This week we had a visitor. Lauren, a friend from my old work in Vancouver is down visiting, and it’s been a great excuse to be a tourist for a while. We managed to put a few things on hold, and for the first time since we’ve been in Costa Rica, actually took an entire weekend off.
Wednesday was her first full day here, which actually coincided with a scheduled town-wide power outage. Since we couldn’t get any work done, we really had no option but to make it a beach day. The morning started off a little overcast, but by the afternoon it was gorgeous and sunny, and we all got a little burnt. Ooops! To cool off and get out of the sun, we headed to the patio at Witch Rock Surf Camp for some cold beers and a late lunch. Unfortunately the power outage made the menu selection a little thin, and Lauren wasn’t able to fill her craving for Witch Rock’s famous “Nachos as big as your ass”, but we made due with what was available and added nachos to our list of things to do next week.
On Thursday we had a full on work day to make up for the mid-week day off, and also in order to finish up some stuff so we could get away for a long weekend. Lauren had a lazy day at our pool, and finished off the first of the many books she’d brought with her.
Our plans for the weekend came together pretty last minute. We avoided booking anything early as Mike wasn’t sure he was going to be able to get away for four days. But he managed to get everything done, and we promised to find a hotel with wifi in case anything came up. Unfortunately, since we’d left it so late the public shuttle from Tamarindo to Arenal was full. Instead we had to take a private shuttle which was a bit more expensive, but also meant we didn’t have to get up early and could leave when we wanted.
Arenal is about a 4 hour drive from Tamarindo, and is known as the “adventure capital” of Costa Rica. Arenal Volcano National Park is chalk full of adrenaline pumping things to do. From canopy tours and bungee jumping to whitewater rafting and waterfall rappelling. There are also horseback tours and hiking trails and of course to relax after a hard day, several volcano-fed hot-springs.
We arrived at our hotel around 3 o’clock Friday afternoon, and after booking a couple of tours for the next day we kicked back and enjoyed several beers and the beautiful view of Arenal Volcano.
The next morning we were picked up bright an early and headed to Arenal’s Sky Trek, a canopy tour that criss-crosses it’s way through the Arenal Reserve. After suiting up in climbing harnesses, helmets and some slightly smelly gloves, we boarded the Sky Tram Gondola for a 20 minute ride up into the reserve.
It wasn’t till we reached the top and saw the length and height of the highest cable that the adrenaline started to kick in. The first 2 cables were just little baby ones to get you used to things, and give you the option to chicken out at take the gondola back down. The 3rd one, however, the point of no return, was a completely different story. 656 feet high, and 1550 feet across the reserve, I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a little nervous.
Some how I ended up going first out of the 3 of us. My heart was definitely pounding as I stood on the platform getting clipped onto the cable. A little push and a slight scream, and there’s no turning back! I had done a canopy tour the first time I was in Costa Rica, about 6 years ago, but this one was definitely higher, and definitely longer.
After the initial few seconds the nerves let up a little and you can enjoy the ride. The first cable only takes about 30 seconds to cross and before you know it you’re flying into the next platform hoping the cables will actually stop you. Lauren and Mike were up next, and I had just enough time to get my camera out to snap a few pics as Lauren & Mike came flying in after me.
There are 8 cables in all, and to be honest, once you conquer your nerves on the first one the rest are a breeze. The views of lake Arenal, are beautiful and even though the top of the volcano was hidden by clouds it was still pretty amazing.
After an adrenaline filled morning, we headed back to our hotel to kick back by the pool and have some lunch. Later that afternoon we went on a volcano walk, to get a bit closer and in hopes of seeing some volcanic action. However, despite being one of the 10 most active volcano’s in the world we didn’t get so lucky. The first thing our guide told us was that we wouldn’t see any lava, and that this was the least active time of the year for Arenal. He then proceeded to give us a mini-science lesson for the rest of the hike, which was a bit more information that I think any of us needed or wanted. I suppose they felt they had to give us something to make us feel like we got our money’s worth.
Sunday morning was another early one. We had a transfer booked from Arenal to Monteverde, via the “Jeep-Boat-Jeep” tour advertised everywhere. It actually turned out to be more of a “Van-Boat-Van” trip, but the boat was definitely a nice way to break it up. The trip took a little over 3 hours and included a coffee stop where Lauren and I sat on a Bull.
That night we went on a night hike, which was actually pretty fun. We saw 6 coatis (part of the raccoon family), 3 tarantulas, one of which had a nest of little baby tarantulas, some birds, and frog, a praying mantis, and lots of other insects. Our guide was really great, pointing out lots of stuff we’d never have seen on our own, and giving us just enough information without being overwhelming.
After a couple of early mornings, we decided to just sleep in on Monday. Instead of going on another hike we wandered around Monteverde, and visited the Frog Pond, World of Insects and the Serpentario. All three were really great, but I think our fav was the Serpentario. The guide was great, and we got to hold several reptiles including a Boa Constrictor.
Our shuttle picked us up that afternoon. We grabbed some beer and some snacks for the ride and headed back to Tamarindo. It was a great little get away, and good to finally do a couple of touristy things.
Stay tuned for the rest of Lauren’s visit.
Posted by: Kelly