World Challenge 2017: Nicaragua and Costa Rica
A month’s long expedition seems an age at the beginning but, by the end of the first week, the time just flies by!
Looking back, what do we miss?….the people (so friendly), the culture, food, wildlife, the beach. What don’t we miss? … the mosquitos and the daily application of DEET (to deter the mosquitos but it didn’t always work!).
We flew from Heathrow on Friday 14 July to Managua (via Houston) and then drove to Leon. Just over 24 hours later we were on a minibus to Doris Fisher School, 16 kilometres east of Leon, for our project phase. We spent a fantastic five days painting classrooms, helping in English classes, playing with the children and teaching them new playground games, meeting the parents and eating our evening meals at one of the teacher’s houses. We were very sad to say goodbye but we will be keeping in contact with the school and staff.
We were soon involved in our next activity – volcano boarding!! Cerro Negro is 246 metres high and we had a hard, windswept and very wet climb before donning our protective clothing and getting on our Heath Robinson style boards to board down the side of the volcano a lot quicker than we went up!
We had a day trek in Mombacho Reserve and managed to see a vine snake, a sloth and numerous butterflies.
We then spent two days in Leon, haggling at the market, shopping and eating before moving on to Granada. This is a very different city to Leon and, although it was interesting walking down to the vast lake, we were happy to base ourselves in the city centre. We were also very happy to visit the chocolate museum where we had a morning actually making chocolate!
We said goodbye to Nicaragua and headed over the border (by the Tika coach) to Canas in Costa Rica for one night and then on to Monteverde Cloud Forest. We stayed in a hostel in Santa Elena and saw the most spectacular electric storms in the distance towards the Pacific coast. Trekking in the cloud forest was amazing – we saw a young Pit Viper snake (VERY venomous), sloths, butterflies and numerous Humming birds.
Next stop was Rincon National Park; we stayed in a campsite just close to the National Park, which was lovely until our campsite flooded during one torrential downpour! Fortunately, we were
‘rescued’ by the campsite managers and had a luxury night in two of the cabins they rent to visitors. During our stay we walked to the hot pools and spent a blissful 30 minutes (free!) in the two natural thermal pools in the National Park. We felt that we had earned this, as the river crossings we had to tackle to get there were not easy!
There was more to come… we moved on to Santa Rosa National Park, spending one day in the dry forest before trekking with full rucksacks to the campsite by the beach. The sunsets were truly magnificent and sitting on the beach watching the stars come out is a memory that will stay with us forever. Trekking uphill all the way back after four restful days was not so pleasurable but we made it and after one more night camping, we set off for Manuel Antonio (via Canas). We went into Quepos twice: souvenir hunting and trying local food. The highlight was zip wiring in a rain forest just outside Quepos – 20 platforms, 11 zip lines, two rappel lines, two suspension bridges and a quick jump!
We had a ‘quieter’ day walking in Manuel Antonio National Park – going down to the beach and watching the squirrel monkeys and coatis attempt (and sometimes succeed) in taking food and /or bags from visitors!
We were almost at the end of an amazing experience. We finished our expedition in San Jose, staying in a lovely hostel in the suburbs. We walked to the city centre (via a souvenir market resulting in more haggling and dollars changing hands) and in the evening found two lovely restaurants for our evening meal.
Finally, we had to say goodbye to Costa Rica and head for San Jose (Juan Santamaria) airport to fly home (via Houston BUT thankfully, before Hurricane Harvey arrived). The flights were on time, with friendly cabin staff and, in a shorter time than expected, we landed at Heathrow and managed to locate our coach. We arrived at school at lunchtime on Sunday 13 August to noisy family reunions; after a month of no mobile phones and no contact, there were hundreds of photos and numerous stories to relate…
An amazing experience!
World Challenge Challengers 2017