Zipping through the rain forest, Monteverde, Costa Rica

Published: April 2nd 2016
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The last two days were loaded. I was dog tired and slept like a log when the wakeup call buzzed in the morning. I suddenly woke up with the ring, but I couldn’t figure out where I am. Then Dipankar yawned from the other bed. Damn it! It’s time to get ready; another loaded day.

Salvatura Park

It started as a cloudy day. We finished our breakfast while sitting inside the restaurant and waiting for the shuttle. The shuttle picked us up from the hotel at 8:30 am and headed towards the Salvatura Park. The park entrance is quite elaborate. Unlike the Sky Trek, Salvatura Park has other attractions apart from zip lining. We planned to do some tree top walking through the rain forest after zip lining, and of course, the famous butterfly garden is part of our agenda.

The zip line here runs through the rain forest. A right of way is designed for the cable to pass through the dense trees. Unlike the cloud forest zip lining in Sky Trek, the zipping is not done at a higher altitude, but mostly on the same level as the tree tops. The platforms are generally near the tree tops. The harness arrangements and design of the pulleys are also different. The harness is designed so that the body hangs straight down from the cable, which is more traditional. In Sky Trek, the body was almost parallel to the ground with face up. In Salvatura, the chance is that the body will rotate more in this posture when one is zipping fast. It is better to bring the rotation under control, because it is easier to land on a platform facing front.

It was a fairly long walk through the rain forest to reach the first platform. And then the rain started. If anyone has experienced drizzle inside a dense forest would know that the effect of the rain is felt more when the water starts sipping through the leaves. We were wet alright. Oh, what the heck! That doesn’t dampen the spirit. When we reached the first station for a swing, we faced another mishap. We were told that a tree has fallen somewhere on the cable and the crews were working to remove the tree. Fair enough, but zip lining stopped. The repair continued along with our misery. Water now is dropping everywhere and we were getting soaked. We are a big gang now with all the people who followed us and now all gathered at the same spot. This is the perfect time to mix and mingle and to kill some time. Roxan from Mexico and a Polish girl were after my video sunglass. A European couple was busy with Dipankar. Time passed. The line got fixed in the meantime and we started our journey again. Play the video clip.

We started the zip run. Wow! Here I could feel the speed as we were almost brushing the tree leaves at 70 km an hour. Wuhu!!! I could feel the adrenaline rush! The heart is now pumping blood faster as we were rushing from one platform to the. The rain has almost stopped now. But the water particles were still hitting the face when moving at a high speed. Fun, fun, fun! I crossed a valley. Something moved down inside the dense bush. I tried to rotate and figure it out what it is, but at that high speed, I couldn’t steer myself quick enough.

We were almost halfway through. Then came the tandem jump. We needed one span tandem jump. There are some weight restrictions when a tandem is required to increase the payload. In the meantime, I have noticed one guy cozying Dipankar for a while. After we did the tandem, the guy came to me and asked,

“Hola…how you doing?”

“Doing fine, señor, what’s up?”

“Well…umm….are you guys together?”

“Si, si…we are amigos,” I realized, my faltering Spanish is probably a laughing stock to those guys, but who cares!

“Problemo?” I tried again without realizing if the word was right or wrong.

“Aye...How long are you two going out?” Oh No! The guy was hitting on Dipankar and thought we are a couple. Fair enough, I will play the game! The fun has just started!

“Hey amigo…somos amantes, you know…we are lovers.”

“Si, si”

I was near the end of my stock of Spanish words. Still I tried to give some macho advice to the guy,

“Por favor, we are amigos, I mean, amantes for many years…many años.” I continued to use my crappy Spanish. “Guapo, right?”

“Si, si.” The guy gave up hope and glared at me. Dipankar was already to the next platform, he could not hear our conversation. With the jealous lover boy who just got deprived of his prey, I was wondering whether I would be able to finally reach to the other end safely. Well, nothing such things happened. Once at the other end, I told Dipankar,

“Hey, you have a lover boy”

“What do you mean?”

I told him what happened. He laughed out loud and told me he will be careful from me at night! “Hey, it’s not my fault; he likes you, not me.” I told him

“Yeah, yeah!” I don’t think he believed me anyway.

The net result, the guy was fixing me with Dipankar for all the tandems as he thought we were a couple and unfortunately I had to cuddle the old dog against my will!

There are only few spans left. But before we reached to the last one came another surprise – Tarzan swing. It’s a jump from a higher platform with a rope tied around. It’s not that I was going to hit the ground, but one goes for a huge swing after the jump. Personally, I am not a bungee jumping fan. On the other hand, I love sky diving. I rather enjoy the free fall part. But I don’t like the jerk in my torso from the bungee jump. Tarzan swing appeared to be something like that. Oh, well, be Roman when in Rome…I took few steps back, ran forward and made the jump. First, I didn’t like the jerk. Second, I didn’t like the roller coaster swings with butterfly in my stomach. During the upward thrust, I was almost grabbing the nearby tree tops. After a few swings, the attendants brought me down. Then it was Dipankar’s turn. The lover boy brought him down. Cool. I thought he should be on his lap. I have to go back and tell Bidisha that she is up for a challenge! Once we finished the last span, we took a short walk to reach the main entrance. The rain has stopped; my jacket is now damp, but not fully wet as it has dried up a bit.

We decided to go for a tree top walk in the rain forest. This would be a nice change after so much blood pumping. That said, I enjoyed both zip lining in Sky Trek and Salvatura thoroughly. They are two different types. I have to see how the Superman zip lining works. But that is tomorrow.

Treetop walkway

The rain forest is deep and dense. It is a 3 km walk through the trail of a perfect eco-system, sometimes over the suspension bridges. We could see from the top that the untouched flora down on the gorges and watercourse are the ideal place for the natural habitats. In some places, the fog is nestled with the flora providing them the love and moisture they need. We saw that an elderly couple were taking a romantic stroll holding hands on the suspension bridge, perhaps reminiscing their golden days of yesterday and rekindling their everlasting love with a candle light supper tonight. Some die-hard health addicts passed us jogging on the trail. After the rush games of zip lining, I needed this relaxing space. While enjoying the love and beauty of nature around us, we didn’t realize how the time passed when we reached the finish line. And we were hungry. Time for the lunch!

Butterfly garden

Lunch was included in the package. The nicely designed oak carved restaurant offered the warm soup and sandwiches which were real delight. We enjoyed it thoroughly. Taking a bite in my sandwich, I asked Dipankar,

“How do you like the tour so far?”

“I am missing my lover boy!” Dipankar answered with a good laugh.

“Well, it won’t be too difficult for me to find him out. You don’t have to come with me to the butterfly garden after all!” I joked.

“No worries, let’s find out the butterfly garden.”

It’s a short walk from the restaurant to the butterfly garden. Wow! It’s a 29,000 sq ft. of artificial eco system that is the home of varieties of butterfly. The place runs a controlled atmosphere that helps breeding the butterfly species in hundreds. They are flying everywhere, flying and kissing our shirt sleeves and even hair. Amazing! I have never been to such a place before. And so many varieties of butterfly! And the garden for the habitats is also lush. 50 feet high frost ceiling helps bringing ample light for the garden to survive and thrive. I was walking and stopping while enjoying these beautiful creatures all around me. I was observing their flaps. Each design was so unique and so tastefully done as if an artist has composed each and every dot, every circle, and every shape meticulously, just to give each butterfly its own identity. It’s like a beauty contest,- each flying, stopping, showing its beauty in front of my eyes and then leaving the spot to make room for the others to fly in and attract my attention. I am an engineer and I have been trained all my life to go by the evidence of Science. I understand Darwin’s theory of evolution and I recognize that evolution always takes the path of its natural course, the same way the water falls from high to low. I don’t know if butterflies also have gone through any kind of evolution. Even if they did, are these beautiful designs on their flap have anything to do with their evolution? Who did these designs and why? Who is this unsung hero? I don’t have an answer. But I have a feeling that the Mother Nature has something to do with it which I cannot explain with my knowledge of scientific evidence. The thought was provocative and perhaps philosophical, but it was bugging me after all. Finally, I rested my mind leaving the thought as yet another unresolved mystery of this universe where the science ends and the philosophy begins.

Inside the complex, there was a butterfly and insect museum where varieties of dead butterflies and insects are kept in glass cases. Apparently, one gentleman from Vancouver started this museum in collaboration with the Government of Costa Rica. He brought many of these dead samples and he continues to do so when he travels here every year with more new samples, thus adding value to the museum. I learnt a lot from the description of each variety of dead species. This is the first time I saw the deadly Tsetse fly and some of the venomous scorpions. The museum is a great knowledge base and worth visiting and I am glad that we did. Unfortunately, we had to meet a timeline for our transport back to the hotel, but I wish I could spend some more time in the museum.

The minivan dropped us to the hotel. It was a day well spent with a whole lot of fun and visiting other attractions. After a quick dinner, we went out for a night tour in the woods. It was a wash out as we got drenched in the rain again and other than a couple of sloths and one tarantula, there was no wild life we could see. When we came back to the hotel, it was late. And we were tired. Tomorrow is our last day in Monteverde. Dipanakar will head out to Chirripo National Park in the morning for his two days expedition to Mount Chrripo. My plan is to run for the Superman zip line before I head out to Arenal. We packed our luggage and called it a night.

Next is Superman Zip Lining.

Additional photos below
Photos: 15, Displayed: 15


3rd April 2016

Video butterfly glasses
Gotta say video glasses sound amazing. How good are the quality of the videos? You should try and put some examples of zipping along on your blogs. I reckon butterfly video glasses would attract more than butterflies, so maybe your design skills may come in handy!
3rd April 2016

Video butterfly glasses
Dave, the glasses are HD quality with 1080p. It's a bit tricky when taking shots... the head needs to move rather smoothly when taking shots around me, and not with a jerk. This is the same as taking video with a normal camera,- moving slowly to allow transition to happen. Just a matter of getting used to. Very handy, I must say. I prefer it more than the GoPro. It's an excellent idea to add the video clips in the blog. However, the travelblog website has a glitch that it suggests it cannot upload a video clip directly. I tried before. The video needs to be in Youtube or Dailymotion from where it could be copied...I will try again because I have couple of more blogs with ziplining coming.
3rd April 2016

Video Butterfly glasses
Dave, I prepared a small video clip from my archive, posted in Youtube and copied the code from there and embedded in the text. I checked it and it works. It was a rainy and foggy day, so lighting condition was poor. Then You tube compresses the files. Also, with such a small lens in the camera, it has limitation how good it could adjust to the sudden exposure changes as my head was moving. Take a look, ...I could probably enhance some of my future blogs in the same way if this becomes somewhat more appealing.

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