It felt good having already covered one country on the North American continent but it was hard to shake off my tired legs. Panama had its good bits and I was pleased so have surfed but I was’t so taken with it and couldn’t see it really getting any better. With almost everything for sale it wouldn’t belong before there is no culture left, just holiday homes.Costa Rica was next which I had heard it was expensive compared to the rest of Central America and was also very much for sale. I had also heard that the country was beautiful not only in flora but also fauna. With one of the worlds highest number of bird species I was looking forward to it. Only time would tell if I enjoyed it.
Tuesday 16th October
As the rain stopped the temperature rose making my room rather warm. I woke early but having had a problem with my card I wanted to check it was ok. By the time I left the hotel it was 9.30am and later then I had hoped. It was around 40 miles to the next big town and looked a good place to stop if the road was bad. It was a cloudy day making it cooler and with little traffic making it much nicer to ride. In places it was hard to think that this road was the pan American highway with it being just a small A road and not having many places to pass.
It was hard to think this was the Pan American highway
As I rode I passed a shop selling bike stuff, It was an odd place in the middle of nowhere and yet sold nice bikes. I stopped to ask if they sold gloves as I had lost my other pair only to find they did. It was great as it would not only protect my hands from the sun and the constant shaking but also allow me to change gear after my hands get slippy from eating big bags of cheesy puffs. With my new gloves on and a large packet of puffs in hand to check they worked I rode on and soon met a German couple who were also cycling to the north. It was 10.30am by this point and they were looking for a place to stay. They had started early and didn’t want to cycle in the rain. Wanting to go on I went to meet his wife and dog and saw just how much stuff they were carrying. I thought I had a lot but they had two fully loaded bikes and one with a fully loaded trailer. It was incredible and could see why they took the flatter route. I wished them well and pushed on.
As I rode I followed the highway with the jungle on either side. Everything was so green and so rich in colour. As a car passed me on my left I saw something in the road to see it was a snake. As the car passed it the snake went to the hard shoulder but by the time it did I blocked its exit. With nowhere to go the snake reared its head and I lifted my legs up to stop it from biting me. I screamed in the process and was soon passed it and the snake disappeared in to the bush. When I say I screamed it was more of a very manly scream, in fact really deep manly scream that sounded nothing like a small girl OK.
I rode on recovering from my fright and enjoyed the pretty flowers in a manly way and would often say look at those lovely flowers in a really deep manly voice.
The flowers were stunning
After a short ride I reached the junction town where I would have dinner. With the sky still looking ok I quickly had lunch and got back on the road.It was incredible in the short time I was eating just how much the clouds had built and wanted to get as far on as I could. Riding on another 20 miles I saw a sign to the right for a waterfall. It was 4km up a track and thought it would be great to see.
It took a while to reach with the steep climbs and bad surface but just before the waterfall I spotted a nice area that looked perfect for a dip. I changed into my shorts and dropped into the clear blue water and felt amazing.
It was the perfect temperature for a hot day and I loved every minute of it.
After being in for about half an hour I got out and put my clothes back on. I made my way up to my bike and noticed the sky had gone black. Within a few minutes the rain started to fall and very quickly turned into a heavy down pour. I made my way up to the restaurant where I took shelter and had a drink while I waited for the worst of it to pass. After fifteen minutes the rain eased enough for me to see the waterfall and get going.
With the rain falling it turned the track into a river
As the rain fell the colour of these plants became even more vivid
It was really pretty and was pleased I made the effort which is often the way. As I dropped down the track I passed the spot where I had swam to see the water had changed from blue to brown.
This waterfall looked amazing with this large rock that was wedged
I couldn’t believe how fast the water changed and how different it looked
Heading back to the highway
I felt so lucky I had been able to enjoy it and headed on feeling pleased with myself. I soon reached the highway and set off for Uvita and it wasn’t long before the clouds moved in again with the rain getting heavy. I changed my shoes for sandals to keep them dry and rode on in the fading light. Just a few minutes later I came around a corner to see a few cars stopped and a car blocking the road all smashed up. People were running around and I went to see if there was anyone in the car. I saw the driver who was ok and was amazing he wasn’t hurt but I couldn’t work out what had happened as there appeared to be no other car until I saw people pulling someone from down the side of a bank. I went to look to see a four wheel drive car on its side wedged between a tree. There were five people in the car and all got out ok with various injuries. With one laid out on the road and the other four sat up. I sat with the guy and made sure he was kept dry as it was still raining hard. I knew he would get cold fast but he needed to be comfortable. I asked the others if they needed anything and one wanted water so I grabbed my water bottle which was almost empty. I felt foolish giving him the little I had left but it was all I had. As the police cleared the road the ambulance arrived and the guy was lifted in and then was treated. By this point it was pitch black and I still had a few miles to go. I rode on in the dark amazed they had all lived and thanked god they had. After about an hour of riding I reached the town I was aiming for and spotted a cash point. Being as good time as any I checked if it worked and was relieved when it did. The next challenge was to find a hostel which took another forty five minutes of going to different ones, some expensive, some closed and others miles away. After a little searching I found one that was fine, checked in and headed out for get food. I was pointed in all directions with most closed I finally found one that was open. I was so tired and so hungry and luckily the restaurant was great and they gave me an amazing dinner. After a good feed I headed back to have a shower and get some sleep but the next problem was the Mosquitos. They were everywhere and knew I was going to have to put my tent up if I was gonna get a good nights sleep.
Wednesday 17th October
After not only a long day and a late night I woke late but had slept well. The thought of riding any distance put me off but with the waterfalls ahead I hoped it wouldn’t be to far and could enjoy some sights before digging deep and heading for the hills. I slowly cleared the room and put it back in a state that could be used again and loaded my bike. I was starting to feel horrible, my clothes smelt bad, I smelt bad and it felt like everything smelt bad. Every time I washed anything it still smelt bad because it just didn’t dry and I was starting to hate it. With everything on my bike I was just about to head out when I saw a sign for the beach 150 metres. I went to have a look and passed through standing water filled with Mosquitos lave.
Although the beach looked amazing it was just how I felt “grey and gloomy
I reached the Pacific which looked great but it was cloudy and I was smelly making me not in the best head space. I headed back to my bike and the rundown hostel knowing I needed to move on. I picked up a few snacks and reached the highway and headed north. Before long I reached the town and saw signs for the waterfall. I turned off and coming the other way was Victor a guy also riding an orange surly troll.
Victor with his troll. Dolly got very excited
It was great to meet him and he gave me some tips on where to stay. With the hostel a few hundred metres and a place to get a sim I got what I needed and reached the hostel. Once I was booked in and sorted my things I introduced myself to an Australian guy call Olly only to find out he was running from Mexico to Panama and was covering around 55km a day towing a trailer. It was so great to meet him and such a nice guy as well.
Meet Olly an incredible athlete and an awesome guy!!
As we talked I was mesmerised by what he was doing and how far he was running. I couldn’t believe he had run from Mexico and moved like he had just been pottering around town. I told him if it was me I would need assistance from all the staff to sit down and stand up. Olly was running for a charity called running from the blues which is a mental health charity. It was such an amazing charity as so many have mental illness and yet because we can’t see it, its often dismissed and can have devastating effects. Just the fact he was doing this run was incredible enough but to raise money for such a worthwhile charity was incredible.
Ready to go, I just hope it doesn’t hurt
Wanting to go to the waterfall we grabbed some lunch and made our way up before it either started to rain or get dark. We reached the river and not only found a few people but also an amazing pool with a ten metre high waterfall. With people sliding off into the water I knew I had to do it so I went up with another guy who showed me where to go and off I went. It was amazing all be it a bit heart pumping and so I did it again but jumped which was a bit more dodgy. The water was colder then before but so refreshing and just what I needed.
Great place to hang out
We hung out until sunset and headed back to chat and hang out. It was so good to meet him and get some tips on how he does things. With our clothes in the wash I got back to find all our things smelt amazing which meant I could then smell amazing. It was not only great to stop, see some sights , get my clothes smelling amazing but also to meet a guy that was a star and an incredible athlete and a great inspiration.
Thursday 18th October
It took me a while to get off to sleep but when I woke I saw that Olly had already left. I admired his drive to get up so early something I have never mastered. To make it worse by the time I had breakfast the German couple I met a couple days ago arrived having already done their days miles and we’re now checking in. It was 9.30am by the time I left and the sun was already getting hot. The road north west was nice as it followed very close to the ocean and gave me a nice view of the beaches. On one of the descents I met three guys who had stopped due to a snapped chain. Having a tool for the job they were back on the road within ten minutes and said goodbye.
Really great to meet these guys and so pleased I could help
They were really nice guys and felt great to be able to help. As I continued I heard a noise from the trees to hear it was monkeys. I stopped to see if I could see them and with the help of a local who called them and in returned barked back we were able to locate them. He showed me the guard who was making sure no other monkeys came into the territory which was incredible.
I could have watched these guys for hours
I rode on feeling pleased I had seen them and reached the junction where I would head into the mountains.
I passed this in the middle of the jungle before the climb and just wondered how they got it there. Believe it or not this was turned into a restaurant
I stopped for a cold drink and an ice cream before starting the long steep climb that took me from sea level to 1,117 metres before dropping to the town the other side. It had been a hard climb with it being hot to begin with then with the cloud moving in so did the rain.
With my shirt soaked through it was easier to take it off and cycle with just my cycle shorts and rain coat helping me keep cool. Once in the town I stopped for lunch but by this time it was getting on and I needed to find somewhere to camp.
Heading through the grey and gloomy town
As the rain fell heavier I finished lunch and headed through town and asked at the fire station but with no luck. I rode on often being waved at and was passed by the three cyclist in their car.
The climb remained steep all the way
I was told about a hotel ahead but at three times what I would normally pay I rode on. I stopped just before San Rafeal to ask if I could camp in a garden but with the four angry dogs the owner said it wasn’t safe so I rode on and asked at another house. As I was about to put my tent up when a vehicle with the people who had told me about the hotel turned up and said I could camp at their house and could use the bathroom. It was amazing but I needed to thank the guy who said I could camp where I was. He was more then happy so off I went and was shown to a large shed where I could put my tent and where they crush sugar cane and heat it to get rid of the water. From there it is then a hard crystallised snack. Once I’d had a shower they invited me to a family party they were having for the thirteen year old daughter and we’re having a bbq. It was so kind of them and felt great to have been invited.
Such a lovely kind family
After a lovely evening it was time to sleep and try to get up early and get over the pass
Friday 19th October
Being in the mountains and facing east I woke early and watched the sun rise. This was great as I had wanted to get going early but then checked my watch to find it was only 5am.
Watching the sun rise in my amazing camp
At 5.30am the owner came down to start feeding the animals so I got up and he showed me what all the machines do. It was amazing to see how much juice comes out of one sugar cane and to see how it was processed.
The crushing machine on the right squeezes the cane and the juice runs in to a bucket thats in the white basin, Then is poured into the brown bowls behind which are then heated by a fire underneath
We found this snake stuck in one of the boiling bowls, I was quite glad I zipped my tent up
Showing off the wooden moulds where all the sugar is put
First the sugar cane was crushed and the liquid would be poured into two large metal bowls where the dried sugar cane waste was burnt to heat to the liquid and evaporate the water which in turn would leave a thick sludge which is the put into a block of wood with lots of cups shaped holes in it. It would be the cup shaped lumps of sugar that would be taken out and sold.
He said 1 ton of cane makes 100 kg of sugar and the green ends are fed to the cow which in turn gives milk. It was amazing to see something where 100% of the cane is used. He invited me to stay and watch the production but knowing how far behind I was I needed to keep going. Before I left I had breakfast with them along with agua dulce which is the sugar liquid warmed and on saying good bye they gave me a block of sugar. It was so kind of them and so I thanked them for their kindness and made my way up to the house where Maria and her son came to see me off. They gave me their contact details which was so nice and so I set off up the climb.
I was at 900 metres and had to climb to around 3,300 metres so knew I was in for a long day. Being 7am it was good to start early giving me the chance to reach the summit and get down a bit the other side. Although the sun was out and making me sweat the air was cooler making it much nicer to ride in.
As I moved into the clouds I thought I was going to get wet but it stayed dry with the clouds clearing from time to time so I could see the view. With little in the way of villages I stopped for a quick snack at a shack then rode on until I reached a restaurant at around 2,900metres. By the time I stopped it was 2 pm and I was hungry and tired. The food helped a lot along with resting my legs but with the fog getting thicker outside I decided to push on and try and get over the pass.
The gradient was mainly good and I felt ok climbing seeing as it had been a while since I was above 3,000 m and so after digging deep I reached the summit and started the descent.
Finally at the summit
It was nice to be at the top but I wasn’t gonna get away with it that easy. With a few more climbs after my legs had cooled was tough and with the light starting to fade I reached another restaurant where it seemed a good place to eat and ask if I could camp. With the owners being friendly I was soon fed and out the back under a canopy with my tent up. I had been really enjoying my tent and tonight was another chance to use it and save money. I was on a winner. Being so high and around 45 miles from San Jose it gave me a good chance to get their and find a place to stay. I wanted to take in a couple sites and the capital seemed to be the place to go from.
Saturday 20th October
After a great nights sleep probably because it was much cooler being higher up and I’d had a big days climb I packed away my things and started to load my bike.
My camp for the night was behind this restaurant
There was a dog that was hanging around and so I played with it a bit then put my spot tracker down to send my position as it was becoming a little temperamental and to lay working in the evenings. As soon as I turned my back the dog went to the tracker and was just about to pick it up and run off with it, when I spotted it and stopped him just in time. It did make me chuckle and with a nice cool day and knowing I had a long down hill I thought I would make a cup of coffee. On pulling out my stove I noticed something was wrong. At first I thought the nut was loose but as I went to tighten it the nut sheered a piece of bronze off from the stove leaving it useless. Annoyed it had broken when it had lasted so long I decided to go inside and grab a cupper before thanking the guys for letting me stay before starting the long descent to the capital.
Looking out across to one of the many Volcanos as I descended towards San Jose
Being at just under 3,000 metres I was in for I long ride but being 48 miles from the city I knew I would have a climb or two. I put my jacket on to stay warm and just enjoyed the descent knowing I had earned every metre. After a few climbs I descended to Cartanga which is on the outskirts of San Jose and stopped at a garage to see if my stove could be fixed. They helped me take it apart but with no way of brazing it they recommended another place. I tried two more places with no luck and then passed a large workshop for crashed cars. I went in to ask and a nice guy came out and took the pieces away to have a look. I chatted to the other guys and after 15 minutes the guy came back with the stove parts brazed together. It was amazing especially seeing as I didn’t think it could be fixed and yet was fixed on the same day. With it being 12 am I headed in towards the centre and started the last climb before the city when I met a nice guy called Andrés.
Always great to meet a fellow cyclist although I was very envious of his bike
He was on a nice specialised road bike and I envied how light it was. While we were chatting we were approached by a runner who was also lovely and along with people beeping it felt a nice place to be. I set off again and with San Jose in a dip at the base of a volcano I was soon flying along and enjoying it.
Heading through the busy city of San jose
I stopped for some food so I wouldn’t need to find anywhere once in town and once finished I went in search of a hostel. Following the maps on my phone I soon reached the door to find the place was full but after I explained I had a tent I was then given the garage. I knew it wasn’t a real bed but I loved my Thermarest and I had a safe place to sleep. I booked in for two more nights and sorted through some stuff before heading out to get some food to cook. It was nice to buy some goodies but Costa Rica was expensive. Having a day off tomorrow I booked on a tour and took it easy for the rest of the day to get my energy back. It was nice to stop and I was looking forward to what was in store for tomorrow
Sunday 21st October
Even though I was undisturbed in the garage I found it hard to sleep worried I would miss my alarm. I woke at 5am an hour before I was due to get up but lay dozing until I was ready to leave. Needing to pick up a family from the other side of the city we set off and hit rush hour traffic. After almost an hour and a half we reached their hotel and where I got to meet Omar Itzel and their gorgeous child Emmie. We set off out of the city and headed to our first stop the coffee farm. With breakfast planned first we sat and ate before we set off on our tour.
This was one of the first stages of sorting the beans
Then they were put out in the sun to dry for 15 days
Roasting times 15min for light/17min for medium/20min for dark or expresso
We were told 90% of the coffee produced at the farm goes to England and has done for as long as the farm has been in production. First we were shown the plants where it’s just the red beans that are picked. Then they are put into a large tank that’s filled with water and the beans that float are taken off and used for instant coffee and the beans that sink are taken and peeled in a machine to realise the seed which is then dried in the open air for fifteen days or in a large heater if the weather is to bad. From there the beans can be stored for up to a year and when ready are then roasted. 15 minutes for light coffee, 17 minutes for French coffee and 20 minutes for expresso coffee. All these will taste different due to time taken in roasting but the strength comes from the amount needed to make the coffee. For instance the coffee that’s roasted longer needs more to make coffee due to it losing more of its body due to roasting thus making it stronger. It was really interesting seeing this and I was pleased it was part of the tour.
With the coffee tour over we set off to the Poas volcano which it 2,574 metres high and is one of five active volcanos in Costa Rica. We reached the top and were surrounded in fog making our chances of seeing the crater slim. With in a minute of arriving the clouds cleared for a moment to show us the crator that was way below us before the clouds moved in to conceal the view.
It just cleared just enough to see the crater below but the acidity in the air was incredible
While we waited I could feel the sulphur sting my face and with an unbelievably strong smell. The crater came into view a couple more times before it was time to leave and head to the park. After half an hour in the car we arrived at the park and were first shown the avery which was amazing with all the parrots but also the Toucans.
The toucan was just incredible and this lovely family made my day
They were beautiful and looked unreal. From their it was the monkeys and then the butterflies. I don’t think I have ever seen so many butterflies and they were stunning. There were even chrysalises pinned up with butterflies hatching from them.
This was a blue Morpo being born
After spending far to long in there we then had the snake house followed by dinner. It was amazing how much we had seen and we still had more. With lunch out the way it was then the wild card which were stunning. From Pumas to Jaguars along with many others it was just fascinating.
All I said was high five
These cows were awesome and I think they could pull a lot more then this little trailer
From here it was the frogs which were just as incredible and finally the waterfalls. It was so nice being joined by the Omar and his family and really fun to play with their kid.
These two were just beautiful
These leaves were just huge
Just to give you an idea of how steep and tight the hills and corners are
With the light fading and a long trip back we headed towards the city and back into rush hour traffic. Again it took forever to get back and we were all tired. We reached their hotel first before we said goodbye and headed across the city to my hostel. By the time I was back I was hungry again and needed some food. Resorting to fast food I got what I needed and headed back to sort out my stuff and mend my stove. It was good to do but with so much more work on the blog to get through I decided to take a day to get through some jobs. It had been a long day but one I will remember.
Monday 22nd October
I woke after my amazing lay in and got up to have breakfast. With so much to do I confined myself to barracks and got my head down and worked on the blog. It was a productive day and even managed to go through my kit and throw away a few things I didn’t need. As usual my day flew past quickly but before it ended I managed to speak to home.
My relaxing hostel for a few days
One of the plans I had was once I reached Mexico I would fly to Cuba to see Yang and had mentioned it to Kathy a good friend of mine. Needing to sort out dates for when I would get there I then needed to trawl the maps and work out a rough timescale. With kathy interested in joining us, being here and having the space was great. It would be amazing if she did join us but knew she would be going well out of her way to get there. With a rough date in mind the next thing was to look att flights and make a plan. With my cash card not working I just hoped it was just the machine that was a problem otherwise life could get a little tricky.
Tuesday 23rd October
Wanting to leave San Jose I got up but had to wait for breakfast to start so I sorted my things and did a little more work. Once I’d eaten I then had to wait a little before I could get my bike which was in the garage and had guests in there. By the time I got going it was well past 10.30am and already feeling late.
The road out of the city was good and I tried to stick to the side roads before I had no choice other then to join the main highway. The road although was fairly busy the cars and trucks seemed to give me plenty of room which was great as there was no hard shoulder. I had been told about a beautiful town in the mountains and so climbed the numerous hills and through long deep valleys.
With darkening skies I knew I was going to get wet
Being on the highway was good as I was making good progress but I just couldn’t seem to find the road I wanted to be on. After a while I realised I had gone past where I wanted to go but with a road that ran parallel I took this one and It just happened that although I was on the wrong road it was the one that seemed to miss a high pass. With the rain coming in and well past lunch time I stopped in a town and picked up something to eat. The owners were really lovely and were so interested in what I was doing they kept wanting pictures with me.
With the rain bouncing off the roof I waited for the worst of it to ease and set out into the dimming light. As I left town I hit a pot hole and my panniers came apart leaving it hanging from my rack. I was so annoying it had broken and took another ten minutes to fix. I set off again and continued to climb with the scenery getting ever greener.
The road as it followed one of many ridges
The road weaved through the mountains, along ridges and dropped into shallow valleys before climbing again. With just half an hour of light left I passed a restaurant in the middle of nowhere and grabbed some tea. With a large open canopy on the other side of the road I asked if I could camp as there seemed to be no where else. They were more then happy to help and as I ate I suddenly got a call. It was from Amanda and all my friends who were having a house party. It was so amazing to see them all and just wish they could hear me but seeing them all having so much fun made me miss all of them.
This was what they made me it was incredible and good to see their colouring is coming on well
It was so kind of them to think of me and just wished I was there with them all. It was amazing just how much noise they all made and good to see things haven’t changed. With the amazing call over I headed across the road to pitch my tent and rest. It had been a good day and although I had missed the junction I had got further then I thought due to missing the pass. I could now at least sleep knowing my friends were having fun and had been thinking about me.
Wednesday 24th October
Although I woke up early and should have got up all I wanted to do was stay in bed. I was so comfy in my little home but knew it wasn’t going to be my home for long. I got up and decided to test my stove to find all was well just as the owners turned up to start using the open space to lay out their equipment for the canopy ride.
Almost packed after packing up my gear
With my bike loaded and my things charged just enough, I thanked them for the shelter and set off. With the signs showing 40 miles to Florencia it should be a fairly full day but the GPS showed 20 miles and wondered what could be wrong.
With a closer look it looked like a small road off the highway that lead straight to the town but I wasn’t sure how good it would be. With a few ups and downs I reached the turn off which was opposite a restaurant and looked good.
One of he many bugs on the road
I asked if the road lead to the town and with a confident yes I set off into the unknown. I rode through a small village to start with then crossed a river and in to the bush where I could hear howler monkeys but couldn’t see them. The sounds was incredible and I had to stop just to listen. I would also see birds with beautiful colours but unable to take picture as they were so fast. I reached a second village with a shop and stopped for a drink and to take five minutes out. From here it looked straight forward and yet I was given directions. I set off again and reached the point where I was told their was asphalt and decided to continue on the dirt road at which point a lizard rain straight at me.
This chap looked so cool
It was incredible to see it and to see how it ran. It was nice being on the dirt road and to see so much that had happened. I reached the town and looked around and spotting a cycle shop on one of the streets. With my tyre almost warn out I went in to see what they had and to meet the owners who were nice. They were so interested in my trip and keen to take a photos.
These guys were so lovely
I always found this a bit strange as I don’t see myself as anyone special but was really nice to meet such nice people. After buying a spare tyre they recommended heading to la Fotuna which was meant to be beautiful and only twenty miles away. I thanked them for their help and set off towards the next town.
As I rode a guy passed me on a road bike but didn’t even say hello or even put a hand up so off I went to sit on his wheel. It was great to see him pushing as hard as he could and to be honest I was only just hanging on but eventually he pulled over before I caved in and rode on waving my thanks and being even closer to town. After a quick look on hostel world I found a nice hostel where the owner was really friendly and recommend to head to the river for a swim. With my things all sorted and still having time I walked the 20 minutes to the river and found a few locals enjoying the amazing water. I was so relaxed and knew I needed it. With a BBQ planned for the evening I headed back to meet the rest of the guests and relax. It had been a good day helped by the hostel owner who was so pro active in making everyone have a good time. It can be hard arriving in a new place but the owner Christian made it feel more like home and thats how it felt.
Thursday 25th October
Waking up around 8am I went for breakfast and met Lois who I had met in San Jose. It was so good to see him again along with Theo and while eating we made a plan to visit Cerro Chata which is a lake that sits next to Volcan Arenal. Their were a few others that were going up but left before us so hoped we would catch them up. We caught a taxi to the start of the trail and started the long steep climb to the creator rim.
With so much erosion on the way up made it hard going but knew that at least it would prepare us for the very steep way down to the lake. With the town being at 200 metres and the creator rim at 1,100 it was a good two hour climb to the top. With the humidity to high by the time we reached the top we were all soaked through in sweat and couldn’t wait to ge in the water. The humidity was unreal and couldn’t believe how wet we all were just from the climb but with the bright green glow reflecting off the water below we all couldn’t wait to cool down. With a ten minute climb down to the lake we set off down the steep bank climbing down tree routes until we reached the lake edge.
It was so nice having the two guys for company and great to chat to the others that were at the lake. We were all soon in the water and it was amazing. The colour was incredible and so vivid, even having the chance to frighten a guy by swimming unearth him and coming up right infant of his head.
It was such an amazing place to swim
After spending some time there we dried ourselves off and started the steep climb back up to the rim. The colours of the jungle was so nice and looked great against the green lake in the back ground.
The steep climb out of the crater
Once at the top we were shown one of the local animals which was beautiful. After a short break we set off down the otherside to the start of the trail and on to the entrance. After an hour of making our way down around the many washed out steps we reached the start and made our way down the road.
I just loved this beautiful line of petals being carried by an army of ants and this stunning flower
After being told about a waterfall we reached the entrance to find it was $12 just to see a waterfall with nothing else. Seeing as I had already seen so many we decided to give it a miss and head to the river where there was a rope swing. After about an hour of walking we reached the road and were soon jumping into the deep water and then from the swing.
This was so much fun and was great to have the company
It was so much fun, with a perfect temperature and great company. We were there for just over two hours jumping, swimming and just enjoying the feeling of being in the water.
This place was amazing and beat spend $12 on a waterfall
We left at 4.30pm to go and get food and try and be back at the hostel by 5pm. With a large meal of chicken and rice I rounded up as many of the guests as I could and booked a minibus to take us to the thermal river. With so many keen to go we headed out with 12 of us all packed in to a 11 seater minibus and drove the 12 km to a gap in the trees. Not really sure what we would find we made our way down in heavy rain and arrived at a muddy river bank next to some huge square concrete drainage tunnels. We got changed and made our way into the fast flowing river to find it was at bath temperature and felt amazing. Once we had found an area that didn’t try to either drag us down stream or pull our shorts off, we stayed for an hour and a half enjoying a hot bath that was great for our tired legs while we watched the Lightning display though the trees. After an amazing time in the dark we headed back to the road to be collected and headed back to the hostel. By this point everyone was shattered but needing food we headed out for some tea and for me an amazing steak. It was just what I needed and tasted great. It was so nice to be with such great guys and felt lucky I had met them. They were so kind and welcoming which was perfect for a short stay before I set off tomorrow but I would miss them and always felt gutted that I may never see them again.
Friday 26th October
Even though I’d only had a day and a half off the time I spent at the hostel felt like a week. Everyone had been so kind and nice and was a pleasant change from being on my own. The funny thing was I went to the hostel because it had a pool but with everyone being so friendly I didn’t even go in.
While having breakfast we could sit and watch these guys warm up in the sun
After chatting to the owner Cristian last night I had decided to change my route slightly due to him telling me how nice it was. With most of the guests at the hostel heading for Rio Celesto which was almost on my way I decided to see if I could get there and join them. With breakfast done and bottles filled I said goodbye and set out just after everyone had left.
Heading out of town with the volcano as a back drop was amazing
The day was really clear with the volcano in full view along with Volcan Platanar way off in the distance towards San Jose. At first I had to ride 5 miles back to Tanque where I turned left towards Upala and the Nicaragua border. As I rode the temperature rose rapidly but being so clear I at least had nice views. The road undulated a lot making the going a bit slower but managed to reach San Rafael by midday. I stopped for an ice cream and some snacks but wanting to get to the river I didn’t hang around long. Once I had ridden a few miles out of town I saw a sign to the river and turned off on to the gravel track for the next 15 miles.
Although the track steadily climbed the surface was quite good making my progress ok but after 8 miles it turned up a much steeper track for the last 5 miles. It was so hard with the round river stones as a surface and the hills so steep I could barely turn the peddles. One thing that was good was on the really steep bits concrete had been laid although it was still almost impossible. With about 2.5 miles to go and out of water I called in at a tiny house to ask it they could fill my bottles. The lady was lovely and after finishing my first bottle she had given me, she refilled them and then gave me 3 oranges to drink the juice from. It was so refreshing and just what I needed to get me up the last of the climbs. As I sat chatting a van pulled up next to my bike to see it was the guys from the hostel. I was so pleased to see them but gutted they wouldn’t be there when I reached the river. I went over for a quick chat then waved goodbye and set off again climbing the last of the hills stopping on the way to see a massive tree.
Its hards to show the true scale of this tree
With a little way to go I climbed the last few short hills and reached the entrance around 4.30pm. After being told it was closed I decide to eat some tea and ask if I could camp. With so many telling me how beautiful the river was I would get up early and see the park tomorrow. With my food ordered I saw a French couple I had met in San Jose and also in La Fortuna. It was nice to see them and were then joined by two lovely girls from Spain who I had also met in San Jose. With us all wanting food we sat together outside and chatted. It was really nice to be joined and hear about their trips but once we had eaten they had to leave. It had been really nice being joined by them and soon I was on my own with a cat for company along with the monkeys calling in the trees. With my tent set up under cover the first drops of rain began to fall and so I settled in for the night. I was shattered and the hills had taken it out of me but there was nothing that a good nights sleep wouldn’t fix and with the sound of monkeys, insects and birds I knew it should be easy.
Saturday 27th October
Hearing the rain on the tin roof above me I was pleased to have some extra shelter. As the night went on I woke as I turned over and as I did a load purring sound started up which sounded like more like a Puma, I opened my eyes and on a closer inspection it turned out to be a small grey cat that was sleeping in the porch.
I thought I used to sore loudly this cat was like a hammer drill
After stroking it through the zip afraid to bring it in incase it destroyed the groundsheet and my thermarest, I drifted off and woke around 6.30am knowing I had to get up before the Rangers arrived. Spotting my little friend had changed sides so while I had a few extra minutes to rest I lay with my hand again through the zip stocking her.
Morning sleepy head
With my tent packed away and enough time for a coffee I made my way to the Rangers office where I had to wait to be let in. With the entrance not opening to the park until 8am it was frustrating as I wanted to try and cover some miles but did give me chance to admire the huge spiders that hung around the building.
Once the park was open I set off up the track to meet two girls looking for small creatures and had spotted a lizard.It looked almost invisible and wouldn’t have seen it if I hadn’t been shown. After half an hour I reached the steps down to the waterfall and could just see the blue water through the gap. As I got closer blue morpho butterfly’s were flitting from one tree to the next which looked magical. The waterfall with the bright blue which looked incredible and I felt lucky to be the first one in the park.
This waterfall was beautiful
After a short climb back up I then walked on to the small blue lake where there were bubbles coming out everywhere with a strong smell. The colour was so vivid and just looked beautiful.
That last port of call was a surprise. I had seen a picture at the start of the trail but didn’t really take much notice. I reached a point where a white sediment came out from below the river bed and bleed into the water. At this point the suspended practicals in the water became much bigger and would then reflect the blue light from the water. It was at this point that the clear river turned blue. It was just fascinating to watch this natural process and see the river become so beautiful.
To see where the river changed from clear to blue was just amazing and just stood in amazement
After watching it for a while I set off back and was feeling hungry. It didn’t take long to return which was good as I was starving but I still had chance to spot a few more spiders and a frog. With breakfast ordered I put my phone on charge had a quick shower and was ready to go by 11am. It was much later then I hoped but knew there was nothing I could do other then try and get some miles done. The ranger pointed me west and said I had 10km to the road but what he didn’t say was I would have to push and pull my bike up many of the stupidly steep stony sections. The thing that helped was the scenery was nice with Volcan Tenorio to my left and Volcan Miravalles in front.
It’s so hard to show in a photo just how hard and steep these hills were
I did get to see some interesting creatures
For the next 6km I climbed and climbed with the odd down hill having to heave my bike up the bits that were just to steep. Eventually I reached the top and dropped down a long steep track that was so stony it was hard not to fall off.
On the way down I passed this farm where all the combines had tracks fitted
Pleased however I wasn’t climbing this side I finally reached the Tarmac and turned north back to the highway. Reaching the junction around 2pm I stopped for dinner before I got my head down. It was good to eat again and knew it would give me the energy I needed along with the break.
Looking across to Lake Nicaragua
As I went to set off again I looked east to see a forbidding cloud building and wasn’t long before I heard the sound of thunder. I managed to cover 15 miles before it caught me with lightning all around and the time between lightning and thunder getting shorter I knew it wasn’t going to be long before it got me.
`The storm as it got ever closer
Hearing some monkeys in the tree I tried to call them only to find they called back. It was brilliant but the only problem was it had given the storm chance to catch me up. I quickly put my waterproof jacket on and rode in the torrential rain until I spotted a shelter. It was a perfect place to sit out the worst of it and with the clouds clearing behind I knew I wouldn’t have to wait long.
Sitting out the storm
Once the rain had eased I set off again but I was loosing light. I still had 25 miles to the town I wanted to reach and with the odd hill I knew I wouldn’t make it in the light. As the road turned back to dirt my speed dropped and the hills started. Not being quite as steep as this morning I plugged away at each one slowly getting higher as the sun set. With ten miles to go I pushed on into the night on the wet sticky roads until I reached town. With the rain starting again I wanted to find a place to sleep and get some food. I was directed by a nice guy to a very simple place that was fairly cheap and got my bike in the room. With the rain now bouncing off the tin once more I headed out to grab some tea. I was once again helped by a couple of nice lads who showed me a place to eat that was perfect. As I sat and ate I watched the TV to see there was a city that was flooded with cars submerged and rivers bursting their banks. I asked where it was and they told me it was San Jose the capital. I couldn’t believe it as I was only there a few days ago.
San Jose under water
I started to think about all the other city’s I had been to that had demonstrations, erupting volcanos, earthquakes and just hoped that all those amazing people I had met were ok. With a good meal inside me my next problem I had found was my maps on my GPS finished in Costa Rica. I googled some maps and then had to find an Internet cafe to down load them. After a short time I was sat at a computer watching just how slow the Internet could be. I had only been in the cafe 15 minutes and already they wanted to close but after telling them I had to wait 20 minutes they let me stay to see if it would work. As the time ticked away I was getting tired and still needed a shower. I had covered the miles I wanted but I was tired and needed to sleep. With the maps on the card all I could do was wait and see. I reached my room had a quick shower and with a few jobs to do I was ready for bed. While I sat and wrote my diary a few Mosquitos came down to say hello so instead of a restless night I knew I needed my tent up then I could sleep. so thats what I did and slept like a log.
Another night under canvas but this time not from the rain
With just half a day left in the country I couldn’t believe how soon I was leaving. I had only touched a tiny fraction of what this country has to offer and even less in the way of wild life. I had enjoyed the country and its people who would often wave and cheer which would always pick me up. I had been told there were dangerous places here and yet I never once felt unsafe or venerable. It was a lot more expensive which may be a reason why I and so many others don’t spent as long in the country when they can see the same next door. I would leave the country pleased at what I had seen and having met amazing people. It would be a place I would return to but for now I had to keep heading north towards my goal. Meeting Olly who had run from Mexico had lifted my spirit and given me some of my old zest back. He may not have known he did but I felt great for meeting him. My next country was Nicaragua and one I was excited about and yet knew very little. It was time for me to find out what secrets it held.
Thanks for reading xx
Number of days in country: 12.5 days
Total distance cycled: 721miles / 1,160km – Running total: 27,064 mls/43,517 km
Total altitude gain: 10,301 metres – Running total: 425,036 metres
Altitude gain per mile: 14.33 metres
Totals from Ushuaia Southern tip of Argentina
11,171 miles/ 17,974km total alt gain 231,252 metres