“I’ve never done anything like all the stuff I’ve done here,” comments Gail, another guest on our tour of Tenorio Volcano National Park.
She was American and was on holiday with her husband and two grown up sons. She was slightly uneasy on the steep, rocky parts of the paths down to the Blue Lagoon.
Adventure is pushing yourself beyond your normal boundaries. For some people, that’s skydiving and for others it’s simply leaving the house.
This Costa Rica 10 day itinerary for adventure is somewhere in the middle and is aimed to fun and put you in activities that you’re not normally doing. All with nice hotels to return back to ease tired muscles and refresh for the next day.
It’s the #comfortzoneadventure way!
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The main airport in the country is San Jose, so I’ve assumed that you are flying directly here. There’s direct British Airways flights from London Gatwick.
On the first day, head to the Trapp Family Lodge in Monteverde, a journey of about 4 hours.
If you’re self-driving, be careful not to arrive into Monteverde in the dark. The road up the mountain is steep and winding, and it’s very difficult to see where the road goes and very easy to drive over the edge. It’s a cloud forest, after all! The only benefit of arriving in the dark is that we did see an armadillo crossing the road.
Trapp Family Lodge isn’t my favourite hotel that I’ve stayed in in Costa Rica. It’s fairly basic but it’s within walking distance of the national park, which is great for going on tours or visiting yourself.
Go zip lining!
Unfortunately, my husband and I missed this when we visited because the weather was too windy BUT Monteverde is supposed to be the best place to do ziplining in Costa Rica as the lines are long and you go straight through the canopy in this amazing secondary forest.
Have a guided tour of the national park and spot some rare birds.
This might not sound adventurous, but you can’t be this close to the Resplendent Quetzal and not try to see it! A guide around the cloud forest will listen for their calls and take you to them. You’ll learn about the other birds and the park in general, too.
“We’re here!” Exclaimed our driver as he pulled up at the side of the road that looked the same as every part of the road we’d been driving along.
On the way to Arenal, you’ll need to take a boat across Lake Arenal. I’m not entirely sure how the boat and car drivers know that this section of the lakeside is the marina, as it is the same as the rest of the lake. No over-tourism here!
It was windy when Ben and I crossed, but the scenery is lush and green with the volcano imposing on the background.
If you self-drive, you can go around the lake, a journey which will take around 6 hours.
Ben and I stayed in Arenal Springs hotel, a luxury American-style spa hotel where every room is in a bungalow and you can ask for a golf buggy to take you around the resort!
Maybe not very adventurous, but it’s one of the only hotels to have private hot springs to chill out in.
What makes a good hotel here and how will you know if you’ll see lots of wildlife or have great facilities? Find out in How To Choose A Hotel in Costa Rica.
Nothing quite prepared me for the rapid “GET DOWN! PADDLE BACK!” calls from the back of the raft.
The reason we’d missed ziplining was also the reason that our white water rafting experience in the River Balsa was more adventurous then expected; the storms had brought in more rain and the dam upstream had released some water to the river. This meant the rapids were a class IV-V instead of a class II-III, meaning they were faster.
Quick reflexes will be rewarded here! I remember getting smacked in the face with a wave and then immediately having to clamber back onto my wet, inflatable seat in the raft for the next call. My mind was completely engaged in helping to control the boat and not falling out!
The Desafio Adventure tour starts with splitting up into groups. Our tour had enough people for two boats, plus the safety kayak and photographer. We had a safety brief beforehand where we were taught the commands that our individual instructor would shout throughout the journey.
After the rapids is a calm section of the river where we spotted a sloth hanging out in the tree, slowly scratching an armpit.
Hike around the volcano or book a quad bike ride.
Or if you’d like a day off from the adventures, relax in the hot springs and float up to the pool bar for a cocktail.
If you’re inspired by this country, find out more Surprising Facts About Costa Rica.
Travel on to Rio Celeste.
I don’t see this place on very many itineraries, but it’s absolutely stunning. The colour of the water comes from a mix of two rivers, one with acidic water which reacts with the aluminium silicates in the other and makes them larger, causing them to refract the light and make the river appear bright blue.
The Rio Celeste Hideaway Hotel has a private path down to the river. Its gardens and forest paths are great to explore and see the wildlife.
The hotel offers a free night tour where you can see frogs, sleeping birds and spiders.
Go horse riding with Rio Celeste Horseback Riding, run by David where he’ll take you to his tarzan swing made from natural hanging aerial roots and you can swing from the ramp high into the air!
After this, he’ll take you up the mountain to a view of Lake Nicaragua and Caño Wildlife Park. On clear days you can see Arenal Volcano.
David was born in this area and moved to the city to work in construction. He later returned to follow his dream and live in the place he loved growing up in. He calls his horses mi amor and looks after them well.
Riding in the Western style feels powerful; there’s something about the rhythmic swaying of the horse that makes you feel in charge of the whole landscape. Which may be true for David, but my saddle didn’t come with the machete upgrade like his did.
A stark reminder that the jungle is wild and untamed, and sometimes it grows so quickly that it needs to be unceremoniously moved out of the way!
Ease your muscles in one of the hot tubs and watch the toucans fly overhead whilst howlers call off in the distance.
Visit the Rio Celeste park to see the waterfall and blue lagoon. I took a guided tour, but I personally don’t think it’s necessary around this park as you’re there to see the bright blue river than to spot birds.
We did see a coati though, which is one of my favourite animals. Sadly, their numbers are dwindling through Central and South America because they get trafficked for the illegal pet trade.
Walk the paths around the hotel or hang out in the hot tubs until you need to return to San Jose for your flight home.
For this itinerary you’ll need:
- Good travel insurance to match your sense of daring. Make sure it covers you for adventure sports
- Pre-booked transport services to make it easier getting around – Interbus were on time, friendly and professional whenever we used them