Rafting, Scuba, Ziplining and Fording Rivers Through Costa Rica
Our first day in Costa Rica we were met early in the morning to go river rafting on the Pacuare River, which flows through the eastern part of the country towards the Caribbean Sea. Prior to arriving at the Pacuare River, we stopped along the way for a traditional Costa Rican breakfast (rice, beans, eggs and a tortilla). This river is one of the best rivers to raft due to its rapids (Class III and IV) and scenery. The river rafting expedition (yes, it was an expedition as the river rafting trip was 18 miles) was a lot of fun and we hit a number of rapids. The scenery was definitely breathtaking (we saw a number of waterfalls as we rafted along the river, flowers, etc.) and the rapids were intense.
We flew to the Osa Penninusla and then drove just 3 miles on the way to La Paloma Lodge when we found out that our English speaking guide did not meet us because during the night it had rained and the river rose to such a high level that he could not cross the river! We were a bit panicked because on our side of the river there was not anyone who could speak English and our Spanish was very limited. We could see our guide on the other side of the river. We were a bit dismayed at first, but eventually, he arranged for us and our luggage to ride on an uncovered wagon pulled by a HUGE tractor through the rapidly moving waters of the river to the other side. We cautiously got on the wagon - - a bit nervous about whether we would make it to the other side safely - - the kids thinking this was fun.
Of course we made it to the other side in one piece, met our guide, drove a bit and then waded through knee-high waters to get into a motor boat that took us to our hotels dock. When we arrived at the dock, we had to climb an enormous steep hill up to the reservation area. Our room at La Paloma Lodge was beautiful. It was as though we were in a two story tree house. The kids room was upstairs by way of a spiral staircase off of our room. From our rooms, we could see macaws, toucans and lizards, and we could see and hear the Pacific Ocean.
We later trekked down to the beach (another hike) and played in the water which was extremely warm. After the beach we went to the pool to take scuba lessons so we could go scuba diving on Day 5. The lessons were about 40 minutes long and we felt were ready to go scuba diving.
We hiked in Corcovado National Park where we saw a number of birds, frogs (even poisonous frogs), spider monkeys, howler monkeys (who sound just like a pack of dogs barking), and white nosed coatis (they look like a cross between a monkey and a raccoon). At the waterfall, we saw a caiman lying on the bank. Then our guide took us about 40 yards downstream of the waterfall, where we could swim and play in the water. While Grady, Nigel and Angela frolicked and swam in the water, Brianna could not stop thinking about the caiman about 40 yards away and therefore wanted no part in the frolicking!
We snorkeled at Cano Islands and later that afternoon, Lori went scuba diving with Angela (for her second time). On the second dive, the water was a bit murky, but you could still see a lot of fish, eels, and we even saw shark (Lori counted at least 12 sharks). While the sharks were not the kind that would eat you, Lori was still a bit leery every time she swam near the sharks.
For our final few days we took a chartered flight to Punta Islita beach, which is located on the northern Pacific coast. The charter airplane was a small, but a beautifully-equipped Cessna. Forty-five minutes later, we arrived at our destination, but along the way from the plane we again saw a whale with her baby. We stayed a Punta Islita for four nights and this part of the trip was where we got to rest and relax.
Our villa was absolutely beautiful. It was a two bedroom suite which had a plunge pool and deck that overlooked the mountains and the ocean. We had to hike back and forth to go to the beach or to go to the restaurant. This hotel was breathtaking and everyone thought that this hotel would make for a great honeymoon location.
During this part of the trip, we also went on a zip line canopy tour across the forested canyons. We did not spot any animals while zipping over the canyons, but we sure went fast. Nigel, Angela, and Lori took surfing lessons. Each of us was able to successfully surf and we have pictures to prove it!
All in all, we had a great time and we are looking forward to the next vacation!
Lori, Grady, Brianna, Nigel and Angela.