Canyoning in La Fortuna: The Spider Monkey Canyon Experience

When I first arrived in Costa Rica, I realized this place was rich not only in biodiversity but also in adventure. Just a few hours after my plane landed, I was already on my way to one of Costa Rica’s most popular destinations: Puntarenas. Here I had the chance to walk the streets, taste the local food, meet people, and contemplate the huge red and white lighthouse–a true seaside attraction.

And yet, the most exciting thing came on my second day. I was going to go canyoning for the first time ever, in La Fortuna, San Carlos, the ideal destination for nature lovers and adrenaline junkies. I discovered this is absolutely true. Anyone looking for adrenaline finds it here. Anyone coming with fear of heights–such as myself–overcomes it.

My canyoning tour in La Fortuna took place in a natural paradise: Mistico Park, a natural park consisting of 650 hectares, 250 of which are under reserve protection of the Tropical Rainforest. It has a privileged location, facing the majestic Arenal Volcano. Although I didn’t get to see its main feature (its perfectly shaped cone), I was left speechless by its colossal beauty. Here is where the canyoning adventure in La Fortuna begins. Once I had lunch with my group at the park’s restaurant facing the volcano, the most exciting part was next: Mistico Park’s canyoning tour called Spider Monkey Canyon. A shuttle took us to the spot where guides welcomed us in high spirits–an accurate foreshadowing of what was to come. Everyone in the group was feeling super excited; we couldn’t wait to get started.

Before the tour began, we were instructed on equipment use and safety measures. The guides addressed all our concerns patiently–which were many–, both before and during the trip. When you’re descending, the adrenaline makes you forget how to position your body correctly, how to use your hands, whether you can handle the ropes...

Before we got started, we were happy to hear we were going to have pictures taken throughout the tour. We had to keep that in mind and always face the camera so that they wouldn’t catch us making a weird face or pose. Of course this happened to more than one of us–including me. Let me show you (it’s ok to laugh).

Spider Monkey Canyoning Tour.

Spider Monkey Canyoning Tour.

After the instructions it was time for our first stop. “This is it,” I thought. It was my turn to rappel down several meters. And for someone who’s afraid of heights like myself, several meters felt more like a skyscraper. Luckily, my group and guides cheered me on, and that gave me the courage to descend.

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A phrase from one of the guides that stuck with me was: “Don’t be afraid. Just try to enjoy it.” This made all the difference. While I was descending I looked up to see the tree tops: It was truly amazing to see such exuberant nature all around me, to hear the animals, and feel the crystal clear water flowing down the canyon. In this magical moment I realized that this is what visiting Costa Rica is all about. What I had previously seen in videos paled in comparison to what I was living–everything went above and beyond my expectations.

What I found most thrilling about canyoning in La Fortuna was that it entails a combination of activities. After rappelling down, we continued to lower as the thrill went up.

Once on the ground, we crossed rivers to arrive to a great adventure: rappelling down rocky walls among waterfalls and with infinite vegetation around. No one would argue we were breathing the purest air in the world.

Read also: What we offer at Mistico Park

The waterfalls concealed surprises none of us saw coming, like jumping into ponds. Again, I am afraid of heights–and also, I can’t swim! As you would expect, I did not find the idea of jumping exciting at all. Although I wasn’t fearing the height itself, I was afraid of falling in the water. So I skipped the first jump and walked down the rocks.

I regretted this, though, when I discovered the next jump was much higher and the pond much deeper. Jumping into the first pond would’ve been great practice. So, if you’re reading this thinking about taking the tour, please: DON’T SKIP THE FIRST JUMP! It is actually practice for the following pond.

So it’s now my turn to jump into the second pond. I was terrified and failed on my first try. Then the guide’s phrase popped into my head and I went for it. It was a liberating moment. It didn’t matter that I couldn’t swim, as one of the guides was waiting in the water to help us out. Indeed, I made it out alive.

The adrenaline you feel in the Spider Monkey Canyon tour is unbelievable. I was loving how extremely adventurous I was becoming. Just when you think the tour can’t get any more intense, it actually does. So be ready.

Rappelling down a waterfall.

Rappelling down a waterfall.

Once everyone had jumped, we headed to a Tibetan bridge. We thought the adventure was coming to an end, but it sure wasn’t. We still had ziplining left. For that, we were safely hooked to a pulley connected to a steel cable, and that is how we were able to–literally–fly through the forest. Screams of joy and excitement were inevitable before each of our turns.

The most extreme adventure tour in La Fortuna ended with a gentle walk along the Arenal river canyon, followed by beverages, fresh fruit, and laughing after seeing the pictures taken during the trip.

Something that everybody asks themselves before taking the tour is: Is it really worth it? Let me assure you it is 100% worth it. The quality service provided by the Mistico Park guides is impeccable, as are the safety measures and tour planning, which ensures increasing adrenaline and creating memories.

Canyoning in La Fortuna was a genius idea. An experience every global citizen must check off their list. My name is Vanessa Martínez. I hope to come back to La Fortuna for new adventures.

Discover in Mistico Park the exotic scenery in the Arenal river canyon!