Costa Rica Adventure 15. - 26.01.07
Posted at 09:50, 12 January 2007 in South America
15.01.07 San Jose - Tortuguero N.P.
6am this trip officially started with a long travelday to Tortuguero Nationalpark. And honestly... the busses in Bolivia were more comfortable than the ones here, I tell you! But of course it"s all part of the fun :-) The trip took us through the big banana plantations of Chiquita and Del Monte, where we had a short stop to see them work.
After lunch we got off the bus and into a boat, with which we drove through the wonderful rainforest - and already saw some locals: a crocodile! The special thing about this rainforest thou is that it is right on the Caribbean ocean. But the water here is very wild and dirty, and absolutly no swimming, as there are sharks.
We had an easy afternoon to get to know each other in the group, and after dinner in bed I again enjoyed all the noises of the jungle - with the one difference to Peru and Ecuador: here you heard the ocean waves.
16.01.07 Tortuguera N.P.
At 5am (!!!) we had the jungle boat tour - and again we were lucky to see a lot of wildlife: White throated monkeys, Spider monkeys, Howler monkeys; a Cayman; Black River Turtles and all kind of beautiful birds. And the scenery was soooo beautiful! I just am a fan of the jungle :-)
The rest of the day it then only rained... and it rained very hard! The humidity was up to 100%, not really comfortable. We just hang around in the hammocks...
17.01.07 Tortuguera N.P. - La Fortuna
It rained and rained and rained... all night long. And the boat trip on the river was pretty wet aswell, but still wonderful with all the different jungle-scenery. The bus drive to La Fortuna then again was a little torture, but we made it... and on the way we even saw a huge orange Iguana on a tree and a Sloath (Faultier), wow, really a very slow animal.
In La Fortuna we checked into a great hotel right on the foot of the Arenal volcano, which is an active volcano. Unfortunately it still rained and everything was in the clouds. So we enjoyed an evening in the Hot Springs - aaaahhhh felt good!
18. - 19.01.07 La Fortuna
Today some of us booked a River Rafting excursion, and so we were off to the Rio Toro, where 3 and 4 level rapids were awaiting us. And wow, it was a lot of fun, really. Rapid after rapid - good thing the water here is a lot warmer than in Arequipa :-) The weather also finally changed and we started to have sun, I was really happy about that - got sick of the rain...
In the afternoon we strolled around the large botanical garden of the hotel and checked out the impressive crocodiles they keep there in captivity. And the birdlife here was amazing: all sizes, all colours - I especially liked the little hummingbirds/colibris.
After dinner then we were very, very lucky to see the most exciting thing happen: the clouds had lifted and cleared the volcano, and as it was dark we could see the red lava coming down!!! Incredibly beautiful, and very scary at the same time, as this volcano does this all the time, but due to the clouds you cannot see it... And people live around here!!! The volcano spits out rocks, and the red lava colours the clouds on top, so they shimmer orange - and then the rocks roll down the hill in red lines. And you could even hear it puffing - just amazing!
We stayed up very late and just stared and watched - and waited and waited, as it only spits out every 10-15 minutes...
The next day then everything was in the clouds again, but during the day they cleared and at daytime you could only make out the rocks rolling down the hill, no red colour. Funny... But you still could here the puffing noise - just awesome!
Now today five of us booked Canyoneering - another wild adventure ;-) And it already started very exciting, as a big Mika snake crossed our way... And Canyoneering was so much fun; we climbed into the narrow "Lost Canyon", crawled along the waterline and had different abseilings of up to 65m, including a nice waterfall where the guides pushed you in :-). GREAT!
We all returned alive (no snakebites...), and in the afternoon I took a hike up to the observation point of the volcano. But I could not really see more than from the hotelsite.
Unfortunately that evening the clouds were too low again, so no more lava-sightings this evening...
20.01.07 La Fortuna - Santa Elena (Monteverde)
Beautiful sunshine when we left the Arenal volcano to take a boat on the artificial Lake Arenal. Half of the group we chose to go for a 3-hour horseride along the lake. It was beautiful to ride throu the rainforest-like trees along the blue water of the lake. And this time the snake we had in the middle of the way was dead - luckily! Kids had apparently put it there to scare the horses, as it was a very poisonous Fer-de-Lance (could kill a horse!).
After the ride we had another 2-hour busride on a very bumpy dirtroad, but the scenery totally changed: beautiful green mountains = Monteverde. And on the way we for the first time were able to see the Pacific ocean in the horizon. Also the temperature changed, brrrrrrr, a very cold wind awaited us in Santa Elena.
We walked around the little city, booked some excursions and had a dinner with surprise: a big fat rat under the table...
Oh, by the way... you know how important my camera is to me. Well... I almost "killed" it today :-(, it fell out of my pocket when gallopping with the horse!!! Ui, it got really smashed and was totally crooked. But guess what - it still workes!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Puh, I am so glad...
21. - 22.-01.07 Monteverde
Beautiful sunshine and clear blue sky awaited us this morning on our walking tour throu the Monteverde Cloud Forest Preserve. A very knowledgeable and motivated guide showed us around, spotting tarantulas, howler monkeys and different birds. I especially liked the Tucan and the Quetzal bird, wow, a real paradise bird!
But also the trees with all the bromelias, moss and parasite plants growing on them - amazing nature, I loved it.
In the afternoon then some of us relaxed at the pool and got some suntan - NICE :-)
But we also did another interesting thing (nothing for you Babsi...): we went to the Serpentarium, where we were even able to hold a little Boa snake. Felt really soft and smooth...
The following day we learned everything about coffee, from the history to the plant to the making of, including sampling coffee at the end. Now I just sampled the coffee liqueur... mhhhh :-)
In the afternoon then the moment came for me to get to know a totally new adrenalin-adventure: Skytrek, also called Ziplining or Canopytours. But first we did the "Nana-tour", Skywalk, which was very nice aswell. Different hanging bridges high up in the hills allowed us to look down on the rainforest, revealing a totally new way of seeing things. Here birds flew under the bridges...
The adventurous five of us then got harnesses, helmets, gloves and the thing to link to the steelcable - and off we went on ziplines. Uiiiiiiiii - what a feeling! Flying on top of the world, only hanging on to a cable, looking down on the large trees and valleys - i just loved it :-) Every zipline was different: sliding through the trees, or above the trees, or 200m above the ground, or 770m long, or just incredibly fast.... etc. Wow, I would say that after Bungy-Jumping this is the greatest thing I have ever done!
And this evening we sat around the pool drinking some beers and celebrating our breathtaking adventure.
23.01.07 Santa Elena (Monteverde) - Quepos
A lazy morning and then we were off on another bumpy busride to Quepos. On the way we stopped for lunch at a place, where there are huge (wild) crocodiles in the river! Incredible... they just sit there, and upstream there are horses???!!! Amazing.
Quepos is on the Pacific coast, and so we finally hit the hot and sunny weather. Nevertheless, all hotels are inmidst the rainforest on a hill overlooking the ocean. Great landscape! But Quepos itself has not a lot to offer... stinky, dusty little village, full of tourists :-(
24. - 25.01.07 Quepos
Another early start, as some of us booked the Mangrove Kayaking excursion (after kayaking in Antarctica, the mangroves were quite a change...!) We paddled through the mangroves, and I mean really through the trees. We even had to use our hands to move forward, as the paddles were in the way :-)
Again the wildlife was awesome: White throated monkeys came within touching distance; a boa was rolled up in a tree; a little anteater baby slept in a tree; crabs everywhere and also birds all over - just beautiful. I love kayaking as you can hear all the sounds aswell - makes it all a little creapy ;-)
After this we enjoyed an afternoon at the Quepos beach, including a swim in the very warm Pacific ocean.
By the way: The others of the group went to the closeby Manuel Antonio Nationalpark - also worth a visit as they told us.
The next day then we had a free morning, and I relaxed at the pool working on my tan ;-)
And in the late afternoon all of us then boarded a small catamaran and set sail for the sunset cruise. We did not have to go very far out into the ocean to see dolphins. Fun, they "surfed" along the boat! We also saw a water turtle and while snorkeling lots of colourful fishes of all sizes. But the snorkeling to me was not that great anymore... I know, I am spoiled after Galapagos...!
The sky was cloudy that evening, so we did not have such a great sunset - but the trip was still very relaxing and fun.
By the way: 25th of January was my little nephew"s first birthday... but guess what... he managed to break his tiny leg the day before! So the party was off :-(
26.01.07 Quepos - San Jose
The morning was ours to again enjoy the sun, and after lunch we headed off back to San Jose. Unfortunately we hit the rush hour traffic... not very pleasant on such little busses.
A last group dinner - and that was already it for this GAP trip. Wow, time is running so fast, I can"t belive it... soon I have to go home....!!!