Saturday, January 4, 2014

Our Honeymoon - Day 17 - Sky Adventures Guided Nature Walk, Suspended Bridges, Tram & Zip Line

Today we had our first guided wildlife tour in Costa Rica in the jungle around the massive Arenal Volcano.  Our fantastic guide pointed out our first monkeys and taught us about the local vegetation. We walked across our first hanging bridges and experienced our last bit of adventure on our trip by zip lining at Sky Adventure.  From the zip lines we had great views of Lake Arenal and of the forest below us.  We were even back to our hostel in time to relax in hammocks and grab some drinks.  Click the title to read on...

We woke up early and got the 8am shuttle to Sky Adventures where we were booked for the Sky Walk, The Sky Tram and the Sky Trek (zip lines).  It took just about an hour to pick up a full van of guests at various hotels and then head out around the Arenal Volcano to the venue.  On the way we had great views of the volcano all the way to its summit between cloud breaks and we even saw some white-nosed Coati in the road who seemed very curious about us as we drove by them.  They are part of the raccoon family and have a very long black tail with a cute white face.  We also saw a white hawk far off in a tree.

When we got the place we were quickly shuffled into a line to sign in and purchase our tickets and quickly got started with our 9am guided walk.  I can't remember the name of our guide but he was very nice and explained to us that he had to go to school for both English and wildlife training in order to become a guide there.  He also had a side project of his own maintaining a catalog of the plant species within the park.  He seemed very knowledgeable us as he guided us on a 3 hour walk of the trails pointing out various plants and birds along the way.  Highlights for wildlife were a viper (very venomous), some cool looking lizards, and our first encounter with some white-capuchin monkeys which didn't seem to happy to see us even though they were very far away.  

After our guided walk ended at noon we were shown into a room to get fitted with Petzl harnesses and large iron pulleys for our zip line adventure.  We grabbed some snacks from a shop because we didn’t have time for breakfast and then headed over to the Sky Tram.  We boarded the open air tram with 4 others and made our way far up the mountainside to the top platform of our zip-lining adventure at nearly 3000 feet above the valley.  We had never done it before but a couple with us had a few times in Houston and Hawaii so they gave us some pointers before we got started.  

Before we got started on the zip lines someone spotted a very cool looking Eyelash Viper up in a tree above the zip lining platform.  It was hard to spot because it blended in so well with the vegetation.  We then got geared up and ready for the zip lines.  What I thought would be just one zip line turned out to be 8 cables with the longest and fastest line being 2060 feet long and over 50mph, lasting about 45 seconds over the valley far below.  The first two and last ones were super short for practice and returning to the base and probably shouldn't even count.  

We had a blast on the zip lines!  I wouldn't say they were a crazy adrenalin rush but they 45 minutes it took us to descend the mountain via cables flying over the lush jungle below was definitely worth the money we paid.  We were told how to brake but neither Emily nor I did any breaking as we came in hot each time at the end of the cable where they would catch us and slow us down.  As we traversed across the same valley back and forth we had wonderful views down towards Arenal Lake.  

The 2nd to last cable and one of the longest and fastest took us through the trees where we really got a feel for how fast we were traveling.  They took some photos of us and offered a $40 GoPro to us to capture our "adventure" but we declined both.  I was able to take our camera strapped around my chest with me on the zip lines so was able to capture our own "action shots" of Emily on the zip line.  

We finished our zip line just before 3pm and boarded a shuttle again back to La Fortuna for the evening.  Back at our hostel we cleaned up a bit (no hot showers at our place - but hot enough to not care) and headed out to dinner at Don Rufino's which came highly recommended on Trip Advisor.  I ordered a huge 18oz porterhouse and Emily got "Grandmas Chicken" which was the speciality - a half roasted chicken wrapped in banana leaves with a sweet mustard bbq sauce.  

We also got our first appetizer of ceviche which, even though it has cilantro in it, I thoroughly enjoyed!  It was a bit pricey but a wonderful meal.  After dinner I picked up a bunch of cans of ron and coke and some beers to try and we pretty much just chilled for the night.  There was a very loud karaoke party in the yard below but we were pretty tired from the day and decided to just hit the hay early as we had another big day in the early morning again.

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