Destinations Magazine

What It’s Like Rappelling a Waterfall in Costa Rica

By Davedtc @davedtc

Rappelling a waterfall in Costa Rica is a little like climbing a mountain, you’re harnessed in, you’re navigating ropes, etc. Except rappelling a waterfall means it’s slippery so you will get wet. Oh and you’re doing it backwards.

At first the idea of doing a waterfall rappel with my two children in tow sounded a bit intimidating. I have never rope climbed, rappelled, zip lined (at this point) in my life so attaching myself and my children to a rope for 165 feet drop felt risky.

I had nothing to be worried about however as our guides at waterfall rappel were a pure delight in all senses of the word. They are extraordinarily skilled and professionally trained in rock climbing and ropes courses. I learned during a conversation with a guide, Allen, they not only perform daily safety checks of the ropes courses, many of the guides go through continual training and certification every year. Safety is number one and my fears were soon put to ease when I saw how they checked and double checked my kids as well as engaged with them and talked them through the whole process.

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The second delightful surprise came in the friendly, helpful and joyful attitude of the guides from the tour we took. They not only know how to do what they do, they have a grand time doing it and sharing their passion for adventure and Costa Rica. The Pure Trek guides are the best guides we encountered our whole trip in Costa Rica and made a lasting memory with their friendly, and outgoing demeanor.

An added bonus, lunch! Before we departed, our guides served us a hot, delicious typical Costa Rican lunch, with rice, beans, chicken and veggies along with delicious coffee or juice.

Caution, you will get wet.

This is a waterfall rappel after all! You will also get bragging rights, a lifetime of memories, laughter and smiles, and the chance to glide down a waterfall in the Costa Rican jungle.

The first waterfall, at 165 feet, is the tallest. After getting strapped into our gear, we began a short hike to the top of the waterfall. (After, of course, the drive up the mountainous volcano.) The guides demonstrate how to sit back into the ropes and push off with your feet. As I sat back and bounced off the first podium I heard whoops and hollers from the guide below and cheers of encouragement from the guides above. “There ya go Tonya! Woohoo!” I smiled and laughed the whole way down. I’m sure my form was not as great as some, but pausing to look at the water gushing beside me, feeling the mist on my face and sharing the experience with my family is something that still brings me joy and happiness.

We rappelled 4 different times, both next to and practically in a waterfall.

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As for the kids and what they thought? After an initial trepidation, they were proud of rappelling down the mountainside waterfall on their own. My 9 year old daughter said there was really nothing to be afraid of and thought the monkey drop was the most awesome part of the adventure. What is a monkey drop you ask? You’ll have to go on the adventure to find out!

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If you do a guided tour I highly recommend you buy the photos, you won’t regret it. I did take my own but it was great to have the vantage point shots the tour guides took.

Have you ever done something crazy with the kids that you never thought you’d do?

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