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The Difference Between Zip Lines and Canopy Tours in Monteverde

Difference Between Zip Lines and Canopy Tours

Difference Between Zip Lines and Canopy Tours

Costa Rica offers up a fine combination of friendly, safe adventure activities in beautiful surroundings. This is one of the main reasons why so many people love Costa Rica (especially the Monteverde area) and the most popular of those exciting activities include “ziplining” and “canopy” tours. But what exactly is the difference between those two activities anyways?

When you think about a “canopy tour”, the first thing that will probably come to mind is walking over the treetops. However, in Costa Rica, the locals use the term “canopy” to refer to “zip lines” (i.e. an exhilarating ride through the trees via metal cables) while some travel agents use that same word to refer to suspended bridges and walkways, and some tour operators may use it to refer to both of these activities, which may cause a bit of confusion.

This means that you can sign up for a canopy tour thinking that you will be walking through canopy walkways, but actually end up gliding down metal cable ziplines through the forest. 

For this reason, it’s best to get a good description of the tour before taking it and the following can provide some guidance to help you understand what you will be doing: 

 Ziplining or Zip Lines (usually  referred to by locals as Canopy)

If “ziplining” is mentioned in the title or description of a tour, expect to rush through the canopy of beautiful tropical forest while attached to a metal cable. You will probably visit different platforms, will have an unforgettable experience and wonder if birds feel the same as they fly through cloud forest. Although you might feel like a bird, this isn’t the best way to watch them.

a group of people flying kites in a forest

Ziplining Tour at Selvatura Park


Canopy Walkways (locally referred to as Hanging Bridges or Suspension Bridges)

If the tour mentions walkways or hanging or suspended bridges, expect to hike through lush tropical forest on trails with bridges that offer close looks into the canopy. This tour might not come with the adrenaline rush of a zipline but it will provide a unique glimpse into the canopy of cloud forest and it will also give you a better chance for good views of birds like the Resplendent Quetzal and other wildlife.

a group of people in a forest

Canopy Walkways at 100% Aventura Park

So now that you know these terms can create some confusion, next time you’re thinking about booking one of these tours, make sure you either read the descriptions or you ask your travel agent, tour operator, or front-desk staff to clarify whether you will be ziplining or walking on suspension bridges.