The Trip 2013 – Monte Verde to San Jose

Note: This is a condensed version of the pictures I took with some added narrative. The rest of the pics can be viewed in the album The Trip 2013 – Monte Verde to San Jose. Each picture can be clicked to see a larger version and comment / like.

After Ometepe we crossed the border into our final country on this trip, Costa Rica. The first destination for us was the beautiful town of Monte Verde high in the hills of northern Costa Rica.

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Of of the main attractions of Monte Verde is all the extreme sports on offer. I decided I was going to do the jungle zip lining first.

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The site in which we did it boasts the longest zip line in Latin America at 1590m.

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The ride takes the best part of a minute and a half which I managed to record in the super-man position:

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The final zip line wasnt a zip line at all, rather it was a giant tarzan swing. To get there you had to walk across a rickety bridge before you reach the platform that you jump from.

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After zip lining I decided I wanted to have a go at something I have been meaning to do for a long time, bungee jumping.

While we were getting suited up in our harness a friendly Makaw decided to join us. It seemed to have a fetish for peoples feet however.

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To get to the bungee jump spot you had to ride in a small cage across the steep valley

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One by one the people in the cage took the plunge over the edge until it was my turn. I shuffled up to the edge (my feet were tied to the bungee) before the countdown 5..4..3..2..1.. and I felt the not-so-proverbial boot up the bottom and jumped:

The jump was exhilarating tho the way the rope caused you to spin afterwards did make me feel a little nautious.

While I was doing the jump some members of our group went off on a coffee tour.

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The following day we took a bus and a boat across to La Fortuna the town that rests at the foot of the Areal volcano in northern Costa Rica.

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Like Monte Verde, La Fortuna offers a great many adventure sports for the adrenaline addicted traveler with deep pockets.

As soon as we arrived a few of us decided we were going to go canyoneering.

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Canyoneering involves hiking and repelling down waterfalls and is great fun.

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Some of the waterfalls are so high that you basically have to zip line down.

There were a couple of ‘surprises’ along the way too such as a dive bomb into a pool.

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The other was a ‘Tsunami’. We were wedged into a small crevice then the stream was blocked from above. After a few minutes the dam was broken releasing a huge torrent of water down onto us.

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I loved the canyoneering, I may have to see if I can do more of it on this trip!

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When we returned from the canyoneering we found the other half the group having fun in the hotel pool.

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They had been drinking sangreer all afternoon in the sun and had come up with a game called ‘Limeball’. It basically involed letting a lime sink to the bottom then in teams you have to try to get it to the opponents end by just using your feet.

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The tricky thing was that it was really tough to see the lime through the chest high water so often everyone would loose the lime until someone would sneakily kick it towards the other side.

The following day I decided to continue on my adventure sports with some ATV’ing.

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I had never done it before and was pleasantly surprised at how powerful the small things were.

We stopped after a few hours and took a break at a small river in the forest.

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That evening we took a break from all the adrenaline and visited the hot springs at Los Lagos.

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The pools are supplied with hot water fed by the volcanic activity deep underground. Unlike the springs in Hondorus that were built on a hill side deep in the jungle these were much more formal built up affair and were basically hot swimming pools. One of the pools even had a swim up bar which I made good use of.

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We had dinner at a buffet in the hotel. During the meal we practiced a little “1912’ing”.

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The following day we left La Fortuna and headed to San Jose. Along the way we stopped ot do a spot of white water rafting.

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The guide in our raft thought it would be funny to stick twigs in our helmets

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We had an awesome time though it made me yearn to do some harder rapids in the future.

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During the ride we had an opportunity to ‘ride the bow’ which involves sitting on the front of the boat and hanging on for dear life as you sail down the river.

It was all good fun until Meike, a Dutch girl in our boat was thrown off and landed on her knee onto a rock.. ouch!

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Halfway we stopped for some pineapple and a little cliff jumping.

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After the rafting we headed to our final destination, the capital of Costa Rica, San Jose. There we spent one more night together as a group getting drunk in a local club.

Im going to miss these guys, I had a phenomenal time, sharing so many good memories. I got on with all of them, each person had their own unique qualities that made them great to hang around with. I wish I could spend the rest of my trip travelling around with them. Thanks guys!

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The Trip 2013 – Granada to Ometepe

Note: This is a condensed version of the pictures I took with some added narrative. The rest of the pics can be viewed in the album The Trip 2013 – Granada to Ometepe. Each picture can be clicked to see a larger version and comment / like.

After leaving the beautiful island of Rotan we made our way to the Nicaraguan border. Along the way we had to make a slight detor:

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I hope no one was on there when it went down! Eventually we made it to the border.

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A few more hours on the road and we stopped at a truck stop to play on the swings

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Finally we reached the small colonial town of Granada.

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Our hotel was a little odd, it had a central fountain that was infested with turtles

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We spent the afternoon exploring the town. Our guide took us to a place staffed by deaf and dumb people..

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Here we discovered where hammocks come from..

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That evening we ate in the garden cafe

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Afterwards we went to shisha bar and enjoyed some of the flavoured tobacco

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while we were there a number of street performers turned up and started showing off their skills

The following day we decided to go Kayaking on lake Nicaragua, the largest lake in Central America

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We stopped at a coupple of small islands while kayaking around. Apparently you can buy one of these islands if you have a million or so lieing about.

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I really enjoyed the kayaking as our guide took us to places that boats cant reach as they are too clogged with weeds and lilies. That made it feel special and infinitely more interesting than kayaking I have done in the past.

In the afternoon we took a trip down to the smelly, noisy market in Granada.

The following day we drove a short way to the ferry that was due to take us to the island in the middle of the lake called Ometepe.

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The ferry was one of the most rickety boats I have ever had the pleasure of riding. We had the unfortunate luck of sitting right next to the engine hole which meant that I was continually being splashed by water that a local was hand-pumping out of the engine.

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On the island we stayed with local families in a home-stay. Our family was really nice and cooked us some lovely food however they didnt speak any English and I dont speak any Spanish so conversation was severely limited.

In the afternoon / evening we visited a natural swimming pool on the island.

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I had a great time in the cool water and we stayed there messing about until it went dark.

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The next day we woke early (5am) and made our way to the base of the largest of the two volcanoes on the island, Concepcion.

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This was the first hike of the trip and the first hour or so it seemed like it was going to be a peice of cake

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But then it started getting steeper and steeper.

Eventually after several hours, sweaty and tired, we reached the 1000m mark.

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After a short break we took off up the remaining 610m leaving some people behind who didnt want to scale the rest.

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Those people that stayed behind were very wise as the steep jungle path soon turned into even steeper volcanic rock and shale that tore into our gloves and boots.

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After a few more hours of intense climbing we finally reached the 1610m summit of the volcano.

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Although it was so cloudy we couldnt see anything I was incredibly happy to finally reach the summit

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We could only stay at the top for 15 minutes due to the high levels of toxic gas, just enough time to bring back a classic:

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The way down was tough and sketchy, most of the time the entire volcano was covered in thick cloud however on the way down the fog parted and we were offered incredible views of the island, lake, mainland Nicaragua and even the Pacific ocean beyond.

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Needless to say it was a tough hike, it took us 11 hours in total. Near the bottom it started raining heavily. We sheltered under a large Sabre tree at the base of the volcano when we heard an almighty crack from above us. I turned around just in time to see a massive branch from the tree come crashing down not a meter from me. Our guide was understandably nervous after that as we hightailed it out of there.

For days after the hike I could barely walk my legs were so sore. I had shredded the pair of gloves I had been given and torn large holes in my shoes thanks to the sharp volcanic rocks. Despite all that however im glad we did it, it was a great challenge and im happy I managed to overcome it.

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The Trip 2013 – Copán to Roatán

Note: This is a condensed version of the pictures I took with some added narrative. The rest of the pics can be viewed in the album The Trip 2013 – Copán to Roatán. Each picture can be clicked to see a larger version and comment / like.

So after the 4 day rest in Antigua and at lake Atitlan I was ready to hit the road again. This time I would we travelling with 16 other people on a GAdventues trip that would take us from Guatamala through Hondorus and Nicaragua finally ending in San Jose, Costa Rica in 17 days.

To kick things off we took a bus to the Guatamala / Hondorus border to the small town of Copan. From there we visited the famous Mayan ruins.

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As I had already visited other Mayan ruins at Palenque and Tikal I mostly knew what to expect from the site. There were a few differences however such as the much greater number of inscriptions and statues, perhaps due to the high availability of easily carveable volcanic ash rock.

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They also had some interesting flora and fauna such as this spikey tree

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and this butterly named Steve that really loved my hat for some reason

There were also some beautiful but noisy Makaws flying about the park

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This one apparently didnt mind the squirrel that was stealing its food

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In the evening we decided to go to the hotsprings. So we hopped in the back of a coupple of vans and drove off. Unfortunately the rain cover they provided for the hour and a half journey wasnt particularly effective.

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The hotsprings were a whole lot of fun. Set into a hillside burried into the jungle there were a number of different pools and areas for us to explore.

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We brought a cooler of beer and spent most of our time in the large hot pool at the top of the hill drinkng and chatting.

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After all the fun was over we headed back in the vans and took off for home. On the way back our van was leading with the other behind us. After a while we lost the other van, our driver eventually stopped and got out looking really nervous. In our broken spanglish translations we understood that he couldnt contact the other driver by phone and he was worried that he may have had an accident on the tretourusly muddy and steep roads.

At that point the fun and games immediately stopped in the van. After some hesitation the driver finally decided to turn round and drive back to see if they were okay. After a nervous 20 minute drive we finally encountered them. I jumped out and walked down to find that they were fine, all that had happened was a fand belt had snapped. Infact they had had the cooler with the Rum and beer in it so they had been having a great time getting smashed while we worried for them. Sighing we hopped back in the van and headed back to the hotel.

All day I hadnt been feeling well at all. I was glad when we finally got back to the hotel at about midnight. I knew we had to be up at 4am the next morning as we had a long trip to get to Rotan. I woke about an hour later really not feeling good at all. I ran to the bathroom where I promptly spent the next hour with the most violent diharrea and vomiting I had ever suffered.

Drenching with sweat I got my roomate Ray to wake Chris our tour guide up and tell him that I may not be able to make the journey in the morning. Chris told me to give it a few hours and see how I felt. I went back to sleep and woke at 4am not feeling great still but I thought I was okay to travel so I hopped in a public bus and we sped off.

I was okay at first despite having a lady in the seat infront be sick right in the isle. We stopped after a few hours and changed to another public bus, thats when the vomiting decided to come back with avengence. I found myself vomiting out the bus window before someone found me a container to put my face over. I felt really delerious at this point, I really wasnt having a good time.

Finally we reached the ferry port where we were due to catch the 2 hour ferry across to Rotan island. We had a coupple of hours break at this point which gave my insides a little time to calm down.

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We should have known that this ferry journey wasnt going to be pleasant when the staff handed out free sea sickness pills and vomit bags to everyone onboard. Oh boy, that boat was definitely a low point for me. I think out of 17 people on our tour only one or two people managed to avoid being sick. Incredibly I was one of them partly due to the number of drugs I was on by this point and partly because I decided to go stand outside with the sea wind and water blowing my face.

Finally we arrived the beautiful island of Rotan. I immediately went to bed at this point and slept for a solid 16 hours, when I awoke I felt much better.

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We spent that first half day exploring the beautiful west end of the island

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That evening it was the 4th of July so one of the bars on the beach had fireworks to celebrate

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We spent the evening in a rocking Kareoke bar on the beach

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The following day Kelsie and I hired a scooter and took off to drive around the island. I had hired a scooter previously in Vietnam and it was one of the best things I did on that trip, the sense of freedom and mobility is awesome, so I decided to do it again.

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We stopped at a super market and picked up a packed lunch which we ate at a small beach along the way.

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The beach was nice but the number of biting sand flies there wasn’t so we swiftly moved on. After a few more hours drive the tarmac road ran out and turned into a dirt path, we decided to keep on driving for a bit, im glad we did as we reached this awesome spot right at the end of the island.

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We stopped for an hour or so and had a drink, a diary update and a little rest

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On we way back we had a little accident, I accellerated a little too hard while turning on the dirt path and crashed the bike off the dirt path. I was okay but I was really worried I thought I had broken Kelsie’s leg, fortunately she only had a few scrapes and bruises. I felt go guilty tho, sorry Kelsie!

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Shes a trooper though and got straight back on the bike and was even able to take this video while we were driving along. Note that the bike’s speed always read 0kph so we had no idea how fast we were going.

Unfortunately we had to leave Rotan the next morning early. I had a brilliant time there and didnt want to leave but the trip had only just started so I couldn’t wait to see what the rest of it was going to be like!