Having owned and operated a zipline in Costa Rica for the last seven years my asnwer to this question is, yes. Ziplining in Costa Rica is safe for a number of different reasons but like any outfitter it is important to go with a reputable company. Ziplining was pioneered in Costa Rica by biologist studying in the trees setting up cables to travel in the canopy. In Costa Rica they use steel cables. All ziplines should be designed by an architect and engineer for permit permission. Along with the architectual plans each tree you use has to be studied by a forest biologist for its strength and longevity. Once the structure is in place the safety will rely an operational and maintence attention to detail.
Those that operate ziplines are known as guides here in Costa Rica. They all have been through Vertical Rescue courses along with Wilderness CPR. A zipline guide in Costa Rica is trained in how to safely operate a zipline tour, how to have an eye for daily maintence, and how to safely evac and rescue clients in the event of an emergency. They also are trained in manipulation of equipment. Most equipment is of the highest standard and it is required by law in Costa Rica that each trip and usage of equipment is registered and noted which the guide is also trained in how to care for the equipment so it is maintained at the highest standard of safety.
While ziplining is safe in Costa Rica every adventure sport runs its risk and without specific attention and a professional level of operation some of these incidents can happen:
- Clients forget Brake - this is a common mistake of first time zipliners. While you are taught how to brake in the safety class getting the hang of it might take a cable or two. The good news is ziplines offer a backup breaking system if you do not break. Coming in fast will not result in a physical injury but will get the heart pumping for sure.
- Not following Directions - We all know tourists who just seems to do the opposite of what the guide says. If you put your hand on the cable or in front of the pulley chances are you might get pinched and break some skin. The best part is that this mistake usually only happens once. It is sort of like touching a stove. If you follow the directions in the safety speech starting with proper clothing we can assure you that you will have smooth zipping from start to finish.
- Weather Conditions - This is probably the most important safety factor when dealing with zipline tours. Wind and electric storms are the two conditions that can make a zipline tour unsafe. Ziplines have evac areas that they can cancel the tour in the event that storm or wind approaches quickly.
Most importantly people always ask how often the structural system is inspected. Every 4 months the cables, clips, and trees are inspsected.