Flying through the Rain Forest
Trip Start Jan 20, 2004
187Trip End Ongoing
From the mid-20th century there has been significant government emphasis on education and environmental conservation
Our first order of business was to head for the capital city San José in order to carry out some housekeeping tasks - a visit to the dentist for Gerry to get a chipped tooth fixed; a consultation with an ophthalmologist for Sharon for continuing problems with her eyes; and visits to shipping agents to start making arrangements for getting the van across the Darien Gap to Ecuador. However after a few days we were anxious to leave the big city behind and head for the hills again. We decided to visit Volcán Arenal, one of the most active volcanoes in the country. Heading north of the InterAmericana Highway at San Ramón, we were almost immediately struck with the lush emerald green vegetation of the hills, and at times it felt as if we were driving in the countryside of England or New Zealand
About 100 km from San José, we noticed a tourist resort offering canopy tours and adventure cables, which included a sign for "Camping". Our curiosity was piqued as we had found very few official campsites throughout El Salvador and Nicaragua, so we drove in to have a look and see just what camping in Costa Rica really offered. Dropping 500 ft down a rather rough, windy road, we reiterated our decision just to have a quick look before heading on to Arenal. Our quick look turned out to be....four days! We couldn't believe our luck as we parked the van under the shade of the oil palm trees next to a tranquil man-made lake used for fish breeding. A wooden walkway led out to a rustic boathouse in the middle of the lake, and as nobody else was around it was like having our own private spot in paradise. The next few days saw us lounging in our lawn chairs in the shade, and with field-glasses in hand we spent many hours following the flight of all manner of exotic birdlife - from a variety of brilliantly coloured hummingbirds, Scarlet-rumped Tanagers, the Great Kiskadee - a yellow-bellied flycatcher, to the Northern Jacana - a coot with yellow wings and a bright yellow beak plate.
Rainy season has arrived in Costa Rica, so the tourist population has diminished considerably
By day three, we finally plucked up enough courage to try the Adventure Cable System ourselves. We were assured that we weren't too old for such an "adrenalin rush", so calmly put our lives into the hands of two young but very competent and knowledgeable guides. We started with the canopy tour, with short cable runs of 100 to 200 metres, and with the emphasis being on the trees and forest canopy, the birds and the wildlife. Finally we moved to the Adventure Cables, first climbing towers varying from 6 to 21 metres in height, and then jumping off the platforms, all the while hooked to cables running up to 700 metres in length.......and travelling through the air at over 50 km per hour. We became more daring with each one, even venturing to drop our arms from the supporting pulley. It was truly exhilarating!! After three hours of flight, we felt like veritable teenagers again, so decided to wind down by taking a couple of hours hike through the rain forest - this time on the ground at a more leisurely pace. Since there were no guests staying at the hotel, the manager encouraged us to use the swimming pool and jacuzzi, so we ended a busy day on a very relaxing note.