Rappel down waterfalls on a canyoning trip

Canyoning near La Fortuna & Arenal Volcano
Canyoning near La Fortuna & Arenal Volcano

Hidden in Costa Rica's dense jungles are many canyons teeming with exotic plants and animals, and tourists in the Central American adventure hotspot can explore these striking geological features by going canyoning.

Thrilling Experience

Canyoning is also known as canyoneering or waterfall rappelling, but no matter what name it is called, it offers travelers a thrilling and unique experience. The adventure sport blends many other high-octane outdoor activities popular in Costa Rica, including hiking, rock climbing, bungee jumping, rappelling and white water rafting.

A typical canyoning expedition begins with a hike through the jungle, after which travelers will arrive at the top of the canyon itself. After a brief safety presentation from a tour guide and a practice session rappelling down a short distance, tourists then abseil into the depths of the gorge.

What to Wear

Travelers who wish to go canyoning should ensure that they are dressed properly for their excursion, as the sport exposes them to the harsh elements of the wild Costa Rican rainforest. Wearing quick-drying clothing and water shoes is a must, as clothes that retain water may cause chafing and make canyoneers uncomfortable as they wear their harnesses. Those who wish to bring a camera with them into the canyon should make sure they have a fully waterproof bag, as otherwise the waterfalls present in many canyons may destroy electronic equipment.

Where to Do It

There are several locations around Costa Rica that are ideal for canyoning. One of the most popular among adventure travelers is the Lost Canyon, located in the rainforests surrounding Arenal Volcano & La Fortuna in the northern part of the country. An expedition in the Lost Canyon begins with a short 15-foot rappelling descent, followed by hiking through the gorge and two more descents down 150- and 210-foot waterfalls.

Near Manuel Antonio on the central Pacific coast, tourists can go canyoning at the 90-foot Indian Waterfalls. Once they abseil down the roaring cascade, they can take a short hike over to a ledge from which they can jump into a deep pool 45 feet below.

Another well-known destination for canyoning is Victoria Waterfall, located near Rincon de la Vieja near the northern Pacific coast. A canyoning expedition here allows travelers to swing directly underneath the powerful cascade before they take a cooling dip in the natural pool at its base.