There is a place in Central America that moves a little slower with a genuinely kind-hearted people. A place when the sun goes down has natural sounds that are unreal and when those sounds are paired with the stars in the clear cool night sky, it transports you to a tranquil state of mine. Yet, this same place has adventure and excitement all over from their lush rainforests to their sunny coast. It is filled with a cornucopia of flora and exotic wildlife that most have never seen in person. This place is Costa Rica.
This is an intro piece to a series of blog postings about my adventure into Costa Rica. Each piece will cover a part of my journey from ecotourism, inshore fishing, offshore fishing and end with tips on how to plan your own Costa Rican adventure. Originally, I wanted just a fishcation trip but as I researched more on this divine place, I found that Costa Rica offered so much more than just angling, an insight that will be shared in this first piece. So, cut up some pineapple, drink some coconut water, and apply your sunscreen as I take you on a journey to the Rich Coast.
The sun peeked over the Platanar volcano as the dew settled on the Jurassic Park-like greenery in front of the villa. Abby, my girlfriend, and I waited on the transportation to our multi-stop tour.
Our guides Minor and Yari pulled up in the passenger van wrapped in the Rainforest Explorers logo, and we eagerly hopped in to drive to our first destination of the Hanging Bridges of Mistico Park.
Driving up a steep mountain and around various sharp curves, we pulled into the park. Yari hopped out of the van and instructed us to carry our rain jackets. She then enthusiastically yelled, “vamonos!” That means “let’s go” in Spanish. Overlooking the Arenal volcano, the humid park has a 250 hectares with a 2 mile trail with 16 bridges, specifically five hanging bridges. As we hiked through the misty trail, we saw bats, eyelash pit vipers, spider monkeys jumping from tree to tree and lizards. All pointed out and described in detail by our guide, Yari.
Equipped with our rain jackets, the wet climate of the rainforest was no issue to us, but in the background, the howling monkey sounded his agitation whenever a rain shower would pop up. His howls could be heard for miles according to Yari. As we exited the trail and crossed the longest bridge over the green vegetation. We began our next journey to the La Fortuna waterfall.
The waterfall entrance follows 500 stairs to a viewing and swimming area. The path and steps were numerous but clearly defined. The green vegetation covered the forrest surrounding the staircase. The sounds of zipliners above us as they zoomed over the scenery. As we reached the bottom, the grandeur of the waterfall could be observed from a platform and from the small river below. If you go around the bend of the river, there is a small swimming area with clear water and exotic fish swimming. It is also a more relaxed area than by the pool near the fall. The best way to describe that water is brisk and refreshing. It was like a cold mountain spring in March. The climb up is not as easy as the climb down, but there were multiple stops with benches to rest if needed. When you reach the top, there are dressing rooms, snack stands, and gift shops to visit.
Our next stop in our action packed day was lunch. In true Costa Rican or Tico form, we stopped at a family restaurant and enjoyed a traditional Costa Rican castada that was cooked over a wood stove. My plate was filled will salad, black beans, rice and steak.
Accompanied with a local mixed fruit juice and Lizano sauce for flavoring. After the bountiful plate, the meal was concluded with coffee and ice cream. We enjoyed dessert by watching the local birds eat from the feeder just outside the pavilion-style restaurant.
We digested our food as we drove to our a long strenuous hike through a forest trail and up a lava field trail to a lookout platform of Arenal Volcano. The hike required the assistance of wooden sticks and a watchful eye as we bypassed steep hills and irritable ants. Wild birds cawed in the warm humid air as we reached the base of the volcano hike. Yari briefed the group on the history of the volcano with a warning of difficulty of the next hike. Some settled to stay at the base but the majority of us venture on. The trail was riddled with loose lava rock and steep steps. After a short 20-minute hike up a strenuous trail, we reached our lookout spot to view the volcano and lake Arenal. It was truly a humbling moment that we soaked in before the treacherous descent back to the base of the mountain.
After all our adventures in the day, we had one more stop to complete, the Tabacon hot springs.The hot springs created by the nearby volcanic conditions were amazing. The springs were well deserved, and were a relaxing 102 degree temperature as we enjoyed refreshing beverages. Each pool had a unique design. My favorite was the waterfall pool that rushed hot water over you. It was a soothing experience to end our adventurous day. For more information on Rainforest explorers and the tours they offer check out https://www.rainforestexplorers.com/.