A few years ago I had the opportunity to travel to Costa Rica with a group of people from my high school and it was one of the best experiences I have ever had! It was the second trip I had been on with EF Tours and was filled with so much adventure. Some of the activities I was a bit nervous to participate in leading up to the trip, but when traveling I always find myself thinking, “When will I ever get the chance to do this again?” and just go for it! I don’t have pictures of everything because I couldn’t carry a camera during some of the more adventurous activities, but I can still show you some of the highlights and tell you about the rest.
Our trip began when we arrived in San Jose. We didn’t have any activities planned because we arrived in the afternoon, so we just spent some time exploring the area around our hotel.
The next day we went to INBioparque, which is part rainforest and part dry forest. Right at the start of our walk we saw a sloth hanging in a tree, which I was pretty excited about because I had never seen a sloth before.
We then continued our walk through the park. We saw lots of different types of plants as well as snapping turtles, snakes (including a cobra), and a butterfly exhibit. They butterfly exhibit was definitely my favorite!
Our next excursion was a hike at the Paos Volcano. It started raining during the hike and when we got to the top we were just standing in a giant white cloud and couldn’t see anything, which was disappointing, but the hike was still fun!
Next on our adventure was LaFortuna Waterfall. We climbed down 700 hundred steps to get to the water and see the volcano. It had been raining so much that we weren’t able to swim in the water by the waterfall because the levels were high and the currents were too strong. There was so much rain that a dry waterfall there had tons of water flowing down it. The waterfall in picture below is the normally dry waterfall. When we were done exploring the waterfalls, climbing up those 700 steps proved to be a bit more difficult then climbing down them.
Next, we went kayaking at Lake Arenal. When we were walking down to get to the lake, we actually had a good view of the Paos Volcano. When we walked down to the lake we went kayaking and swam in the water for a bit. I love kayaking, so this was one of my favorite parts of the trip.
Another great part of the trip was visiting a school. It was a very small school with only about 15 students of varying ages and a couple of teachers who taught every level. The students did a dance performance for us that we all got to participate in and then we played soccer with them.
The next day we started off our morning by going horseback riding. This was my first time horseback riding and we were riding through the mountains and hills so it was pretty intense! I was expecting it to be a slow ride since most of us didn’t have horseback riding experience, but the horses were galloping and trotting for most of the ride. This was probably the scariest part of the trip because we were riding pretty close to the edge of the mountain for some of the ride. Plus the fact that I didn’t have any experience and the horses only understood commands in Spanish made it a little scarier. Even though I was a bit nervous about it, this was probably my favorite part of the trip because the views were insanely beautiful.
Our next adventure was a crocodile tour. We saw a tons of crocodiles, both big and small, as well as a variety of different birds and crabs. This was a really cool experience because I had never seen a crocodile before and they even let us touch one of them.
The next day, we finally made it to the beach! This was my first time seeing the Pacific Ocean! They warned us about monkeys stealing your belongings and we actually did see one grabbing stuff out of someone’s bag when we were walking down the beach. Since they are pretty used to being around humans they will let you get pretty close so I took some pictures of them playing in the trees.
The next day, we went to the Carara Biological Reserve, and later that night we attended a Folklore evening. At this event, they offered us a buffet style dinner, which was delicious and we got to watch some Costa Rican dancers perform. There were also some great views of San Jose all lit up.
On our final day we went white water rafting on the Sarapiqui River. When we got to the place where we would do the rafting, they served us lunch under a big gazebo. While we were enjoying our lunch it started to storm and trees were literally falling down around the gazebo. Luckily no one was hurt and the storm stopped quickly and we were still able to go white water rafting. Because it had been raining so much the water levels were higher than normal and there wasn’t as much white water, but it was still a lot of fun.
These final pictures are some of the views from our bus during our rides from destination to destination. Some of the rides were pretty long and bumpy, but being able to look out and see this beautiful green land definitely made those rides enjoyable.
I’m so happy to have had the experience of adventuring through Costa Rica, and if anyone has the opportunity to travel with EF tours or a similar tour group during high school, I highly recommend it! I also highly recommend keeping a travel journal. I started my travel journal when I went on this trip and I’m so happy I did. I love looking back at it to remind me of the great memories and I plan on continuing to document my travels in this journal.