After our 2 weeks of volunteering we headed back toward San Jose to a little suburb of it called Heredia, here we met up with several other volunteer groups to form a large adventure group of, I would guess 50. Another overnight in a hostel then in the morning our group boarded a bus. Our first day was mostly traveling, we stopped at a souvenir type place then headed to the Pacific coast.
I was pretty good at keeping a journal throughout my trip.
First day of sightseeing and exploring.
Our 2nd day was a free day in Samara Beach, we explored the small town and went on a small hike and just relaxed and enjoyed ourselves. I had what still remains to be the best pizza I have ever had (at least in my head, I could be way over playing it in my mind, maybe I was just starved for pizza hahaha) It was so fresh and delicious and I love pineapple on my pizza and in case you didn’t know, Costa Rica is like the pineapple capitol so it was AMAZING!!! We swam in the bathwater warm ocean and layed out on the beach.
The 3rd day we got up early and went sea kayaking out to a small island. I hadn’t been kayaking in a long time and never on the ocean so I was not sure how this was going to turn out……..apparently I get a little seasick. I was fine in the beginning then it started getting a little choppy and I started feeling it. I started yelling out military like commands to my partner so we rowed in unison and rowed fast to get me to the shore of the island, LEFT! RIGHT! LEFT! RIGHT! LEFT! RIGHT! When we got to the island we all hung out for a few hours, had fresh cut pineapple, of course, and just explored. There were A LOT of lizards on the island. After the return trip, where I pushed my partner just has hard, we all jumped in the back of this crazy truck, standing up, and were driven back to our hostel over crazy bumpy roads where we all wondered if we were going to fall out. Later that day we had a 2 hour surf lesson, yep born and raised in southern California and I surfed for the first time in Costa Rica hahaha. It was really fun, but man is it a workout! No wonder surfers are in such good shape.
Major dork moment.
Day 4 was another mostly travel day, we went from Samara beach to Rincon de la Vieja
Day 5 was a horseback ride, tubing and a mud spa. All great things, but at this point I had been going, going, going for almost 4 weeks, I needed a break. I had a headache and was exhausted so I gave my days adventure to someone who hadn’t purchased the extra adventure stuff and stayed home and read and took a nap all while enjoying the peace and quiet of a nearly empty tropical mini resort. I don’t for a day regret that decision.
Day 6 was travel and adventure, we went from Rincon de la Vieja to the Volcano Arenal area where we stayed for 2 nights in an eco hostel. After our arrival we took a 2 hour hike into the forest past steam vents and boiling mud puddles to a clearing with a beautiful pool of water and an awesome waterfall. We all (well everyone who wanted to) took turns jumping off the rocks into the pool below. At the end of the long hike we came to this volcanic hot springs that was incredible! Right next to the hot spring pool, which was already in the middle of the amazing beautiful rain forest and totally deserted except for our group, was a rushing river with rapids. It was perfect.
See the volcano smoking?
Day 7 today was an adrenaline day. We went to an adventure park. The day consisted of 10 zip lines, some hiking and repelling next to a waterfall. It was pretty amazing. There is nothing like zip lining over the treetops of the rainforest. We also learned about an indigenous tribe called the “Maleku” That was interesting but truthfully dull after all the adrenaline. At the end of the day we went to another hot springs this time a resort though, very commercialized but still cool. There were 10 different pools starting at the top with the hottest water and only being about 6 inches deep all the way down to the bottom which was just luke warm bath water and the size of a pool.
The first step is the most difficult
Then it is smooth sailing
Day 8 Travel day from the Volcano Arenal area to the Caribbean side of Costa Rica
Day 9 Gandoca Manzanillo wildlife refuge. This place was pretty cool it was an eco reserve. Our hostel rooms had thatch roofing and tent-like siding with wood floors. But inside they had four-poster beds with mosquito netting draped over it and hot tub in the rooms! When you left each room there was a switch at the bottom that you could put your room key in and you turned off all the electricity to the room to save electric waste while you were gone. There were howler monkeys all around which was really cool. We went on a hike in the morning and had the afternoon to just relax. And I got to relax in the Caribbean ocean! We also took a boat ride to a little island village that we got to explore in the late afternoon.
Day 10 was a relaxing morning then we were given the option to go scuba diving if we wanted. For a mere $60 we could scuba dive in the ocean, I remember the cost very well because I had to call my mom on a phone card to send me more money because I was running low on funds and still had almost 2 weeks left. This seemed like such a great opportunity though, scuba diving in the ocean for $60! I was in! We watched an informational video then they loaded us in a car and drove to the beach were we strapped in and wadded into the water. We got to scuba dive for an hour or 2 and it was pretty cool, I would definitely do it again.
We stopped along the way for swimming and jumping off rocks. Yep, that is me mid-air.
Day 11 Gandoca Manzanillo wildlife refuge to the Rio Pacuare. White water rafting!!!! This was awesome!! We drove to the river in the morning and were on the river by the afternoon. This river was class 3 and 4 rapids so it was a workout hahahaha. After a few hours of rafting we arrived at another eco hostel in the jungle, though where the other hostel was eco-luxurious, this was eco-basic hahaha. It was just wood bunk beds in a room…..with bugs and spiders. Thankfully small spiders. The hostel provided us with dinner but the dining room was overrun with a fire ant migration, these things bit and stung, most of us opted to eat standing up in a corner, a few of us made quick dashes across the floor to the tables. I made the dash and survived with only being bitten/stung by 2 ants. The next morning we got up early and it was back to the river for another day of rafting. In the afternoon we boarded the bus tired and happy and headed back to Heredia where the adventure tour would end.
Day 12 Heredia. Everyone had arrived back from their various adventure tours and was set about to take care of last minute business before leaving for home or other adventures. It was a day of saying goodbye, getting packed, exploring Heredia for the last time, or in my and one other girls case getting a new needed vaccine to travel to Peru the next day. Getting a vaccine is a simple enough process until you don’t really know what vaccine you are getting hahaha. This girl, Laura and I, were herded off with our adventure tour guide to a Costa Rican version of Rite Aid/Health department and stood in a white room while a nurse who spoke no English gave us a shot. This is one of those moments where you just have to trust people. But I didn’t get Yellow fever and I still have an official card in Spanish saying I am vaccinated for another few years hahaha.
Thus was the end of our adventure tour, the next day I was off to Peru to start a whole new adventure. Stay tuned next month for that adventure and so much more!!!!
*It has been 7 years since I took this trip (wow time has flown) everything I have written happened but the order might be slightly out of sequence as I tried to remember it all.