Tuesday 3/14: Safari River Float and Mistico Hanging Bridges

Tuesday morning was the BEST and clearest view of the volcano yet! (And really, most mornings have been pretty clear.) But Tuesday had a great blue sky.

We learned that the volcano is active, but it’s in a “resting phase”. It lasted erupted in 1968. It still releases smoke, though! See below.

That’s smoke, not a cloud!

I was up early again Tuesday before 6 and out on the patio a while. We had to get an earlier breakfast and be ready by about 8, because we had plans to go on a Safari River Float at 8:30.

Safari River Float

We drove into La Fortuna to the Costa Rica Descents office (the company I had booked online with). When we arrived (just before the tour time of 8:30), they said it would be almost 30 more minutes before the shuttle driver to the river would be back. Hmm. Okay… That was a little annoying (why have a tour time of 8:30, if we then had to wait until 9?), but oh well.

We waited at the adjacent (empty) restaurant. It was very cute and made for some nice pictures.

Very Costa Rican looking

Finally, a little after 9, the shuttle van came. We boarded, along with a couple other groups who were heading to go white water rafting. I had considered doing an actual rafting trip, but I knew my parents wouldn’t want to do that, and I wasn’t sure I really wanted to, either. Looks fun, but also a little scary (rocks?!) and cold.

I opted for this safari float trip which would get us a different rainforest experience from the water, but would be TAME and enjoyable for the whole group.

On the bus to the river

They did the safety debriefing for the rafters as we drove – lots of talk about what to do if they fell out into the river had me extra glad we weren’t doing that…

We got out after about 25 minutes and the rafters continued on. At this little house in the middle of nowhere, we got fitted with life jackets and met our guide.

Our guide showing us a rubber tree before heading to the river

We all got oars too, to help paddle the raft.

Great group shot!

Then we walked down to the river. It was a beautiful morning!!! Hot and sunny and clear blue skies. Exactly the kind of day I was hoping for for this activity.

We piled in the raft and we were off. The river was calm except a couple of very, very small “rapids”.

The point of this was to look for wildlife in the trees, and just enjoy the rainforest! We were the only ones on the river (no other groups of people along with us), so this was really great.

Some scenic pics:

And a bunch of family pics:

This was so peaceful and beautiful!! Yeah, it wasn’t exciting like whitewater rafting, but just floating down the River listening to the sounds of the jungle was really great too.

Our guide pointed out a bunch of wildlife. More MONKEYS, lots of iguanas, birds, turtles, and tayras (aka tolomucos, which are part of the weasel family!).

A bunch of monkeys up there
A tayra

After almost 2 hours of floating down the river, we pulled up ashore on a little beach area. While the guide chopped up a fresh pineapple for a snack, the boys waded in the water to cool off and skipped a few rocks.

And, of course, it was a good spot for a few more pictures. 😆😆

I unintentionally matched the raft and life jackets.,😅

Then, we ate pineapple!

We got back in the raft to finish out the ride.

Past a pretty waterfall!

It felt like riding through Jungle Cruise at Disney World, but it was real. 🙂

The raft trip was all taking longer than I had expected. It said “8:30-11:30” on the website, but we got a late start, and then it just seemed like our guide was taking his time with us. Which, was great, because I was enjoying it and plus- might as well get our money’s worth!

But we were planning to do something else in the afternoon at 2:00. I had figured the morning raft trip would end by 11:30, allowing us time to go back to the hotel for a while to regroup and relax, and then head out for the afternoon. Well, it was almost noon and we were still on the raft – and we still had the 25 minute drive back to town, plus the tour included lunch!

We boarded into the back of a van (which was quite the experience- it wasn’t a regular shuttle van like on the way there. This was a smaller white van, and we all just sat crammed together on little benches in the back, bouncing around as the driver “quickly” maneuvered the Costa Rican roads… Anyway, got to the restaurant in one piece:

We had this home cooked meal waiting for us, prepared by a sweet Costa Rican woman.

This was delicious!! All 6 of us agreed, even the kids. Not sure what was in the sauce over the chicken, but it was super good.

Our guide still wanted to take us back on the property to show us a coffee plant or something, but it was 1:00 by this point and we had to go!! I still needed to stop back at the hotel to change my shoes and get our rain jackets before our 2:00 time slot at Mistico Hanging Bridges.

(This was really the only snafu in my plans so far… I try hard to keep our plans balanced and busy/active yet still plenty of downtime, so we don’t end up feeling harried. We ended up having to basically go from our morning activity to afternoon without the bit of downtime I had envisioned (thought the kids might want a dip in the pool, etc. in between), but oh well. Just the way it worked out with the tour delay.)

*Of note, Costa Rica’s daylight hours also make things complicated. It gets dark by around 5/5:30 p.m year round! So our daylight hours to “do stuff” are limited, and most places (nature reserves, etc.) therefore close up by 4 p.m or so.

ANYWAY, we got to the Mistico Hanging Bridges by our 2 pm slot… just in time for the sky to open up and downpour.

Mistico Hanging Bridges

We checked in, and then proceeded to stand under an overhang for at least 20-25 minutes while this big rainstorm moved through!

At least we had pretty views while we waited
Glad I brought a rain jacket to Costa Rica… 🙂

There had been some lightning, so obviously we had to wait for that to clear. (They had temporarily closed entrance, too.)

This park involves crossing high hanging bridges up in the trees- not a good combo with lightning.

Fortunately, by around 2:30 it moved out and we were able to enter. (Just some very light rain continued for a while.)

Walked through a pretty garden area:

And then started the trails to the 20 different bridges. It was magical in this park!! I absolutely loved it. So dense and green. A must do in La Fortuna, in my opinion.

Some bridges were little, and low, like this one:

And others were big, and very high up! And they swayed when you walked (and had limits of how many people could be on at once).

The views were amazing!

Me and my mom (who doesn’t particularly love heights, but handled these like a champ):

My mom in the middle of a longer bridge
This was really fun!

The boys watched for wildlife. They spotted a snake inside this hole… eek. There are lots of um, deadly snakes! in Costa Rica, so I made sure they kept their distance.

We saw a whole family of these guys! They didn’t even seem to notice us, and just crossed the path right in front of us.

There was a waterfall (a bit muddy after the storm).

I was so happy I had picked an afternoon time slot. Everything I read said to “go first thing in the morning” for best wildlife spotting. Well, in my mind, if everyone follows that advice, the main wildlife I imagined we would see would be other humans! This is a highly popular attraction in the area.

So, I went with later afternoon, and figured I’d rather see a little less wildlife and have the place more to ourselves to enjoy in peace (versus walking the paths along with big noisy tour or school groups!). It worked perfectly and we saw very few other people, really.

Made it out by closing time of 4:30, on the dot!

Ironically, it started to downpour again just as we were getting to the car!! Thank you weather gods for allowing us the couple hours we needed to enjoy the park rain-free!!

We stopped in La Fortuna for dinner on the way back, but the main goal was to get back to hotel early enough for some hot springs time.

The rain took a while to move out (there was some big/eerily close thunder and lightning during our dinner!!). But it finally did pass through and the rest of the evening was clear.

The boys waiting out the rain.

Hot Springs time!

All 6 of us floated around in this bigger hot pool for a long time. (Well, the boys were on the slides in the other pools for much of it.) It was very relaxing.

When everyone was heading back, I decided to sneak over to the super hot pool for a few minutes. I loved this one.

When I got hot, I sat with one foot in the cold pool and one foot in the hot pool.

I didn’t stay too long because it was way at the back of the property and it was empty and dark back there. With the jungle all around, it got a little creepy, actually, all by myself. Haha.

Back at the room, Ivan and I sat out on the patio for a while longer and I sorted photos/blogged, I think, before going to bed!

6 thoughts on “Tuesday 3/14: Safari River Float and Mistico Hanging Bridges”

  1. Looked like a beautiful day. Not sure I would have done the swinging bridges. I am not good with heights especially non stationary ones. Your raft ride looked awesome for looking at wildlife and scenery. You are right white water rafting doesn’t allow sightseeing as you are working at paddling the boat, although I would have had to do that too as that is one of my favorite things to do. I have gone twice and if given the opportunity would absolutely go again. Thanks for the beautiful pictures


  2. you got so much in one day! love the pics of the family doing the floating safari. definitely more family friendly than rafting with the parents! 🙂


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