Writing the blog and planning our future adventures, require some office time. We have been staying in the beautiful Manuel Antonio area for the past couple days. Our go-to hostel, Vista Serena, has the most stunning view and provides for the office space needed!
In the beginning of April, we will be back in Canada for our friends’ mountain wedding. That means that our trip back North is soon to commence! It seems strange that our road trip from Canada to Panama (and back) is soon over, after six (+) months on the road. We have decided the adventures do not need to end, even though this one in particular will. We are doing some planning – more on that later…!
We asked our man at the Brewery if any football matches were coming up in the city, instant reply, “El Clásico es mañana en Alajuela!” Well, if it’s the classico, then we have got to go. A dual between two rivals, Alajuala vs. San José.
We managed to pick up some scalped tickets by the stadium, got patted down and made our way to our unassigned seats. It was mayhem from the get-go and didn’t let up. Root, root, root for the home team! They ended up being the 3-1 victors and the mood was jubilant, despite the extreme security measures. A great time and a great experience.
When we were in La Fortuna, we (the Norwegian mountain goats + the Canuck) were overly keen to check out the famous Arenal volcano. Previously unbeknownst to us, due to past activity, the peak is completely shut for hikers. We drove up to the national park anyway, parked and started on the hike with our backpacks on. About 30 minutes in, we had reached the lava flow from the 1994 eruption and the grand finale of the hike. We snapped some photos, smiled, jumped, hiked around a couple hours and started talking about where to go to really see a volcano!
So what did we do? – Well, we did some research, changed our plan and drove to San Jose, yet again! According to our research, nearby Irazu volcano is Costa Rica’s highest volcano at 3432 meters above sea level. Also, there is a road that takes you all the way to the top with little or no effort other than patting your poor vehicle’s dash every now and then on the way up the hill. We set off early this morning after a 6 am breakfast and made it to the top of Irazu by 8:45 am.
Full score on Irazu volcano! We got up in (fairly) thin air, we got to see some serious volcanic craters and weird landscapes and we had a great day. The drive is pretty steep, but the road is in great condition. After parking, one can hike the summit and do a loop by two craters. We did it all! Half a day later, we had checked the volcano search off the list and were getting ready for another funlovingliving adventure: A classic Latin American football derby. Stay tuned!
We moved on from La Fortuna to the other side of the Arenal Lake. It was a stunning two hour drive on a windy road along the lake.
We were ready for a major splurge and had been saving up (space in our bellies) for our first ever all inclusive stay! Volcano Brewing Company pride themselves on being the best (and only) micro brewery in Costa Rica and the hotel is part of the brewery. In the bar, they had four delicious beers on tap. Beer on tap is not common in Latin America – craft beer on tap is especially rare!
When staying at the hotel, you can indulge in as much beer, daiquiris, chicken wings, dinner, ice cream, smoothies, rum, piña coladas and so on, as you’d like. Quite the crazy and irresponsible concept, but a whole lot of fun! We had a great night and ended up playing our favorite dice game “ti tusen” with three new friends from San Diego!
After surviving (and LOVING) whitewater rafting, we moved on to canyoneering. I am fairly weird and absolutely love heights! I love standing on the edge of a cliff and looking down. I love climbing and flying through the air. Canyoneering was therefore right up my alley!
The trip took us from La Fortuna to a nearby canyon of which I cannot remember the name. Not quite The Grand Canyon, but a canyon indeed. All together it was a 3 km hike through the canyon, with 5 rappelled descents, a cannonball and a lot of water along the way.
Kyler turned 30 in December and as a birthday present to him (and to me!) my dad and Bente took us whitewater rafting on the Upper Balsa River not far from La Fortuna. For years I have avoided going rafting because I have been scared. I love most adventures, so I cannot say exactly why rafting has seemed scary to me – but it has. We had decided to go, but debated whether to go on a half-day II/III river or a full-day III/IV/V river. After a little back and forth, we were all keen on the latter. Go hard or go home!
In the bus on our way to the river I felt butterflies in my stomach, but after we got going I did not have time to think about it. You have to focus, work hard and go with the flow – quite literary. Whitewater rafting is completely awesome!
Our guide, Stanley gave us instructions before we got going. Paddle forward, paddle back, lean in, sit down etc. In addition to Kyler, my dad, Bente and myself, we picked up a Canadian fighter to join our team. Chad and Kyler worked hard in the front row! As we got more confident and used to the rapids, we worked really well together and had a really fun time! The Upper Balsa River was quite intense with one rapid after another like pearls on a necklace. This one below was particularly heart throbbing. Watch Stanley buckle over in the last couple photos of the series!
Rafting was fun, intense, fast, wet and exciting. My fear is gone and I would do it again – and again – and again! Yay!
The last little drive to La Fortuna was beautiful, as the majestic volcano formed the backdrop of the scenery.
In addition to viewing the volcano, La Fortuna has many activites to offer travelers. Rafting is one of these. I have jumped out of airplanes and off of bridges. I charge down hills on bikes, skis or boards, but I have never been white water rafting. The reason why is that I am scared! Today, that must change, as we are going rafting!!
We packed up and left Caribbean for the last time – on this trip anyways!
Our future fortune was the town of La Fortuna, situated just below the Arenal volcano.
As we drove by banana plantation and the containers that transport them, the scenery changed rapidly as we moved inland.
About an hour away from La Fortuna, it was getting late in the afternoon and we decided to stop for the night. We followed signs to some fairly rustic bungalows with incredible views. At $30 a night, they were not the cheapest accommodation we have ever stayed at, but the nature made up for it.
Early in the morning, Kyler and I woke up, brewed some coffee and watched a wealth of different birds from our stoop. Parrots, small birds, big birds, white birds, black birds and Tucans! Yes, we saw them all!
Team Funlovingliving back on the road – La Fortuna next!