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Published: June 23rd 2013
Thank goodness my travel mates are so great.
For the remainder of my time in Central America, I booked a tour through G Adventures
called “Backroads of Central America”. Over 17 days, the tour takes myself and 15 other young people (18-40) north through Costa Rica, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Honduras, and Guatemala. It’s essentially backpacking but more organized – we stay in very basic accommodations – and it is definitely marketed as an adventurous trip. I have never officially done anything like this, although my weeklong South Africa safari week was similar. I had such a blast on that trip that I decide to give this type of traveling a go.
There were a few things that I was worried about for this trip (e.g., losing my bags upon arrival, arriving in Costa Rica to discover that the whole program was a scam, not connecting with my host family, etc). One by one, I’ve jumped over those points of anxiety as things have gone smoothly. The last thing that I was worried about was my group for the G adventures tour. I imagine that the dynamics of the group and the tour guide have a profound impact on the whole experience, and
Rafting -- 9 went, but we split into 2 boats. This was my team.
I really wanted to be in a “good” group. Fortunately, I connected with my tour guide and my fellow travelers immediately. My roommate is a nurse from Sydney, Australia. She’s hilarious and there are “no worries” there. There is only one couple traveling with us, and everyone else is single like me (almost all women). We have a range of ages (21-late 30s), and there are several nationalities represented which is awesome. The whole group isn’t together 24/7 necessarily, but there is a lot of time with some or all of the other travelers, so it’s great that we all seem to get along.
Most of the time, we stay 2 nights in each location. My first two are La Fortuna and Monteverde – both are places in Costa Rica that I’ve already been to on this trip but also both are places that I’m pumped to explore more.
For this post, even though I’m a little behind, I am going to focus on La Fortuna/Arenal. My two days there were spent on different rivers. First up was the Sarapiquí River! Our adventure started right away,
because on the way to Arenal from San Jose, we stopped and went white water rafting. It was AWESOME. We had level III and IV rapids, and there were several moments that felt really intense. It was 2-3 hours of an awesome workout, a great time, and bonding with my new friends. I loved it! From there, we headed on to La Fortuna. Upon arrival in La Fortuna, we booked our tours for the next, rested and then had a delicious dinner.
My second river was Rio Frio in the Cano Negro Wildlife Reserve. It was much slower paced and relaxed than the adrenaline pumping rafting from the day before. The intention is to float along the river and try to spot wildlife. It was a bit of a drive from La Fortuna, as the reserve is located at the border of Costa Rica and Nicaragua, but out trip was broken up on the way with a stop at this random restaurant where there are huge iguanas wandering around everywhere. Kitchy but cool. We had great luck on the river! We spotted (with the help of our guides) Camons, long-nosed bats, howler monkeys,
You do get seriously wet.
spider monkeys, lizards, a sloth (!!), turtles, and tons of amazing birds. It was a great way to get a close look at the Costa Rican, tropical wildlife.
When we got back to La Fortuna, it was hot springs time! We went to a different (and less fancy) water springs resort than last time, but I loved it just as much. A major highlight of this one was that they made the most delicious pina coladas that I’ve ever tasted and they served them in pineapples! Yummmm… We had 3 hours to rest, relax, laugh, and play in the hot springs. Later that night, we went out for the first time and really “danced like nobody was watching” because we were the only ones in the dance club. It was energetic and hilarious as we all tried out the most ridiculous dance moves… Thank goodness I’m with the type of people who can both make their own fun and make the best of any situation. It was a great first leg of our tour!
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