On our way to find adventure in the rainforest!
We were staying at the spectacular Andaz Peninsula Papagayo Resort on the west side of Costa Rica on the Pacific Ocean in the Guanacaste Province, where it was HOT and dry. The climate of the Guanacaste Province is tropical with an average temperature of 83ºF year round. However, we experienced a very unusually hot, dry, 90 degree week. We knew it was the dry season and planned our trip to take advantage of the lack of rain. We did however want to see and experience what the WET side of Costa Rica was like and enjoy views of Arenal, the volcano.
Luck was not in our favor that day. Most of the picturesque volcano was sitting behind a large bank of clouds and this made viewing the volcano impossible. Nevertheless, you can actually feel it’s massiveness by just standing at the base. It was truly spectacular.
Our amazing concierge, Maria, from the Andaz Peninsula Papagayo Resort thankfully made all of the arrangements for our very first trip to a Costa Rica rainforest. We were super excited and didn’t know exactly what to expect. All we had to do was bring the following: hat, sunglasses, camera, rain jacket, a change of clothes, bug repellent, sun screen, bathing suit and a copy of our passport. Mardigi Tours would take care of the rest!
Elvis picked us up (yes his name was Elvis) at 6:00am for our four hour drive to Arenal so we could see the magnificent volcano, trek through the rainforest and enjoy swimming in the hot pools. There were no other guests on the tour and the three of us set out for our long ride through the countryside. On the way Elvis shared his knowledge of the geography, politics and life in Costa Rica. Elvis was named after his father, who was named for The King, Elvis Presley. He was 28, a college graduate, ambitious, knowledgeable and he and his wife have a baby on the way.
Initially, I was not certain that I wanted to sit in a van for that long, crossing the entire width of the country of Costa Rica, only to have to drive back in the same day! Much to my surprise and delight, Elvis was so enjoyable and the scenery so special and beautiful, the time actually flew by!
We stopped for a traditional Costa Rican breakfast about 90 minutes in to the trip. We were in a “transitional” rainforest where the weather was kind of half wet and half dry. We hadn’t actually made it in to the wet, rainy rainforest quite yet.
There were little towns along the way offering souvenirs and local favorite foods. This was a cute and colorful restaurant we saw on our journey. There was no time for stopping, we had a rainforest and volcano to see!
The colors were so vibrant and leaves were gigantic like out of a Disney movie. It was raining so hard that I could not take my phone from my pocket to take notes, and pen and paper were out of the question! All of the details written here are just from my memory!
It might be a little difficult to see here, but the rain was coming down so hard you could barely hear each other speak. With the canopy of trees and huge leaves most of the rain would hit them first. I could not get over the loud sound of the rain striking the leaves. I loved it. We were drenched, but it was such an amazing experience.
There is a tiny little town called La Fortuna at the base of the volcano within the rainforest. This lovely, charming, church was in the middle of the town square, along side of the lush central park with the fountain. The flowers in the gardens almost appeared like they were on steroids. They were so impressive!
More magnificent flowers!
Our last stop of the day was to visit Los Lagos Hotel, Spa and Resort where the very hot water in all of the hot springs pools came from the volcano. It was a huge water park, with giant slides and relaxing seats within the numerous, shallow, hot springs pools. Craig and I just hopped from pool to pool in the pouring rain. Pretending to be children, we had a ball!
The deluge was rather difficult to navigate and we were drenched for most of the trip. I knew that it would rain, but I had no idea how debilitating it can be when you are trying to document the trip without ruining your camera! We have no pictures of us, and we didn’t even take a photo with Elvis!
Click HERE to read my recent post about our stay at the resort and all of the delicious food!