^^^ say that ten times fast
How many excursions do you think it’s possible to fit into one day? Thanks to my mom’s planning, we were able to push that question to the limit – Costa Rican style – which was well worth it! On Tuesday morning, promptly at 6:30 AM, our shuttle driver Miguel picked us up in front of our villa to begin the long drive North towards Rincon De La Vieja National Park area. Upon arrival, we were given helmets and fitted for our zip line harnesses, then proceeded to follow our guides for a briefing on zip lining safety measures and demonstrations to begin our Canyon Canopy Tour over White River Canyon.
Complete with twelve zip line cables, twenty-four platforms, a Tarzan swing, a hanging bridge, a cable rappel, and two rock climbing walls – this was no quick flyby course. We began zipping through the treetops, soon made our way, platform to platform, into the canyon to experience a bird’s eye view of the river before walking across the bridge and rappelling down to (rope) swing across the river to the rock climbing walls. My aunts and especially my mom (whose fear of heights was so kindly accommodated by one of the guides who went on the first zip line with her) were not interested in rappelling and climbing, and were able to take a break to watch us from the top of the canyon. After we had all finished the course, we walked back towards the main office lodge on a nice little walk through the national park, with one of the guides pointing out a “sleeping plant” that curls up in defense when touched. Once our whole group had all returned to the lodge, we trekked over to an area with a few barns, home to a large group of horses, and climbed onto our own personal tour guides. With this special twist on sightseeing, we were able to see the different landscapes of Rincon De La Vieja, from the jungle-like terrain full of fruit trees to the open plains with their stunning view of the volcano. My horse and I bonded right off the bat, and although we had started out near the tail-end, she decided to treat this excursion as a race and after cantering ahead of all the other riders (who were content with walking speed), she persisted in trying to lead the guide instead. She was obedient, though, whenever I signaled her to slow down. These horses were so beautiful and well trained – they all knew the path well and could have followed it without any instruction. After a sad farewell to my new companion, we then piled into an old school bus to head out to our next adventure.
I will fully admit I’m a complete adrenaline junkie, but having never been white water rafting before, I was a little nervous for this one. However, white water tubing is nowhere near the intensity level I had anticipated, and we all had no problem maneuvering our way down a three-mile pathway on the Rio Negro – excluding some minor hiccups to the embarrassment of my little brothers. My 6’4 brother managed to fall right out of his tube on the first rapid, but after quickly jumping up and assessing his surroundings, was back onboard in no time. My other brother and I actually happened to arrive at the top of a rapid simultaneously, so we both got stuck between the rocks surrounding the river and while I got free, he ended up having to get out and replace his tube before hopping back in. In between the little rapids, flowing down the river was so peaceful – like a lazy river pool, but surrounded by the beauty of Costa Rica from the Victoria Waterfall and all its surroundings.
After we had emerged from the river, carried our tubes back up to their own school bus, and gathered the bag full of our belongings, we hopped back on our bus to head to our waiting buffet. We were given an array of choices and after filling our plates cafeteria-style, sat down to a treetop view of the park. Our tour guide Miguel promised us that if we ate quickly enough we could stop by another waterfall. Since waterfalls are easily one of my favorite things, I made sure everyone met the time crunch and soon we piled into our van to head to the Catarata Waterfalls Oropendola. Side note: we did have a minor distraction after lunch when a few nice men let my little sister and me sit on their oxen and take a picture – so random, but definitely a unique experience.
Located close by, near Hacienda Guachipelin’s ranch, the Las Pailas Trail to the falls was an easy hike down and we were even able to cross a Sky Walk hanging bridge to the platform overlooking the water. I climbed a ladder down into the pool of the waterfall, then scaled the rocks to debate jumping or not since I hadn’t brought a towel. After ascending to the top of the rock pile, I convinced my brother to come join me. Following the little thrill of our jump in, the water was refreshingly cold in the humid weather and we quickly dried off on the hike back up.