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Travel Costa Rica
By: Zdenko Kahlina
Don’t leave Costa Rica without visiting the Congo Trail!
Two things most people want to do the when they come to Costa Rica: Zip lining and play with monkeys. If they don’t get to see the monkeys, they at least want to do the zip lining.
I discovered Congo Canopy Trail location during my long bike rides in the area around Playa del Coco and Sardinal. They were more reasonably priced than the zip line at Papagayo and once I heard they had a nature area with monkeys – I was sold. I never zip lined before, but the ladies in my group were very interested for this type of vacation activity. As it turns out it would be their first time too, so it was one of the best thrills ever! I had firmly decided I would only go along for the ride – and to see the monkeys – because I have a pretty strong fear of heights. The girls wanted to enjoy the day of flying, down the suspended cables and high above the trees in surrounding jungle. The cost was $35 per person for first, easier part of the tour, or $50 in total for additional 10 lines, including the new ‘Tarzan swing’ at the end.
Location: Artola village
This ‘Congo Trail’ canopy is located in a little town named Artola, in a tropical dry forest surrounded by tall trees, very close to the beaches of Playa del Coco and Ocotal. We had a car so we went on our own, instead of with a van tour from Ocotal. It was only about 30 minutes’ drive (about 20 km) to the site. On our way from Ocotal, we drove by several big billboards on the side of the road giving us directions to ‘Congo Trail’. From Playa del Coco we took the road connecting Playa del Coco and Sardinal (road #151). Just before Sardinal, we made a right turn towards RIU resort. This was recently paved, very nice road (road #911) with little traffic, which connects Sardinal and RIU resort just south of Playa del Coco. About 8 kilometers on this road and we were in small Artola village, where a sign was pointing to ‘Congo Trail’ on our left. From here it was only 1 kilometer of gravel road to the actual site. Before getting to the ‘Congo Trail’ site, you have to choose between the roads on your left which goes across the river bed or road on your right that uses a bridge to cross the river. We crossed the river by the bridge.
Our Ocotal host Calin tipped us off beforehand that the tour groups usually come through in the early mornings during the week, or late afternoon on Saturdays and Sundays. So we went on Tuesday a bit later, around 10AM and there was hardly anyone there, so we didn’t have to wait long between lines.
This is highly recommended activity for anyone staying in Coco, as it’s really close and extremely fun. After less than one hour driving from Ocotal beach, we arrived at the site, where a tropical – dry forest and its’ high trees surround the area. Once we got there, we just paid our dues at the front desk and were ready to go. Our tour guides were Louis, Kevin and Dan. After a short hike from the main house on the property, the guides brought us to the first platform, where we received all required equipment and they had a short safety session, before we were ready to start flying down the suspended cables.
I watched this from the ground, because of my fear of heights!!!
So, I didn’t do the Zip lining, but I watched my ladies from the ground! This was possible, because the lines are in the trees above the river bed which was dry! The lines are fairly long, high in the trees and the whole operation feels very safe.
The guides were great, it was easy to communicate with them and a photographer went along with us to capture the fun with over 70 pictures and 10 videos loaded onto a DVD for approximately $10 per person. Our guides were constantly spotting wildlife that was hard to see. They were also really knowledgeable about the vegetation. If you are lucky, even the Howler Monkeys will be your company during a part of the canopy. But we weren’t lucky this time and did not see the monkeys!
The Congo Canopy Trail has just put in a brand new Tarzan swing, which was tested by my friends and it was SO much fun! I have watched them from the ground bellow and the swing is huge!! They actually pull you up very high instead of you climbing a ladder. When they release you it is scary!! I have seen everyone’s’ faces freeze out of fear during that first initial swing. Last tip, if the guides try to get you do something crazy on the line, do it. There is one long line where they went upside down and did the Superman. The Superman position is a little awkward, but you get over that quickly, as you fly over the forest. That was lots of fun! I’m sure the guides enjoyed it!!
What a rush!!
Definitely an experience to remember!! My friends had such a great time Zip-lining at The Congo Trail Canopy Tours! The experts who helped our group – riding the lines before and after us, and helping us on and off of the hooks – were absolutely amazing! They were very reassuring to those who were a bit hesitant, very accommodating, and had great senses of humor!
I wasn’t expecting the guy to let go so fast so you can hear some people scream quite a bit in the video. It was awesome though! The adventure tour is the best and highly recommended for someone looking for a bit more thrill and adrenaline. There were three long cables of flying superman through the forest, a free fall (very interesting) and then the Tarzan swing at the end.
Visiting the zoo at the end
This was a truly exhilarating and exciting experience that lasted more than two hours. The guides were great, very experienced and friendly. My friends all felt very safe. It was a hot day but there are water stations periodically.
After we finished the course, we walked through the little nature area they have behind the souvenir shop and actually got to go inside the cage with the capuchin and spider monkeys who climbed all over the girls. It was such a thrill that I highly recommend it if you are comfortable with it, but not if you’re the least bit afraid. To get into the animal zoo, there is an extra fee of $5 per person. They also have some turtles, birds, more snakes and iguanas but you can’t hold those ones. You can’t hold the monkeys anymore either. There is one lonely black bull around the zoo area tight up for a tree.
There is a really nice gift shop onsite where you can buy everything from typical souvenirs to beautiful wood carved bowls and other higher quality merchandise. Lots of variety at very reasonable prices…
The place was clean & well kept. I don’t doubt that there are more extreme zip lines in the country, but this was perfect for the bunch of Rookies like us. Thanks for a great time we had that day.
Come and get your adrenalin pumping and enjoy the beauty of the forest and wildlife. You can find the Congo Trail Canopy on Facebook!
So, Hasta Luego until next time, mi amigos!!
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