Lost in Costa Rica: Revving our Adrenaline in Arenal

Adventure Travel, Costa Rica, Family & Kid Travel, Fitness & Workouts, Lost Girls — By on September 3, 2009 at 2:00 am
Arenal VolcanoLast month, I traveled to Costa Rica for an extended getaway with my boyfriend Jeff before he left for law school. We decided to combine our adventure with a long-overdue Pressner family vacation-and I recently wrote about that experience for our good friends at Jaunted.com. This week, I’ll be sharing those adventures on Lost Girls World-read on, or visit Jaunted for the full series!

With just four days to spend in the Costa Rica jungle, my family and I wanted to pack in as much pulse pounding excitement as we possibly could-and what better way, we figured, than to set up base camp just down the slope from an active volcano?Arenal (the name of the volcano, a lake and a region in Costa Rica) is one of the country’s popular destinations-and for very good reason. Not only is it possible to see the fiery red lava flow at the top of the cone on a clear night (usually from the comfort of your hotel room) but there’s no shortage of ways to experience the nearby rainforest and cloud forest and the rivers that cut through them. In fact, according to Elaine Knight, owner of the Lost Iguana Resort & Spa, the biggest mistake people when planning their trips to Costa rushing to hit too many different destinations and booking too few nights in Arenal. In an email before the trip, she encouraged our group of six to spend four nights, and four days in the local area. If figured that she might be a tad partial, but in the end, I’m so glad we followed her advice.

It would take a month to experience everything there is to do in Arenal, but here’s how we chose to maximized our adventure-if I could, I’d do it all over again:

Extreme Ziplining
Company: Sky Adventures
Costa Rica may well have as many tour operators offering ways to see the canopy as it does does tropical birds, plants and animals (which is to say, tens of thousands), but we’d venture that Sky Adventures does it better than anyone. After strapping ourselves into serious looking harnesses taking a 20-minute gondola ride to an observation platform, my family and I were given a short briefing on how to make our way across a series of eight ziplines totaling about 3 kilometers in length. This trip is not remotely for the faint of heart-at times, we reached speeds of mach 3 (or at least, it felt that way) as we flew across lines strung 600 meters in the air.
Adventure quotient: 7/10

Class 4 White Water Rapids
Company: Rio Tropicales
July is part of the rainy season in Costa Rica (although thanks to PR efforts its now known as the “green season”) and it poured down in sheets the entire night before our Class 3/4 White Water Rafting Adventure. It’s a good think that the company did an extremely thorough safety demonstration just prior to setting out boats in the water. Within the first 30 seconds of the ride, we hit a massive rapid and my dad, my sister’s boyfriend and I got tossed outside the boat. The guys were pulled back in almost immediately, but I ended up ride downriver on my back (feet up and forward as instructed!) before being rescued several seconds later by one of the two kayaks following behind the boat. It was a scary experience, but I was hugely grateful that the Rio Tropcales team was extremely on the ball when it came to safety. The rest of the ride went off without a hitch-and as we flew over the water quickly forgot about my little unscheduled swim.
Adventure quotient: 9/10

lost iguana costa ricaRainforest Night Hike
Company: Lost Iguana Resort
Many of the coolest critters in Costa Rica only come out after dark, so we organized a nocturnal rainforest expedition through the front desk of our hotel. Because the Lost Iguana sits on hundreds of acres of secondary forest that’s been cut through with several trails, we were able to load up on mosquito repellent, slip into some extremely attractive rubber boots, grab out cameras and get moving. Note insect-phobes: Most of the creatures you’ll see on the hike have six, eight or more legs, but for some reason, they don’t seem quite so scary when they’re just chillin’ on leaf or branch. During our two-hour hike, we also spotted kinkajous, morpho butterflies, poison dart frogs and one very sleepy sloth.
Adventure quotient: 3/10

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