My Last 100 Bucks: Semana Santa Edition

As many probably know, 2 weeks ago was Semana Santa, a week filled with religious processions and traditional food leading up to Easter Sunday. This also means barely anyone in Costa Rica works or goes to classes, giving us students a week to travel and tour the beautiful attractions available to us.

Thanks to much planning (not by me) the majority of our group traveled to Monteverde to stay in an AirBnB for 3 nights and later to a hostel in La Fortuna for another 2. During our stay in Monteverde we bought groceries in order to cook at least two meals a day to save our money for excursions.  (easier said than done, but it helped that our program is filled with fantastic cooks!)

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Our first excursion was a huge bucket list check for me! Zip-lining! Costing about $35 per person. We booked this with Canopy tours. We were told that this zip-lining course was the longest and tallest in Costa Rica (and it sure did seem that way!)  Additionally, we rode a “tarzan swing” and repelled down 100s of meters of trees.

It was one of the best 2 and a half hours of my life! And for an added bonus we looked super cool in our safety gear. 😉

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Our next adventure took us to the Monteverde Reserve where we hiked through the rainforest to see the flora and fauna of Costa Rica and the breath-taking views of untouched wilderness.

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We walked across hanging bridges and trees to see every inch of the rainforest we could and to top it off the reserve had a hummingbird sanctuary next door for free. For only $5 per person it was well worth it! (we were able to get the resident admission price with our University of Costa Rica IDs)

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Next, we traveled to La Fortuna by bus, boat, and another bus.  We drove over the mountains and rode through Lake Arenal and were utterly astonished by our surroundings before even reaching our hostel. Even Volcano Arenal could be seen in the distance.

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Our hostel was another surprise as we entered the gate and saw hammocks, volley ball nets, and a pool (complete with slack line).  By far one of the nicest hostels I’ve been in.

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The next morning, 5 others and I found a 10 hour tour of the two volcanoes (Arenal and Chato), a waterfall, and the hot springs.  I was hesitant to spend the $50 for the tour as I only wanted to go to the hot springs and did not feel prepared for what the brochure described as “a strenuous hike” up volcano Chato.  However, I quickly agreed when told about the provided lunch and that I would have a meal that wasn’t peanut butter and jelly (Though, for the record I will never be sick of PB&J).  Plus, I was assured by reviews that this tour was very popular for retirees, so I should have no trouble during the hike.

Below you can see why the tour is called “2 Volcanoes Tour.” Arenal is on the left and Chato on the right.

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We started are trek with about 30 other tourists at 10am the next day and rode a bus to the Arenal observatory.  There we found the best view of Arenal and the lake.

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From the observatory, we walked for about an hour to reach Arenal’s neighbor and father, Chato.  We reached the bottom of Chato and prepared for the hour hike up its side.

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As the Volcano became steeper the hiking became more of climbing and soon my friend Hailey and I found ourselves far behind the rest of the tour (and retirees) and reached the top after about 2 hours of climbing.  Please appreciate our victory photo below, as it was definitely one of the hardest challenges of my life and I’m extremely proud.

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However, the “strenuous hike” did not end there, because we still needed to climb down the crater to reach the lagoon and the rest of our group below.  This involved sliding on our bottoms down steep walls of mud and hanging on to roots and trees for support.  Still, we made it to the lagoon to have our victory lunch and take a dip into what used to an active volcanic crater.

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The climb back up the crater was difficult but quick and the trip down the volcano was extremely easy in comparison to the rest of the day. From Chato we walked to a waterfall, where we again went for a swim! This was probably one of the most magical experiences I’ve had.

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After the waterfall, we walked across hanging bridges and observed wildlife pointed out by our guides until eventually returning to the observatory in time to see the sun set over Lake Arenal.

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Finally, my time had come when we reached the hot springs (more of a river) heated by volcano Arenal.  WHAT I HAD BEEN WAITING FOR ALL DAY! There, our guides served us beverages and gave us mud facials made with volcanic ash from Arenal.

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This moment was what made the whole day worth it and I felt amazing! We relaxed like this for an hour looking at the stars and we were all pretty sad when it came time to say goodbye.

All in all, it was an amazing week and I felt very good about myself (though the soreness in my body for the next week from hiking and zip-lining begs to differ).  It was a week well spent!

Here are the final expenses:

  • zip-lining: $35 (about 20,000 colones)
  • Monteverde Reserve: $5 (about 2,500 colones)
  • 2 Volcanoes Hike: $50 (about 28,000 colones)
  • groceries and food: about $13 (about 7,000 colones)

Excluding housing and transportation my grand total comes out to total of (insert drumroll here)… $103! a price well worth the amount of adventures and experiences we had!

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