When I think of Costa Rica I automatically think of adventure so when the opportunity to visit Guanacaste arose, I knew I needed to book in some fun. Here is how we spent three days of adventure.
- PALO VERDE RIVER BOAT TOUR
Its location in Central America and neotropical climate make Costa Rica perfectly suited for biodiversity. We wanted to get up close and experience the wildlife first hand. We booked a late afternoon boat tour on the Tempisque River. Animals are smart and, therefore, sleep during the hottest portion of the day. Late afternoon offers one of the best opportunities to see wildlife searching for evening meals before night fall.
We were escorted onto a waiting canopy covered boat just for us.
The afternoon was hot and sunny, and we were happy to be sheltered by the canopy. Aside from the muffled sound of our boat moving through the water, it was quiet. Then suddenly it wasn’t. From the trees, we were startled by the very loud roar of monsters. It was quite scary at first. Our boat skipper flashed a big grin and steered towards the river bank and brought us close to the sound. He was delighted that we had come across a howler monkey (big success). These small monkeys (15lbs max) are considered to be among the loudest animals on the planet. Howler monkeys have a bone in their throat that serves as an amplifier to project this roar from their pouch shaped mouth. We learned only the males roar to mark their territory, and since they sleep 15 hours a day, we were fortunate. With a little patience, we spotted a black monkey still and high in a tree. It was hard to believe this small animal was producing this Jurassic Park moment just for us. This howler monkey was the highlight of our river cruise. But the purpose of this tour was to see wildlife, and we were not disappointed. We mostly saw crocodiles (sometimes with mouths open) sleeping on the banks of the river; we also saw one moving in the water (that’s why they tell you to keep your arms in). We also saw a pack of capuchin monkeys playing a game of jumping branches, a couple red macaws, a lot of herons, and picture posing iguanas.
2. ATV TOUR
With two teenagers who had just obtained their licenses and eager to drive we decided the beach and back roads would be a fantastic way to see the countryside. We booked an ATV tour that operated right from the beach of our hotel. Our inexperience was evident as we (mostly me) fumbled with the gears but, once we (yes, me) conquered our hesitation with speed and braking, we were anxious to ride. It was surprising how quickly we got the hang of it and within a few minutes we left the black pavement and headed into the dusty dirt roads and green hills of Guanacaste. Off road the enjoyment began. With long open ATV trails available we took our cue from our guide and rode full speed. In the backcountry, we saw animals and rode past small local houses (mostly white) constructed of concrete with low roofs where people waved to us as our caravan rode through. We crossed several streams where we had to use strength to maintain our balance on steep river banks while we pushed the gas and at the same time lifted our feet up to get through the water (slippery).
In the end, we were wet and covered with dirt but we all agree it was the wet and dirty areas that were the most fun. Allow me to offer a few suggestions if you are fortunate enough to ATV. I suggest you bring a bandana to keep the dust out of your mouth (plus you look really pro) and goggles to protect your eyes. My black eyelashes were brown from the dirt.
3. ZIP-LINING AND MUD BATHS
For our third tour, we booked an all day adventure at Borinquen Resort. This beautiful resort is located in the countryside of Rincon de la Vieja. It is very peaceful, organized and without crowds. The staff was attentive and professional as one would expect of a beautiful resort. First we hit the zip-line training area where we were introduced to our two guides and fitted with gloves, helmets, and harnesses. Then on to some trial runs, and soon enough it was time for the real thing. One of the things about the park is the unpredictability of the weather, and we experienced this first hand before our first zip-line. Without warning the wind began to whirl hard (it took strength to walk through it) and rain soon turned into small pellets.
And there I stood, attempting to cement my feet into the floor to keep from being tossed around by the wind. I was not going to be sliding down 800 meters, hundreds of feet above the ground while getting blasted by hail. I didn’t think I could do it. I contemplated my options for a serious few minutes. This was to be my second opportunity to zip-line, I had chickened out the first time in Ottawa and regretted it ever since. Then after what seemed like not long enough, but under the encouragement of the guides and my family, I surrendered. I jumped up, clamped my trolly on the cable, positioned my hands as instructed during training, lifted my feet off the wooden platform and allowed myself to zip (I told myself to be brave) and what an adventure it was. Twelve zip-lines over lush tree tops and valleys (even a waterfall). Half way through the course the weather relented. The wind eased as the rain let the sun through, and I began to enjoy myself. In the end, I still wanted to zip some more. I think the trick to zip-lining is not to think about it too long.
After an exhilarating morning of zip-lines, we had worked up an appetite. The staff escorted to the resort restaurant. A traditional Costa Rican lunch of rice and beans and tender meats “Casado”, served with sugar bread was prepared for us to enjoy al fresco. Delicious.
By mid-afternoon, we were ready to relax by the mud baths. Volcanic mud is known to remove toxins and is a must do at the resort. There is a series of steps one must follow. First you step into the natural steam room huts built over volcanic steam water to open the pores. But be aware the sulfur smells like rotten eggs and takes a little getting used to. Then you generously slather yourself with nutrient-rich mud made of water from the hot springs and ash.
As the last step, you dip in the three pools to shock the body. Hot, warm and cold. We finished our therapeutic session with massages that we had booked upon arrival. Borinquen Resort with so much to offer, there is something for everyone. Although we had the opportunity to spend seven days in Costa Rica these three days of adventure are what we remember most.
Borinquen Resort and Spa
Rincon de la Vieja, Guanacaste
Tel +506 2690-1900