Blog I live under water

Trip with Activtour: In the land of volcanoes

Land of volcanoes

After recent adventures with sharks in the Red Sea, together with staff we head to Middle America. This time our diving destination is Costa Rica – land of volcanoes.

Costa Rica is a tiny Caribbean state which is full of charm and rich wildlife. Its territory is approx. 6 times smaller than Poland’s territory and is inhabited by over half a million of species, and human is just one of them. Over 25% of the Costa Rican territory have been granted protection and their people are really environmentally-aware — almost 80% of energy is from renewable sources. Each diver going to Costa Rica has got one aim in his mind — Cocos Island. This island is 2 days of sailing from the mainland and is famous for amazing diving safaris. Katarzyna Cieślawska-Bagińska shares her memories from one of such trips:

“Our January adventure with Costa Rica lasted 12 days during which we traveled almost 1 thousand kilometers. All the attractions and experience we went through could be easily divided among three diving trips.”

The first stop on our journey was San José airport. Weary with over-twenty-hour flight we went to a nearby hotel to have a well deserved rest. The next morning was exactly what we were waiting for for so long… The sun, blue sky, palms, and lush green! In a moment we forgot about our frosty Polish winter and happily caught exotic fragrances of this land! We got on a bus, joined the traffic and moved towards the Guanacaste province to the foothills of a dormant volcano of Miravalles. And this is where our adventure with Costa Rica began… Our bus climbed up along curving and bumpy roads on the volcano side to a small parking space where we mounted horses. We were horse riding on a field road surrounded with exotic plants and an unforgettable view in front of us — a majestic volcano, a true wonder of nature! When we reached our destination, we saw a real mystic setting: geysers bursting with vapor, rocky hillsides covered with yellowish sulfur, and gurgling little muddy lakes. Only there did we understand how rich in life is the Earth we live on and that we do not give thought to the processes occurring inside it in our day to day life.

From Miravalles we moved to the Pacific coast to our hotel that was hidden in tropical gardens at the Hermosa Beach. Here for next couple of days we enjoyed the Costa Rican sunlight, intimate beaches, rich flora, and amicable people. But we enjoyed diving in the first place; we saw the richness of underwater life of the Gulf of Papagayo, Ocotal, and Catalina Islands.

Each morning we went diving. We were aware that the underwater world of the Pacific Coast hasn’t got coral reefs to admire. The scenery reminds of a landscape of volcanic origin full of black rocky formations. Even though, the local basins are full of life. During five days of our underwater Costa Rican adventure the waters bewitched us with giant oceanic manta rays passing around the Catalinas. We met majestic eagle rays, numerous gams of shark sleeping in rocky caves, blowfish, banks of barracudas, moray eels of considerable sizes, and reef sharks.

Next we moved to the Monteverde National Park where we admired tropical jungle and with our hearts in our mouths walked across bridges suspended in the canopies. Water vapor condensation is so high in the area that the reserve is covered with clouds for almost 300 days in a year — hence the name “cloud forest.” It is reflected in perfect conditions for the growth of plants, trees, moss, and flowers. It was the first time when we saw this stunning abundance and symbiosis of different types of ecosystems. The trees were covered with moss on which were growing flowers, and on the flowers were growing little ferns… This high lying foggy, green jungle is home for 400 bird species, 500 butterfly species, 100 mammal species and near 2,500 plant species.

The dot in i’s and cross in t’s of our excursion to the jungle was almost a three-kilometer long system of ropes suspended in the canopies in the dense jungle. We had the opportunity to pass through its 17 stations and experience a 1,000-meter descent over a canyon. This was so spectacular that we recalled it over and over till the end of our stay!

Our next Costa Rican step was La Fortuna — a village at the foothills of the volcano of Arenal. Until 1960 Arenal was dormant. Now it belongs to one of the most active volcanoes in the world — it erupts 4 to 20 times a day. Next two nights we spent exactly on its hillside. When the weather is very good, i.e. the sky is cloudless, you can see red lava flowing out of the crater, and people with sensitive hearing can hear thundering sounds and tremors.

The next day was dominated with adrenaline. We went to a wild and exotic jungle stretching along the Sarapiqui river where we boarded pontoons with paddles, helmets, and life jackets. From there we could only flow and only using our own muscles! For four hours we fought for our survival against the torrential river and its steps. There were moments when some of us landed in the cool water. And all this in a picturesque setting with the surrounding jungle and river gemmed with stones. What a fun time it was!

It was a day full of excitement but there came the time that we had to say good bye to our volcano… We checked out of the hotel and headed towards the next stony giant. After a three-hour drive, during which we only covered 70 km, we landed in a complete wilderness. We visited a coffee farm run by a local farmer. We saw with our own eyes what its manufacturing process “from a seedling to the cup” looks like. In this area there were no hard-surfaced roads, shops, tourists, and all the infrastructure we met in the towns we visited before. Just us and the virgin Costa Rican nature. It started to rain heavily… we were filled with bliss, laziness, and this special climate. It was a unique opportunity to leave civilization behind and to unwind before our journey back to Poland which was approaching inexorably.

Katarzyna Cieślawska,

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