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Arenal Volcano: Day 2

On the river and hanging bridges

sunny 31 °C

Thursday 27 April 2023

Breakfast was at 06.30. It's wasn't difficult to wake up early because the sun comes up around 05.00 and there's plenty of bird noises and occasionally you can hear the howler monkeys. This morning the volcano had what looked like smoke coming out of it. Victor said it's steam, a result of the heat of the volcano and the moisture in the air.

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We departed at 07.30 for what was a very active day on a very hot and humid day.

We drove for about half an hour to the PeƱas Blancas River, where we did a drift down the river in an inflatable boat. I was in the smaller boat with three other people plus the guide. The guide was in charge of paddling but there were times when he needed help so we followed his instructions ... row now ... left side only ... right side only ... stop now. In places the river was really low and the boat got stuck so he had to get out and pull it to refloat it. We weren't allowed to get out and help even though the water was only ankle deep ... we also had to wear life jackets.

There were some shaded areas along the river but a lot of the time we were under full sun. We were on the river for around two and a half hours and it became very hot and uncomfortable sitting in the same position, and we also used a lot of energy paddling. On one occasion we were heading towards the river bank and there was a sharp branch sticking out right at my face level. I leaned back to avoid it and overbalanced backwards ... the guy sitting behind me also leaned to avoid being hit in the face and we both ended up on the bottom of the boat.

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The point of floating down the river was to see wildlife and we certainly saw some wildlife. We saw a variety of birds, iguanas, Jesus lizards, howler monkeys, bats, and a sloth. For me the most exciting find was a baby spectacled owl sitting in a hollow in a tree trunk. The mother owl was sitting in a tree on the opposite bank, right above us making sure we weren't going too close to her baby. There's a spot on the river that usually has some caiman but there weren't any there today.

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We were given some watermelon and pineapple. Then made our way back to the hotel for a 30 minute rest and change of shoes. We needed water shoes/sandals for the boat and in the afternoon we needed closed toe shoes for walking.

We stopped for lunch at a restaurant in La Fortuna. Inside the restaurant was like a sauna. I sat and waited as others ordered drinks and starters, and the lunch seemed to take forever as the staff were really slow. I didn't really feel like eating but had to order something because we had a long hike ahead of us. It was such a relief to walk out of the restaurant and into the air conditioned bus.

We drove for about half an hour to the Mistico Arenal Hanging Bridges Park, a privately owned park with suspension bridges in the rainforest. Our guide, Victor, said it was an uphill walk for a while then level and down. He was right about the uphill part! The tracks were paved but you still had to watch where you're walking. Although shaded under the jungle canopy, the air was still and it was hard going walking uphill in the heat. I was low on energy before we started and I found this walk quite difficult ... it was only 3.2kms but it took us about three hours because we stopped to look for animals.

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The hanging bridges were fun but you can't really see much from them, it's a long way down. The bridges have quite a bit of movement and you have to concentrate while walking across (I have big bruises on my arms from steading myself).

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The rainforest is dense and on steep slopes but we did see some animals. We saw a variety of birds, a bat, a small snake and a sloth but it was very difficult to photograph the animals in the dense vegetation, or even see them when Victor was pointing them out. When we walked out of the rainforest there was a lovely cool breeze. I was just happy that I survived the walk.

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We were back at the hotel at 18.00 and I had a shower and sat for a while. My body relaxed and the muscles stiffened up. I didn't want to go to dinner because that meant walking down the steep hill and back up! But I knew other people were waiting for me. This was another long drawn out meal.

Today I felt the effect of being on a ship for so long. I didn't feel it yesterday, but today I felt the floor and ground was moving and I felt off balance a few times throughout the day, particularly after I stepped off the suspension bridges.

Posted by MissWalker 12:39 Archived in Costa Rica

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