Honeymoon: Bridges/Waterfall/Volcano/Tabacon

Waking up our first morning at the Nayara resort was worlds different than waking up on the coast. We did have clouds, but it wasn’t nearly as humid as the coast was and we actually had a bit of a nice breeze. If I hadn’t already known we were already in the same country, I wouldn’t have believed it. I did eventually hear that there are over 100 micro-climates in Costa Rica so it makes sense; but being told that without experiencing it for yourself is something I doubt anyone would ever really believe.

Sylvia and I eventually got settled and headed down to the main restaurant for breakfast. Another nice change from the coast was that we had a nice spread to choose from every morning and there were always staff around in case you wanted juice or coffee. I’m not a coffee snob by any means, but coffee in Costa Rica is amazing. Most coffee I have is either just bad or pretty good, but something about it there really gave me a greater appreciation for the beverage. I ended up having a cup every morning after that.

Once we’d wrapped up breakfast, Sylvia and I headed to the lobby to get ready for a full day. While much of our time on the coast was spent exploring largely on our own time, while we were in Arenal, we were going to see way more than that with a pretty full schedule. The two of us and a few other guests climbed into a van and headed out to our first destination: the Arenal Hanging Bridges. Once we’d made our way there, we all piled out of the van and milled around a bit while waiting for our guide to start the tour.

Required wildlife shot!

Our guide for the day was Julio and he really did stick with us the entire day through all of our excursions. His endless energy and enthusiasm for the area along with his seemingly endless knowledge made for a particularly fun day, at least for me and I only hope I didn’t badger him too much as we started our walk through the forest. One of the first things we happened upon that had everyone giggling like schoolchildren was a kind of walking tree that had another nickname that I doubt I need to point out.

It’s a walking tree. Pervert

The interesting thing about the tour was that the hanging bridges themselves were spaced out pretty far and the total walk itself was at least 2 miles. Most of it was pretty easy and we were walking at a pretty slow pace, so it wasn’t that strenuous. The pace was perfect actually, as it gave Julio more time to talk about the forest and also to allow us to get good photos of wildlife as we happened up on them.

We weren’t expecting to see the howler monkeys but we could hear them pretty frequently

As we walked further and further, we got to taller and longer hanging bridges that started to really give us a sense of just how dense the jungle was. I’m still floored by how much green there can be in one place and just how alive everything can feel. It’s kind of funny when you stop and think about it too, because I’m sure that anyone who would try to spend the night exposed in an area like we were in would not make it more than a couple of nights either due to weather or nocturnal jungle life hungry for something to eat.

As we walked along, we did start to go up a bit of an incline as up is where the best hanging bridges were. It was a bit taxing, but nobody was in any hurry and the higher we got, the more beautiful the scale of it all became. We eventually got high enough that Sylvia started getting nervous on the bridges, which I didn’t expect because she’s normally so fearless about things like heights. I on the other hand was just fine and somehow managed to ignore the fact that we were over 100 feet in the air with a jungle so dense, we couldn’t see the floor.

You can see one of the lower hanging bridges if you look hard enough

Sylvia made a beeline for the end of the bridge after I forced her to stand still for this shot

Interestingly enough, the way the path works is that once you hit the highest point, you’re basically done and after a short walk down, you’re back at the beginning. We all crammed back into the van and headed off to our next destination: the La Fortuna Waterfall. We crossed through the town of La Fortuna on our way and were reminded that we had to walk all the way down to the bottom of the waterfall and back up. I didn’t really think much of it before actually seeing the waterfall, but then realized that we were definitely going to have to take it slow, especially on the way back up.

Hi, I’m about 600 steps deep

The payoff was definitely worth it though. We knew that we’d get a chance to swim in the pool that the waterfall flows into, but we were warned to not to try and swim near the waterfall as it would definitely pull you under. I’m more of a visual person though so I didn’t really understand till I saw and then got in with Sylvia.

It knocks you around more than you’d think

After rolling around and cooling off in the water for a bit, we got out and dried off to start the trek back up to the top again. I didn’t have the easiest time of it and I was in pretty good shape so I know that Sylvia was definitely hurting, especially with some of her foot issues, but we did eventually make it back up to the top. Julio was a really nice guide to have as well as he never tried to hurry any of us along and was more than content to hang out and just talk as we made our way.

Once we were back on flat ground, we took a bit of a break, then got back into the van and headed into town for lunch. We had a bit of time to wander about before our next destination, so we checked it out a bit and made a note that we had to come back to town to wander about a bit more. With that, we got back into our van and headed to the beginning of a trek that would take us closer to the Arenal volcano itself. On the way, Julio gave us a little lesson on how volcanoes work as well as the history of the Arenal volcano itself.

This way to the volcano!

How volcanoes work!

You can’t actually get closer than a couple of miles from the volcano, but we did eventually make it to some of the pyroclastic flows that occurred during the last major eruption. It was kind of fun scrambling over them to try and get a better view of the volcano itself, but the real view ended up being the giant Arenal lake behind us.

Climb!

At this point, it was starting to get dark, so we had to turn around and start heading back. Costa Rica is definitely a place you don’t want to be out in after dark, especially anywhere near the jungles that we were around. You just never know what will come out and when a guide tells you that, you listen. On the hike back, Julio told us a bit more about himself and it’s fascinating how respected you can be by becoming a tour guide. The tests aren’t exactly easy and the better you are at it, the more tours you get sent on, so there’s a fair amount of competition to be as good as you can be. He told us that there are always stragglers, but you’ll have that in any industry the world over.

Once we’d made it back to the van, we had one last destination to head to and it was definitely good to have been saved for last. Part of our package got us a 24 hour pass to the Tabacon Hot Springs resort to use their facilities and use them we did. I don’t really know how to describe the place other than a series of hot springs fed by the volcanic heat and there were springs everywhere. Sylvia and I spent a good half an hour just trying to find them all before giving up because it was so dark out. We made plans to come back the next morning since our pass would still be good and then settled into dinner at their restaurant. The food was pretty good, but I think that was primarily because of just how starving we were after such a full day.

After gorging ourselves on food, Sylvia and I collected our stuff and called a cab. Who did we end up running into other than Fernando! I guess he was on a driver rotation in the area and just happened to be in the area at the same time as us. Sadly he wasn’t our driver, but it was nice to see him again. After getting dropped off at the resort, we made our way back to our cabin to pass out, but not before seeing what was waiting for us!

Towel pigs!

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