Zen Recreations

  Posted Tuesday, August 18, 2015 at 10:33am by Zen Recreations

Guide to safe zip lining

Costa Rica is known for their Canopy Tours where a vacationer can zip through the rainforest. The zip-lines are scattered among several platforms, some as high as 130 feet.

The users are physically attached to the cable by wearing a harness which attaches to a removable trolley. A helmet is required on almost all courses of any size.

Cables can be very high, starting at a height of over 30 feet (9 m), and traveling well over 1500 feet (457 m).

Zip lining is a safe activity as long as industry safety standards are followed.  A series of interconnected recreational zip lines running through a forest form what is now called a “canopy tour,” propelling people from one elevated position to another and allowing for thrilling close contact with treetop nature, where 70% of tropical forest life takes place, even when the whoops and hollers of thrilled participants frighten away most creatures.

There is a limit of 280  lbs body weight, the limit has nothing to do with cable or harness strength; the canopies we recommend are greatly over-engineered. More likely, the weight limit is related to braking safety. The lighter you are, the faster you’ll travel the cable. This is often the reason that canopy tours set a minimum age (which varies from 5 to 10 years); very young children can be too light to stop safely.  However, there is a waist and thigh size limit, as the harness must be able to fit around your body and be safely secured. To be able to safely Zip Line, your waist cannot exceed more than 45 inches and your thighs cannot be more than 31 inches in circumference.

Follow braking instructions very carefully, as braking is the trickiest part of the tour. Most canopy tours operate in the rain, although they should never do so in lightning. Rain makes the cables slicker and faster.

Nevertheless we must never forget medical facilities may be small clinics with limited supplies. The nearest hospital is hours away, and should be weighed up against the additional adrenaline. Keep in mind that there is risk associated with undertaking an activity like zip lining, surfing, snorkeling, diving, Tarzan swings or Superman stunts etc. while on vacation. It’s not something that you do every day and you must assess your willingness and comfort with taking that risk.

Anyone with the following conditions should consider whether or not it’s appropriate to participate in a zip line tour.

  • Heart conditions
  • High blood pressure
  • Neck or back issues
  • Dizziness
  • Seizures
  • Debilitating fear of heights
  • Pregnant women are forbidden !
  • No smoking or alcohol is permitted, prior to or throughout the tour
  • No Tobacco items
  • No pets
  • No weapons of any kind

There is no storage facility for the guests to use on the location.


  • Closed toe hiking or athletic type footwear. Most canopy tours involve some hiking. Wear closed-toed shoes with ample tread to help you walk on muddy slopes and keep insects away from your feet.
  • Longer shorts and T shirts tucked in the full body harness
  • Sunscreen
  • Bring insect repellant and use it.
  • No dangling jewelry
  • All personal belongings secured


The Tarzan platform

Requires stepped off the platform, falling many feet and then swinging out over the forest. Some zip line offer a Superman option, where you are fastened into a sling so you could fly through the air on the belly like Superman.

For the non-adrenaline junkie, the aerial tram can take you through the rainforest in comfort and safety. Prefer to linger? Hanging bridges offer panoramic views for acres, and an experienced guide will be happy to point out a variety of birds and animals. In Costa Rica’s protected forests, a trained eye can direct attention to the magic of the surrounding nature – camouflaged insects and reptiles, concealed birds, hidden primates and other mammals, and even the dazzling but overlooked display of flowers and plants right in front of one’s face. Mind-opening exposure to this complex and exquisite diversity is just one small part of the significance of a conserved environment.

Learn more about our Costa Rica tour

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