After we left Tortuguero, we headed to the active volcano Arenal, one of the most popular tourist destinations in Costa Rica. Before we got to our lodge, our driver took us to a tree covered in iguanas. Here’s one of dozens.
Another iguana
There was also a single howler monkey there, and I managed to get a shot. The Professor got lots of good shots of the various monkeys we saw throughout Costa Rica–packs of howler monkeys, spider monkeys, squirrel monkeys (mono titi), and white-faced capuchins–but my zoom wasn’t enough to capture them. He’s still going through his three thousand pictures but eventually you’ll be able to check some out at Flickr. This one is, ahem, a male.
Howler monkey
It was just starting to rain when we got to our hotel there, Arenal Nayara. It was a beautiful, luxurious place, but it had serious communication problems, which started with our checking in–they didn’t have us down for the honeymoon package. Here’s the Professor using their laptops and free internet access to try and get it straightened out.
Internet at Nayara Arenal
After much complication, we finally got checked in. We were driven around and given a tour, which included a stop to show us a hummingbird nest with a hummingbird atop it. (Later we went and checked again and the Professor got some shots of two baby hummingbirds.Which are not as cute as you might think.) We also saw the spa, the pond, and the heated pool with the swim-up bar. Our cabin was 25, at the end of the road, and it was gorgeous, with a perfect view of the volcano. We could watch it from our bed.
Our bed, with a perfect view of the volcano
Evidently it is often difficult to see the full volcano, because its height causes clouds to form and cover it like a cap, but there were many times we saw it perfectly clear. You can see the smoke streaming out in this picture.
The Arenal area is a bit touristy, but that allowed us to go on a number of organized adventures. The first day we went horseback riding to a waterfall. It was a lot of fun, but also harrowing. We talked to a number of other people later who took the same tour, and it seems our trip had the most mishaps. One horse bit a woman’s leg, and my horse kicked a woman in the leg. Neither was a serious injury, fortunately, but it was rather scary. My horse, Chile, had a mind of her own and a bad temper.
Chile had a mind of her own
After Chile kicked the woman–evidently provoked by a bite from that woman’s horse–I was given the horse of one of the tour guides, and I felt immensely more comfortable and safe and had a lot of fun. The Professor had a fine time on his horse too. All the horses seemed to be in good condition and health, which we were glad to see.
The Professor on his horse on the way to the waterfall
The waterfall was gorgeous. Here it is from above.
The waterfall, from above
And from below. Some four hundred and something steps below.
The waterfall hitting
And here are some people, for scale. We went down and got into the water too. It was very, very cold, and it was rough, which was a problem with the slippery and sharp rocks.
People getting in the rough and rocky water--we followed suit
Fortunately, just around the bend was calmer water. Just as cold, but so refreshing. I swam for about ten minutes, and when I got out and dried off with a towel, I could feel my skin was slightly numb from the cold.
A little easier to swim here, but just as cold
When we got back to our hotel, we found the “tropical flower arrangement” that was part of the extra in our honeymoon package.
Origami towels with petals and flowers, part of the honeymoon package
I guess technically it was “tropical flower” and “arrangement” but it wasn’t quite what I’d expected. I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t have wanted to splurge on the package if I knew this was what we’d get. We had a different arrangement each day. One day it was elephants.
The next day we went on a tour of the canopy in hanging bridges.
The Professor posing with waterfall while I bravely take a photo while suspended way up in the air over the ground far away
We saw highways of leaf-cutter ants and one of their massive nests, a hermit hummingbird nest, poison dart frogs, monkeys, a dreaded eyelash viper, and on and on. My favorite sighting was of motmots, these gorgeous tropical birds with long tails. We spotted one with a dragonfly in his beak, and another motmot flew up next to him, and he gave the new bird his dragonfly, which was promptly eaten. The Professor, of course, got great pictures. I did get one shot of a motmot later through the guide’s scope, but you can’t see his magnificent tail.
Mot mot, sans special tail feathers, through guide's scope
The next day we went canyoning. We had signed up through our hotel to go with one company that we had researched, but surprise surprise, we discovered after we were on the bus and on the way that the hotel set the tour up with a completely different company by mistake. I started to freak out because I was nervous about doing this anyway and we didn’t know anything about this company, but fortunately the other couple on the bus had gone ziplining with Desafio the day before and loved them. And I think this mistake was the hotel’s best. We loved this tour and our guides, and we got to rappel down a deeper waterfall this way, over two hundred feet. Here we are in our gear finery.
The Professor and me before we went rapelling down waterfalls
We didn’t take our cameras on the tour, which was wise since we were completely doused with water all along the way, but they had a photographer capture us in action.
The Professor rappelling
Courtney canyoning
There was another gorgeous place where the water was trickling down a tall wall of moss, and the light catching the thousands of moving droplets was breathtaking. Later they showed us a natural spring where we could taste and drink water dripping on moss and tiny leaves, and they convinced us to try a medicinal plant that turned out to be the most bitter taste I can recall. Despite or perhaps because of the pranks, it was a fun and easy tour. I would love to do that again.
While in Arenal, we also enjoyed a hot stone massage. I’d never had one before. It was awesome. We also explored downtown. And we relaxed in the heated pool and I drank guanabana juice while the Professor sampled their version of a mojito. We also took a night tour to the other side of the volcano in hopes of seeing some lava flow, but it was too cloudy. We enjoyed the outdoor shower and the jacuzzi tub on our porch, and we would sit for hours in the chairs on the deck watching all the colorful birds flit by. It was a lovely place.

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1 Response to Volcano

  1. Carrie says:

    wow, you guys totally took advantage of all the stuff you can do in Costa Rica! I’m so enjoying reading about all the different places you went – and the zipline tour looks CRAZY fun (although I would’ve been scared too!)

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