The river water is clear, cold, and moving fast. The rocks slide by as my rubber kayak bounces off boulders and careens down the rapids. Ahead is a seven foot drop, which seems really big from where I’m sitting. I lift my paddle above my head so it doesn’t smash my face, and laugh as the boat tips down and hits with a splash. What a rush! I am with my sister, Suzanne, and we are having a day of adventure in Costa Rica.
Costa Rica is all about eco-travel and organized adventures for tourists. The adventure is pretty tame compared to others I have experienced, but it is still a lot of fun. Our tour starts with some tired-looking, slightly ornery horses, who obviously do not enjoy their job. We amble slowly in a line on a dirt path to the edge of the river. Left to their own devices, the horses just turn around and walk back to the barn. Not an exciting day for them!
For us, the river is a real highlight of our day. We each have our own kayak and guide to get us down the rapids. At times, the jungle closes in with abundant trees and other vegetation. At others, the river flows through canyons, with sandstone walls on either side. My guide is a joker, splashing water on my sister and pretending to throw a spider in her boat. The spiders are cool, but we definitely don’t want one on us! They hug the canyon walls, right near the water’s edge. They’re big, too! We also see these amazing bats that sleep on a tree trunk. They join together to make the shape of a snake. When they feel threatened, they undulate to mimic a snake climbing the tree. Fascinating, and effective, too.
We dock our boats and climb up to a rope swing hanging over the river. My sister and I are the only ones in our group of ten who are brave enough to go off the swing. It’s a lot of fun and not hard at all. Our clothes are now soaked, but it’s worth it. Why should kids get all the fun?
Next on the agenda is the river spa. We stand in a row and get painted by warm mud, which we leave on to dry. One of the guides, who is also our driver, remembers our conversation in the car about wine, and goes out on his own to get some for Suzanne and I. So nice of him! The others drink the local beer, which we aren’t that fond of. We all head into the sauna to bake until we are completely overheated. There is a nice cliff by the river, so Suzanne and I jump off into the cooling water. It feels great. We are all able to soak in the hot tub by the river, sipping our drinks. It’s beautiful and relaxing. We are not done adventuring yet, though!
We move on to ziplining and rock climbing. I have done enough ziplining that I don’t feel much of a thrill any more. The scenery is nice, though, and everything is safe and well done. The rock climbing is much harder than I anticipated, especially after downing half a bottle of wine. Two others and I make it to the top of the climb, while the others watch from a swinging bridge. We’ve worked up an appetite, which is good because they have a feast waiting for us. All the traditional foods; rice, beans, chicken, plantains, salad and dessert are on offer. We try it all, get cleaned up and walk to the vans for the return trip.
If you are looking for hardcore adventure, this is not it. If you are looking to have a fun day and squeeze in as much into as possible, this is the tour for you. I plan to use every moment of my five days here. Tomorrow morning, I am up bright and early to go scuba diving. Wonder what I will see?
We use Go Adventures for our day trip. The guides are great and it is a very fun day. They come and pick you up at your hotel and deliver you back at the end of the day. I recommend them. http://www.goadventurescostarica.com
Bring your waterproof camera or you won’t get many pictures. I use the Olympus Stylus Tough and love it.
I could write a dissertation about renting a car in Costa Rica. Suffice to say, it was not a good experience. At home, we were given a quote for the 5-day rental. When we arrived, we were told that we had to add on all kinds of insurance, which doubled the cost of the rental. In addition, they want to put a hold on your credit card for thousands of dollars. Everyone trying to pick up their rental car was in the same situation. We ended up walking around to check out different companies, but the situation was basically the same everywhere. I don’t have an answer to how to solve this, but since I’m going to be in Mexico next month, and I have heard similar complaints about their rentals, I will be coming up with a solution fast! In Costa Rica, if you can manage without a car, do it.