Costa Rica Trip, Day 8 – Ziplines and Rafts!

We spent our final full day in the Arenal area doing the most adventurous stuff we could handle – ziplining and whitewater rafting!

I’ll admit that I was a little nervous about it. I’d never ziplined OR whitewater rafted before this. I’m not really afraid of heights, but I wasn’t sure how I’d feel about dangling from a wire, hundreds of feet off the forest floor.

After we arrived at Arenal Sky Adventures, we had to wait a while. This wasn’t helping my nerves any. Finally, we were united with Luis, who would be one of our guides. He got us fitted with our harnesses and showed us how to use the carabiners. He noticed my hands and had me demonstrate that I would be able to open and close the carabiners and hold on to the ropes.

We had to climb a little to get to the first zip line platform. We had worn our water shoes, so it made it a little awkward to walk on the rocks and climb up the dirt paths, but we survived. The next thing I knew, I was up on the platform, getting hooked up to the cable. By this time, I wasn’t nervous – I was ready to do it!


Away I go!

Off I sailed, over the treetops. I must not have been holding my body at the right angle, or maybe I was braking too hard, because before I arrived at the landing platform, I came to a complete stop! I had to reach up and pull myself along the last 30 feet of cable. It was awkward, but hey, that’s how I roll.

After I was on solid ground again, Dave came sailing in really fast, and then Luis. We had two more zip lines to go. I came in faster on those – which was fun!

As we made our third landing, I remembered that we would have to rappel down from that platform to get down to the river where we’d go rafting. Oh my. I’m going to hazard a guess that it was a good 100 feet down. Maybe even higher, I’m not that good with numbers.

Luis rappelled down first so he could start getting the tubes set up, and so there would be someone there to help Dave and I when we landed. Drex, the other guide, stayed at the top to help us. He hooked me up first and I pushed off. It was a weird feeling to be hanging that high up. My stomach felt fluttery at first, but as I looked around at the beautiful rainforest all around me, I was distracted from any feelings of fear.

Once we reached the bottom, we had to turn ourselves around and push off a rock face, swing over the river and grab Luis’ hand, who was waiting for us there.

Here’s the video I made of our GoPro footage. It’s only the zip line part. I’ll post the whitewater part later!

Now came the whitewater rafting part. The water was higher than normal because of the recent storm, but I think that made it more fun. We were bouncing around, crashing into rocks and dropping over little waterfalls. At one point we stopped, got out of our rafts and walked over to a waterfall. We stuck our heads under it and got totally soaked. The guides were saying how cold the water was, but to me it was comfortable. I mean if you’ve experienced the spring-fed, ice-cold waterfalls in Vermont, you’d think Costa Rican river water was like bathwater.

Our river adventure lasted another hour or so – but I would have been happy to keep going. When we got out of the water, we walked up a little hill to a place where we could change back into our dry clothes. They gave us a hot drink made with sugarcane, in case the river had chilled you. Then, we got on a bus that took us back up to where we had started.

After that, we were off in search of lunch. We saw a sign for a vegetarian and gluten-free place in a nearby town called Castillo, so we headed there. It was called La Ventanita (the little window), and it was part of a guy’s house. Dave got a burrito and I got quesadillas, both of which were really good. We noticed that the man was American, although he spoke perfect Spanish too. It appeared his wife was Costa Rican. So we wondered what their story was. I would have asked, but they seemed to be in the middle of preparing some kind of dessert and they looked really busy, so we just ate and went on our way.


In the road on our way back, we saw a beagle playing catch by himself. He was throwing back his head and letting the ball fly up in the air, and then running to catch it. He was barking and wagging his tail. It was the cutest thing ever.

After that adventurous morning, we went back to the hotel to take showers and grab a nap. We had dinner at a restaurant called Lava Rocks. We both got casados, of course! How else would we have celebrated our last night in La Fortuna?


Last night in la Fortuna

The next day, we would be heading off for our second week in Costa Rica – on the Pacific Coast!

Costa Rica Trip, Day 1 – Getting There

Getting to La Fortuna de San Carlos, Costa Rica is no simple trip. After staying up until 11:30 to pack, we had to get up again at 1:30 am to go to the airport. We got there so early that the check-in counter wasn’t even open yet, which meant that we stood in line for a half an hour waiting to check our bags. The plus side was that we were third in line, so once they did open we got through quickly.


Naptime is about to commence.


Goodbye, Connecticut!

We flew to Atlanta, barely maintaining consciousness. I’m telling you, we probably looked like two bobble-head dolls with our heads lolling to and fro. In Atlanta, we had to walk from A to F  because the “Plane Train” broke down. Which was actually ok, because it gave us some exercise and helped us wake up a bit.


Halfway there – HAH! Little did I know…

The second flight seemed unnecessarily long – probably because we weren’t sleeping through it. We landed in Liberia at about 1pm. Getting through customs was quick and easy.


Hello, Costa Rica!


We rented a Hyundai Accent Blue through Adobe Rental Cars. The guys there were really nice and got us on our way quickly. The road by the airport was a mess because it was being repaired. It was so holey and bumpy I thought for sure we were going to destroy the car in the first 10 minutes of having it.

Being the cheapskates that we are, we didn’t want to pay extra for a GPS, and of course we didn’t want our phones to be roaming, so we had to rely on maps to find our way around. By this point we were pretty hungry, so we stopped at one of the first places we saw. It turned out to be some kind of Costa Rican/Asian Fusion place. Not the best first impression of Costa Rican food.

After we ate, we were quick to get back on the road. I had read that you don’t want to be driving at night in Costa Rica if you’re not familiar with where you’re going.


This is the jolly good time part.

At first, the drive was a jolly good time and we were only slightly confused by the complete lack of road signage. We were excited to take everything in. The scenery was amazing and we were loving life.


We came across a huge wind farm at dusk. It’s at the opposite end of Lake Arenal from where we were heading. 

After several hours, I figured we must be getting close to our destination, but no. If you look at the map of Laguna Arenal, it’s a huge lake. At one point we had to make a turn and we were confused about which way to go (again – complete lack of road signage!)

We stopped to ask a kid for directions and he said he was going our way. So Dave invited him to hop in. He only spoke Spanish, so I just listened to their conversation and thought about what I would do if he pulled a knife or a gun and tried to rob us. Because, America.

He rode with us for half an hour or so before we dropped him off. By then, it was completely dark. The road around the lake has a lot switchbacks – I guess because the terrain is too variable to put in a nice smooth road – so it was really rough going. Then it started to rain. In the dark and rain it felt like we just kept going around the same curves over and over and I was beginning to think we were in some kind of twilight zone. Or that I was going insane.


Laguna de Arenal is the largest lake in Costa Rica.


A close up, so you can see the switchbacks.

After what seemed like eternity, we arrived in La Fortuna around 7. We checked into Hotel Tangara and I was ready to lie down and sleep the minute we walked into our room. We managed to steel ourselves enough to go back out and get a quick dinner.

When we finally did get back to the room and lie down to sleep, we noticed that the curtains did not block out any light from the outside. Our room was right next to the reception area, so it was very bright. Luckily we had eye masks that we’d used to snooze on the plane, so we ended up sleeping with those over our eyes every night we were there.

Stay tuned for Day 2!

Costa Rica Zipline Video

I hereby present my first video made with GoPro Studio!

You might be surprised by how long it actually took to make this, and as I watch, I keep seeing bits and pieces I want to modify, but I will leave it at this…. it is my first try, after all. 🙂 I hope you enjoy!