Mountain Biking, Night Hikes & Tree Climbing
My Central American adventure continues, as I recap yet another fun filled week with LBW’s Rockin Rica tour. After departing Santa Teresa, we took a some shuttles and a ferry through some beautiful Costa Rican landscapes.
Meeting the newbies at what has to be one of the best hostels I’ve ever stayed at (Arenal Hostel Resort) the gang enjoyed some down time relaxing in the hostel’s hammocks and swim up bar. Once night fell, our strapping lad of a guide Mike White hailed a taxi for the group to venture to the local hot springs for some natural hot tubbing. Navigating a swift moving jungle river with water warmed to perfection using only headlamps for light was exhilarating. While we soaked in water as warm as a bathtub in the middle of the jungle at night, I needed to constantly remind myself that this was real and I was not dreaming.
We rose early the next day to drive to the Rio Celeste hiking trails. The trails themselves were rather muddy, but walking through them barefoot definitely added to the incredibly vibrant jungle scenery. The Rio Celeste river and waterfall did not disappoint - the water’s vibrant crystal blue hue seemed truly unreal. After a quick lunch, we returned to town for another relaxing evening. Some ladies on the tour enjoyed the local shops, while I showed Mike what a proper bicep curl looks like in the local gym.
Whitewater rafting was on the agenda for the next day. Although shallow, the rapids were a blast and even succeeded in flipping our guide Mike’s boat multiple times. The entire time I was in the raft, I couldn’t escape the feeling that I was on the set of Jurassic park - the scenery was truly breathtaking.
The following morning we split up based on their preference of tours. Mike took some members to hike and swim in the Arenal Waterfall, some went on an intense hike around the Arenal Volcano, and yours truly went downhill mountain biking in some dark & thick rainforest. I was the only person utilizing the mountain’s gondola for downhill mountain biking that day, and often times found myself alone in some of the darkest and most lush jungle scenery I have ever seen. The simultaneous feelings of danger and serenity complimented the adrenaline from biking down steep terrain nicely. Upon meeting everyone back at the hostel and venturing out for dinner, everyone seemed to have had their fill of adventure for the day. To celebrate, that night we played a nice game of what I call Kings, and the Canadiens call “sociables”(?) and hit the town’s watering holes to keep the fun going.
We rose the next morning and hopped in a shuttle on the way to Monteverde / Santa Elena - another awesome town in the mountains just waiting to be explored. After settling into our rooms, we enjoyed some of Mike’s favorite fish tacos from the taco stand in our hostel. Once full, we split up again- some went on a coffee / sugar plantation tour while Mike led myself and others into the local forest in search of Ficus trees to climb. What we found there exceeded my imagination and expectations and left me at a loss for words. Atop the hill in the forest was a perfectly hollowed out Ficus Tree - the inside just large enough to squeeze through and tangled with vines to make for a perfect climb. We all climbed up (around 90 feet!) to the top of the tree to enjoy views of the canopy and an awesome sunset. Climbing this tree was undoubtedly one of the most memorable experiences of my entire central American journey - so much so that we returned their the next afternoon to do it again!
Following our tree climbs, the entire gang embarked on a Night Hike in search of some Costa Rican wildlife. Luck was on our side, as within minutes of the start of the hike we saw the largest sloth I have ever seen climbing not 20 feet away from us! We also came across some frogs, snakes, a tarantula, and some vibrantly colored tropical birds - needless to say we definitely got our money’s worth. To celebrate our luck in seeing some rare rainforest creatures, we hit the town’s local bar Amigos for some drinks and white boy dance moves.
The next morning we headed for Monteverde’s main attractions - the longest ziplines in Latin America and a Tarzan swing that succeeded in making everyone scream rather loudly. The view from the ziplines was incredible (sunny on one side of the mountainous valley and cloudy on the other) as was the sensation of flying like superman over the rainforest canopies. To celebrate our last night as a group, we went to the impressive Treehouse restaurant and toasted to trip highlights, inside jokes, and memories. Afterwards we hit the Amigos bar once more and said our goodbyes before we headed in separate directions the next morning. T’was a fitting end to an adventure of epic proportions.
Traveling with LBW has been excellent (shout out to our guide Mikey White) and I truly recommend it to anyone looking for some budget-friendly off the grid adventure. Until next time, Ian Western is outie yall. Peace!
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