Fly Like Superman and Swing Like Tarzan in Costa Rica!

Tarzan swing guide in Monteverde, Costa Rica

Are you brave enough to swing like Tarzan?

I know I’m not the most adventurous or dare-devilish person on earth. Very far from that. Since I was a small, I’ve been a bookworm. I like science, and doing homework was one of my hobbies. Such a nerd!

Bungee jumping, sky diving, those are things that scare the hell out of me. I sometimes even chickened out from riding on a roller coaster, like the Millennium Force and Top Thrill Dragster, the scariest ones at Cedar Point in Sandusky, Ohio.

Monteverde

Just a month ago, we were in Monteverde, Costa Rica. Canopy tours in the cloud forest of Monteverde are a very popular thing to do here, so of course we wanted to check it out. Our friend, Jaime the Breakaway Backpacker, had recommended this tour strongly to us too. His favourite part of the tour was the so called Tarzan swing, a free jump from a high platform with a big pendulum-like swing. It sounded very scary, “an F*ing amazing experience”, he said. It sounded like far scarier than anything I’ve done in my life. So during the whole bus ride from San Jose (the Costa Rican capital) to Monteverde, and the night following, I was dreading this.

Tarantula in Monteverde, Costa Rica

The dreaded tarantula, one of Monteverde's residents

The following day, we were searching for the best canopy tour in town. Ryan had made friends with the guest house’s owner, Andres, so we trusted his recommendation. He checked that the next tour was about to start, so if we could be ready in 10 minutes, we could do the tour right away.

I was gasping and panicking! I know the Tarzan swing is just a small part of the tour, but I felt like I needed some time to breathe, to absorb what was going to happen to me! Whimpering, I asked Andres how scary is the Tarzan swing. I told him I would certainly want to jump, but I wanted the ‘beginner’ one. Something not too high, not too scary. He only said, before he had jumped with this company, but the swing he did was replaced by a new taller one, and he hadn’t tried the new one yet.

Well, I didn’t know what to make of that. Ryan didn’t really pay attention to my whining and asked Andres to call the company right away. Then it was all set. I didn’t know what I was signing up for, didn’t know what kind of Tarzan swing they had, didn’t even know the name of the company.

The Canopy Zip-Line Tour

Within the next a half an hour, we arrived in the canopy tour location. The briefing was super short, or it was probably because they didn’t really speak English, and we didn’t really speak Spanish. They mentioned there was going to be a canopy walk, a hanging bridge, 12 zip lines, a rappel, a Superman, and a Tarzan. The only description they gave for the Superman and Tarzan was, you will move like Superman, or like Tarzan. Ah! Should’ve guessed that, eh!

Zip Line

Anyway, this was the first time I was going to be in any kind of zip lining. So I was thrilled. I knew it was going to be easy, since there’s so little we can do while hanging from the rope, moving above the canopy. What I didn’t anticipate before was, it was actually a bit scary to be hanging high up there, moving in fast, dangling from a rope line! The harness, while it’s actually safe, didn’t make me feel safe. I imagined the harness would look like a jacket strap and leg strap. But instead it was just a waist belt, a leg belt for each leg, and a few straps in between. A rope connecting the zip lines and me was attached through a big carabiner in front of my belly. A longer rope, the safety rope, is attached just in case the main rope fails. There was a shoulder strap system too, but it was not going to be used until the Superman zip. So, that’s it. And we are about to hang our life with a few pieces of rope and belts, moving from tree to tree across the valley, 80 meters above the ground, with just that!

The Harness for my canopy zip line tour in Monteverde, Costa Rica

I'm about to hang my life on a rope with just this harness. Are you kidding?

The good news was, there were 12 zip lines, and it starts off pretty mild. At first, we just zip lined between a couple of low trees. Later, we zip lined across the valley. By the time we did the longest one, 600m long and 80m high, we only needed to deal with the thrill of being so up high, but not worrying about falling anymore. This is such a fantastic way to enjoy the beauty of the cloud forest! The trees were way below us, and sometimes we could see our own tiny shadow on the ground. The view, and the feeling, was incredible!

Zip line above the cloud forest of Monteverde, Costa Rica

Ryan zipping above the cloud forest

Hanging Bridge

Usually hanging bridge makes me a little tense. But this time, I was so focusing to the final Tarzan Swing, so I was not even aware I was on a hanging bridge that was shaking hard each time anybody moves.

Rappel

The 15 meter rappel going down a tree was scarier than I thought. It seems to me when I saw the video of people rappeling, they are able to adjust the speed. Well, it was not so with this one. We were not actually control the speed, and it was near free fall speed. Thank goodness the 15 meters was over only within a few seconds.

Rappel down the tree in a cloud forrest in Monteverde, Costa Rica

Rappeling down the tree

Superman line

In the Superman style zip line, the rope ties you on your back, and you are “flying” forward with body facing down, like Superman. I thought the scariness level of this Superman style was going to be like the regular zip line, that I was becoming familiar by then. Not quite! From the point of view of technique, it was actually easier, because you absolutely need to do nothing, while in zip line you need to know how to brake so you won’t hit the tree in front of you. However, in the regular zip line, your hand is holding on to the rope. While in the Superman style, your arms are stretched wide to right and left, as if to keep balance.

I never thought of this before, but apparently, at least for me, holding on to something, as useless as it is, brings you a sense of security. When you hands can’t hold on, you feel helpless. Powerless. Something can go wrong, and you are not in control. The worst thing was, not only that you “don’t need” to hold on, but you “must not” hold on! Holding the rope on your back will be totally awkward. Holding the zip rope will be very dangerous, because you are zipping high speed. Your hands could get caught in the wheels! And even if it doesn’t hurt you, you might accidentally slow down and stop in the middle of the ride, hanging high from the ground. If you are not comfortable with the idea of zip lining Superman style in the beginning, I assure you that you will hate this even more.

Superman zip line above the canopy of cloud forest in Monteverde, Costa Rica

Fly like Superman!

Superman zip scared the wits out of me! It was dreadful the whole way across. My mouth was open wide, but most of the time, I could only make a faint whimper. I was petrified, I for sure didn’t look like usual image of a heroic Superman. Instead of stretching my legs and arms wide, I had them kinda hanging limply from me. I was going to take photos before, but forget it! I didn’t dare to move my arms. My camera were hanging loosely from me, recording video to random direction it happened to face. Seeing my own tiny shadow on the ground didn’t help. Ugghhh….

I was moving forward high speed, I thought I was about to hit the tree where this zip line ends. And that would have been a frontal coalition. I didn’t trust this tiny helmet. I wonder if Superman faced the same problem too sometimes. Thank goodness the automatic brake really worked! I stopped just a meter away from the tree at the end!

Tarzan Swing

And now what? The dreaded and frightening Tarzan swing!!! The ultimate jungle dare today!

The bridge to the Tarzan swing platform in Monteverde, Costa Rica

Long and dreadful walk on the bridge to the Tarzan swing platform

Remember my plea to Andres to choose a tour with a mild Tarzan swing? Remember that I didn’t even know which canopy tour we chose? Turns out that… We were with 100% Aventura! Meaning? The current highest Tarzan swing in Costa Rica!! The height is 148 feet and the length is 294 feet. It’s like a 13 storey building! What the heck!

Tarzan swing jumping preparation. Monteverde, Costa Rica

I watched a guy in front of me about to jump. Look at the tiny skimpy harness that we trusted with our life.

My heart raced.

My feet trembled.

My belly crunched.

Going…

Not going…

Going…

Not going…

So… Did I go?

Did I do the dreaded Tarzan swing?

Find out the answer in this video:

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49 Responses to “Fly Like Superman and Swing Like Tarzan in Costa Rica!”

  1. jill- Jack and Jill Travel The World
    24 May 2011 at 9:45 am #

    Super fun!!!!! Way to go, DIna!

    • Dina
      24 May 2011 at 10:07 am #

      I thought I was about to die doing that, hahaha

  2. Kobus
    24 May 2011 at 12:03 pm #

    That looks like so much fun! Well done :)

    • Dina
      29 May 2011 at 11:57 am #

      Thanks :) It was sooo much fun!

  3. Jaime
    24 May 2011 at 8:47 pm #

    OMG… LOVE IT!!! I am so glad you did the same tour as I did. It was so worth it & fucking awesome!!! Just from reading this & watching the video I was taken back to those moments!!! Looks like you had a blast~

    • Dina
      29 May 2011 at 12:00 pm #

      Jaime, I have to thank you a lot for this!! I almost chickened out, but I keep remembering you’ve done this, and that keep me going :D

  4. Katrina Stovold
    26 May 2011 at 9:22 am #

    Omg! I love the video. Awesome that you showed everything! *high five*
    Katrina Stovold´s last post…Featured photo- Celtic cross

    • Dina
      29 May 2011 at 12:03 pm #

      Hahaha, glad you love it! *high five*
      Still thinking whether I should upload the Superman video or not. I had the camera strapped on me too. The video is not so wild, but it captured the funny noises I made the whole ride because I was so scared. Like a whimpering noise, haha

  5. Superxicana
    28 May 2011 at 1:58 pm #

    WOOOOOOWWWWW!!!!

    THAT LOOKED SOOO FREAKING SCARY & FUUUUNNNN!!!

    YOU ARE ON YOUR WAY TO BECOMING AN ADRENALINE JUNKIE HAHAHA =)

    GO DINAH!!!

    WOULD YOU DO IT AGAIN???
    Superxicana´s last post…OSAMA IS DEAD- FEAR IS NOT

    • Dina
      29 May 2011 at 12:04 pm #

      It’s freaking scary indeed!!! But I will do it again, the sensation is superb! I watched some video of the giant tarzan swing in Africa, multiple times bigger above canyon. Frightening. Not sure I will ever be ready for that!

  6. Erica
    29 May 2011 at 11:08 pm #

    OMG. I can do almost everything but the tarzan – freefalling would make me wet myself.

    • Dina
      31 May 2011 at 7:24 pm #

      Haha… I was convinced my heart would stop if I free fall. Luckily didn’t happen…

  7. Petina/ pocketvillage
    30 May 2011 at 2:14 am #

    Dina, *wow* Kudos for you for doing the Superman AND the Tarzan! I loved that you added the video at the end. Would love to see the Superman vid too.
    Petina/ pocketvillage´s last post…Butterflies in Vietnam

    • Dina
      31 May 2011 at 7:26 pm #

      Thanks! I was going to upload my Superman video too, but I didn’t do it because apparently when I was scared, I was making funny noises, like… ummm… private adult interaction, hahaha. So I might upload later on with a song over it. I’ll let you know if I did it.

    • Dina
      31 May 2011 at 7:26 pm #

      Thanks! I was going to upload my Superman video too, but I didn’t do it because apparently when I was scared, I was making funny noises, like… ummm… private adult interaction, hahaha. So I might upload later on with a song over it. I’ll let you know if I do it.

  8. Sherry
    30 May 2011 at 11:23 am #

    So proud of you that you actually stepped off. I don’t know if I could do it. In the end, its probably the idea of jumping off that’s scarier than actually doing it. Looks like a lot of fun though.

    • Dina
      31 May 2011 at 7:31 pm #

      Thanks! I jumped with the thinking of it must be scarier to think about it than actually doing it. But free falling felt as bad as I thought, haha. It felt so awful but so awesome in the same time.

  9. Don Faust
    30 May 2011 at 3:09 pm #

    Sounds like fun! We did a zip line a couple of years ago near Puerto Viejo, but that Tarzan swing looks a little intense!
    Don Faust´s last post…La Notte Bianca- Italian White Nights

    • Dina
      31 May 2011 at 7:33 pm #

      It was! Especially for someone not dare devilish like me :)

  10. Leigh
    30 May 2011 at 3:27 pm #

    Sounds like great fun (loved your screaming!!)but I agree it’s hard to trust a harness – sometimes the most preventable accidents happen with the simplest of things. Things like slipping out of the harness, knots tied incorrectly, no locking carabiner…I was an assistant rock climbing instructor at one point so safety was drilled into our heads. In a country when you don’t speak the language I think you have to be extra careful.
    Is bungee jumping next?
    Leigh´s last post…Weird &amp Wonderful Facts About Vancouver

    • Dina
      31 May 2011 at 7:39 pm #

      I can’t imagine if something failed. I hope the guys at Monteverde get a good drilling like you too! I read about a woman slipped off the bungee jumping boots in New Zealand, thank goodness it was during the second bounce so she didn’t die out of falling. She was unconscious. This get me terrified to try bungee jumping in the future. Not that I thought I was brave enough to do so, before hearing about this poor woman’s accident.

  11. Juan
    30 May 2011 at 8:55 pm #

    I must say, 12 zip lines sounds like a whole lot of zip lines.

    • Dina
      31 May 2011 at 7:55 pm #

      The first few was the exercise ones. So by the time we got the longest one, we are already used to it :)

  12. Cam
    30 May 2011 at 10:49 pm #

    Great that you guys were able to experience the cloud forest in Monteverde! We were there back in 2006, it was the first time we did the zip lining, great fun. It was pretty freaky though, especially that really high one, but I don’t deal with heights very well!

    • Dina
      4 June 2011 at 11:20 am #

      Cool that you’ve been there too! Must do in Costa Rica, won’t you say? It freaked me out too especially the Superman zip line. Sometimes I forgot that I supposed to enjoy the beauty of the canopy, instead I was just freaking out!

  13. Abby
    30 May 2011 at 11:46 pm #

    Ohhhhh I love Monteverde!! But I’m too chicken to do even the Superman, let alone Tarzan. That’s awesome you did it! I also really liked hiking in the cloud forest, plus how artsy the town is.
    Abby´s last post…When a Layover Goes Bad

    • Dina
      4 June 2011 at 11:23 am #

      Thanks! I didn’t picture it before that I would do them either! My friend mentioned she did “monkey”, which is upside down zip line.

  14. Randy
    31 May 2011 at 1:51 pm #

    Fantastic! I really want to do this. Glad you guys got the chance. It looks like a lot of fun.

    • Dina
      4 June 2011 at 11:23 am #

      Don’t miss it if you guys go to Costa Rica!

  15. Erin in Costa Rica
    31 May 2011 at 7:42 pm #

    Yeah…not sure I could do that. I prefer the tiny tarzan swing that ends up in a hot spring. Mad props for going through with it!!!
    Erin in Costa Rica´s last post…Photo of the week- Mocha- escaping paparazzi

    • Dina
      4 June 2011 at 11:25 am #

      Whenever you feel like you are ready, you have the chance to always go back there since you are not far away from it :) Tell me about the tiny Tarzan swing. Actually, ending up in a hot spring sounds really good!

  16. Andrea
    31 May 2011 at 11:56 pm #

    Wow! So glad you caught that experience on video because there’s no way I’d be able to step off that platform (afraid of heights lately). Looks like a wild ride =) Good for you for giving it a go!
    Andrea´s last post…Road Tripping in Southwest Bolivia

    • Dina
      4 June 2011 at 11:26 am #

      I just wish my scream sounded more dignified :D

  17. The Travel Chica
    1 June 2011 at 12:32 pm #

    I did a canopy tour in Costa Rica about 4 years ago. So much fun!
    The Travel Chica´s last post…The Day Cruella Put Me Out on the Street

    • Dina
      4 June 2011 at 11:27 am #

      Must do while in Costa Rica, won’t you think :)

  18. William
    3 June 2011 at 9:00 am #

    The video is hiliarious, and I think I would act just the same way as you. Congrats on doing it though! Awesome!

    • Dina
      4 June 2011 at 11:28 am #

      Hahaha, it’s authentic, but I wish my plead and scream sounded more dignified.

  19. Alex Berger
    3 June 2011 at 3:00 pm #

    Wow, that looks like a fantastic time. I really need to try those sometime. I missed them when I was in Belize/on the Yucatan. Guess I’ll have to go back and give them a go! Always look like so much fun!

    • Dina
      4 June 2011 at 11:29 am #

      It is so much fun, I hope you will see something like this anywhere you are on earth soon!

  20. DTravelsRound
    5 June 2011 at 1:58 am #

    ACK!! The tarantula alone freaked me out!!! I am sure I would have felt the same way with all of those zip lines … just don’t know if I would have actually done it. I guess I need to get all suited up and give it a go, eh?
    DTravelsRound´s last post…Escape of the Week- A Silverback in Rwanda

  21. Suzy
    7 June 2011 at 12:25 am #

    I would have been terrified! Congratulations on making the big jump, or swing rather!

  22. Suzy
    7 June 2011 at 12:30 am #

    I would have been terrified! Congratulation on making the big jump, or swing rather.

  23. jade
    9 June 2011 at 6:56 am #

    OH, my! I wouldn’t have been able to do it either! Bob would have to have pushed me out!!!
    jade´s last post…The Power of Postcards

  24. Bodlagz
    21 July 2011 at 8:20 pm #

    I don’t have the guts to try that Tarzan Swing but zip line through the tree canopy looks fantastic, they are becoming more and more popular. I tried the “Flight of The Gibbon” canopy adventure in Thailand, what makes these zip line rides so special is the beautiful scenery, I thought it was an awesome day out. Check it out ….http://www.pattayaunlimited.com/2010/04/flight-of-gibbon.html

  25. Raymond @ Man On The Lam
    4 August 2011 at 3:40 am #

    This looks AWESOME! Every last bit of it!

  26. Jeremy Branham
    11 August 2011 at 1:32 am #

    I am with you Dina – not sure I would do it. Yeah, it looks fun and I’ve done some dangerous things. In the end, I would do it but understand your concern about the harness and the steep drop. But at least it’s fashionable right? :)

  27. Enqio
    4 April 2012 at 11:45 am #

    Just watching the video i felt my heart jump in my chest. You’re so brave ! I would have never been able to do it !

  28. Arianwen
    10 July 2012 at 7:30 am #

    Haha. I remember experiencing many of the same feelings! I did the Tarzan and Superman. It really does make all the difference when you can’t hold on. They had to pull my hands from the railings! And to make matters worse, there was a full on thunder and lightening storm going on when I did it!
    Arianwen´s last post…Caroline’s Rainbow Foundation

    • Dina
      11 July 2012 at 2:51 am #

      LOL, at least there was no extra spooky stuff going on during my time :)

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