After about 5 days into my study abroad trip, I was settled in Costa Rica and started thinking about all the places I wanted to see and how I was going to travel to those places in a cost-effective way. Trying to calculate bus or taxi prices by myself was very inefficient, so luckily my program director told me about ticotour.com. The site has four main places that students like to see, with the hotels and tours available as well. Also, I learned about a website called canyoneeringlaroca.com, and I strongly recommend the canyoneering adventure to everyone visiting Volcán Arenal!

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When I visited Volcán Arenal, I stayed in Hotel Los Lagos, and I chose to go on the canyoneering adventure. The tour guides picked us up from the hotel at 7:10 am, and we rode the bus out to a private farm where the canyon was located. On the way to the canyon, there are many beautiful views, and they slowed down so we could take pictures when we requested. Once at the farm, the guides helped us into harnesses, helmets, and gloves, and then we were off on the adventure! I’m not going to lie, the first waterfall we rappelled down was terrifying. The guide was laughing at me and basically had to push me off the edge because I was holding onto him so tightly and wouldn’t swing out over the edge. However, once I relaxed a little after the first waterfall and got used to controlling my speed in the air with my right hand, I was having more fun than I ever imagined. We rappelled down 3 waterfalls in all, walked across a rope bridge hanging over the entire rainforest, cannonballed off a rock ledge about 7 feet above the water, and zip-lined over part of the river at the end. Although the activities sound wild and risky, there are guides at the top and bottom of each rappel/activity that help control your rope in case you need assistance, which really reassured me when I started off on the tour.

After all of the adrenaline-pumping activities were completed, we had a short hike back to camp that was led by one of our guides. In the middle of the hike, the guide stopped us suddenly and said, “Shhh… I smell monkeys.”  I stopped and looked up into the trees, while the guide began making monkey sounds similar to what Tarzan makes. After no more than thirty seconds of watching the trees, we saw movement on the branches and the monkeys began to talk back to our guide in their grunts. We got to see a mother and two babies; it was so cool! We eventually continued our hike back to camp, where they had prepared pineapple and watermelon for all of us with a slideshow of pictures that were taken of us during our excursion, and boy were those pictures entertaining!!

I’ve never bought a disc with pictures on it before, but for this adventure I had to! After our stomachs were aching from laughter and full of pineapple, we hopped back on the bus for our included-lunch at a quaint restaurant near Los Lagos; it was muy bien!

I am extremely glad I faced my fear of heights and signed up for this tour, because I learned to trust the guides and became closer with many of the other students, and I’ve never laughed that hard before in my life. I recommend it to everyone! You know what they say… “when in Costa Rica, do as the Ticos do!”

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