The writer on one of Buenavista Lodge & Adventure’s canopy tours. // © 2013 Irene Middleman Thomas
Ziplining, or canopy tours, have been around for a long time as a transport system, but their booming success as a recreation and tourism adventure began in Costa Rica. About an hour from Liberia Airport, in the province of Guanacaste, lies Buenavista Lodge & Adventure, which hosts one of the biggest ziplines (10 cables, 11 platforms) in Costa Rica, as well as horseback riding, hot springs, a water slide and an eco-lodge — all set on 2,000 acres bordering the lush Rincon de la Vieja National Park. Buenavista offers day packages to those not staying at the eco-lodge, which include several adrenaline-racing adventures. No matter what guests choose, they are likely to see iguanas; capuchin, howler and spider monkeys; sloths; a rainbow of birds; and if they are lucky, perhaps a tapir or wildcat.
Buena Vista is a hacienda dedicated to eco-tourism in a rustic environment, with the remaining 600 acres used for cattle-raising. Buenavista strives to be a sustainable model company for the region, using innovative policies, proactive management and ecological practices. In fact, guests are invited to take the Sustainability Tour to view the property’s programs. For example, Buenavista uses methane gas to cook, uses fruits and vegetables from its own organic farm and organically produces 90 percent of its personal care and cleaning products.
The property’s MegaCombo package is offered to those not staying on property and includes a 10-station Canopy Tour through the dense primary forest and a trip down the more than 1,300-foot water slide. The activities are followed by a 45-minute horseback ride to five thermal pools, a steam bath and natural spa, including a volcanic mud treatment. A traditional Costa Rican buffet lunch is part of the package as well. The MegaCombo lasts six to seven hours.
Guests can also opt to try individual activities. Buenavista recently launched new, longer cables, stretching 2,000 feet in length and rising to nearly 500 feet. The Tarzan Swing reaches approximately 20 feet, going up to almost 100 feet, and is included in the zipline tour.
The Three Waterfalls Tour includes a small slide and swimming pool. This tour can be done on foot or by horseback and lasts 3½ to four hours.
The Aerial Tour is the best choice for those seeking tranquility, with 16 bridges through the primary forest and quiet, secluded trails that take about an hour to walk through.
The Hacienda offers rates from $86 to $99 per night for double occupancy, including full buffet breakfasts and taxes. Agents can book tours through the property or through Tam Travel Corporation, the oldest and one of the largest Costa Rica land operators, which is also the exclusive land operator for MLT Vacations.