Costa Rica 2020, Day 14

Monday, March 2

Today, sadly, was our last full day in Costa Rica. We had two exciting tours planned for today. While waiting for the restaurant to open we walked around and took a few pictures.

We started the day with breakfast at TuleCafe. This morning we tried a different egg dish – it was very good but the breakfast the day before was still our favourite.

Shortly after breakfast we walked up to the main office for our first tour of the day – The Sloth Walk. We met our guide upstairs at the Sloth Institute and she led us through the property pointing out the sloths and other wildlife as she spotted them. The first sloth she found was a mother and baby.

The Mexican Hairy Porcupine is nocturnal and arboreal but he was awake and yawning when we took his picture. They have prehensile tails unlike the porcupines here in Canada, which makes it easier for them to move around in the trees.

We enjoyed walking around the grounds with a small group of other hotel guests and our guide. You must be a guest of Tulemar to participate in this tour. We saw a few more sloths and several monkeys. Unfortunately we had to call for a van to take us to the office before the tour ended. We were headed for an adventurous waterfall tour next.

We booked this tour with our concierge before we left home. (http://tulemarresort.com) This waterfall tour was a contrast to the tour we did in Drake Bay. There was a fairly big group of us and we were ushered onto a very fancy bus. We also had 5 guides that kept us entertained and made sure all our activities were done safely. We really liked the guides and they seemed to genuinely enjoy their job.

Our first stop was at the smallest waterfall. We all took turns jumping. This jump was about 3 meters high and took place from a small rock cliff.

“You can’t make me!” ” Oh, alright!”

The next stop had a bigger jump – about 5 meters. There was a wooden path and stairs leading to the area we would jump from. On my first jump I had a lot of water rush into my sinuses so I tried plugging my nose for the second jump. I hit the water with such force that it knocked my hand away from my nose, so that didn’t work. On our way out we had the option of jumping a third and forth time and we did. Before getting back in the bus we had a nice snack of fresh pineapple and watermelon.

Our next stop was a unique waterfall. The rock is smooth at the top so you can slide down it like a waterslide. The guides were there to help get us set up properly to slide down safely. One of the guides offered to take our watches just in case they got knocked off. This was also the reason we weren’t able to take pictures on this tour. There was no where safe to carry a phone or camera during all the jumps. It was great that they had a photographer there who only charged a small amount for our pictures.

A young boy had an action cam in his hand and they warned him and his dad that he would probably drop it and they wouldn’t be able to retrieve it. He took the chance and sure enough, he lost it. We were told later that someone was able to dive in and found it for him.

I had a bit of a surprise on my way down – the slide part ended about half way down and then it was a free fall into the water. The drop on this one was about 5 meters. There was also the option of jumping from a higher point for a jump of about 7 meters but I chose not too. Only a few people did it. Three of the guides helped get them into the right spot and then they had to jump way out to make sure they didn’t hit any rocks on the way down. (The jumping off spot was to the right of the waterfall on the highest part of the rock that you can see in the above photo.)

Our final waterfall stop was a smaller but different kind of jump. First we were told to lie on our back with our feet towards the waterfall opening while holding a rope they had put in place. Then we had to pull ourselves against the current until we were behind the waterfall. Once there, two guides helped us crawl up onto a large rock. From there we had to leap forward through the waterfall.

While I was waiting for Mike to finish his turn I had a mud facial. When we were done here we headed across the small dirt road to have some lunch which was included with the tour.

To finish off our tour, we got back in our air-conditioned bus and headed over to Ventanas beach to check out the caves and play in the ocean. This was our third visit to this beach!

The tide was out so we were able to go quite far into the cave and play in the waves. This was a much calmer activity so I was able to carry my waterproof phone and get some pictures of my own.

Some of our guides enjoying themselves!

The tour photographer also got some candid pictures of Mike and I.

On our drive back to Tulemar one of the guides made souvenirs from some fronds. They asked us some trivia questions related to what they had told us over the course of the day. I answered two of them correctly so I got a fish and one other design. I passed the second one to the family sitting behind us.

After a long day outside we were looking forward to our dinner at TuleCafe. Tonight we enjoyed our dinner while watching the beautiful sunset.

After dinner we sadly headed back to our room to pack for the flight home the next day.

Costa Rica 2020, Day 15

Our flight home didn’t depart until 2 p.m. so we were able to have a leisurely breakfast. With the remaining time, we went for a walk to enjoy the wildlife one last time.

During this walk Mike and I both spotted a Sloth on our own for the first time. We also saw a few Monkeys as well as a Banded Owl Butterfly. This butterfly is about 8 cm wide and the theory is that the circle resembles an owl’s eye and therefore scares away predators.

We met our driver in the front lobby and headed off towards the airport. It was a new driver for us again. He overheard us saying that we hadn’t seen any crocodiles so he offered to stop at the Tarcoles river bridge.

We also made a quick stop at a souvenir store. I was a bit surprised to hear my name when I went through the door- our favourite driver was there and recognized me when I walked in! I was happy to buy a couple of T-shirts for myself as I hadn’t had the opportunity to get anything for myself so far on the trip.

We then headed to the airport. We checked out the gift shop but everything was very expensive so we didn’t buy anything. Our Air Canada flight was on time and we had a safe trip back to snowy Ottawa, ON.

Fun Fact: We will be back!

Costa Rica 2022, Day 11

Monday, February 21

Instead of going out for breakfast today, we ordered in ahead of time. Two women brought us an amazing meal and set it up for us. It included eggs, pancakes, yogurt, granola, hash browns and back bacon. There was so much food we ended up saving a lot of it for the next day. We had ordered ahead for the next day as well but ended up cancelling it.

Today we visited the Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve. It was a 15 minute drive away and we decided to hike without a guide. It started off a bit cool in the morning so we chose to wear long pants with a light jacket.

I love seeing the different kinds of trees and foliage in Costa Rica and I wanted to explore every path. We started with the flatter trails. Unfortunately the hanging bridge trail was closed for repairs. All the trails were well maintained and easy to follow.

As we gradually climbed higher, we reached an area called the Elfin Forest. Here the trees and bushes are much smaller as they are subjected to strong winds and fog. Many trees appear twisted and are partially covered with epiphytic bushes or vines. These types of vines actually grow from the tree that they are attached to.

The continental divide passes through this region. Rain falling on one side of the mountain will make its way to the Pacific Ocean as rain on the other side ends up in the Atlantic.

After exploring the easier trails we backtracked to the more difficult ones. There was a lot of climbing over a combination of rocks and some kind of man-made brick that was a bit problematic for a person with small feet. This trail was quite challenging. The day was warming up so we removed our jackets. We were surprised by the warmth and the amount of sun we had.

We didn’t really see any wildlife here but didn’t expect to. Most animals prefer the warmer temperatures lower down the mountain. We did see some interesting Hummingbirds that were iridescent but I was unable to get a picture.

During our 3 hours in the park we climbed over 400 metres and covered almost 10 kilometres.

Once we had covered every trail, we drove down to the little town of Monteverde to find a place to eat. We found this great restaurant called Thomas and Thiago. We had the best service here that I think we have ever had. The waitress was very attentive and friendly and the food was good.

For the afternoon we spent a bit of time relaxing on our deck before driving over for dinner. We decided not to walk because it gets dark shortly after six and not all the roads have sidewalks.

Based on a recommendation from our hotel, we chose to have dinner at Tremonti. It was a short drive away and was on a hill with a lovely view towards the ocean. We decided to sit outside on the small balcony. Both the service and food were very good.

Costa Rica 2022, Day 10

Sunday, February 20

This morning we headed to a very new location for us – the cloud forest. It would take us about three and a half hours to drive to Monteverde. The roads were fine until we started to head up into the mountains. Here they were not well paved – there were many very large potholes to avoid. There was very little oncoming traffic but it was not fun when there was. I was also not thrilled with the lack of a shoulder as we wound around many bends in the road paired with some scary looking drop offs.

With no stops along the way, we arrived at our hotel before check-in time. We parked our car and wandered down the steep hill into town. We found a cute restaurant called Morpho’s, named after a beautiful, large blue butterfly found in Costa Rica. It was on a hill and provided a view of part of town and was nicely decorated inside. Unfortunately the service was bad. We were seated but waited for 30 minutes without even a menu. Mike went over to complain and after that everything was fine. We would have left but we were very hungry. We shared a hamburger which worked out well as the serving was rather large.

After lunch and a bit of wandering in some small shops we headed back up the hill. I was excited to see our “room” as I had booked us the honeymoon tent at Chira Glamping. https://chiraglamping.com/.

The tent and deck were built on a steep hillside and are almost 100% private. The deck was enormous. Upon entering the platform, the tent was on the right. To the left was a kitchen complete with a sink, stove top and fridge stocked with eggs, juice, soft drinks and beer. There was a roof over the kitchen area that extended to the bathroom.

The inside of the tent was nicely set up with a double bed and dresser. There were curtains that could be closed although no one can see in. There was also a basket of food on the dresser containing snacks and pieces of fruit.

The uncovered side of the deck included a BBQ, hot tub, seating area and a unique shower with a glass wall and floor that extended out over the hill and was completely private.

After relaxing a bit and settling in, we got ready for dinner. We had reservations for a dining experience set in the tree tops. San Lucas serves a 9 course meal in private glass rooms. There are only 8 rooms and the experience lasts for two and a half hours. We chose the 5 pm seating so we could enjoy the sunset while dining. This was our most expensive dinner ever at $170 a person not including drinks. https://sanlucas.cr/

From San Lucas’s website…

“Our menu is the expanded journey of the experience that Monteverde offers, which entails the conjunction of its main natural and gastronomic attractions.
It is the conceptual union of the nearby islands, landscapes, local products, national culture and sustainability.”

Each course told a story. The “salad” course started as an empty box, and as we poured water on it, the food “grew” out of the holes in the box. There were many delicious foods to taste but my favourite was the steak as well as the cheese potatoes, which were more cheese than potato.

When it came time for dessert, our waiter brought over a large box. He then gave us a paper with test questions. In order to get our dessert we had to answer the questions correctly, which were based on the information he gave us during each course. We would then have the code to open the box. He also mentioned that there were nice people in “jail” that needed to be freed.

We solved the problems and enjoyed our dessert which also included some frozen treats inside a large plastic ball. We forgot about the jail part of the test, so the waiter opened up the top of the box to reveal a picture they had taken of us when we arrived for dinner.

We enjoyed the view, and after eating way too much food, we headed back to our tree top tent. We had a little surprise of some coffee and treats that were left on our bed. It was quite cool in the evenings here as we were in the mountains, so each evening we warmed up in the hot tub before heading to bed. Another first for us on vacation – the owner allowed us to use his Netflix account so we started to watch “Inventing Anna”.

Costa Rica 2022, Day 9

Saturday, February 19

Today was our last full day at Tango Mar. I was feeling energetic so I went for a run on the beach before breakfast. For you Strava users, I became the “local legend” of this beach segment! Mike came with me to take some pictures.

After taking some pictures of this Limpkin I tested out the hammock. It was quite comfortable!

After breakfast we packed up our hiking gear and drove out to the main road. We saw this Crested Caracara while passing by the golf course. It is a type of falcon.

We noticed these fences during our drive. It is quite common to use small tree trunks or branches that have been cleared from an area as fence posts.

Our plan for the morning was to hike through Cabo Blanco state park to the ocean and back. The front desk staff told me we couldn’t miss it because we just needed to turn left from the resort and follow the main road.

Unfortunately that was not true. I was having trouble with my phone so I was unable to use Waze to find our way. We ended up getting lost. The road split twice – once we went down the wrong one and had to backtrack. We ended up driving all the way to Santa Theresa. It was very crowded and touristy there so we didn’t hang around. We were getting frustrated and tired and decided to just head back.

Back at our resort we enjoyed lunch by the pool.

We relaxed by the pool and restaurant for the rest of the day and treated ourselves to a yummy milkshake later in the afternoon.

The lasagne I had for dinner was very good.

We packed our things so we could head out right after breakfast the next morning. We had a long drive ahead of us.

Costa Rica 2022, Day 8

Friday, February 18

After our usual breakfast buffet, we went to the front desk to meet our guide for the snorkelling tour to Tortuga Island. We had a couple and their 5 year old daughter joining us. They were in the midst of travelling around the world for 6 months.

We all got in a van and drove to the marina. We transferred into a small speedboat and were off. I have some trouble with sea-sickness so I had a ginger gravol beforehand and also wore my seabands.

We had a very nice ride to the snorkel spot and saw a whale along with her baby and escort. This was our first time seeing a whale in Costa Rica. We also saw some Yellow-Crowned Night-Herons which we also see here in Ottawa.

We spent some time watching the whales and then headed toward the island. The scenery along the way was quite beautiful. On excursions like this I always enjoy the boat ride almost as much as the destination.

We passed through a large rock arch. Our captain called it Gringo’s rock because all the tourists want to go through it.

We finally reached our snorkelling destination. We were moored fairly close to the island along side a large rock formation.

The snorkelling wasn’t great. They were experiencing a red tide which means there is more algae in the water than normal. This affected the visibility. There were a few fish here but nothing amazing.

We headed over to the island where we would have some free time and be served lunch. We think our guide may not have had a perfect understanding of English because he kept saying we would eat in 20 minutes. We missed out on renting paddle boards because we didn’t think we had time. Instead we wandered the island. It was quite pretty but maybe not quite up to they hype I had read.

We had a nice lunch and then cooled off in the water. We didn’t see anyone else renting paddle boards or kayaks. It seemed most people just came here to sit and drink.

It was time to head back to our resort.

We saw many pelicans in the harbour.

Dinner was a bit unusual. I wasn’t super hungry so I ordered “French Onion Soup”. When it arrived there was a small piece of bread with a bit of cheese on a plate. And a bowl of onion broth with a few tiny pieces of onion. The broth was so salty I couldn’t eat it. I tried to explain to the servers that what they had given me was just broth, and not French onion soup but they didn’t understand. I even showed them pictures on my phone. They brought me some new broth with bigger pieces of onion but by now I was so tired I just gave up and headed back to our villa to sleep.

Mike and I both had some stomach issues in the evening. I’m pretty sure it was from the lunch that was served on the beach.

Costa Rica 2022, Day 7

Thursday, February 17

Another picture perfect day! February is the middle of Costa Rica’s dry season which lines up perfectly with the weather we want to escape from in Canada, which is usually the coldest month of the year.

This morning we headed out to explore the north side of the beach. There was supposed to be a lookout up on the cliff. We followed the signs but must have made a wrong turn. We ended up in an interesting area with a lot of lava, rock and many small tide pools.

Unfortunately I didn’t realize that my camera had some moisture on the lens so most of my pictures had to be deleted. Mike doesn’t take as many pictures as I do so we missed out on a few good shots.

We enjoyed walking around this area and checking out the tide pools for little creatures. We saw a few tiny fish and many crabs. We saw several of these yellow breasted birds on our trip, which I think are a type of Trogon.

We only saw one other person here – there was a man picking up garbage that had floated in from the ocean. There were a fair number of plastic water bottles as well as food wrappers which we assumed were either tossed or fell off of tour boats. We helped a little bit with his cleanup.

After we had had our fill, we headed back towards our resort to relax by the pool with our books. I enjoyed a salad for lunch.

After relaxing for a bit we decided to go check out Cocalito Falls. The staff told us it was worth going to see. It was supposed to be a short walk.

We followed the path from the pool up towards the road and then onto a trail. It was getting very hot out but we were mostly in the shade.

When we reached the end of the short trail there was a sign that seemed to indicate that we should go straight down the road but at the end of it we couldn’t find another trail. We did see some lovely private homes though. We backtracked and went down the gravel road. This eventually led us to another trail heading back towards the ocean. We were getting very hot at this point. There were a couple of other paths in this area and we ended up choosing the wrong one a couple of times. We ran into one of the servers from the restaurant here and she said she was trying to find her family that were by the water fishing. We finally got to the end of the trail….

It’s hard to tell depth in these photos but we are now at the top of the waterfall. We could walk across it but it didn’t look like that went anywhere except the other end of the cliff. We saw no trail leading down to sea level. So now we are tired from the heat and frustrated because we can’t even see the waterfall! We slowly made our way back to the resort pool to cool off.

We had dinner at the resort as the sun went down. My lasagne was good, Mike’s chicken was so-so. Back in the room I got out my iPad and updated the notes for my blog.

Costa Rica 2022, Day 6

Wednesday, February 16

I was feeling much better today so we headed over for breakfast. The restaurant, like most in Costa Rica, was open air. We also had a breakfast buffet included with our room price at this resort. One nice addition was a woman making made-to-order omelettes and scrambled eggs. She was pretty good at remembering what I liked each morning even though she didn’t speak English. (We have found it is very rare for hotel staff not to speak English) It was wonderful having breakfast while listening to the crashing waves.

After breakfast we were ready for some exploring. We headed south along the beach. We quickly reached some large rocks and boulders but that didn’t stop us!

We climbed up and made our way over to the next beach. It was fairly small and led to a few privately owned homes. All beaches are public in Costa Rica so are free to explore.

We made our way back and had lunch at the pool restaurant. We then spent the afternoon reading and relaxing in the pools. We were usually able to find chairs with an umbrella for shade. This would be the routine for most of the 5 days that we were here.

While we were having lunch some Capuchin Monkeys came by for a snack. The cooks gave them some food which surprised us as most restaurants try to discourage the monkeys from coming too close. Many Costa Ricans refer to this species of monkey as “Mafia Monkeys”. This is because they seize any opportunity to enter peoples homes through windows or doors that have been left open, or to rifle through unguarded backpacks. They will also attack Squirrel Monkey babies.

Tango Mar also has some regular hotel rooms. We prefer to stay in Villa type rooms as long as they aren’t crazy expensive.

This was a very pretty resort for us to enjoy a few quieter days….

Costa Rica 2022, Day 5

Tuesday, February 15

Today was a quiet day. I had had very little sleep since I had been sick the night before. I felt a bit better in the morning and was fine to go on a long drive. We were heading to our second location – the south east side of the Nicoya Peninsula. We booked a Tiki Suite at Tango Mar. http://tangomar.com

The drive took almost 4 hours. We left in the morning and arrived at 1:30 pm with no stops. The roads were mostly good until we reached the turn for the resort. From there it was extremely rough but we were able to drive right onto the grounds and park underneath our villa.

The villa was great and quite roomy. We had an ocean view and were only a few steps from the beach.

View of the Tiki Villas from the beach.

We had a Jacuzzi tub in our villa but didn’t end up using it. We were very close to Cristobal, the main restaurant and a short walk to the three pools where El Pirata Rancho Grill was located.

I was still very tired so I had a nap while Mike went to explore the beach.

View of Rancho Grill restaurant from the beach.

It was a bit warmer here than our last location. It was hot, but not uncomfortable. This beach was very clean but the sand was hot on the feet if you weren’t wearing sandals or water shoes.

We tried to set up some tours for the following days but they said there weren’t enough people interested. We had booked from home but they needed a minimum of four people. We also tried with an outside tour company but they were all booked. Later during our stay another couple wanted to go on the snorkelling tour so we were able to join them.

The beach and the pool areas were very nice here. There were three pools on three different levels with waterfalls running from the highest one down to the lowest. The lowest one was an infinity pool with a swim up bar.

I was still very tired and not very hungry so Mike went down for dinner and brought me back a small piece of steak and some potatoes. I read a bit and called it a day.

Costa Rica 2022, Day 4

Monday, February 14: Valentine’s Day!

Today would be our most action packed day ever! We booked the tour ahead of time through our hotel, Hacienda Guachipelin. They run several exciting tours which are very close to or on their property. We chose the “One Day Pass” which included a variety of activities.

After breakfast we went over to the activity centre to meet our guides. We decided to pay the extra fee to have a photographer for the day. Turned out we were the only two that were doing the canyoning part of the tour. We joined our 4 guides and photographer on a bus filled with giant inner tubes.

We were fitted with our rappelling gear and headed down the trail to a small wooden bridge over a narrow river. I am a bit afraid of heights but mostly when I am standing on something that I might fall of off. I made Mike go first!

Mike’s gloves were a bit stiff so he had trouble gripping the rope. He went down a bit faster than he meant to…..

I was next up. I stuck my fear in my back pocket and off I went!

When they were showing us what to do they failed to mention what would happen when we reached the water. I assumed we would lower ourselves into the water and then unclip ourselves. They didn’t tell us that the rope would run out several feet above the water. I was quite surprised to find myself falling into the river.

In order to rappel down a second time we had to climb out of the small canyon. There were metal hooks scattered up the rock wall. A few of them were more spaced out than I would have liked as I am only 5 feet tall. This was actually the part I found the scariest.

After the second rappel we stayed in the river and headed toward the bigger waterfall. We climbed out onto a platform and rappelled down a rock wall beside Victoria falls.

Once we were down on the second platform we got to swing across the river and back into the falls. There was a guide holding one end of our rope controlling where we went. When we had had enough, they caught us on the other side of the river.

Next up was river tubing. We walked up the trail to the top of the waterfalls and waited for the rest of the group to join us. There were approximately 45 people in the group, mostly young people in their 20’s and 30’s. We dropped off our rappelling gear, chose an inner tube and headed back down the trail to the base of the waterfall where the tubing tour started.

The tour ran along the Rio Colorado in class 2 rapids. It lasted a full 30 minutes and we went over many rapids. This was possibly my favourite activity of our entire trip- it was so much fun!

Mike and I got separated a few times. I also got stuck a couple of times but people always came to my rescue. The tour company moved many boulders to try to keep the flow going but there were a couple of spots where you could get stuck in some small eddies.

I was sad to see this activity end but we had worked up an appetite and it was time for lunch. Our resort served up a nice buffet lunch. Once we were full, we headed back over to the adventure centre. They got us set up with our zip lining gear.

We had to wear our masks for this part of the tour. We would be nose to nose with the guides when they hooked us onto the zip line and would also be very close to the other tour participants as we would have a very small platform to stand on in between the runs. There were 9 lines and the first line was accessed by a small set of stairs. After that it would be a series of platforms.

On the third line we had the option of going upside down. Mike and I, of course, had to do it! Unfortunately they didn’t have a photographer at that location. One of the lines started with a short slide and when we got to the end they sent us backwards and said to lower our masks so they could take our picture.

One of the platforms required us to climb a set of hanging stairs. It was very scary so I did it quickly. The scenery on this tour was amazing- for part of it we were in a gorge. At one point we had the option of rappelling down to a platform above the river and then climbing back up. Since we had already done that earlier in the morning we chose not to. We were also a bit tired from all the intense activities.

Toward the end of the tour we had to get across the canyon from one platform to the next by swinging on a rope. The young woman going ahead of me was very scared and I wasn’t far behind! Once you passed the first platform of the day you had no other option than to continue. They kept us moving through the lines pretty quickly so we had less time to be afraid.

The rest of the group did the horseback riding part of the tour while we were canyoning, so again we ended up with a private tour. We walked over to the stables with our guide from the Adventure Centre and met our horses.

This ride would take us to Las Chorreras waterfall. It was a leisurely ride. Sometime on our way there I started to feel unwell.

The area of the waterfall was beautiful and the water was a pretty blue colour. We went in the water for a few minutes and then got back on our horses to head back to the stable.

We walked back to our room and unfortunately shortly after we arrived I became very sick. It lasted for several hours and during the night I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to make the drive to our next location the following morning. At breakfast the next day Mike noticed a bird licking a serving spoon at the restaurant’s buffet and wondered if that was what had made me sick.

In retrospect, we decided that we should have spread these activities over two days. It was a lot of adrenaline for one day!

Costa Rica 2022, Day 2

Saturday, February 12

The nightly rate at Guachipelin included breakfast so we headed over to the restaurant when it opened at 6:30. We were up at 5:30 because the time there is one hour behind ours at home. They had a nice buffet set up with glass in front of the food and servers ready to fill our plates as we pointed out what we wanted.

The grounds at the resort

In the morning there were tons of birds in the big tree near our room. They were extremely loud! We don’t have a great camera, but I think these are Crimson-Fronted Parakeets. We also saw our first Mot-Mot of our trip.

The first activity I had planned was a self hike in Rincon de la Vieja National Park. It was a short drive up the road from our resort. We saw some Brahman Cows on the way there.

In the park there were two main trails to choose from. For our first visit we chose the path less travelled. By which I mean the path to the waterfall. There was only one couple ahead of us so we didn’t see any other people until we arrived at the waterfall. We saw a small reddish coloured animal dart across the path but it was so quick we couldn’t identify it. We also saw many large blue birds but were unable to get a picture.

The terrain and scenery was quite varied as we headed up toward the top of a mountain. At the top you could almost see the pacific ocean. We passed a few streams and crossed a couple of bridges.

We enjoyed seeing all the different types of plant life. We then had to follow the path back down to reach the bottom of the waterfall. This is where the trail became a bit more technical. The last 500 metres to the waterfall was very tough- both going in and out.

When we reached the waterfall another couple was relaxing on the large rocks. They finished their snack and headed back to do the other trail. We had the waterfall all to ourselves for about 15 minutes.

Even though it said you weren’t supposed to go in the water, we did of course. We had a short swim and a snack. The water was cold but not as cold as the waterfalls in Hawaii. Shortly after we left the falls we met a young local couple and chatted for a bit. They were very friendly and said they were hoping to move to Canada. We saw them again later and they waved goodbye like we were old friends.

There was quite a bit of climbing- my watch says we climbed 570 metres. Some were steps, some were rock. It was a bit technical so a bit challenging in spots. The total distance was about 12 km. It took us 4 hours including stops. We started to see more people as we got closer to the ranger station.

We carried water with us as well as a filtered bottle. We were able to get some water from the river when we ran out of what we brought.

After we finished the hike we headed back to the resort for lunch. The salad I ordered was very good. We spent the rest of the afternoon reading and relaxing by the pool. It was a bit windy but not too hot.

Each afternoon some clouds rolled in and it looked like it would rain, but we only had a bit of rain one afternoon.

We enjoyed our dinner back at the resort while watching the sun go down. They had a buffet set up and the chicken was excellent. Mike chose a striploin steak but had the buffet the following evening so he could enjoy the chicken as well.

Costa Rica 2022, Day 3

Sunday, February 13

Today was another day of exploring on our own. We were very happy to have a car because we had three different places to visit. Our first hike was a short one on the resort property before we went for breakfast. We found a trail right across the road from where we parked our car. There were several signs with information about the area as well as some artifacts they had placed beside the trail.

The trail took us to a small river where we found the “turquoise pond ” and the “red pond”.

We had this trail all to ourselves.

After breakfast we got in our car and drove to Rincon de La Vieja Volcano national park for our second visit. (The name translates to “old woman’s corner.”) This time we took the shorter trail which would lead us around the area of an active volcano.

The trail here was well maintained and had a fair amount of climbing but mostly on steps rather than uneven rocks. Some of the steps were awkward as they were very long.The trail was fairly short at 4.5 km. There weren’t many people here which is the way we like it. There was one big tour group but we just sped up a bit when we caught up to them and lost them fairly quickly.

We were very lucky to spot an Agouti early on as well as a Tapir relaxing alone in the forest. Agouti’s are fairly large rodents. They are about 56 cm long and eat seeds and nuts. The rare and endangered Tapir is the largest land mammal found in Costa Rica. They can be 2.1 metres long and they eat leaves from bushes and trees. We also saw monkeys, several Black Headed Trogans and a White-Throated Magpie-Jay.

Signs of the active volcano were all around us but we weren’t able to see the cone or crater. We saw bubbling mud pits and many steam vents.

We enjoyed looking at all the different types of trees that grow in Costa Rica. Ficus trees are very interesting- they start out as an epiphyte on a host tree and then take over by strangling it. They grow roots down to the ground which often twist and grow together. The host tree dies often leaving a hollow in the centre of the tree.

Some trees use different defence mechanisms- the tree on the left has shed it’s bark to deter epiphytes and insects. The tree on the right has many sharp protrusions that might make it uncomfortable to climb.

After our hike we went back to the hotel for lunch. We found this Variegated Squirrel waiting for us in the parking lot.

We ate at the pool restaurant again where we both enjoyed the Ensalada Tropical. It rained a tiny bit off and on so we headed to the gift shop. Mike got some new water shoes at a reasonable price.

After lunch we drove to the Oropendola waterfall. It is part of the Rio Blanco river and stands 25 metres tall. The entrance was right beside the parking lot to the national park we had visited in the morning. After a short hike there was a hanging bridge / ladder leading down to a deck which had a ladder you could use to climb down into the water. There were quite a few people visiting here. I was not a big fan of the rope bridge / ladder.

Our next stop would take us to the Rio Negro hot springs. It was free to visit as guests of Hacienda Guachipelin. It was a short hike down to several walled off pools of hot water which was brought in from the hot springs. We wandered around and sat briefly in one of the pools.The water was very hot.

Sitting isn’t really our thing so after a few minutes we headed across the street to explore the Rio Negro waterfalls. There was a series of four waterfalls. We headed to the one furthest away.

We had to keep our eye on the time because it gets dark shortly after 6 pm. This is true year round since Costa Rica is quite close to the equator.

We went in the water at all four waterfalls. The water was chilly but not super cold. During this hike we only saw one other couple walking on the path. They were either in a hurry or not brave enough for the cold water!

We made it back before dark and enjoyed our dinner at the resort restaurant. Tonight we both had the buffet. The chicken and ribs were very good.

It was incredibly windy overnight and quite noisy. We could hear rain along with the howling wind. In the morning the ground was dry but we found this large tree near our car blown down.