler fig that has been hollowed out. Using the gaps in the tree (and the ladder on the inside) I pulled myself up and through the old tree before emerging out onto a small platform.
Now the rest of the climb worried me. Climbing inside of tree – no problem! But outside on a thin, wobbly ladder? Ummmmmm…..
Cause you see the middle part of the climb is on a thin ladder that continues up the side of the tree to the platform above. But at least the ladder is firmly attached to the tree.
Cause for the last third it was not. The ladder continues straight up to the platform while the trunk of the tree bends slightly away. Which means the small ladder is just dangling there. In the air. Swaying in the breeze.
My hands shook as I climbed this part. I forced my eyes straight ahead. Not up. Not down. Straight ahead. I knew if I stopped I was a gonner. David above me yelled encouragement. And somehow with my slow pace (move one hand, then the other, now a foot, and the other foot) I finally made it to the top where I struggled to step up on the platform.
The whole ordeal lasted several minutes (at least for me). Ryan all but flew to the top and relaxed while I climbed at my tortoise-like pace. But by the time I finished I was exhausted – by the sheer climb itself and my panic.
But the tour wasn’t over yet. We had a few additional lines left – probably the best ones on the trip. Two crossed over a valley where you could see down to the Pacific.
But the best was the longest one on the tour – over 800 meters long. It was incredible to just lean back and fly through the canopy for almost a kilometer.
By the time it ended, I was ecstatic and my adrenaline was pounding. The Original Canopy Tour might not be the flashiest Monteverde zip line tour company, but I wouldn’t let that stop you. The Tarzan Swing, 14 platforms of zip lines, a rappel, and a tree climb were all included in the price. Not some extras tagged on at the end. And that was something I really liked.
How to Book with Original Canopy Tour
Long story short. Book through your accommodation once you reach Monteverde.
This goes against what I like to do for shorter trips, but trust me on this one. Book once you get there. Let me recount my misadventures in trying to book this zip line tour in advance.
First I looked online and discovered there are two websites for the Original Canopy Tour. One that covers all of their destinations (including Monteverde), and one that is just for Monteverde. I contacted the second one first and actually got a response. But when I immediately followed up the email with a question – it was radio silence.
Then I tried to contact them through the other website. Nothing. I tried this several times. Both through the sites and through the email I had received. Nada.
Finally we decided to just do it once we got there. I was a little worried since we already had plans for the evening, but decided to wing it. We asked our Lodge to make the reservation and they graciously called and scheduled our tour. The morning of our tour, we waited for our pickup.
Finally at like 7:10am (when they were supposed to arrive between 6:45am and 7am), our Lodge called Original Canopy Tour to ask when the shuttle was coming. And yep, it had “broken down” and wasn’t coming.
I found this a little suspicious. But whatever.
We hopped in our car and drove there. Now once we arrived, we paid and got ready to go. And that’s when we discovered that we were the only ones on the tour.
Now I’m not sure what was up with the whole booking thing, but I put that behind me once we started and we had a great time.
So be sure to book your tour once you arrive, and try to do so through your accommodation so that they can also call for you if the shuttle is running late (or is never coming).
Where is it? Here’s a google map to the location. On a side note, if you drive yourself, once you park backtrack down the drive a little and you’ll see the sign on the side of the driveway (the side leading uphill) pointing to a trail that leads to their office.
How long does it last? This really depends on the number of people. Our tour was less than 2 hours – but that’s also because it was just the two of us. And we went pretty fast, didn’t require too many breaks, and never got too afraid that we had to stop.
Fitness level. Sometimes there’s a bit of a hike from one platform to the next. And it always seemed like we were going uphill. Make sure you can walk for 5-10 minutes uphill through the forest. David and Gabriel let us take as many breaks as we needed, but it was definitely more hiking than I expected.
Price. We paid about $45/per person. And I liked that we paid this directly to the company itself and not through some other company in town.