Shae, her sister (Auntie), Frugal Boy, and myself just returned from an 8 day trip to Costa Rica. We went horse back riding in the mountains, zip lined at 50 mph past a volcano, and forded a river in our 4×4. The frosting on the cake, we did it all for just $100! * Find out how at the end of this series. See Part 1 here. Part 2 here.
* Auntie paid some of her share of the trip and that isn’t included in our Out of Pocket total.
Day 4 – Saying Goodbye to Monteverde
Today was our last day in Monteverde before we made the drive to Arenal. As the crow flies, it is only about 10 miles between the two destinations, but because of the mountainous terrain and developing infrastructure, it is a longer 4 hour trek between the two popular tourist destinations.
We decided to spend our last morning in Monteverde by visiting the Reserva Biologica. One of the neat things about the reserve is that it straddles the Continental Divide. The divide runs north south and is the deciding point as to whether water runs into the Atlantic ocean or the Pacific. In the United States, the divide is along the Rocky Mountains.
We hiked for about two hours from the visitors center along the Sendero Bosque Nuboso to La ventana (The View) and then back along Sendero Camino.
Along the way we saw some neat flowers.
The view from La Ventana was nice but not anything that we hadn’t already seen on the trip.
After getting back to the car, returning to the house, eating lunch, and checking out with our Hosts, we hit the road for the drive to El Castillo, a small town nestled at the base of the Arenal Volcano.
We followed the red dotted line from Monteverde, up through Tilaran, around lake Arenal, through Nuevo Arenal, and then down into El Castillo. The purple dotted line represents an alternative way that we could have taken. The locals call it the inside road and it differs in one big way from the outside road (red line). The inside road has no bridges! May is the start of the rainy season in Costa Rica and we were traveling in early June. All of my internet research said that the last river crossing right by El Castillo was the largest and only passable during the dry season (winter). As the navigator on the trip, I opted to play it safe and take the longer outside road. It would have been very frustrating to get within sight of our destination just to find a raging river and have to backtrack a couple of hours.
Along the way, we spotted cows grazing alongside the road.
Then just north of Tejona, we got our first view of the volcano from the northwest shore of the lake.
Driving over the dam on the south east edge revealed the might volcano even more.
Lake Arenal is man made and very important to the country. Depending on who you ask, it supplies between 25-38% of the electricity. The volcano last erupted in 2008, but it continued to spew smoke and ash for another 3 years. During our stay, it slept like a lumbering giant.
Our destination for the night was our second Airbnb rental house. This one was part of a dude ranch in the sleepy town of El Castillo. It was a long, bumpy, and mountainous driveway to reach the ranch where we were promptly greeted by the owner’s son Eduardo.
The guest house was split up into a top unit and bottom unit. For the first night, we were treated to the top unit and it had spectacular views of both the lake and volcano.
Parrot Hill Ranch even had its own mascot. You guessed it… a parrot.
The horses in the pasture behind the house were also a big hit with Frugal Boy and there was a two year old girl with her mom who was cleaning one of the units. It is fun to see kids of different nationalities interact. They don’t care that the other kid doesn’t speak the same language. They are just glad to have someone to play with.
With a little bit of daylight left, we decided to do a rain hike on one of the ranch trails to Walden Falls.
The rain was really coming down and the steep muddy trail down to the river reminded me of the scene in the movie Romancing the Stone where the characters slide down the mountainside. Auntie turned back, but the rest of us pushed on.
I couldn’t see any waterfall when I got to the bottom, but I did see a raging river that Frugal Boy foolishly wanted to play in.
Back at the house and dried off, our hosts brought some chicken and rice plates along with soursop juice. YUMMY! The rest of the evening we entertained ourselves with cards and Wall-E.
Continue reading part 4 here.