Five stars for Tony and Hugo representing Costa Rica Unique Four and a half stars for the Canon de laVieja park, which is a separate organisation from the tour company, for points that I raise below.
Organised the trip via Tony on the beach whilst staying at Secrets in Papagayo. He's friendly, and approachable but never pushy. Worth talking to, to get ideas for going out
A variety of packages are offered and he asked us to check the firm out on trip advisor before we committed. We chose the adventure combo because it included zip lining, white water tubing, rock climbing and rapelling (abseiling), horse ride, mud bath, hot springs and lunch included. Something for everyone and no pressure if you didn't want to complete one part of the venture or another, no walk of shame! I chose not to do the rock climbing.
We had a wonderful day,
We were picked up from the hotel at 7am, introduced to Hugo, our driver. Tony hosted our day out and gave us a pleasant commentary as we went. The journey was about 30+ minutes from the hotel.
Tony took photos from various vantage points during the day, apart from the zip lines and canyoning, which saved us having to worry about hoiking our cameras about. These he mailed to us via whatsap. A useful and thoughtful gesture.
The Canon (canyon), is quite deep and long, leading away from the nearby volcano.
We landed and were straight into the activities. Kitted out with harnesses and off to the zip lines. A bit of a track up to the starting point, so wear firm trainers. Then to the platforms. A bit of an OMG moment for me, just a little reticent where heights are concerned...but we were looked after well by Estevan and Jordan. We were taught the basics regarding hanging on for dear life and how to brake, also how to propel yourself over the gorge should you stop halfway across, which I promptly did, and had to be rescued. Nice to know if it should happen. Just don't look down, or for that matter look how far away you are from the far distant landing point, and make sure your children shout encouragement with fog horn like enthusiasm so everyone knows what's happening in Guanacaste province. 7+ good zip lines and one veerry long one, criss cross the gorge. Great views.
You stop after 5 lines for a water break then back to zipping along. We were securely tethered to the lines via the experts, which is a departure from the zip lining I've done before, where you clip yourself on the line. I was more than grateful for this, due to the very long long drop down.
After zip lining we were off to rock climbing and rapelling. This is to rapel down the rock face then climb back up. That didn't appeal to me, it was very hot and looked far too strenuous. Husband and daughters were up for it though. A spaghetti like knot occurred on the husband's descent, so he hung there for a while until unravelled. The girls went down effortlessly. The climb back up was assisted by a pulley system to give support. Husband didn't appreciate this because it took the impetus out of climbing accurately, and scrawked his knee. This was the point maybe where more attention could be given to those wanting to get a more realistic climbing experience.
I noticed water had been trickling down the rock face where the climbing takes place, I was told this was to help keep the rock face cool because the rock gets so hot. Another thoughtful aspect were the foot and hand hold points that had been placed on the rock face to facilitate climbing. It looked a large sheer climbing wall.
Next, harnesses off but safety hats kept on, we were off to the horses. Despite mine (aptly named Tornado) and the other horses being friendly towards the human element of the party, they weren't above taking a pot shot hoof wise towards each other. Stay at the front end, if not already on said beasties.
The horses are schooled American style not as British, so my long remembered horsemanship apart from the sitting trot was not required. The horses were quite responsive and I would liked to have gone faster but didn't want to set the others off, where one went the others followed. All 4 of us enjoyed the ride.
Miguel, was our cowboy host and showed his Spanish style dressage skills with an attempt to lassoo my horse, or me, not quite sure on that point! He was friendly and looked after us well, pointing out varieties of birds and trees. Although not sure of their name's. He spoke good French (born in Marseille), Spanish, but less English. Between us we did ok.
After dismounting, our horses were released and trotted back to their base independently, followed by the horse dancing Miguel. Only advice wear longer shorts, saddles can nip and chafe skin, + insect spray, this is where some of us got bitten, but not by the horses.
Helmets still on, we had chance to get into bathing gear and were off to the best part of the day, river rapids in inflatable type tyres, simply described as tubing. It was brilliant, some very slow parts where our extremely hard working host, sorry I don't know your name, pulled, pushed and guided sometimes chains of four of us, we anchored ourselves together by the dangling straps or held hands. There were some thrilling sections of deep, fast flowing water; rocky outcrops at the side and below, so best to keep your elbows in and posterior raised in some parts. You just needed to be aware. Some sections sent you under and coming up gasping, but supervision close at hand on the really tricky parts. One had a 6 foot drop. I'm not the bravest, but I'd do it again now.
After this adrenaline fix we had a wholesome Costa Rican buffet lunch. Certainly not Michelin standard, but plentiful and tasty.
Followed by sauna, mud bath and thermal pools. The sauna, thankfully, was brief, but it made Costa Rican temperatures seem positively cold! We were glad to escape. The mud's a bit smelly, like a thin grey clay slip paste, and is painted on you by one of the hosts or you can paint yourself or each other. Wait for it to dry (we looked like we were about to take part in some tribal event), then jump into the river or down some slippery steps. The braver of the family leapt in arms and legs akimbo from height, despite my earlier zip lining bravado, I chose the steps. The river was wonderful. After washing off you climb some steps to three thermal pools, each of decreasing temperatures. The water was very warm in the first pool and volcanic in origin, I was told it was cooled down with added river water to make it tolerable. I'm glad, I was poached enough earlier in the sauna.
There is a spa facility there should you choose to use it.
This was the end of the visit. Changing facilities were available, but be prepared to wait if with a large group, or double up if not shy.
Well worth it...we'd go again.
Advice, sun cream and insect repellent a must, longer shorts for zipping and riding, trainers for the hiking, water shoes for the tubing. Hats and sunglasses might get lost, so if used get the tethered variety.
A picture of Tony attached to help.