Costa Rica’s rainforests are amazing to hike through, and if you have read some of our national parks’ posts, you’ll see why. But viewing the rainforest, in all its grandeur, from treetop level is something truly special. While some people get this experience on adventure tours while zipping along quick cables, an aerial tram offers a more relaxing and slow-paced alternative. We recently rode the tram at Rainforest Adventures in Jaco, and everyone in our family really enjoyed it. In this post, we’ll tell you all about our visit so you can plan your own.
While there are a few aerial trams in Costa Rica, the one we are sharing with you today is located along the central Pacific coast. The facility is right outside the beach town of Jaco.
Jaco is a popular tourist destination known for its busy main strip that has all kinds of shops, restaurants, bars, and hotels. Everything is only a few steps away from the beach. And while many tourists stay close to the main area of town, there are some impressive rainforest areas just a short drive away.
Rainforest Adventures Facility
The tram, just 10 minutes into the mountains near Jaco, is owned and operated by a company called Rainforest Adventures. They have another tram on the Atlantic slope of the country, one in Panama, and a few on Caribbean islands as well.
In Jaco, you’ll arrive at the Rainforest Adventures base camp after a short ride along a flat dirt road (no 4×4 needed). This road, while just outside a well-developed area, is nevertheless full of thick, pristine rainforest.
Rainforest Adventures has plenty of parking if you aren’t getting the provided shuttle transportation from your hotel.
Main Facility, Covid Precautions, and Other Tours
Once you arrive at the park entrance, you will check in for your tour. Inside the large open-air building is a big cafeteria and snack bar along with some bathrooms. When we visited during Covid-19, we had our temperatures checked, wiped our feet on disinfecting mats, and used the provided hand sanitizer before entering with our masks on.
Rainforest Adventures was one of the first tour operators in Costa Rica to receive the Safe Travels Stamp of Approval. This recognition is given by the World Travel and Tourism Council. It is meant to ensure safety protocols, especially related to Covid-19, are well thought out and taken seriously.
The Rainforest Adventures facility offers more than just the aerial tram, so if you are interested, you can do the tram ride as part of a combo. There is zip lining as well as a ropes course that includes suspended bridges, a climbing wall, tight rope, and more. All tours include entrance to the facility’s giant butterfly enclosure.
The entrance to the tram is a minute or so walk from the base camp. Here, you’ll wait briefly for the next tram to arrive. To load you on, a guide will stop the tram. It’s an easy step up and the guide can help you, if needed.
The individual tram cars are similar to those used at some ski resorts. They hang from a sturdy cable, which glides along the connected poles. Unlike at ski resorts, though, these are open air with a canvas cover allowing you to see better and enjoy the outside air.
Each tram car has four rows of seats, holding two people each. There is an extra single seat in the back for a guide.
The tram cars felt very safe to us. They are constructed with heavy steel, and the doors have a sturdy latch. The railing was high and the vertical slats were close enough together so that we felt completely safe sitting alongside our sons (16 months and 4.5 years at the time). We just made sure to keep a tight hold of our littlest one.
Since the cars are open air, we would recommend packing anything small into a backpack so you don’t accidentally drop it off the side.
For those who like to take pictures with your phone, a strap like this one, would be nice to have. There were a few times when we wished we had one, especially when trying to snap photos over the edge alongside the kids.
What You’ll See on the Tram
The biggest highlight of the tram ride is the rainforest around you. You’ll glide up the mountain, passing giant trees and hanging vines, and be able to see sweeping views. Along the way, you’ll also see a couple of waterfalls and streams through the rainforest canopy. These are really beautiful from above.
The tram cars also get fairly close to some of the tallest trees, allowing you to see the branches and leaves at eye level. Some things you may notice among them are arboreal termite nests, a variety of bromeliads, hanging vines, and colorful flowers. Many of Costa Rica’s trees and vines make interesting seed pods or fruits too, so keep an eye out for those as well.
While it can be more difficult to spot wildlife on the tour, we were lucky to see a toucan as well as many different species of butterfly. Other wildlife like monkeys and sloths do live in the area too, so keep a lookout!
Once you arrive at the top and start heading back down the mountain, you’ll have some impressive views of the valley below and the Pacific Ocean in the background. Altogether, the trip up and back is about one hour.
Butterfly Garden and Nearby Trails
Included in the tram tour (and all tours) is a visit to the Rainforest Adventures butterfly enclosure. This large space has lush gardens and a fountain in the center. The tropical flowers and plants inside mimic the butterflies’ natural habitat, and the large mesh dome keeps them inside.
Along the paths inside the butterfly garden, you’ll find some feeders set up. These have fresh fruits that the butterflies love to eat. It also distracts them and allows you to get a closeup view or picture.
Inside the enclosure, the butterflies are constantly reproducing. They lay their eggs on leaves, then new caterpillars hatch, and eventually those caterpillars make cocoons. The staff carefully removes the cocoons from leaves and branches and pins them to a special wall. Here, they can be monitored and viewed safely. When we were there, we saw three or four new butterflies emerging and spreading their wings.
Outside the butterfly garden are some more short paths. These are paved and easy to walk. On a short stroll, you can see more colorful flowers like heliconia as well as butterflies and other insects like leaf-cutter ants. We also saw a hummingbird mother and her tiny nest.
One section of the gardens has medicinal plants and other fruiting plants like cacao (chocolate).
Finally, there was an area that had some snake enclosures (glassed in). This was closed when we visited but would normally be accessible too.
Planning Your Visit
If you are just planning to do the aerial tram, butterfly garden, and trails, plan to spend a few hours at the facility. This would give you time to go slowly and enjoy it. If you are adding on other activities like the zipline, you’ll need a couple of more hours for that.
Seniors, People with Limited Mobility, and Children
If you’re traveling with seniors, someone with limited mobility, or young children, the aerial tram tour is a great option. There is no minimum age so babies are fine to go.
For those in a wheelchair, the trams cannot hold a wheelchair, but you only need to make a small step up to enter and the guide can completely stop the tram to allow you on.
Other areas of the park are fully handicap accessible, like the trails and butterfly garden. Rainforest Adventures also has a wheelchair on site.
Food & Drinks
The Rainforest Adventures facility has a large open-air cafeteria with plenty of tables. When we visited, tourism was quite slow due to Covid, so the lunch buffet was closed. Normally the buffet includes traditional-style Costa Rican cuisine. There are vegetarian and vegan options.
There is also a snack bar that is always open, which serves things like hamburgers, hot dogs, ice cream, smoothies, beer, and other drinks.
What to Bring/Wear
For all tours at the Rainforest Adventures park, you’ll need to wear closed-toed shoes. Flip-flops are not allowed.
We would also recommend bringing some insect repellent, especially in the rainier months (May through November). See our Mosquitoes in Costa Rica post for recommendations.
Long, lightweight pants and a raincoat are a good idea if you are visiting during the rainy season, but shouldn’t be necessary when the weather is warm and sunny. Check out our Packing List post for more clothing tips too.
During Covid-19 travel, you’ll also be required to wear a face mask when inside the facility and when loading/unloading onto the tram or zipline.
When we visited, we wore masks but took them off once we started up the mountain on the tram. Each family or group had their own tram and they are very spaced out. During our visit, the tour was also self-guided, so we didn’t have to worry about another person being alongside us.
The staff at the park will take some photos of you during the tour. These are for sale near the cafeteria. Prices vary and they have different packages.
Booking Your Tour
Aerial Tram Cost
$65 Adults (13+) | $32 Children ages 3-12 | Children under 2 and under are free
*Rainforest Adventures is currently offering promotional rates due to Covid-19. Please inquire with us if you would like to book and we will advise on if we can get you these rates.
The park is open from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Tram tours can be done anytime during open hours.
What Is Included?
Tram tour, visit to the butterfly garden, and use of trails (self-guided).
Booking Through Us
If you would like to book this tour, our Travel Agency would be happy to help. We can make all the arrangements for you. Booking through us costs the same and helps support our website!
To book this tour, contact us through our Tour Booking Service page or email us at bookings(at)twoweeksincostarica(dot)com and let us know your preferred date along with the number of people in your party (adults and children) and your exact pick up location, if you’d like the included transportation.
If you’re looking to visit the jungle around Jaco, the tram ride at Rainforest Adventures is a great experience. Not only will you get to enjoy some amazing panoramic views, but you’ll also have the chance to see some waterfalls and rivers from above. With a little luck, you might see some wildlife too.
Have a question about riding the tram near Jaco? Ask it below.
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Looking for more information to plan your trip? Check out these posts:
Jaco: Costa Rica’s Booming Beach Town – In this post, we share everything you need to know about visiting the busy beach town of Jaco. Includes hotel, restaurant, and more activity recommendations.
A Riverboat Adventure on the Tarcoles River – Looking for another fun adventure near Jaco? This leisurely boat trip will let you see giant crocodiles and wading birds, up close.
Jaco Restaurant Guide: Jaco has one of the best dining scenes in all of Costa Rica. Check out our guide for some local recommendations.
Packing for Costa Rica: The Essentials – Don’t come unprepared. This post covers all the basics you’ll want in your suitcase, plus a lot of optional items that will make your trip stress free.