Maryland Outdoor Club
Sat, Feb 26 2011 - Costa Rican Adventure (View Original Event Details)

Event Organizer(s): Jaime Johnston, Amy Pickwick
Participants:Amy Pickwick, Jaime Johnston, Christian Metzger, Gail Davidson

Write Up:
Costa Rica with the Atlanta Outdoor Club (AOC) this past week was an absolute BLAST! I'm already itching to go back (and from my sunburn too)!

Forty-five folks, ranging in ages from mid-20's to 60's, met up for a week of outdoor adventure in one of the top travel destinations in the world for outdoor-lovers! 35 came from Georgia (AOC), 2 from N.C. (the new Raleigh Outdoor Club), 5 from Maryland (Maryland Outdoor Club), 2 from California (sister and brother-in-law of an AOC member), and 1 from Massachusetts...a former AOC officer from 2000-2001 timeframe when I was president of AOC.

This number of folks may seem overwhelming to some, but we never were all together at the same time (except for loading the buses on our travel day between cities...and even then we rode in two different buses, a rental car, and a motorcycle). Some folks came down to Costa Rica early, including one AOC-member who works for Habitat for Hummanity and worked on a project in Costa Rica prior to the AOC-trip. And, some folks stayed an extra day at the end of the trip. About one in ten in our group could speak fluent Spanish. Several knew enough to get by. Most of our outfitter guides were learning English or already fluent, although obviously the primary language in the country is Spanish. Due to the mass numbers of American and European- travelers, you would find U.S. dollars and Euros taken in most places. Costa Rican money, the colón, was relatively easy to convert math-wise; 1000.00 would equal about $2.00. So, you could pretty much double the fourth (and sometimes fifth numbers to the left) to get the U.S. conversion in dollars. The country is not quite as developed as the U.S. states, but tourist areas reminded us of any tourist spot back in the States. Just much more vibrant colors!

So, back to the itinerary...
We met up in waves at the San Jose airport, roughly in the dead-center of the country on Saturday, February 26. We then headed northwest, up near Nicaragua (Nicaragua sits below Honduras, El Salvador, Guatemala, and Belize, which are all just south of Mexico) in the town of La Fortuna. La Fortuna, about a 4.5-hr ride into mountaineous-territory on windy roads from San Jose, has one of the top ten most active volcanos in the world...Arenal. It last spontaneously erupted in the late 60's and has been slowly starting to calm down, to begin it's 400~ year dormant cycle. Near La Fortuna, we rappelled down four waterfalls (30-ft, 150-ft, 20-ft, 220-ft in order) before heading that evening to Baldi Hot Springs. The following day, we whitewater rafted the Rio Toro, class 3-4, at it's peak. (Although this is the Costa Rican summer and technically not the "rainy season," it still rains a lot up in the higher elevations causing the rivers to be quite high). Later that day, Christian and I got a couples massage at our resort - a nice bonus! The next day, we zip-lined and did some final sightseeing in town before ending La Fortuna with Baldi Hot Springs a second time. There are 25 hot pools at Baldi, ranging from 90- 150 degrees - river water is run into the spring water to cool it down to those temps. Speaking of water, we drank (and brushed teeth with) bottled water on the entire a precaution. Our resorts were very nice, but still...better to be safe than sorry.

This final evening in La Fortuna, at dinner at the springs, we learned that an AOC-couple got engaged earlier in the day at La Fortuna Waterfall! Congrats to Brad and his beautiful fiancée!

On Wednesday, we crossed the country, and headed south to Manuel Antonio on the Pacific Ocean...closer to the Panama-side of Costa Rica. (On a map, look straight south of San Jose). Manuel Antonio is a small beach town, high up on a hill from the ocean. It contains the second largest national park in Costa Rica. It was also when we first started to get exposed to sun on the trip. This was about a 6-hr ride from La Fortuna. We made pit stops at the famous Crocodile Bridge and another spot where some folks spotted parrots high up in the trees. The night we arrived, a large group of us went to eat at El Avión (a 1956 Fairchild C-123 turned into a restaurant), walking distance from the hotel (we could actually walk to things in this town, unlike taxiing everywhere in La Fortuna). We spotted much more wildlife in Manuel Antonio, because of it's exposure to the sun, lush fruit trees, attracting sloths, monkeys, lizards, and much more. Our first full day here, we kayaked, snorkeled, and played around on the beach. That night, we went into the larger nearby town of Quepos. Here, we spoted both Fish Tails and Seacrets flags from Ocean City, Maryland, in a seafood restaurant. We also wrapped up much of our souvenier shopping. On our last full day, we entered the National Park and paid a tour guide with a telescope to show us wildlife. We spotted lizards, frogs, crabs, toucans, sloths, a variety of monkeys, butterflies, and much more.

That evening, we ended the trip with a two- level catamaran sunset ride and snorkel. Seventeen of the group attended. The others fit in activities like pairasailing, jet skiing (who spotted dolphins), ATV'ing, horseback riding, and much more! On our final bus ride back to San Jose on Saturday, about 30 minutes before reaching the airport, we spotted our first active volcano (I think Turrialba) with a chimney of smoke, and you could actually see the top (unlike Arenal that was covered in clouds most of our La Fortuna leg)! Upon arrival at the airport, it was lunchtime, and no joke...most of us ate at Schlotzsky's. Why on earth there is a Schlotzsky's in Costa Rica...but none in Maryland beats me!

--Amy Pickwick (MOC Attendee)

Amy Pickwick's photos (iPhone, point-and- shoot, waterproof, and DSLR sorted by date/time stamp):
1-1000: m/webamy76/02260305CostaRica1#
1001-2000: m/webamy76/02260305CostaRica2#
2001-2035: m/webamy76/02260305CostaRica3#

If that's a little much for you, here's a drilled down version, less than 320 photos: m/webamy76/02260305CostaRicaFavorites#

Christian Metzger's photos: m/webamy76/02260305CostaRicaChristianS Camera#

Photos from our particular raft on the Rio Toro: m/webamy76/0228CostaRicaWhitewaterRafti ngRioToro#

Photos of wildlife (not taken by us) provided by the rafting outfitter: m/webamy76/0228CostaRicaWhitewaterRafti ngXtraPhotos#

Have some photos from this event that you'd like to share in our photo album? Please forward them to Amy Lipsius at Please note that we prefer to receive the photos in approximately 640x480 or 750x500 pixels - do NOT send original high-res photos. If you have a LOT of photos, please submit up to twenty of your favorites (only) for a day event, or up to forty of your favourites for a multi-day event. Thank you.