Hiking through Costa Rica’s Tenorio Volcano National Park is like a scene from a Disney flick, seemingly unreal with each step. Complete with a magically glowing river and waterfall to reward your exertion.
Just arriving to the park can be an adventure if you attempt it without a guide. There is access from both the west and the east, however Google Maps doesn’t display the small dirt roads needed to access the park. Surprisingly, our ancient friend, Mapquest does the trick. The closer you get to the protected park the more magical it becomes. A few miles out I saw a tree with hundreds of straw looking bags hanging from an enormous rainbow eucalyptus.The tree by itself looked like children had drawn up and down the trunk with crayons proudly displaying all of the colors from the rainbow. Then I noticed gorgeous oropendolas (a bird with a bright yellow tail and feet that sing an extraordinary song) zooming in and out of the straw stork-like bags. I realized that I was observing hundreds of birds zooming in and out of their incredibly crafted nests with perfect precision.
After a long bumpy journey I arrived to the park where I paid my entrance fee and rented galoshes for the slippery journey. Even though is was mid-December, deep into the dry season, Tenorio has it’s own microclimate that keeps all of the life alive in a wet and wild bliss. The mud along the trail was impressive, I slid down ankle deep numerous times during the four hour trek. The constant rain, fog, and mist created a surreal amount of life. Moss was wrapped around every tree and limb, a variety of decorative fungi dotted rocks and trees. green vines and moss hung from trees creating a mystical feel.
Throughout the hike I encountered life that blew my mind. Along a section of the river, Río Celeste, there was a clear line in the water where the color shifted from a natural spring fed, rock bottom clear to a glow in the dark neon blue. I’m told this brilliant color is created when the sulphur emitted from the volcanic activity below mixes with calcium carbonate. A chemical reaction occurs which creates a surreal glow. If the rain is heavy enough it dilutes the minerals and reaction, transforming the color back to the naturally clear water.
Further down the mud trail I saw a small eddy filled with boiling water alongside the cold river. Apparently, there was a very specific spot that hosted hot sulfuric gases that created a natural hot spot and bubbling water. Had I encountered the hot spring by itself it would have been fantastic, but to see it inside of a swift moving florescent river was mind boggling. If you are ever in Costa Rica, this National Park is a must see. It’s not part of the main tourist circuit yet, but that will change as more people discover the magic within. You can take a guided tour from Arenal easily with a few different tour operators. I have visited this magical place twice, once through a guided tour and once on a solo adventure. I would recommend Desafio Adventure Company since my experiences with them have been nothing but superb.
[imgr]http://www.expatfocus.com/images/other/columnists/becoming-an-expat-costa-rica-100×125.jpg[/imgr]Shannon is an international resident from San Diego, currently residing in Costa Rica. Her first career of 10 years was spent serving San Diego & Kansas City as a paramedic. After a back injury her life drastically changed, and an international door was opened. As an avid traveler, Shannon had visited over 27 countries by the age of 30. She quickly chose Costa Rica as her first destination proclaiming, "My whole body comes alive when I am there." In addition to writing, Shannon owns Enete Enterprises, LLC a video and print publication company that specializes in travel guidebooks and the creation of marketing videos for the tourism, hospitality, and real estate sectors. To learn more about Costa Rica, and how to become an expat see www.BecominganExpat.com.