Hanging Bridges

Trip Start Mar 01, 2011
Trip End May 15, 2011

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Flag of Costa Rica  , Province of Guanacaste,
Monday, March 28, 2011

The Arenal Hanging Bridges, rated one of Costa Rica's top tourist attractions, was an outstanding adventure. Three kilometers of jungle trails meandered through lush tropical forest, offering interactions with six suspension bridges, eight stationary bridges, a tunnel and flora and fauna worthy of a one gig memory card. Some of the bridges had names which might turn you away if you were not with a guide (Tarantula Bridge, Fer-de-Lance Bridge, Pit Viper Tunnel, Ant Hill Bridge). The trail, itself, was lined with cement blocks to preserve the path and add traction for the hikers.  Our guide was an 18 year old boy who had just finished high school, and was continuing his education to study English. There were areas of long, fairly steep climb, but our guide provided frequent stops to point out fascinating Kodak Moments, including a yellow viper curled up on a tree, an orange snake of some sort, a humming bird on its nest, volcanic clay in a hillside used for mud facials, seeds of the palm in various stages of development, a view of Arenal Volcano in the distance from the highest bridge, a waterfall, a white-nosed coati who found lunch on a paper  plate in a trash can,  and a bridge paralleling ours which was built recently for an episode of a TV show or a movie.  It was missing many planks and appeared very old, but from our position, we could see the riggings and recent work.  We speculated it was for Survivor or some such show.  We were covered with tropical rain (sweat) by the end of the hike, but our guide and his buddies were dry.  I highly recommend this adventure.

We drove along Arenal Lake, an 88 square km man-made lake, for which the town of Arenal was displace and reestablished as Nuevo Arenal.   It has three levels of hydro plants and is an important recreation facility.  It is world famous for wind surfing.  The vistas along the lake are varied and some are breathtaking, with mountains on the far side.   I was on the wrong side of the bus to get good shots, but it reminded me of the Cape Breton scenery, same size and complexity.  The countryside began to change as we entered the Guanacaste province and approached the pacific side of the country, going through the only tropical dry forest in Costa Rica.  The dryness of the fields and pastures was obvious and the vegetation was much less dense.

We had lunch in Liberia at another open-air restaurant, with a buffet of traditional foods such as rice and beans, fresh tropical fruits, plantain prepared in one or two ways, fresh veggies and a meat dish or two.  We stopped for a shopping spree in Liberia as well, or as much as you can shop in 30 minutes.  We hit a pharmacy for antihistamines for Doug, a bank for both of us (we’ve seen 5 Scotia Banks so far), and a grocery store.  Our tour director helped us locate specifics, but we found our way to the chips and beer sections by ourselves.  Everyone stocked up for the next two days at the soon to be reached, JW Marriot Guanacaste Resort.
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