What to Expect: Waterfall Rappelling – Gently Adventurous
Waterfall Rappelling in La Fortuna Arenal
What to expect: expect to get wet
What to wear: quick-dry shirts and shorts that cover your hips and thighs to protect from the harness, trekking shoes.
Necessary physical condition: medium. There’s some hiking and some minimal agility required. If you can handle the light hike, you can most likely handle the rappel.
Necessary athletic ability: you will be more comfortable if you know how to swim, but if you don’t, guides are there to keep you alive.
What will happen: swing through waterfalls, free rappel off of bridges, rappel off cliff faces, rappel under and through waterfalls
Where rappelling happens: some of the most beautiful parts of rivers and in some amazing waterfalls
Rappelling, a.k.a. canyoning, is a really cool adventure activity, and if you haven’t done it yet, you should really give it a try! If the height-thing freaks you out then maybe don’t start with a 100-foot midair rappel off a bridge, ok—although those are around too if that’s what you’re into. But there are plenty of tamer options that allow you to really enjoy the activity without pushing your cool.
You show up, get transported to the actual rappelling spot, sign your waiver, and get strapped into your harness. They give you a helmet and leather gloves. Everything might still be wet from the last round but no worries—you’ll be wet soon enough. Then you traipse through the jungle clanking carabiners and gear, which makes you feel all rugged and outdoorsy and is pretty cool in itself.
Soon you arrive at your rappelling destination! You’re given a quick demo then asked “who first?” But it’s an easy ride, so feel free to jump right in. They strap you in and get your ropes all connected in amazingly complex yet simple carabiner-rope riggings.
The rappelling itself is so much easier even than it looks, which you can’t say about a lot of things. In rappelling, you have to participate a little more than you do ziplining, if you’ve ever done that, but not a lot more than that. Basically holding your rope, you angle your dominant hand behind and under your booty and sit back. When you want to move down the rope, you release your grip on the rope with that dominant hand. Release a little and move a little. Release a lot… you get it. Inch your way down if you like, or go faster like they do in the movies. Kick off the cliff faces so you don’t slam into the rocks. Get to the bottom of the rope, free-fall a couple meters into the river! (Climb up the ladder, do it all again!)
Rappelling options in Costa Rica range widely, but usually involve waterfalls in some way. The nearest option here is at Rincon de la Vieja, which offers 2 rappel drops and 1 waterfall swing in its canyoning tour. Rappelling is a very cool and quite popular adventure activity here, and all the major parks offer rappelling tours. If you can hike a short mountain path, you can rappel. And if you haven’t, you really should!