Didn’t do a lot of research on Arenal – just watched a youtube video on Costa Rica and decided to spend a couple of days in the mountains & rainforest to try something different. Even picked out hotel from the video – it was a recommended place to visit because they had hot springs on the property. Stopped at a roadside cafe/butterfly park on the way there.
Sky Adventures Zip Line Park
We didn’t realize the place was so big. It’s not really in the mountains, it is more rolling hills with a 4,000 foot volcano right in the middle. The activities are focused around outdoor adventure such as zip lining, canyoning, hiking, ATV, horseback riding, and other similar pursuits. We didn’t make advance plans and assumed that the hotel would help us. Technically they would have, but the desk wasn’t open, so I googled and found a place that appeared to offer a range of activities.
We headed out early to avoid the rain and when we got there, we didn’t really know the plan and got in line. Found that it was one tour with a chairlift to an overlook for the volcano and the lake and then took 7 zip line rides down the mountain, and finished with a walk on a hanging bridge. Poorly explained on the website and at the ticket counter but a good trip. I have ziplined before, but never over a 500 foot gorge nor as long or fast. The longest run was ½ mile, top speed near 60 MPH and took about 45 seconds. The group got concerned when they talked about braking and the timing for braking, brake too late and it is a hard landing (he looked at me since I was on the heavier side of the participants), brake too early and you’ll not make it was reserve course back into the gorge and have to use your hands to pull your self through to the other side. There were a couple of ladies around 100 lbs that were getting concerned. So first time down, I am getting the signal to brake (which entailed twisting the pulley mechanism to create friction) which did not slow me down much and I was preparing to crash into the end padding when I hit a shock absorber. So still hard landings for me for the other 6 ziplines put nothing catastrophic. No one got stuck either. Sharon was a good lander.
Mistico Hanging Gardens Park
Driving out, we had no internet but saw a sign advertising a full hanging bridges hike, so we drove about 20 minutes and found the place. Again – a one-stop place for a hike as it was a formal trail built with 15 bridges through the rainforest. It did seem in this area, there were no “public” facilities at the national park, everything was commercial. We didn’t hike the volcano as it was walking on lava rocks and not as scenic as the other rainforest hikes.
Baldi Hot Springs Hotel
The other attraction in the area was hot springs, again mostly commercial endeavors. There was one place people where people sat on rocks in a river that had hot spots…not too exciting. Our hotel was basically a water-park with hot springs pools with 1970s, no rules watersides. Heavy rain and lighting, probably OK.