Monday, November 3, 2008

Costa Rica Travelogue (Day 1-3)

Our trip to Costa Rica was in the middle of August. Costa Rica promotes this time of the year as the “green” season, we all however call it the rainy season. As with most of our family trips, we used a small privately owned and locally operated company called Tico Tom Tours. Our main focus for this trip was to experience various adventure activities. We chose to skip visiting the northern pacific side of the country, where most of the major resorts are located. For lack of time, we could not go down south to Osa either, but hopefully our next trip to CR will include OSA. Our itinerary scheduled our activities in the mornings. Although it was the rainy season fortunately all our mornings were dry. Right around 2pm every day, it would start raining, at which point we used to stop for lunch and relax in our hotel. In the evenings we went out for dinner, rain or no rain. In fact, the rain created a very tropical ambiance. We had warm weather, pouring rain, nice dinner, all the while surrounded by the sounds of nature. If you are into nature & adventure tourism, Costa Rica is a good place to be during the rainy season.

On day 1, upon our arrival at Alajuela airport, we were met by our guide. We swallowed some dramamine and drove straight to the Arenal area. The drive from the airport is about 3 hours, so a morning or early afternoon arrival works best with our itin. We stayed at Arenal Resort, under the majestic presence of Arenal Volcano. The resort was about 3-4 star. The rooms were small but comfy; there was a swimming pool and a restaurant on the premises. Buffet breakfast was included. At night, from our bedroom we could see the smoke coming out the volcano. We had to take a short drive from the hotel to a lookout point, to see the lava pouring down its side. Since it was cloudy at the time we were there, we only got a brief glimpse of the lava. Nevertheless, Arenal area and the volcano are beautiful and a “must see”.

On Day 2, our big activity was zip lining through the rainforest. Zip lining constituted of 8 separate zips from one mountain to another to get to the bottom. Once we started, there was no turning back. Our 7 yr old was too young to zip (no harnesses for a small body. Hindsight, even if they did, I don’t think we would have felt comfortable with him ziping 8 times from one mountain to another). Our 10 yr old was able to zip with the guide. I fear we may have inadvertently created an extreme sports kid. He was scared but absolutely loved the thrill that came with it. After zip lining, we went for a short hike to La Fortuna falls and later that evening we dined and relaxed at Tabacon hotsprings. I confess, the day was a bit too hectic for the kids. Spending the eve relaxing in a hotspring was god sent and now I consider it a must do. It was drizzling while we were soaking, the outside air a bit cool but the water warmed by the lava was heavenly. We spent about an hour in the hot springs jumping from one pool to another. If we ever go back, I would without a doubt spend more than an hour there.

Day 3, we headed to the Sarapiqui river for whitewater rafting. It is a class II (mostly) & III river. This activity was perfect for both our kids. Because it was the “green” season, the river was full and the water level perfect for rafting. The flow was brisk but not too fast for the kids. We barely had to paddle and both the kids got a chance to sit up front in the raft for the thrill. It was great! We stopped half way through the river for a swim and to eat watermelons. After rafting we headed towards the Central Valley.

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