Guys. My left shoulder is in serious pain- I can barely lift my arm above a 30 degree angle to my body- and this is mainly due to the fact that I just got back from zip-lining through the treetops of the Costa Rican rainforest, during which I clung on so tight for dear life that I almost dislocated an arm in the process. I am also completely mud-spattered and bedraggled from the rain. BUT. And this is a big but. Doing that zip lining course was the most fun I’ve had in full on ages, I’ll tell you that for free. After docking in Puerto Limón, a port city on the East coast of Costa Rica, a big old bunch of us headed to Brisas de la Jungla (that’s Jungle Breeze to you non-Spanish-speaking folk), to get a bit closer to some good old fashioned nature whilst simultaneously being very very very much higher off the ground than normal. The fact that it was raining didn’t matter one bit (I mean, it is rainforest territory after all, so what do you expect?), although I’m going to be honest here and admit that I was quite concerned that the quantity of water on the zip lines would seriously affect the speed with which we zipped from one treetop platform to the next. Turns out, just like every other time I’m massively afraid of something but decide to go for it anyway, I had nothing to fear whatsoever! (Sort of)
I’m going to be frank here, pals. We were in that van for a good hour-long journey from Puerto Limón to the canopy course, yet still I can honestly say that I have no idea what side of the road they drive on in Costa Rica. All I do know for sure is that whatever side of the road you’re on, more important is the fact that a lot of horn-honking is involved. Eventually we chugged our way up a very steep track and arrived at a small building overlooking one of the most spectacular views I’ve ever laid eyes on: rainforest stretching out as far as the eye could see, with tufts of very low cloud sticking in places like strange pieces of candy floss.
It turned out that despite the steepness of the first track, we had a steeper pathway still to travel up in order to reach the first platform, and at this point I’ll admit my nerves started to kick in slightly. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I’m basically scared of most things. It goes without saying that dangling high above the treetops of a jungle attached only with a fabric harness would fall under the ‘most things’ category. When they strapped us in to our individual harnesses and plonked a mildly loose-fitting helmet on my head, I’d say the nerves at least doubled in intensity. There was also a very genuine fear that at some point halfway across a wire I’d get stuck and desperately need a wee. What a disaster that would be. (This fear partly stems from the fact that I’ve recently become obsessed with the movie Girls Trip, which I strongly recommend you watch, firstly to understand this reference, secondly for sheer comedy value, and thirdly because it’s set in one of my favourite cities ever, New Orleans) But I’ll tell you something: Costa Ricans in general are a very chilled out kind of people and the folks of the zip line place really helped me to realise there was really nothing to worry about.
In this part of the world they have a saying- ‘pura vida’ – which means ‘everything’s cool’ in some instances but more than this it defines the attitude to life- ‘simple life, easy life!’ I appreciate that. Because what good will panicking about possibly tumbling to the rainforest floor or needing the bathroom while you’re stuck on a high wire do? Absolutely no good, my friends. Absolutely no good at all.
The course was made up of eleven very wobbly wooden platforms high up in the trees, connected by cables, and the distance of each cable zip line grew and grew the further along the course you got. Not only did the length of each cable increase, but so did the distance from the ground, meaning that with each new zip line your speed naturally increased as well. What a laugh! There were a few moments that I didn’t actually make it to the end, so had to turn around and pull myself towards the platform, monkey style, but actually this turned out to be proper funny and not scary like I’d assumed beforehand. To be whooshing through a rainforest at such a height is an exhilarating but slightly strange experience for sure, and once I realised that I got a better view of everything if I stopped screaming and opened my eyes, it was even better still.
Maybe it sounds like a silly thing to remark upon guys, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen so many shades of green in my entire life, or so many layers and layers of texture all at once. I felt a bit like I was a smudge spreading across a painting dotted with bursts of pink, red or yellow flowers, and every now and then I’d spy a sloth reclining in some spindly looking branches, or a brightly coloured butterfly or bird flutter out of the darkness. Once we reached the end of the course I spied a whole load of tiny red frogs, which I’m pretty sure were Strawberry Poison Dart Frogs with highly toxic skin so as to protect them from any big bad predators, the clever little chaps. And a good lad pointed out a massive iguana sleeping high up above us. Call me stupid, but I actually didn’t realise such large lizards can climb trees. Whaddya know?
And in combination with the visually incredible sights to behold, the sound of the rainforest is well and truly astonishing. There is noise EVERYWHERE. Noises eek out of every nook and cranny, and the majority of the sounds were so alien to my ears that I truly could not tell you from what kind of animal they came. (Or whether they even came from an animal at all, ooooh) Just like the layers and layers of green blurring into one another in various textures of smooth and spiky, the layers of sounds are so thick that it eventually became impossible to distinguish one sound from the next. What a bizarre and beautiful place.
The best thing about Brisas de la Jungla in my opinion is that many years ago the rainforest here didn’t exist- it had been chopped down to make way for farmland; in fact Costa Rica went from being 75% covered with forest in the 1940s, to only 26% by 1983. What a shocking and terrible situation, you guys. But the government realised how shocking and terrible the impact of this could potentially be, and has been working since then to turn this figure around completely. These days the grand total of forest coverage of Costa Rica is at 52%, and the aim is that by 2021 not only will the figure be at over 70% but the country as a whole will be completely carbon neutral. I am so very admiring of this country!! Not only because of these particular amazing feats, but because it just goes to show that drastic change really is possible if you want it. It’s establishments like Brisas de la Jungla which celebrate the beautiful environment and biodiversity of this country that also provide alternative employment opportunities to locals- opportunities which are about building the world up, not tearing it down- and mean that the lack of farming jobs doesn’t matter, and Costa Rica’s economy now depends massively on ecotourism.
One day, I’d really appreciate being able to go back and explore deeper into the rainforest and further away from civilisation, but for a one day escapade from the ship, this whole miniature rainforest encounter was all round bloody marvellous, I’ll tell you that for free.
- Normal entrance fee is $50 (USD) for adults, or $40 for children and students.
- We went to this place because it was the easiest to get to from Puert Limón, however you can find these canopy tours across the country.
- It’s probs a good idea to bring insect repellent, to be honest. I did not, but was surprised that I only got bitten three times, woo!
- Don’t let the weather put you off. It was a very grey and gross day but still beautiful and amazing fun.
- Don’t touch any creatures you see in the forest! They might bite your head off. 🤣
- To check out Brisas de la Jungla’s actual website- go here!