After arriving in San Jose (yes, we would have liked to have a flight from San Jose, to San Jose, but we got SFO to San Jose via Houston instead :D), and a night at hotel aeropuerto, we took our transport to Arenal.
Arenal is a geothermic area that's supposed to be a highlight in Costa Rica, but during the rainy season, it's obviously very rainy. That said I think for our group it just wasn't a highlight because we've all seen better volcanos and much better sceneries, but oh well...
We went to the volcano national park, but unfortunately the rain started and then got really bad, so we didn't see much and got pretty wet:
the path ended up with a stream that was almost knee-high
view wasn't great
The next day, we went on a kayak and mountain biking tour. Thankfully we only got light rain during the kayaking, but we didn't get to see many animals, outside of one at the parking lot:
Since we didn't get to see that much, we went to the Hanging Bridges Park where we took a naturalist guide to help us spot wildlife:
Leafcutter ants are super cool. They cut and bring back leaves to their nest to cultivate a fungus which they eat afterwards.
the leafcutter ants worked hard :)
After our day, we got back to our room to enjoy the towel art :)
The third day, we had a hike to the top of a point where the volcano erupted, then collapsed, and is now filled with a big lake. Thankfully the rain stopped as we started our hike and we got decent enough views. The trail was very rough though and I'm not certain it's a must do hike, just an ok one:
we got lucky and got a good view
did I mention the trail is bad?
After the hike, we went down to an impressive waterfall (especially with all the rain we had gotten). That one was worth the trip:
We then had a quick stop at La Fortuna to pick up our rental car to enjoy our towel art:
After time around Arenal, which wasn't ideal, Arturo had reserved a car in la Fortuna, and we drove to Cano Negro for a boat tour around the river going into the lake. We got to see nice wildlife, which while it mostly was birds, included some monkeys. The roads there were iffy at times.
the roads sucked
those bats were awesome, almost impossible to distinguish from the bark
Eventually we got to our nice eco-hotel:
The next morning, we went to Tenorio Volcano NP for a guided hike on muddy trails after a nice breakfast:
those leafcutter ants have been busy :)
I was happy to have rented mud boots
very nice green-blue
you can see the volcanic water mixing with the river and causing the nice blue
Next, we went to a river to due tubing. It was a bit more extreme than normal tubing with lots of rocks to avoid, and low branches here and there, and we saw a huge tree on the way:
We then drove back to our hotel and went for a hike and night hike on celeste trail:
The 3rd day, we had to drive back to Fortuna but Arturo found a cool cave we could go visit on the way, and we got lucky to find 2 sloths while driving there. One had 3 toes, and the 2nd one had 2 toes and a baby:
Usually sloths are very very slow, but we found this mother that was going fast across phone cables to get to the safety of a tree
Finally we got to the cave where we got a guide and photographer. That cave tour was really nice, it was quite tough to get through some holes, and challenging not to get my flashlight or camera under water in some crossings (some had to be done on my knees). That was definitely an experience you wouldn't get in many other places, and definitely not in the US where some tourists would get stuck or be physically unable to get through some passageways, and likely complain bitterly and/or slip, fall, and try to sue :-/
Thankfully this kind of stuff is still possible in Costa Rica, so that's what we did :)
the frog was guarding its eggs
you can see the eyes on those tadpoles
We then just had enough time to go back to La Fortuna for our transport to Monteverde.
After getting back to La Fortuna to return our rental car, we took a transport to Monte Verde, which took a little while. We arrived at our hotel (hotel Belmar) just in time to have dinner and plan for the next day. We elected to go to Sky Adventures earlier than our planned time so that we got time to go to an insect and butterfly sanctuary afterwards, and then do a coffee tour at Don Juan before doing our night tour at El Bosque Reserve.
view from our room
We started with hanging bridges and a nature tour:
trying out vines for strength :)
Next, was ziplines:
Next, we went to the insect and butterfly sanctuary:
Jennifer got a friend during the tour :)
From there, we went to our coffee and chocolate tour at Don Juan:
Then, we went to our night tour at El Bosque:
The next morning, we got up early to go to Santa Elena for a bird tour in a high forest, but we got rained out, so we didn't see much :(
From there, our transport took us to Puntarenas to meet our boat going to Cocos Island.