Hanging Bridges - Drive in to Puntarenas

Trip Start Apr 04, 2009
Trip End Apr 14, 2009

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Where I stayed
Doubletree Resort by Hilton Puntarenas

Flag of Costa Rica  , Province of Puntarenas,
Sunday, April 12, 2009

We started today in Fortuna and were out on the bus by 7:45am.  It was a short drive to the edge of Arenal Lake (man made by a dam) where we turned off on to an insanely narrow winding road up to the dry forest (also known as the cloud forest as it receives much less rain than a rain forest, but the humidity keeps the plants well moisturized).  The hanging bridges are a series of 7 cable suspension bridges across a handful of streams in the area.  Mix in a handful of smaller iron plank bridges and a concrete pathway made of decorative slabs which was very difficult to walk on, but protected the path way from erosion.  The bridges were a bit scary at first as they tilted significantly back and forth as well as swaying, but the sides were about 5 feet high.  Other than a few scuffs of the arms, it was quite exhilerating and the views of the streams and forests below were breath taking.  The hike itself took about 75 minutes with the guide and was about 2 miles of inclines up and down.  We saw a jumping pit viper and a baby palm viper as well as come cicada exoskeletons left behid as they grew.  Before leaving we saw two large bright blue and yellow Mccaws.

Our lunch stop was at the other end of Arenal Lake.  More rice and beans, but some delicious mesquite chicken and some home made hot sauces, one of the inferno variety.  They had a tasty pastry for dessert that was corn flour with jam baked in the middle.  The gauva juice is very common.  If you like tropical fruits and juices, this is the place for you.  The meal quality continues to be top notch even when the menu options are limited.

It is winding down the Easter week festivities and it was apparent today on the roads.  We hit several areas of considerable congestion, even grid lock at one point (funny, because there is only one each way on their highway 1, but it still is gridlocked like Vancouver).  We stopped at an icecream shop where everyone got a scoop or a milkshake for the road.  The heat on the Pacific ocean side is noticably higher and the land is much drier here.  There were a lot of scortched fields and dead trees.  We even saw a brush fire which took out a few power line poles from the bottom of the pole.  They were still smouldering when we drove past.  The "30" minute bus ride from the ice cream stop in to Puntarenas took two hours due to traffic.  The highlight was a tree with two white faced monkeys climbing around, so we have seen all three common monkeys now.  The howler is everywhere, we saw a few spider monkeys in Tortuguero and two white faced monkeys near Puntarenas.

We finally arrived at the Doubletree Hilton in Puntarenas at about 5:30pm and were greeted with a warm chocolate chip cookie.  Our rooms are nice, if a bit old.  The air conditioning is stuggling to keep up.  It is set as low as possible (55 degrees), but the current room temperature is still over 73 degrees.  I guess it will get cooler as the night goes on, as it is probably close to 100 degrees outside in the day.

Dinner was another buffet, but the Hilton does it in style.  There was steak, ribs and roast beef, along with an amazing salad bar and various fish options.  The dessert bar was a fountain of temptation.  Our all inclusive includes all activities while at the hotel, as well as alcohol and meals without limit.  The grounds of the hotel resort are beautiful, with numerous pools, a swim up bar, hammocks outside our room and the ocean about 100 feet from our door.  We have now seen both the Caribbean sea and Pacific ocean, not to mention two countries (Nicaragua yesterday).

It has been a steady active pace on this trip, so it was a bit disappointing, but also a bit of a relief to find out that we won't be going to the Manuel Antonio park tomorrow.  It is one of the most special places in Costa Rica for the beaches, birds and monkeys.  We have seen enough birds and monkeys at this point.  We have the beach at our feet here.  Karen has arranged for us to visit a Mccaw garden tour for tomorrow as an alternate option which will give us a bit of r'n'r time in the afternoon.  Due to Easter Sunday, the MA park is limiting entrance to 200 people for the day and it would take about 4 hours to drive from here with the traffic, along with no guarantee of admittance.  We are happy to have a quick morning side trip instead, then relax here at the Hilton.

Enjoy the photos.
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