Taking Costa Rica’s “Mega Combo Adventure Challenge” in Guanacaste on the NW Coast

Colorful lizard in Costa Rican jungle. Photo by Flamingo Beach Resort

Colorful lizard in Costa Rican jungle. Photo by Flamingo Beach Resort

I am seriously short on attention span: It’s not enough for me to just do a zipline or hot springs or ride a horse. I’ve gotta do them all, preferably on the same day.

Enter Buena Vista Lodge & Adventure, located in Guanacaste in northwestern Costa Rica. Following the eco-adventure trend in Costa’s Rica’s tourism industry to its logical extreme, the lodge offers a “Mega Combo” package. Yeah, I was exhausted. Yeah, I had a blast.

In Your Bucket Because

  • You like to do a LOT in one day.
  • You enjoy adventure.
  • You like the tropics.
  • Good for adventurers with a bit of endurance (including families).

Dances with Gravity: Zipping and Chuting

It started with the ziplines. Here, at the foot of Rincon del la Vieja Volcano, they prefer to call it a “canopy tour” because it is not aimed at adrenaline junkies. Rather, it is a calm, controlled journey via 10 lines through and over the thick Costa Rican jungle. You get strapped into a body harness, you kick off, you zip. At one point, swooping over the trees, I could see the ocean. Yes, I’m scared of heights. No, I wasn’t scared of this. Go figure.

Then, to the waterslide. It’s a narrow, 1,600 foot long concrete flume that winds through the forest. And like the canopy tour, it’s a journey — past trees, under bridges and through a tunnel. You start slow but midway, you get slammed with a push of water. Then, the race is on as you bounce over small dips, careen around sharp turns and hang on gloriously for dear life. Yes, the water is ice cold, though here they insist on calling it refreshing.

This is REALLY a rush! Photo by Buena Vista Adventure Group

This is REALLY a rush! Photo by Buena Vista Adventure Group

I did it three times, wearing the leather diaper they insist women use so they won’t scrape their tender, bikinied bottoms on the concrete chute.

Horseback Riding, Costa Rican Style

But even after zipping and chuting, the day was far from over. After lunch, we got on horses for an hour-long ride to the hot springs.

“A gentle path?” I asked.

“Not too bad.”

Which was true at first. And then we cut from the road into the jungle, crossing streams, climbing over logs and small boulders. But hey, I figured the horse knew what he was doing. I just relaxed the reins and let him go. And eventually, after several heart stopping bounces downward, we arrived at a rustic spring with several pools and vats of hot mud. They bring the mud from the nearest volcano and keep it heated in basins. The stuff is slick and gray and dries into a fine light shade that made us all look like ghosts.

The mud was glorious. The volcano heated water was fabulous. We ended the tour floating on our backs and peering at the sky through the canopy while people far above zinged past on a zipline.

Costa Rica: Adventure and Parks are Everywhere

Buena Vista has its own lodge but its activities are open to people who are staying elsewhere. They’ve got quite a list of activities which includes the activities in the combo, plus more. So you can do one or lots.

Enjoying hot volcanic mud at Buena Vista Lodge hot springs in Costa Rica. Mud is smeared on, then allowed to dry before washing it off. The mud is supposed to make your skin smooth. Photo by Yvette Cardozo

Enjoying hot volcanic mud at Buena Vista Lodge hot springs in Costa Rica. Mud is smeared on, then allowed to dry before washing it off. The mud is supposed to make your skin smooth. Photo by Yvette Cardozo

As for the rest of Costa Rica, a quarter of this country the size of West Virgina is protected in national parks or reserves. This is a larger proportion of its land than any other country on Earth. The parks include eight active volcanoes, one of which erupts continuously.

Besides the waterslides, the ziplines, the volcano visits and hot springs there are places where you can watch butterflies emerge from their cocoons, where natives who still live in thatch huts will tell you about their culture, where you can wander the jungle to sniff the spices and photograph the exotic flowers.

Practicalities

  • The absolute best time to visit Guanacaste is November and December, the beginning of the dry season when everything is still green. The dry season runs November through April.
  • Though the country is only 10 degrees north of the Equator, the temperature, especially in the mountains, is refreshingly cool.
  • Reasonably priced hotels dot the landscape. For a good combination of comfort and a bit of elegance that stays within a budget, try the Flamingo Beach Resort about 20 minutes from the small town of Tamarindo towards the north end of the country on the Pacific Coast. Flamingo Beach offers an excursion to the Buena Vista Lodge and Adventure adventure program described here. It involves two hours of driving each way and is a very full day excursion.
  • What most visitors do is stay in a hotel or resort on the beach and take day trips into the interior. Most resorts and hotels offer package tours and if not, they are sold in tourist towns such as Tamarindo.
  • More info available at the Costa Rica tourism website.

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