After a slow bus journey (5hours for 167km) we arrived in lush green Monteverde. We’d come to see the cloud forests, some cool wildlife and of course to do some ziplining through the canopy. Our first attempt at the ziplines failed because of some very, very wet weather so instead we spent most of the day going around a Butterfly and Frog farm which was surprisingly interesting. If this was a sign of our increasing age and maturity (?!), the following days activities soon rectified things. We woke to blue skies and so off we went to ‘Extremo Canopy Tours’. Flying through the air on ziplines over a km long and in places over a 150m off the ground was utterly incredible! The highlights were a Tarzan swing and the Superman cable. Check out the YouTube link for the short film Alex took as he went over the canopy. Definitely as close to flying as we’ve ever been- awesome!
We’re having a few issues with our photos, so they will have to follow when we have time to sort them out.
Unfortunately, we got some news from the UK the following day that made us decide that the place we most wanted to go next wasn’t Nicaragua, Honduras or Belize but home to be with our nearest and dearest. And so the blogging ends. We will be arriving in the UK on 12th May and for our UK friends and family, we will hopefully see most of you in the next few weeks and months.
We’re not really city-lovers, so we spent most of our time in San Jose planning the following month of travel. We had a look around for a few hours and saw some nice old buildings, ate at a good vegetarian restaurant (ElGourmet Vegetariano if you’re looking for one in San Jose) and drank tangy fruit juices – which was all nice enough, but we were soon ready to move on again…
We went to Turrialba to experience some of the best white-water rafting in the world. Opting for a day trip, we rafted down the Rio Pacuare on Class III and IV rapids and what a ride it was! Our guide was helpful, funny and a little mischievous – trying various tactics to make us fall in including instructing us to make the boat spin in circles as we went down rapids and deliberately capsizing the boat on a calm stretch. We did go for a couple of cool swims (planned of course!) including a relaxing one through a lovely steep-sided gorge. All day we were going through mostly untouched rain forest, full of plant and bird life (kingfishers, toucans etc) and dazzlingly green in places.
More (mostly blurry because of the wet camera) photos here.
Having left Bocas, we headed to Guabito to cross the border into Costa Rica. To save ourselves the 2 buses, we decided to jump into a taxi to get there. As with all our taxi rides in Panama it was an interesting experiences. Our driver, a (would-be?)-gangster, cruised slowly through the towns with gangster-rap blaring, periodically shooting people out of the window with his fingers. We found this fairly amusing till he nearly hit someone, they came over to the car and he pointed down the side of his seat where a machete was lying. Anyway, after safely arriving at the border (a narrow wooden plank bridge over a river) we crossed by foot, just before a truck came through the other way. It would have been a scary experience having to jump out of the way with our bags of it if we’d been a few minutes later- we wonder whether anyone has taken an unexpected plunge into the river! Another few bus rides and we arrived at Manzanillo on the Carribean coast. Described as a sleepy place we were surprised to find the beach full of a few hundred locals partying, before we realised it was a public holiday. We joined them on the beach for a few hours but found the following day on the beach much more relaxing.
As night fell we set out in a speedboat across the moonlit sea to a nearby beach where we hoped to see Leatherback turtles (up to 500kg and 2.4m long!!!) nesting. In quiet anticipation, we walked a few kilometres along the beach, staring across the waves eager to catch any glimpses of these giants. After our guide picked a spot, we settled down in the sand to watch and wait. Unfortunately, despite 6 hours of waiting during which time our eyes played many tricks on us, at 2am we started the walk back, disappointed not to have seen these magnificent creatures. We were slightly appeased when we came across some strange markings in the sand which our guide confirmed was where a turtle that had come in but decided that it wasn’t the right spot to nest and then we noticed that perhaps 25m away a dark lump was moving out towards the sea. We watched the turtle for a few more seconds and then it was gone. Not the experience we’d hoped for but better than no sighting at all.