I stood on the cliff above a 100-foot waterfall, looked at the pool below and thought, “Well, what doesn’t kill you only makes you stronger.”

Our arrival in the beautiful city of La Fortuna, at the base of Arenal Volcano, offered a momentary distraction. The very presence of this iconically cone-shaped volcano, which last erupted on May 7, 1998, is awe-inspiring. We were lucky enough to see the clouds part and Arenal appear in all its glory. There is so much to do here for all levels of adventurer. My buddy and I had wanted to get our adrenaline pumping and experience something really different. Jumping into giant waterfalls — canyoning — sounded like just the right thing. Rave reviews of Desafio’s Lost Canyon Adventure clinched our decision.

Our excitement grew as we waited in comfort at the tour company office across from the church, where other adventurers arrived via transportation provided by Desafio. Preparation-wise, we had been told what to expect in terms of getting very wet and having appropriate clothing and footwear.

The mixture of nervous butterflies and eagerness I was feeling intensified when we all boarded the bus to the drop-off site. Passenger chatter during the short ride reflected everyone’s heightening anticipation. From the base, we were bounced up the mountain via a jungle caravan trip that took about 20 minutes. At our upward destination, referred to as the “Ops Center”, we were greeted by a bunch of happy, energetic guides who suited us up in rappelling gear. Once fully equipped, we were given a safety briefing, and then off we went into the unknown with our experienced guides.

At the first platform, another equipment check preceded our inaugural drop. Over the edge I went, leaning back and trusting the equipment. The water was not too cold. The first drop was only 10 meters or so to get us accustomed to the equipment and proper form for balance. Placing my foot carefully and easing the rope with my dominant hand allowed me to comfortably control my descent.

The subsequent drops got bigger, causing more adrenaline to pump through my system as each one loomed. In a couple instances, I was instructed to let go of the rope and hold the safety line. This zipped me to the bottom fast, but in a controlled manner. There were a couple of surprises along the way, which I am not going to reveal. It’s something you have to experience yourself.

Not only was the rappelling fantastic, but the total immersion with nature while walking through the river was invigorating. The sound and spectacle of rushing and falling water increased my motivation at the prospect of another drop platform coming next. All of our senses were engaged with the forest surroundings, even in moments of stillness and overpowering quiet. The guide took a moment to point out a sloth that was leisurely munching leaves. After the last drop, we hiked back up to the ops center and were rewarded with fresh fruit and drinks. All of us in the group spoke excitedly about our experiences. The conversational theme was about letting go, trusting the equipment and pushing your personal limits. Photos of our adventure were shown and available to purchase if desired. One staff member gathered us all together to observe a sloth and its baby very close to the ops center platform.

After a short rest, we loaded up into the jungle caravan and headed out to a newly designed oasis for a fantastic lunch of fresh, traditional food. It was simple, but so delicious. Our adventure had begun at 8:00 a.m. and we were delivered back to our place at noon. I want to thank our Lost Canyon guides for this unforgettable experience. At no time did I feel uncomfortable or afraid. Safety was always the first order, allowing us the freedom to enjoy and experience the adventure. This is really a must-do in La Fortuna.

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