After a long drive to Guanacaste with no lunch, tons of Liberia traffic (Costa Rica, it's great that your improving your roads and I understand Tico time, but really? There has to be a better way) and rain so hard we were in awe as it pounded on the windshield, we pulled into Hacienda Guachipelin. Why the rush to get here? Aside from spending the morning falling in love with hiking Cerro Chato, I made reservations for us to zipline that afternoon. I think it might be sacrilegious to not zipline in the country where it was born, thanks to a pair of rock climbing enthusiastic graduate students, Donald Perry and John Williams, driven to make scientific contributions. History lesson over, we strapped on our harnesses and headed out back. Literally. We were just finding out how wonderful the grounds to this cattle ranch hotel (yep, you read that right) truly were. The zipline consisted of nine platforms, each time breaking yourself. Armed with a heavily padded pair of gloves, some easy instructions on pulling the cable line to stop, and we were off! Just like that. No California regulations here my friends. One of the lines had a slide in which to drop off of in order to pick up speed. I've decided I need one from the second story of my house to the car in the driveway. Who needs coffee? There was a platform to rappel down one side of the canyon and climb back up the other. It broke up the monotony of the zipline and gave kids and those that don't normally do this kind of thing a taste of the action. There was also a Tarzan swing that swung you in circles high above the river from platform to platform. After the last zipline you reach the stairs to climb out. Without a doubt the scariest part of it all. I seriously felt like I should have been clipped in for climbing or something.
Having had a quick look at our room, again spacious and clean, we left to check out the grounds of this place. Located at the base of Rincon de la Vieja National Park, it also has two waterfalls and a hot springs. With the sun setting, we made a quick decision to attempt the hike to the waterfall just outside the park. We were rewarded with a sweet swimming hole and jumping spot all to ourselves while the sun set outside of the canyon and the sky grew dark. It was these moments we came to Costa Rica for. After an evening alone, we grabbed fajitas for dinner at the restaurant and headed to bed... where we found out about the bugs!! Apparently a cattle ranch in an area transitioning from dry forest to rainforest means termites. EVERYWHERE! Another lesson learned. We were able to keep them out of our room for the most part, but knew we needed a plan for tomorrow. For now though, we needed sleep.
We woke up ready for coffee and breakfast, but first, we had to milk a cow! Yes, 5:00am and I wanted to milk cows. Why else stay on a cattle ranch!? To my amusement my guy got up to join me. We were shown how and then allowed to try ourselves. SO much harder than you would think! I milked a cow in sixth grade and do not remember it being this difficult, of course I also don't remember being successful. Selective memory? We were both victorious and ready to move on. Heading back to our room, we quickly turned it into a laundry mat of hanging wet clothes (we always have a hanging line in our backpacking equipment) and left blasting the air conditioner so they would dry in one day instead of two. Humid much? Breakfast was a delicious buffet with homemade tortillas and we found ourselves stealing pieces of sweet bread to take with us.
Ready for day five, we drove up to Rincon de la Vieja National Park. At the small ranger hut we considered our trail options. Since the volcano is currently active the summit is closed. That left us with seeing their gorgeous waterfall or hiking around the boiling and steaming pots. We chose the latter. A short 2.5 miles (3.5km) brought pleasurable views of the volcano, along with fumaroles, bubbling volcanic mud pots, and small geysers.
Heading back we stopped to check out Cataratas Rio Negro, or Rio Negro waterfall. A quick walk brought us to a small waterfall in the forest. Not big enough to swim in and not wanting to be late for our next adventure, we left to grab a quick lunch, still finding we had more time than we thought. Were the days longer in Costa Rica? We sure were packing in a lot! With time on our side, we hiked down to another waterfall. Las Chorrera falls. While the water was only flowing enough to create one waterfall, I knew by the end of the rainy season both would be flowing plentifully. We were able to cross a small bridge, scramble across the rocks, and jump into the pool of water below.
After each of us jumping a few times, we headed back up to the adventure center. Upon our arrival for ziplining we were given a list of other activities. White water inner-tubing!? Wait! We've never done that! Right away we booked two spots for the late afternoon. Side note: Hacienda Guachipelin offers a great day adventure package that we were unaware of. Take advantage of it if you stay there! Just ask for the adventure desk and they will help you. Arriving at the desk we were told our reservations were not found. We had made them with the front desk the day before. No need to worry, they apologized and made a few calls and we were ready for our adventure.. just the two of us!! What a surprise and what incredible customer service! The tour started off with a horseback ride to Las Chorreras... weren't we just there? Laughing that we were heading back only this time via horse, we cautiously pushed our horses to go a bit faster. Were we allowed? The guide didn't seem to stop us, but he smiled. The horses knew where they were going and preferred to keep a steady trot and only once in a while a full gallop. We had a good ride, a second opportunity to jump in the falls, and we were off to meet the bus to take us to the river. We grabbed our rafts at La Victoria falls and headed downstream. Our three guides didn't speak much English and since we were only two we feIt they relaxed quite a bit. They took tons of pictures and video of us hitting the rapids and enjoyed their last run of the day. I was in love! Floating down this river hitting rapids every once in a while in a canyon of green in Costa Rica. Heaven. One of the guides even gave me his "pro" raft to paddle with during the downtime... as they laughed at me and asked "Why you no go nowhere?" Funny guys! If it hadn't been just us five no one would have noticed! That and I was laughing so hard at myself it was that much more difficult to paddle. We headed back to the hotel in the bus that was obviously meant for the rafts and not people, behind the scenes activity right here. We stopped to pick up the locals on the way home and laughed with them as we tried to communicate. Sweet moments.
Once at the hotel we made the quick decision to check out the hot springs. I knew we would get a second chance! We grabbed a towel offered at the hut, compliments of the hotel for guests, hiked out to Rio Negro hot springs, and took it all in. The river was high so we were told we were not allowed to go in the ones next to it, which happened to be the hottest ones at the moment. We did not bother crossing the bridge to check out the others, but sat in a cooler one taking it all in. Next to the river there was a serenity in the forest. For the moment, we were alone. We found we were alone more often than we not. We loved it. With no cameras to distract us, we just enjoyed our moment together. After a while people started to arrive for an evening soak, we took our belongings and headed back to the hotel. We had come up with a plan for the bugs. Keep the lights off upon entry, keep them off once inside, and place a towel at the bottom of the door. Then and only then, the lights could be turned on. Our plan of attack worked. We were bug free. Guanacaste you are beautiful, but tomorrow was a new day and we were headed south to Monteverde.