Traveling in Costa Rica is a little bit more difficult than the other Central American countries. It took us seven hours to travel a relatively short distance from Liberia to La Fortuna. The majority of the time was traveling around Lake Arenal which is a man-made lake that supplies almost half of Costa Rica´s electricity and part of Nicaragua´s electricity (and Nicaragua needs more since they have to shut it off daily to conserve!). We had to switch buses due to the fact that a bridge got washed out along the way. Literally carrying our packs from one bus to another, walking over the re-construction in process. Ha! When we arrived in La Fortuna we were a little shocked to see all the tourism. Every corner had a tourist agency offering some type of excursion and there were a million hostels and hotels. Our first full day in La Fortuna was packed with adventure. We woke up early to go horseback riding to a waterfall
. It was just the two of us and our guide Felipe. The place we went was titled "Trips for Tips" and Felipe works on a farm and tends the horses. He gave us a few instructions and then the greenhorns were off! Tris has a little bit of prior horse riding experience (although not much) and I had absolutely none. After a little while, Felipe would shout out "fuerte" and "vamos" and our young horses would start to gallop. We rode through mud, went down narrow paths, crossed rocky streams, and went across open fields. Not really a beginner trip, but quite a rush. We hiked down a path and crossed a river to get to a waterfall with nobody in sight. It was beautiful! After three hours of horseback riding, we were both sore. It the afternoon we went on a trip to see the Arenal volcano, hike in the rain forest, and visit the Baldi hot springs. Arenal volcano is one of the world´s five most active volcanoes. Most of the time it is covered in the clouds and difficult to see. However, Tris did capture a rare moment when the top was exposed. The hike in the rain forest was interesting and we got to see a toucan from a distance. It then proceeded to rain heavily for most of the hike. Yeah, what you can expect in the rain forest. We then drove in the night to a viewpoint to see the lava rocks that are constantly spewed from the top of the volcano and are best seen at night. After standing fifteen minutes in the rain, we finally started to see some red rock falling down the sides. The closest you can get to the volcano is about two miles away because of the toxic gases emitting from the top
. After hiking and viewing the volcano we went to the hot springs. Baldi hot springs is an Americanized resort with about 16 different pools of naturally hot water from the earth. There are swim-up bars, a waterslide, and an expensive hotel at the other hot springs (the more well-known Tabacon). However, the hot water all comes from natural hot springs and was extremely relaxing after the horseback riding and hiking in the rain. I even made Tris go on the waterslide which would probably be illegal in the U.S. for safety reasons due to the fact that you actually get separated from the slide after going off the first bump and land back down on the slide picking up more speed. I thought it was awesome! That was our whirlwind of a day before we headed to Monteverde, east of Fortuna. We had another action-packed day in the cloud forest of Monteverde. We woke up early and went for a two and half hour hike in the cloud forest of Santa Elena. The elevation of the cloud forest made it much cooler than La Fortuna and the flora and fauna were different than the rain forest, more lush and wet. I was definitely glad to see the two different types of forest. We did not see many animals, except for the peccary (wild boar) that followed us along the path. He seemed to be pretty tame. In the afternoon we got EXTREME! We went on a canopy tour (ziplining along cables) called "Extremo Canopy" and it lived up to its name. Some cables were 450 feet high and the longest one went for a quarter of a mile. We also went on a tarzan swing which dropped about 30 feet down and swung up as high as 50 feet. Check out the video of Tris! We got lucky by having only four people on our tour. We were with a young married couple from Colorado that were really friendly. We heard nightmare stories about some tours having up to 50 people and guides rushing you through the cables (and actually crashing people into one another) which is dangerous to say the least! That sums up are crazy couple of days in La Fortuna and Monteverde before making our way to the Caribbean coast of Costa Rica.