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Published: January 17th 2009
Pura Vida!!3.30am, wake up time!…After a crazy Costa Rican style new year eve and some great diving in Playa del Coco, a short stop in La Fortuna, my next stop was Turrialba, a tiny town located at about two hours drive from San Jose & a good 5 hours from La Fortuna.
Canyoning time, Turrialba
Turrialba is slightly off the main touristic area, and this actually does come as a relief especially after my very short stay in La Fortuna!
It is well known by the outdoor sports lover as the absolute adventure Mecca in Costa Rica and for really good reasons…From the Pacuare River that has been designated by the National Geographic Magazine no less than one of the top five most beautiful rivers in the world for rafting to its rain forest where ones can experience truly fantastic canyoning, it is hard to resist!
On the road again! La Fortuna - Turrialba
So…how to get to the next destination when all the bus tickets are sold out and you have clearly mentioned that you will NOT go through San Jose to get to Turrialba (for some reason, this relentlessly came back as the ONE solution although it meant
extended travel time and delayed arrival on that thus no canyoning…NOT a solution!)…
Well, looks like the local solution is to add one more bus to the scheduled day, leaving at 4am, obviously not mention it to the reservation central in San Jose, but just make sure the driver gets back on time for the scheduled & sold out bus leaving later that day…mmm…really starting to feel like in China!
Not the perfect option but at least, I got to leave from La Fortuna, and was heading to the right direction.
Bus dropt me in Siquires, about 1H + from Turrialba and then I got to experience my first truly local bus…Truly local as there was absolutely no foreigners to be seen anywhere (felt good…), and the first bus driver had absolutely no clue on the actual departure location of the bus…Loved it and wish I had been using local bus earlier instead of the interbus!
Turrialba town, bustling with life
Early morning arrival in Turrialba... The town is colorful & already bustling with activity
, sunny day, & absolutely no clue on where I would be staying or how I was going to sign in
for the afternoon canyoning.
The first tiny travel agency was my first guess and happened to be the right move! 30 mn later, my Spanish had improved dramatically, I was signed up for the canyoning with Explornatura, had a room booked in what remains one of the most typical bed and breakfast I experienced during my stay & had my main bag stored so that I could go explore the town!
All set & after the now usual “Pura Vida”, went on foot to discover a bit more of Turrialba & enjoy some more local Costa Rican coffee (truly addictive!)
Time to jump in (well…actually rappelling down…) Let's go for some canyoning!
Not the first canyoning in my case, and was expecting the usual group of 7+ guests (when you get lucky..) which means lots of waiting at each rappelling area…
Well, this time it was quite the opposite & truly felt like I was going in a canyoning outing with a group of friends
as it was myself, the guide, his colleague and his brother! Pura vida! Puente Vigas Canyon
is located really near by Turrialba and within 15 mn we were already
Having lots of fun!!
Pacuare River, Class IV white water river rafting
walking in the lush forest covering the area properly equipped with harnesses and carabiners for the first rappelling.
Keeping balance as we walk on very slippery rocks on top of the waterfalls, and bursting in laugh when ending up under the ‘shower’ or going for a ‘crash’ landing in the water pool
, the entire experience was fantastic.
A few zip lining
down four canopy cables and walk/run across a 132 foot hanging bridge
& we were heading back to the lodge for a shower, dry clothe, & very well welcomed cup of hot chocolate!
Paparajote, hot chocolate & a great time spent in local B&B!
Back to town, where my favorite travel agent had some more good news to share! Won’t need to take a cab to the bed and breakfast (located 5km outside of the town, within the beautiful Rio Claro area), actually the owner manage a store downtown and will be giving me a lift! Great!
The house in itself is HUGE and surrounded by an immense garden looking over the river and the Turrialba volcano.
As I arrived, I am welcome by two of the owner friends, one from Spain
Canyoning time, Turrialba
and the other from Costa Rica San Jose. Cooking time and smells terrific! Before I knew it, I ended up in the kitchen trying some to ‘die for’ fritter made with a fresh lemon tree leaf inside
, specialty from Murcia Spain (called Paparajote) … For some reason, I kept discovering new type of fritters during that trip (before that one, there was the oh so delicious Dutch fritters prepared by Brenda for New Year Eve…yami!)
Lot’s of chatting, kind of lost between the different accents but all in all enjoyed the moment! One of the very first long conversation as well with locals on how life is in Costa Rica, work, hopes for their children & all those little things that give you a few little glimpses of what it is like to live in Costa Rica.
Breakfast time, you haven’t experienced Costa Rica unless you have tried the gallo pinto!
Gallo Pinto is THE national dish of Costa Rica and is enjoyed throughout the day from breakfast to dinner. It actually means “painted rooster”
after the actual color of the dish made of pre-cooked rice and beans fried together with spices. Ironic isn’t…Traveled half the world
Canyoning time, Turrialba
from China and the national dish is made of rice!!!
With the action packed day that was to follow, the Gallo Pinto with egg was THE perfect breakfast :-)
White water rafting! Time to navigate the raw, pounding power of the mighty Pacuare River!
The Pacuare river is known as one of the wildest and most beautiful rivers in the world & had been on my ‘must do’ list for now a little while…
This was actually one of the aspects of the trip I looked in early on and after a few emails with different operators, decided to go for Tico’s River
, a smaller size operator that seems to offer a more human size type of experience and this couldn’t have been a better choice as we were indeed the smallest group (2 rafts against groups of 30+ people lining up at other operators…), thus the first one on the river and no waiting time but experienced as well what is so far my best lunch during a rafting outing! No sandwich or burger here but local prepare it yourself tacos and fruit juice!
So back to the actual rafting experience!
words that come to my mind when I look back to what is so far my best rafting experience would be… wild, invigorating, quintessential tropical river, exuberant, unpredictable, scenic
… 30 km of pure sensations
where you alternate plunging through twists, turns and drops down & moments of calm over crystal clear water during which you can enjoy the sight of the lush jungle, waterfalls amidst hidden canyon, local kids jumping out of mid range cliff & waving as you pass by, butterflies, birds…
An area you hope locals will keep protecting & cherish!
Shared this experience with Yves & Louise, an amazing newly retired couple from Quebec who is traveling around the world and three locals working for Tico’s River, who were lots of fun…so between the now usual “FORWARD” we would have great laugh as everyone ended up lost in translation…
As we got closer from the Caribbean Sea, the wildlife and sceneries change, and deep canyons surrounded by jungle are progressively being replaced by a slightly wider and calmer river with more locals along it.
A white water kayak
was opening the road most of the time, in those high adrenaline class III &
IV rapids and the more I looked at it, the way it would go through & above drops, waves, high speed currents the more I guess I am going to add this on my ‘to learn list’
….mmm… clearly THE next level as far as adrenaline & contact with nature is concerned! Giovani & Roberto…you might indeed see me coming back earlier than expected!
Time to go back to San Jose… which is best done out of Siquires (a few km only from where you end up the trip) & by then, I was already familiar with this little town & bus station…2nd time in 48 hours!
1 hour and half using a directivo bus (well…supposed to be a directivo bus but somehow always end up being a hybrid version between collectivo and directivo..)
& thus late afternoon arrival in San Jose & plenty of time to relax after this action pack day! Costa Rica Trip so far...
PART 1: Pura Vida! Diving & fiesta costa rican style, welcome to Playa del Coco!
PART 2: Turrialba, Costa Rica, nature & adrenaline lover paradise!
Next:….deep into the jungle & some truly wild diving… ready?!
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