Jan 22nd
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Home Travel Guide Travel Guide Topics Post Cards from You Costa Rica Adventure - Part III

Costa Rica Adventure - Part III

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Postcards... from you

Join Anne, Tarek and Kurt Kutay of Wildland Adventures (800-345-4453) and five other families, on a 10-day overland journey through Costa Rica.  Follow seven 1st and 2nd graders, one kindergartner, and a 6th grader through rainforests, past volcanoes, over highlands on their way to the Pacific Coast.  Watch as their adventure continues to unfold in upcoming issues...

    Central Highlands... We are easing into the lifestyle and time frame here in Costa Rica--even the seven kids! There is never any pressure to depart on a hard and fast schedule. And our daily excursions are broken up by scenic views, roadside wildlife sightings, and pit stops in little “pulperias” for drinks, snacks and “el bano.” The seven kids pick their own seats at each meal and are beginning to figure out what to order.  
     And, there’s lots of swimming which the kids love. Today we ended up in the water three times in three different places! First, on this sunny morning, we couldn’t leave Selva Verde without a swim in the cool, clear Sarapiqui River. We stopped for a delicious lunch at Hotel Tilajari where we saw beautiful birds feeding on fruit including parrots, a  Crimson honeycreeper, and red-rumped tanagers. We swam for over an hour here, then left our suits on for the last 30 minute leg of the day’s journey to Tabacon Hot Springs.
    The highway climbed up and around the base of Arenal Volcano and the clouds cleared as we approached, for a full view of the entire conical shaped volcano. We checked into the new Tabacon Hot Springs Resort Hotel, and headed straight for the thermal pools filled by hot run-off from the mountain.  Ahh... a warm soak!  That night, before tumbling into our beds, we all saw red-hot lava rocks glowing in the dark as they tumbled down the side of the volcano.
DAY 5: Arenal Volcano... We slept in today and enjoyed some relaxed time looking out the picture windows onto one of the best views of Arenal Volcano. Besides the spectacular view of the volcano, another advantage of this hotel is its closeness and all-inclusive use of the hot springs facilities, just a 5 minute walk away. A plastic bracelet is everyone’s passport into the pools--just flash your wrist for a “free” drink at the swim up bar!
    Although it can get crowded with tourists and Ticos, this hot springs is spacious and elegantly designed to retain its natural character. You can swim in one of the big hot pools, complete with a hot water slide and swim up bar, sit under a hot waterfall, or walk trails winding up through the beautifully landscaped grounds where you can find your own quiet pool in the forest. The hotel restaurant is inside the thermal springs among the waterfalls and tropical gardens under full view of the volcano. There were never any complaints from the kids waiting to be seated, they just swam until dinner was ready!    
     The volcano is often enshrouded in clouds and volcanic activity is unpredictable. But I suspected we would be lucky when I was awakened by an explosion! Then at breakfast another thunderous roar drew our attention skyward --a huge plume of smoke and ash rose through a break in the clouds followed by a massive rock fall.  
    Today was designed especially for the kids, but even the adults felt like young’ins again at Los Lagos, a funky Costa Rican style water park with two pools and water slides. The site is on the most active flank of the volcano, and today it was fully exposed under clear skies.  We swam all day, even took our books, although no one could break away from the excitement of the giant water slide that wound down the hillside, under a waterfall and underground before spitting you out into the pool at high speed.
     After lunch at a local soda restaurant, we drove further up the volcano and hiked to the lava flow, formed just last year. It was just the right distance, about 45 minutes through dense cloud forest up to a solid 50’ wall of lava flow. We climbed out onto the solidified lava and looked up the frozen river of basalt. Over the next ridge we could hear hot lava rocks crashing down the mountain! As we retreated back down the mountain, the kids couldn’t pass by the slides without a few more runs in the dark! It was a pleasant relief in the warm tropical evening.  Then--more swimming back at Tabacon Hot Springs before dinner arrived.

“My list of bugs:  2 grasshoppers, 1 cicada, 1 walking stick, 3 fireflys, 2 click beetles.  I liked the fishing and the waterfalls with slides.”  ... Sammy Mostovoy, age 6

                        Until next time...
                                            Kurt Kutay



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