We started by getting into a van at 7am to drive to the Arenal lake. The lake, near the Arenal volcano, is the biggest in Costa Rica thanks to the hydroelectric dam that was build in the seventies (and tripled its size). Even if it did drown a village (the constructions, not the villagers who were relocated to Nuevo Arenal), the dam initialy produced 70% of Costa Rica’s electricity (nowadays close to 20%) !
So we crossed the lake by boat and had very nice views of the surroundings, even though it was quite cloudy. On the other side of the lake, the road to Monteverde are mostly in bad conditions, so most people go by 4×4. We decided to do the first part of the trip … on horseback !
It was very nice, we followed the lake for some time with again great views on the surrounding mountains. As we were only 7 people we had the opportunity to talk with a Swedish family (in english), a Canadian tourist (in english) and the guide (in Spanish). In total, slightly over 2h of riding in the beautiful costarican countryside.
After this, a small van brought us in an hour and a half to Santa Elena, where we sleep tonight. Santa Elena is the nearest small town to the Monteverde natural reserve and a few other natural reserves around making the area one of the big touristic points of Costa Rica known for it’s great biodiversity. Here we’re much higher up than la Fortuna, so it’s much fresher at night (but it still is Costa Rica, we won’t have snow 😉 ). We’re also very near to the continental divide, the separation between rivers going into the Atlantic and those going into the Pacific.
By the time we had eaten a bit, it was too late to really enjoy one of the natural parks, so we decided to go to the nearby herpetarium. As for Ecuador, especially Mindo, Costa Rica, especially Monteverde, has a great variety of reptiles.
So we saw turtles, toads, frogs, tarantulas and snakes (which made Alice very happy 🙂 ). The animals were really cool, even if the guided tour was a bit too informative and not practical enough (meaning, we didn’t get to hold any serpents :p). But at least now we’re close to expert in herpetology. And the cool thing is you get to come back at 6:30pm, when it’s dark, to see the nocturnal snakes and frogs in activity.
Let’s start discovery channel time by clarifying that herpetology is the study of amphibians and reptiles. So we learned that a crocodile can reach up to 9m (in Australia, here it’s “only” 7m). The fastest snake in the world is the African black mamba, able to cover 25km in an hour (now I know how to get motivation for running exercises!). And the most poisonous frog in the world live in Colombia (shit, we missed it, or rather phew, we avoided it !), and it contains enough poison to kill 1500 humans.
So, that’s all for today, now we’re going to sleep early as we want to get up early to get to the parks before the crowd tomorrow !
See you !
P.S : today’s game : try to guess what it is (don’t scroll too much, the answer is down there !)