Detailed Review of Selvatura’s Zipline Tour in Monteverde
Detailed Review of Selvatura’s Zipline Tour in Monteverde
People are always asking me for a detailed review of Selvatura’s Ziplining Tour in Monteverde. Over the last decade, I have been to Selvatura dozens of times. Three of my best friends work there, including the son of Selvatura’s Park owner.
Even though I have been at Selvatura with super huge discounts, and I have those friends who work (and own) the place, my company’s mission is to provide travelers with unbiased information around all tours and activities in Monteverde. So, I will be completely transparent.
This blog will not be the typical post from a guy trying to sell you the idea of choosing Selvatura over the other ziplining tour companies in Monteverde. Instead, I will share a complete perspective of the pros and cons of the Selvatura Ziplining Tour, so you can evaluate if this is the right company for you to go on your ziplining adventure in Monteverde.
The last time I did ziplines in Selvatura Park was in late September of 2021, and this time I brought along my daughter, who had recently turned eight, and this was the first time she was going to zipline in Selvatura Park. When she was two, three, and seven years old, I took her to Selvatura’s Hanging Bridges. However, back then, I did not feel comfortable taking her on Selvatura’s Ziplining Tour. Instead, I wanted to wait until she reached eight or nine (I will explain why soon).
In this post, I will explain who should is the right candidate to go on Selvatura’s zip-lining tour based on what it offers, its difficulty level, and its safety measures. I will tell you what the trip includes with the price, such as the optional Tarzan swing. I will also tell you about the upgrades you can have for an additional fee, such as the Superman zipline, and whether or not you should add them to your purchase. And I will give you stats such as the number of zip lines and how long and how high they are.
Throughout the post, I will also share online customer reviews to give you more perspective.
Let’s dive in:
Who is the target customer for Selvatura’s Ziplining Tour?
Selvatura’s zip lining tour is for those relatively fit, looking for a zip lining experience with fantastic scenery. It is not for people with medical conditions such as heart or back problems or people with trouble hiking, including families with young kids.
Keep scrolling, and I will explain more.
The Scenery at Selvatura’s Ziplining Tour is Amazing
Selvatura Park is next to the Santa Elena cloud forest, at the highest elevation point of the Monteverde cloud forest. The humidity at this location is the highest in the region (which means there is more rain, but we will talk about this later), making the flora much more vibrant and beautiful.
The zip line was incredible; the views were well worth it.” Alex
Selvatura Park is a natural paradise. You will notice this as soon as you get to the park. In April 2019, CNN featured the Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve as one of the top 25 most beautiful places on earth and the most magical place in Costa Rica (You can read more on this in the article Why is the Monteverde Reserve so famous?). While CNN explicitly referred to the Monteverde Reserve and not Selvatura Park (independent cloud forest site), they share the same forest type. Both are beautiful and very similar, except the Monteverde Reserve is a nature park focused on ecology, so they do not have ziplines.
Selvatura is a place where you can go trekking and get an idea of what Monteverde park is like because it is the same forest, and you can also do 13 zip lines at a reasonable price.” Jesus
Difficulty Level of Selvatura’s Ziplining Tour
The Selvatura ziplining tour is for those relatively physically fit. You will need to hike in between some of the zip lines, and you also have to climb most zip line platforms. The hike is not excessively strenuous, but it’s all uphill, and breathing is more arduous at this elevation. I am a guy in the mid-30s, physically fit, and the harsh landscape made my heart race for a while. You will have time to recover while waiting for your turn to zip line, but you need to keep this in mind, especially if you have problems hiking.
Hiking in between platforms at Selvatura Park can also be a challenge for kids. My daughter was eight, and I had to carry her zipline pulley on the trails because it was heavy for her to take around. Selvatura allows kids as young as four years to go on the tour, but knowing the involved hiking, I would not recommend it to kids below eight.
Some trails can be more of a challenge.” James
Safety Measures at Selvatura Ziplining Tour Could Be Better
The safety measures at the Selvatura ziplining tour were not the best, especially for kids. They were far below par compared to other zip lining tour companies in the area, such as Sky Trek Monteverde. I never felt utterly comfortable with my eight-year-old daughter. I had to be on top of her constantly, and I found myself saying “be careful” a lot more often than I wanted.
There were only four tour guides with us, and we were a group of 18 people. Four tour leaders were not enough to cover the 14 platforms in the course, so they had to rotate back and forth. For example, three tour guides ziplined ahead of the group when we started the route, and one stayed on the first platform with the group. One leader stayed on platform number 2, and the other two leaders went to platforms numbers 3 and 4. I was first on the line, so when I finished zipline number 4, the guide asked me to follow the trail and wait for the group on the next platform.
Before heading to that platform, I waited for my family, and we followed the path, climbed the stairs, and waited for the rest of the group on the fifth platform.
We had to stay up there for about 5 minutes alone until a couple arrived, then more couples and families came until the entire group was there. Then we had to wait for the tour leaders to arrive. So, we waited a total of approximately 15 minutes on the platform without the guides. We stayed away from the end of the platform to avoid falling, which would have been fatal. And waiting there for a tour guide felt odd, especially with two kids who were eager to keep going.
I asked one of the tour guides if leaving the group without a guide on a platform was a common practice, and he replied that this happens during the offseason when they are understaffed. During the high season, from December through April, they have a tour guide assigned to each platform at all times. I can attest to this because I have done this tour a couple of times before during the summer.
But still, leaving a group alone high on a platform did not feel appropriate. I gave this feedback to the tour guide in a friendly manner, and he acknowledged it, so later, when I finished zip line number 8, the attendant asked me to follow the trail and wait at the base of platform number 9 and not to climb until the tour guides got there.
Waiting at the base was safer but still not appropriate. The best scenario would have been to have an assigned tour guide at each platform. Allowing customers to climb each tower alone without supervision could potentially result in a fatal accident. I live in Monteverde, and I know this has not happened, but still, there is a possibility, and I do not think they should wait until it happens to put in place safety measures to prevent it. They should avoid it, so I reached out to a manager and gave the feedback at the end of the course. He was very friendly and acknowledged this opportunity area, and I hope they will consider it.
Braking System at Selvatura’s Ziplining Tour
Another safety aspect that made me wait until my daughter was eight years old to bring her to Selvatura’s zip lining tour is their braking system.
As mentioned in the intro, I’ve visited Selvatura Park many times, and I have done the ziplines quite a few times. However, I never brought my daughter with me during my previous excursions because their braking system could be tricky. What do I mean?
At Selvatura Park, when you start the ziplines course, they give adults a strong leather glove (see the following picture of a glove) so that you can use it to brake (i.e., slow down) as you are approaching the next zipline platform.
You have to place your dominant hand behind the pulley that attaches the zip line to the security harness that carries your weight. Then, depending on how fast you are approaching the upcoming platform, you have to apply pressure to slow down to avoid crashing into the tree that holds the platform. They show you how to do this at the beginning of the tour, and you start with three small ziplines to put this into practice.
Let me show you a picture of me doing this:
On the other hand, kids get a lighter version of gloves. And they get instructions not to apply pressure to the zipline (i.e., not to slow down). Kids carry less weight than adults, so they travel at lower speeds. An artifact (you can see it on the following picture on the top left-hand corner) at the end of the zipline will stop them from crashing.
Here is a picture of my daughter approaching the braking system:
Long story short, kids do not need to touch the zipline; they grab the rope that connects their harness to the pulley that attaches them to the zipline, and then they wait for their pulley to reach the braking system.
Sounds easy, and it is. So what’s wrong with this?
Placing a hand behind your body enables you to remain stable and with your body facing your destination (i.e., looking forward like in my picture). Putting your hands on the rope and having no hands touching the zip line behind your body makes you lose that stability, resulting in you spinning around your cord.
Spinning can be a lot of fun. It’s one of the things that I love the most about Selvatura’s zip lining tour. It lets you have a 360-degree view over the zip lines where the tour guides allow you to do this, which is excellent for someone like me who has ziplined many times, but it can be uncomfortable and scary for a newbie.
The first time I went to Selvatura was almost 11 years ago. That was my first zipline experience, and as great as it was, this “spinning thing” happened to me once, and it was not cool. Out of fear, I almost placed my hand on the zipline to make it stop, which could have been dangerous because when you are spinning, it’s hard to know where you are placing your hand.
You might place your hand behind the pulley, which would be correct. But you might also end up putting it in front of the pulley, in which case you would pound your hand with the pulley.
Adults can be okay with pounding their hands like that. However, kids might have a more traumatic experience, primarily because, as mentioned above, they wear a much lighter version of gloves.
All in all, things went well with my daughter and her cousin, and it was fine, but you should be aware of these safety pitfalls, especially if you have young kids.
Here is a picture of my daughter’s cousin. In this case, he also started to spin around, and at one point, he was going backward. Luckily, he was having fun, and instead of getting scared, he remained calm, enjoyed the ride going backward, and did not try to correct his position by placing his hand on the zipline.
So maybe I was just a little paranoid based on the experience I had those years ago. This first time with kids went fine, and we had a blast. And I am delighted we did okay because it means we are good to go back!
What does the Selvatura’s Ziplining Tour include?
The Selvatura Ziplining Tour includes:
- Thirteen zip lines.
- An optional Tarzan swing.
- Hiking between some platforms.
- The most beautiful scenery in the area.
There are other services you can purchase as extras for an additional fee. For example, you can opt to do the last zipline in Superman-style for an additional fee (highly recommended). You can purchase the photos of your tour (also recommended)*. And you can rent a Go-Pro (only recommended if it’s not raining; otherwise, the videos will show the drops of the Go-Pro protection screen, so the quality of the videos will not be excellent).
*Tip: If you purchase the pictures of your Selvatura’s zip lining experience, be sure to ask which ziplines the photographers will be shooting, and get ready when the time comes.
As mentioned above, there are some ziplines where the tour guides will allow you to be more relaxed by holding the rope connected to the pulley. This position is excellent to spin around and go backward, which is pretty fun, but it’s not a great idea if the cameraman is on the platform you’re heading to because he might not have a good shot if you’re spinning around.
You have to be mindful of this as opposed to just making your guide responsible for it. Tour guides need to take care of the entire group, which can get as big as 130 people (imagine that!), so don’t expect them to be on top of the cameraman. Ask them periodically and take a mental note so that you can remember to go in the straight position when it’s time for a picture.
This trip was the first time I decided to pay to get the pictures because I wanted to keep memories of taking my daughter to zipline on Selvatura. On one of the ziplines, I forgot that the cameraman was waiting on the upcoming platform.
I decided to go on the relaxed position, ended up traveling backward, and lost my chance to get shots of that zipline. Don’t make that mistake. Take complete responsibility for your experience and be on top of your cameraman, so you can be in a favorable position when it’s time for a picture.
How long are the ziplines in Selvatura?
The Selvatura ziplining tour takes 2 hours to complete the entire course.
After you check-in at reception, they will give you the tickets to enter the park.
Then you sign a waiver indicating you do not have medical conditions such as problems with your back and your heart or that you have not had surgery in the last six months.
Then you will go into a room to get a helmet, gloves, and a harness that goes around your waistline.
Next, you will jump on a shuttle for a 5-minute ride to where the ziplining course starts.
Then you will hike a beautiful trail uphill for about 5 minutes to reach the instructors, who will explain three things; an overview of the ziplining course and what to expect, the position you need to hold on the ziplines, how to apply pressure to slow down when required.
Then you will go on three small zip lines used for demonstration purposes, where you can assess how prepared you feel about going on the adventure. Should you not feel ready on these three lines, you can ask one of the instructors to take you back to reception.
If you decide to go on with the tour, you can still stop later, but the walk back to reception will be long and tiring. So I recommend that you use these three zip lines to consider the experience ahead, so you can make an informed decision on whether or not you want to go on.
The combined distance adding up the 13 zip lines is 3.5 kilometers (2.2 miles).
The following table shows how long is each zip line:
How high are the ziplines in Selvatura?
As mentioned above, the scenery should be your number one reason to choose the Selvatura ziplining tour over the other companies that offer zipline experiences in Monteverde.
Selvatura offers a combination of high and low-level ziplines. They can be between 6 meters (19.7 feet) and 178 meters (584 feet) from the ground level. You will go in between trees in some zip lines and above the canopy of the trees in other ziplines. You will also go both through the forest and above the woods in a couple of zip lines.
The following table shows how high is each zip line from the ground level:
Selvatura’s Ziplining Tour Map
Tarzan Swing at the Selvatura’s Ziplining Tour
The Tarzan swing at Selvatura is one of the highlights of the ziplining tour.
It’s a freefall on a rope attached to your harness from a platform. You will swing through the air like Tarzan.
It’s amazing! Check it out:
Superman-style Zipline at the Selvatura Ziplining Tour
The Superman-style zipline is 1 kilometer long (0.6 miles). It’s amazing. Truly impressive. It’s hard to truly appreciate the Superman-style zipline unless you’ve already done it in the “regular” sitting up straight style. The views and the feeling of freedom are out of this world.
Other zipline tours in the area offer the Superman-style zipline experience included in their zipline tour package, so why pay the extra fee at Selvatura? The answer to this question goes back to my very first point in this article; scenery.
100% Aventura Park features the longest Superman-style zipline in Latin America. It’s a crazy long 1.6-kilometer (1 mile) zipline. It’s fantastic; I will not lie. But (there is always a but), the scenery is not that great. “Aventura,” as locals call it, is on the secondary tropical forest. The view here is more rustic.
Extremo Monteverde also features a Superman-style zipline for no additional cost. “Extremo,” as locals call it, includes two Superman lines, one of which goes through a tunnel (pretty cool). And they are both great, but then again, the views are not the best because Extremo is also on a secondary tropical forest.
Both Aventura and Extremo are on the Monteverde’s outskirts, where there is no cloud forest. The scenery on these sites is not that impressive. Both of these ziplining courses are fun. They have some features that make them unique (read the article The Best Zipline Tour Companies in Monteverde for a complete comparison and how they stack to each other). However, the scenery is much better at Selvatura.
Selvatura’s Superman zipline has the most impressive scenery and views in Monteverde. It’s the only Superman zipline located in the actual cloud forest. Selvatura Park knows this, and this is why they allow themselves to charge an additional fee for it.
Check it out:
Final Recommendations for Selvatura Ziplining Tour
Dress Appropriately: Bring a rain jacket or a cape. As mentioned above, Selvatura Park is at the highest elevation point of the Monteverde cloud forest, where the rain is more prominent. Bringing a raincoat is a good idea any time of the year, especially during the winter months from May through November.
Even if the day looks clear in your lodge, you have no idea how different the weather might be up there in the park, so it’s worth coming prepared for the rain just in case.
You should also bring comfortable hiking shoes.
As mentioned above, the Selvatura ziplining tour involves significant hiking. My family spent a total of 20 minutes hiking at a leisurely pace. The paved trails are well built, but it’s all uphill, so it’s worth bringing comfy shoes.
Carrying a rain jacket and hiking shoes not only applies to Selvatura’s zip lining tour, but it really should apply to most activities you do in Monteverde. For more tips in this regard, you can visit the article 10 Things You Must Bring to Monteverde.
Don’t bring backpacks: As mentioned above, all hiking involved in the Selvatura ziplining tour is uphill, and it’s hard to breathe due to the elevation, so you will want to avoid carrying additional unnecessary weight with you.
Besides, the ziplining harness goes over your waist, so having a backpack will get on the way, making you feel very uncomfortable.
Selvatura Park has a safe parking lot with a couple of guards watching over it, so your car will be safe there, and if you get there using their transportation service, you can rent a locker for 1,000 colones ($1.7) and leave your belongings there.
Be mindful of your eyeglasses and your cellphone: As mentioned throughout this article, Selvatura Park is at the highest elevation point of the Monteverde cloud forest, so that the weather can be a bit harsh. Rain can be heavy, and winds can be intense. So intense, they can blow away your eyeglasses.
Tour guides will allow wearing your eyeglasses, and sure, you can indeed wear them, but you have to be mindful of how windy it is. And to be safe, you will want to adjust your hand position so that you can grab the rope attached to the pulley while simultaneously hold your glasses with a finger or two.
Doing this will not be difficult, so don’t worry, wear your glasses, but be mindful.
On the other hand, if you’re taking your cellphone with you (which I recommend so you can take pictures of the trails and the views while you are waiting for your turn to zipline), be mindful of where it is that you place your phone at the time of zip lining.
My partner and I put ours in our respective pockets (make sure you can zip your pocket; otherwise, your phone will slip off), but we did not realize that the harness that goes around the waist was applying pressure to our pockets. It did not feel tight, so we thought it was just fine.
However, when we reached the other side of the last zipline, we realized that the screen protector had broken. Our bodyweight put too much pressure on the harness, which cracked the protector.
Luckily, it was only a $5 screen protector and not the actual screen, which would have been 20 times more expensive to repair. But still, now we had to replace the screen protector.
So, the key takeaway here is that you can take your phone with you, but make sure that your pocket is sealable and that the zipline harness does not go around it to prevent this from happening to you.
Do your research and book ahead: I can understand that researching while on holiday can feel tiring, so it may be tempting to walk into Selvatura Park and see what they offer. However, doing your due diligence of investigating and getting your reservations arranged ahead will save you a lot of time.
Checking in is super quick, and it should only take you a few minutes, whereas going on the sales lines up to thirty minutes, as the sellers have to explain all the park’s attractions to each customer.
On top of this, the ziplining tour has set times; they start at 8:30 am, 11 am, 1 pm, and 2:30 pm, so if you miss a start time, you will have to wait until the next one.
Selvatura Park has other attractions such as the Butterfly Garden, the Sloth’s Sanctuary, and the Reptile Exhibit, so there are things to do if you need to kill some time. However, they have separate fees for these attractions, or you might not be interested in them.
So if you are only interested in doing the ziplines, do your research (hopefully this post will take care of it), get your tickets ahead, and arrive at least 10 minutes before the start time to ensure things go well from the start.
Is the Selvatura Ziplining Tour for You?
Here ends my review on Selvatura’s Ziplining Tour. After reading the above information, if you consider that this zip lining experience is what you are looking for, you can use this link to check real-time availability, book, and get instant confirmation.
On the other hand, if you are unsure if Selvatura’s zip lining tour is the best option for your ideal zipline experience, you can check out this article to compare the top 5 zipline tour companies in Monteverde.
About the Author
I am the founder of Monteverde Tours Online. I live in Monteverde, and I love nature, adventure, and Mountain Biking. My partner and I love spending time in the outdoors and dining out in Monteverde. We have more than 30 years of combined experience in the area, and there is no park, no coffee shop, and no restaurant we haven’t tried at least once!
We love helping visitors, connecting them with the different tours and activities to have a memorable experience in Monteverde.
If you need help planning things to do in the area, send us a message, and we will happily assist you!