Pure Trek takes clients rappelling down waterfalls, also known as “canyoning,” in Costa Rica’s Arenal Volcano area. // © 2012 Irene Middleman Thomas
Where to Stay
The Springs Resort & Spa is a five-star resort that caters to the adventure crowd. Rates at this gorgeous, impeccably-designed resort, featured on “The Bachelor,” start at $395 per night. The resort features phenomenal views of Arenal and has 23 natural hot springs pools on property, as well as it own adventure club with a wild cat preserve, tubing and kayaking, horseback riding and birdwatching and wildlife treks. www.springscostarica.com
Costa Rica is famed for its adventure travel opportunities — ziplines, horseback riding, whitewater rafting, kayaking and tubing. The adrenalin-racing highlight, for many, is a visit to the Arenal Volcano area’s waterfall rappelling (also known as “canyoning”) rainforest adventure with Pure Trek, founded in 2001. Something your clients might never have dreamed of doing at home can become a reality, as they rappel down three waterfalls (the highest at 170 feet tall) and one dry canyon wall. My own secret? Never look down.
Pure Trek operates its multi-sport adventure in the beautiful rainforest slot canyon, Cacao Canyon, which is located near the town of La Fortuna. Almost anyone can experience Pure Trek’s canyoning adventure — an 85 year old was brave enough to give it a try. Besides a sense of adventure, all clients need are fast-drying, casual clothing and closed-toe shoes.
Pure Trek’s adventures include four or five rappels, depending on rainfall and weather conditions, as well as transportation to and from area accommodations, a hearty Costa Rican lunch, all equipment and safety gear and bilingual professionally trained guides certified in wilderness first aid, CPR and technical canyoning.
We chose the morning trek, beginning with a 7 a.m. pickup at our hotel, The Springs Resort & Spa, located about a 30-minute drive from the trek’s base. The highly efficient, amiable staffers quickly dispensed waterproof jackets, helmets, harnesses and gloves to each of us. A bilingual staffer gave us instructions and answered our questions. Our group included a first-grader and several folks in their 60s, as well as terrified middle-aged types like me. Until the last minute, I debated over whether I should cancel my excursion or not.
We walked through the incredibly dense, verdant forest to reach the first platform — the top of the longest rappel, next to a roaring waterfall. I knew that my only hope was to avoid looking down, and that plan worked. The guides gently turned me around, gave me a few seconds to decide when to say “when” and, at that point, let me start my descent. Granted, there was really no reason to be afraid, since we were all attached by top ropes (somehow, this didn’t seem to comfort me, however). As I lowered down, I looked straight out, kicking the rock wall as they directed me to do. Suddenly, I realized that I was actually enjoying myself and feeling an immense excitement — a rush. My diaphragm actually ached for several days from the tightening up I must have done while rappelling. Upon landing, the rest of the group cheered, and I finally looked up. I could not believe what I had just accomplished. My chest heaving, I smiled profusely, a direct contrast to the anguished face I displayed at the start. The next three rappels were shorter and one actually included a delightful dip in the pool at the base of the fall. They all seemed simple after the first.
Pure Trek enjoys excellent ratings for its safety standards, is certified by the Costa Rican Board of Tourism and is a member of the American Canyoneering Association. Frommers, Fodor’s and Lonely Planet have also applauded Pure Trek for its adventure tours in Costa Rica.