Our last tour was also with Frank the Tank. We chose the Megatour because we were able to do a bunch of different activities in one day. We were lucky that other people signed up for the tour. There were six of us and everyone was very nice, so it made for a lovely day. The other four people were from Canada! Our tour guide, Ernesto, was also our driver. He told us a lot of interesting facts about Costa Rica on the ride to Rincon de la Vieja. It is one of the active volcanos in Costa Rica. It last erupted in 1983, but was spewing ash in 1991. The view above and below are from the zip line stops.
It took about an hour to drive up the the adventure area. It appeared to be a hotel that had zip lining, water slide, waterfalls, horseback riding, thermal pools, volcanic mud bath, hanging bridges, cultural center, and a place to eat. The guide was not positive what we would do first, but when we got there we were told we would zip line and then ride the waterfall slide. They outfitted us with all the equipment and gave us a demonstration on how to use the zip line. Unlike other zip lines that we have done, this one included gloves with reinforced palms. We needed to use one hand to brake. These zip lines were, by far, the most beautiful ones I have ever done. You were flying over the canopy of the forest and looking out into the mountains. It was exhilarating.
In order to get up to the zip lines we had to climb a bit. As we climbed, we were hiking next to the water slide. After finishing the zip lines, we could hear a toucan calling in a tree. It was so neat to hear one. We also saw turkeys in a tree. We hiked back down to change out of our gear. We decided not to ride the water slide because we didn’t feel comfortable hiking up that high again wearing water shoes. We made the right choice because it was a long day with much more hiking to do. We sat and watched people come down the slide. It looked fun, but a couple of people in our tour group said that they felt like they were going to fly out of it a couple of times. After everyone completed the water slide we walked over to the cultural center.
They gave us a sample of sugar cane water (basically sugar water) and showed us how the machine (run by the ox) squeezed the water out of the cane. You can see one of our group members feeding the cane into the machine. They also showed us how they cook the cane into pure brown sugar and gave us samples. It was delicious.
This is where they cook the sugar.
These are the molds for the sugar. We also sampled the fibers of the sugar cane. That did not taste that good to me. After our sugar talk, we sampled some coffee, corn cake, cookie, and watermelon water. It was all very tasty. As I mentioned, I am not a big fan of coffee, but I really enjoyed every cup I tried in Costa Rica. Then we watched a demonstration on how they create their pottery.
He used a hand spun wheel and all the tools were tiny and showed how precise the artists needed to be to create such beautiful works. We bought one of the pieces that is on the wall. You put flowers in them. We picked a toucan because it was the first place we have ever seen one. We like buying things from the actual artist, or in this case, the artist group. We went over to have our buffet lunch, where I learned that I could easily eat rice and beans for a meal. I also discovered that I do not like tamarind juice. I can’t describe it. It’s just weird. I spent a good part of lunch chatting with the women about horseback riding. One of them was nervous because they had never done it before. The other one had only done it once before and was also nervous. I hope that I made them feel a little more comfortable doing it.
The trail ride was a lot of fun. Our tour guide was in the lead and then one of the people who worked with the horses was behind us. He was the one that really controlled the horses.We could direct them left or right, but they really picked up the pace when the guy behind us whistled and slowed down if he was further behind. The difference between this trail ride and others that I have been on was that the horses liked to be move right next to each other, so there was a good amount of time where we were all trying to make sure we didn’t take out each others legs. The girl who had never ridden before had the time of her life. She kept yelling “Yee Haw!” and exclaimed how much she loved it. The ride was about a half an hour and it was up and down hills. The horses liked to run up the hills, which was exciting for some riders and scary for others. At the end of the ride there was a step for people to use to dismount. After we all dismounted, the horses turned around and ran back to the paddock.
We hiked to this beautiful waterfall. It was a lot of ups and downs. I would consider it a moderate hike in normal circumstances, but with the elevation it took a lot out of us. We hiked into the waterfall and then back out and down to the thermal pools. It was mostly downhill, but quite steep. At the pools, we were told to go into the sauna for five minutes. It was quite hot. The guide came to get us after three. Then we went out to three pots filled with volcanic mud and spread it all over our bodies. They put new mud in when we were there and it was so hot that I couldn’t even touch it. It’s a good thing we were pretty much already covered. Then we had to stand out in the sun for ten minutes.
After the mud dried (as you can see in this picture) we rinsed off in super cold water. Our skin felt amazing after the rinse. Then we were given time to soak in the thermal spas. There were five of them. The first one was 43 degrees Celsius and the last one was 36. It was nice to soak after hiking.
We took a tractor ride back to the van. It was a bumpy and dusty ride and we saw monkeys on the way. Everyone was pretty exhausted on the way home and at least half of our group fell asleep on the drive. It was the first time that our drive back was not delayed by several accidents. There is no way I would drive in Costa Rica. We saw at least ten accidents on our three excursions.
I would definitely recommend Frank the Tank tours over the ones that were provided by our hotel. They were cheaper and more interesting. You need to make sure to book in advance though to ensure you get the tour that interests you the most. We also used them for our airport transfers. Since we booked so many things with them, our airport transfer back was free. Both tours by Frank the Tank were well planned and full of interesting things to do. There was very little lag time and I enjoyed both trips. (Even though I was exhausted with the hikes!) You can check out his tours here: frankthetanktours.blogspot.com.