Finca Modelo Ecologica is blessed with a fantastic piece of land just outside Monteverde, Costa Rica. Both the Tree Top Climbing & Canyoning Tours are just a few minutes from their office – find out details inside!
Finca Modelo Ecologica Tours
Finca Modelo Ecologica runs three tours on their property:
- Rappel down 6 waterfalls
- Climb a 40 meter strangler fig three different ways
- Spot wildlife on a night time nature walk
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We here at DIY Travel HQ tried the first two adventure activities & loved them.
How many times can you climb inside a tree all the way to the top or rappel down a 40 meter waterfall?!
They definitely make the list of top things to do in Costa Rica!
All tours include shuttle transportation to & from Finca Modelo Ecologica, use of lockers, safety equipment, & bilingual guides.
There are typically three time slots for tours: 8:00am, 11:00am & 2:00pm. Tours last between 2-3 hours, & you can take a nap on a hammock or use Wi-Fi between doing the adventure activities.
Three Ways to Climb a Strangler Fig at Finca Modelo Ecologica
If you are looking for a different experience during your visit to Monteverde, then look no further than the Tree Top Climbing tour offered by Finca Modelo Ecologica. They give you three options to climb to the top of a 40 meter strangler fig. We completed 2.5 so this isn’t a pushover tour!
It is a short 3 minute walk to the strangler fig after being fitted with harnesses & a helmet. Your guide will then go over all the information with you for the three Tree Top Climbing methods, but they are happy to explain it again since it is a lot of information to take in all at once. It will also become clearer when you see exactly how each climbing method is designed.
Tree Top Climbing Method #1
If you are going to attempt all three methods, & we recommend you at least try, then start with the outside iron rungs. These are the most difficult, require strength & endurance, & definitely require you to not be afraid of heights.
We originally thought the iron rungs were going to be similar to a ladder & just be an easy, feel good climb where you can enjoy the views along the way. Wrong! The beginning is easy with metal rungs on both sides so you can scale this section of the tree. However, the iron rungs get farther apart as you climb the tree.
Eventually you have to use the branches & nubs of the strangler fig tree to reach the next rung so the best comparison would be rock climbing. This is where it gets hairy as you also have to venture from the crevice of the tree to the real exterior, & we ultimately took an impromptu Tarzan swing as the hand hold wasn’t quite where we expected it.
For this Tree Top Climbing method we were being belayed by our guide Andy who made sure we had enough slack to freely climb, but tight enough that we wouldn’t fall too much should we slip. You can also clip yourself to a rung to take a break should you get tired.
Tree Top Climbing Method #2
The next Tree Top Climbing method you should try is the inside of the strangler fig tree. This is the easiest & also most unique experience of the three.
Strangler figs grow from the top down, thicken their vine-like branches, & ultimately suffocate the host tree. Over time, the original tree decays & only a hollow inside remains with windows formed between the branches.
You are attached the entire time with a safety device that locks when you descend too fast. However, there are plenty of hand & foot holds, which makes it easier & safer. It is definitely a bucket list item to climb to the top of a 40 meter tree from the inside!
There is no trap door to reach the top platform so you have to venture to the end of the outside rungs to complete the climb. Once at the top you are clipped into the cable that is bolted to the tree so you can soak up the 360 degree views. It gets windy up there so even this aspect has a bit of a thrill.
What goes up must come down, & there are two ways to reach solid ground again. You can climb back down the inside of the strangler fig, or rappel down the outside.
We both chose to rappel & enjoyed our descent. It is a little terrifying as you have to trust the ropes at first, but the fear quickly passes. You once again have a speed brake & manually control how fast you descend with a lever.
Tree Top Climbing Method #3
After you have gotten a break from the first two Tree Top Climbing methods you can tackle the third version. For this you will need a bit of coordination & some strength. The goal is to slowly climb a free standing rope attached to a large branch at the top.
Once again you have a speed brake as a backup, but you will also be using another device to ratchet yourself up in combination with a foot strap. The first thing you need to do is relax & raise your leg with the strap, which takes the weight off the ropes. You then raise the scaling device before simultaneously standing up using the foot strap & pulling the rope to remove the newly created slack. You can then rappel when you reach the top or get tired.
Canyoning at Finca Modelo Ecologica
Canyoning is another fun activity you can do right on Finca Modelo Ecologica. It involves rappelling down a series of 6 waterfalls ranging from 5 meters for initial practice to a whopping 40 meters! After obtaining a safety harness, helmet, & pads you take a short walk to a lookout with commanding views over the valley below.
Before you begin, you get a demonstration on how to safely rappel the waterfalls. The general advice is to be 90 degrees with flat feet, look down, & slowly let the rope go as you take your next step. It takes a little while to get use to if you haven’t rappelled before, but you will be a pro by the end. There is also an emergency ‘out’ for any rappel that you don’t feel up to completing.
The first waterfall is roughly 5 meters & is used to work out any kinks before you start taller rappels where it is more difficult for the guides to assist you. We’re not sure if this was more challenging since it was short or we hadn’t gotten the hang of it yet. I swallowed a bit of water, but Sheena did a classic demonstration of how not to rappel. She got beat down by the waterfall, turned around, & crashed into the rocks before reaching the bottom only 5 meters below.
It is a bit daunting at first since both guides are yelling instructions to you, but you quickly get the hang of it on the second waterfall. The funny part is when they yell to you & you think you are doing something wrong, but they only want to take your picture. They sell the photos & videos at the end, which can be anywhere from amusing to epic. You can also bring a GoPro with a clip for the helmet & see what you capture during canyoning.
Each waterfall is a bit different in terms of height & challenges. Some are slippery, others tricky, but the best is the 4th waterfall measuring 40 meters.
Based on how well you rappelled the first three waterfalls, the guides may recommend you to zip line out over the pool below, & free rappel down instead of along the waterfall. Since it is so long there is no way for the guides to easily help you so you have to be able to rely on just yourself.
If you get the chance to rappel down the 40 meter waterfall, then you will have a blast. You can try jumping on the way down for a faster & more interesting descent. This is where I really began to feel comfortable rappelling. For everyone that doesn’t get to go, there are still two more waterfalls measuring around 15 meters to improve your skills. Perhaps you will find out why they forgot to install a long enough belaying rope for the last one 🙂
Contrary to the Tree Top Climbing Tour, what goes down must come up. It is a slightly harder walk back to the office, but there is a hard earned cold beer waiting for you. You can then review the pictures before deciding if you would like to purchase them.
In a Nutshell
Location: Finca Modelo Ecologica is located several kilometers northwest of Santa Elena & best accessed by arranging their shuttle service in advance.
Tours Include: Return transportation, lockers, equipment, & bilingual guides
Things to Bring: GoPro with mount clip, shoes, change of clothes
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***The Final Word – Both activities were a lot of fun, but you have to at least do Tree Top Climbing since I don’t know anywhere else in the world that offers this option!***
Which tour interests you the most, & how would you climb the strangler fig first?
* We received a complimentary Tree Top Climbing & Canyoning Tour, thank you to Finca Modelo Ecologica for hosting us. We only recommend fun, value for money activities & experiences that we believe our readers would enjoy. As always, all opinions are our own.
Visited in January 2017