With many direct flights leaving from Toronto, Costa Rica is a great destination for those looking to getaway. A quick 5 hour plane flight and you are in a country filled with experiences. While a beach vacation is always enjoyable, we like combining it with some adventure. On our latest trip to Costa Rica, we spent some time in the beach town of Samara but also explored other destinations.
Volcano – Monteverde and Santa Elana
After at week at the beach, we headed up and into the clouds, well the cloud forest of Monteverde to be exact. Be warned, the road up is treacherous and if you have an active imagination (like I do), you will be able to see all of the dangers lurking on each curve. We took our time on the drive and stopped at numerous points to take in the spectacular views.
I will be honest here – the weather in late December sucked in Monteverde. After a week at the beach, the rain and wind was not a welcomed guest. However, the raw beauty of Monteverde (and knowing Toronto was in a deep freeze) made it all worth it. We stayed four nights with a friend of mine (thank you so much!) and spent almost every waking minute exploring.
We split our time between nature and adventure. While a bit boring for the kids, I personally enjoyed our (very early) morning hike in the Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve. We did not see much wildlife, but we learned all about the flora and fauna that thrive in this unique ecosystem. Did you know that in a cloud forest the rain falls sideways, not horizontally? We also walked suspension bridges in Santa Elana; getting above the trees at times and looking down into the forest. On our last night we (and by we I mean me) braved our fears and took a night tour of the rain forest. It is when many of the local animals wake up and yes we saw tarantulas.
But the highlight had to be zipling. What a phenomenally incredible experience. Flying across the treetops, inches and at times metres, above the canopy. Exhilarating, but also a chance for a panoramic view of the beautiful landscape. There are many outfits in Moneverde offering ziplining and we chose Aventura. I highly recommend them. They are well run and while our group was initially large, once we all got going there was never a long wait.
Insider tip… stop for lunch at the Casem Coop and order the pork chop casado and sugar cane water with milk. And be sure to find the ficus tree to climb (located near the Friends of Monteverde school) and remember to allocate some time to exploring the town of Santa Elana.
Volcano – Ricon de la Vieja
Our last two days were spent at the less touristy volcano of Ricon de la Vieja (most people head to Arenal). We checked into the beautiful resort, Blue River (yes there is a blue river that flows near by) and spent the days lounging in natural hot springs, rejuvenating in the mud bath, and relaxing in the hummingbird sanctuary. We had hoped to take a hike to the volcano, however it was closed to the public due to rains and recent volcanic activity. Yikes. So instead we spent an afternoon on a guided horseback trail to some local waterfalls.
Insiders Tip… if you are renting a car, be aware that the road to Ricon de la Vieja is very bumpy and slow going. While it was only 65km from the town of Liberia, it took us close to 2 hours to get to our destination.