Part 2: Arenal Paraiso


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The Trip

We had planned to stay 2 night at the Arenal Volcano and Kathleen had found a suitable hotel.  The first night here in Costa Rica, neither of us slept that well for a variety of reasons, so a nice quiet room with air conditioning was just what was needed.  We both slept in late which had the collateral impact of limiting us as to what we did during the day.  Most of the hotel-sponsored tours left by 0800 and since that was way earlier than our actual wake-up time, we ended up choosing an activity that was offered multiple times during the day -- zip lining through the jungle canopy.  In retrospect, it was perhaps the best choice as it was both fun and exciting.  Plus, we did not have to travel in one of the hotel's buses to the destination and back.

The Photos

The photos below are what we saw.

One of our guides was kind enough to take our photo.  Because of our choice of time, there were only 4 folks total on the tour plus 2 guides.  We got the safety briefing and suited up in the harness and helmet.

We hiked from the hotel to the top of the ridge to our north.  From the top of the ridge, we climbed onto the starting tower.  From that tower we had a commanding view of the valley on the far side of the hotel.  Our trip would take us down to the river at the bottom of the valley.  As you can see from the photo above, that is quite a ways.

The experience started out with a short run and then it was on to the real deal.  Above, the other fellow on the tour launches off to the next station.  The landing station is visible at the end of the cable.

The other fellow and his wife were from Chile, but I did not get their names.  In the photo above, he approaches the landing station.  The other guide is there to assist him on landing.

The guide stated that he had been a professional photographer and was nice enough to take multiple pictures of us and actually carried my camera for me.  That was good as managing the descent on the cable generally required two hands for a novice like me.  Note the brake device on our right hands.

One of the guides went down first and got this shot of me coming into one of the landings.

Some of the runs were quite steep and you came into the landing zone "hot" which required a significant amount of braking with your right hand.  The longest run was something on the order of 1200 feet.

This was a short hop, but allowed easy photos.

My kudos to the guide for the photos.  He did get a good tip.

Kathleen is good to go.  Richard: note her camera.  Does that look familiar?

This is one of the longest runs on the course.  The landing is far enough away that you just barely see it.  You were going quite fast at the center, but since the cable droops, you have to keep up speed to prevent being stranded before you reach the landing.

We came pretty close to that branch in the middle.

I was enjoying the trip, but it was accompanied with a healthy respect of the height.  At one point, the cable is several hundred feet above the canyon floor.

The landing is just barely visible in the distance.  The river at the bottom of the canyon is visible as well.

Kathleen comes zooming in to the landing station.

Portions of the jungle were cleared to allow raising cattle.  But, the rain keeps everything verdant green whether the trees have been cleared or not.

Look at the right hand edge of the photo above and you can see the next station on the cables.  This was a long span.

Some of the drops between stations are significant.  Note the cable to the previous station on the left.

One of the stations was on a huge Cocobolo tree over 100' above the slope.  The tree limbs supported a variety of plant life including various kinds of epiphytes that exist off of rain and air.

This epiphyte is called a bromeliad and holds water in its center core like a vase.

Our guide was holding my camera and took this photo of a jungle waterfall.  Neither Kathleen nor I saw it; we only discovered it when I put the photos on my laptop and were able to view them on a larger screen.

The guide took this photo as he was coming into the landing.

This run took us over the river at the bottom of the canyon.

Kathleen launched off across the river but her speed left her short of the landing; she had to hand-over-hand into the station.

The guide got this on my descent.

The wind was blowing pretty good and prevented me from maintaining enough speed to reach the station.  So, the approved recovery method is to spin and then pull hand-over-hand until you reach the landing.

We had zip-lined before at Tall Timber near Durango, CO.  But, this one involved much greater vertical drops and greater distances.  Plus, it was through the jungle canopy rather than pine trees so that was a new experience.  If you are in the area, you HAVE to put this on your agenda.  There are many places to do it, some longer/bigger than others, so do your research.

At dinner, we decide that we would attempt to stay here another night (if we can), but a preliminary check suggested that the hotel is fully booked.  Stay or go, we will visit the Hanging Bridges and the Arenal National Park.  The only question is where we end up sleeping.

Also, interestingly enough, I learned that down here "Eco Friendly" means that you are getting a cold shower, like it or not.

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