While I am deeply missing Costa Rica, I thought it would be healing-and informative for others-to share another of our favorite vacation days. While we stayed at the gorgeous Savegre Mountain Lodge, we made several hiking excursions and this was definitely a gold star day for us. We decided to hike to the cataratas, or waterfalls, having seen the brochures and already experiencing the magic of the La Pas waterfalls up at Peace Lodge the previous year while in Poas. And so it was that we arose early enough to grab a good breakfast at the buffet before beginning our quest. The Lodge requests that guests inform them if they are going on independent hikes, for obvious reasons, so we stopped by the desk to let them know where we were headed, layered up with what we felt would be appropriate clothing. Having a history of poor relationships with chiggers, I opted for long pants and a tank top because I knew it would eventually warm up. We also applied natural repellent. Mornings while we were there began in the upper forties and low fifties to rise to mid seventies during the daytime. If you are hiking, seventy can feel much warmer, especially in the dense underbrush of a wooded area. We wore good hiking boots and socks, supplied ourselves with a snack and plenty of water and of course-my baby, the camera-then headed out. Sometimes leaving the room with our lovely view of the garden was very difficult. But we knew it would be there waiting when we returned.
A little friend in the garden chirped a farewell as it pecked away at a favorite tree.
As we headed up the road we pause to once more revel at the local squash which seemed to literally flourish upon every hillside. It was a lovely sight to see and I grew to adore the local produce.
Our view from the little road leading away from the Lodge.
This is the little lounge/restaurant at the Lodge where we spent most of our evenings before dinner. It is so relaxing and the staff so accommodating.
We watched as the guys seined the river for the day’s fresh catch of Rainbow Trout. It was truly a treat to enjoy so much fresh fish.
The scenery was breathtaking and time seemed to stand still as we made our way down the trail.
Looks like we’re heading in the right direction…BTW. Everything in Costa Rica is “just a short hike”. My advice-don’t go anywhere without a snack and some water. Short is relative…;)
It looked so inviting there was no turning back.
It started out wide enough for vehicles and several did indeed pass us, but things soon closed in.
But not before we stopped to pay homage to the beauty of the Savegre River. What a glorious morning it was.
The further we walked, the narrower and less distinct the path became, but there were definite signs of being on track and at the more tricky spots there were some form of rope attached to the trees for minimum stability. Don’t take the waterfall hike it you have trouble walking or climbing as you may be disappointed with having to turn back at some point. I also wouldn’t recommend this for small children, at least not as far as the large waterfall, unless they are proficient climbers and have exceptional ability to follow directions.
One of the great mysteries in Costa Rica is the large number of sphere shaped stones that are scattered about randomly. We saw several on various hikes but were not certain if they were authentic or merely added as a zen-like inspiration. Either way, they were interesting.
These signs refer to the bridge capacity for safe passage. Thank goodness we were alone for most of our hike although we passed other hikers going in the opposite direction.
However, if we had based the entire trip on this pass, we might not have continued on. ha.
The river view from a little bridge. I love the sound of rushing water although even at a short drop, it is daunting to understand the power of its movement.
This was our last descent to the first little waterfall. The stairs seemed solid enough, although not in tip top shape. We persevered though and made it to the last drop, where we had to scale a few rocks to get to the base.
It was impossible to do anything other than single file across this one.
There he comes….
And…over the rocks to the little waterfall. Little is also relative as the water was rushing by at a thundering rate which likely explains why there was no access to enter the water. Not that I would have wanted to at a chilly 30 or 40 degrees.
It was a bit of a crook-neck view if you wanted a close shot but our adventure was about the journey as well as the prizes. We stopped to rest a bit here and enjoy the cool shade.
Amazing how quickly the river is tamed once it hits mass area.
And we turn to make our way back upward and onward to the grand finale!
The river views were different and equally amazing at every turn.
The trails had a continuous green rope that marked the sometimes fading path and helped to keep us on track. It is very easy to understand how a person could quickly become disoriented and lost in a deep woods.
We were both reveling in the glory of the day and the life around us.
The trail became very cloaked and shaded at one point, bringing to mind ancient peoples that may have wandered the mountains in search of homeland and safety among the rocky forests. So very peaceful and yet so terrifying at once.
I could imagine a band of travelers passing through this place while being watched from above as they searched for a place to camp.
Hey, okay, so this was my favorite part. NOT. We knew we were getting close to our destination. How? Well the signs of course. And the time that had elapsed since we first left the lodge, our water bottles getting lower and our stomachs reminding us of the fish dinner waiting. I looked up at this tree with its gnarled, grappling roots and then at the ten to twelve foot straight drop into the uber chilly, rushing river below, with its mouth agape as if waiting for me to lose my size five footing and feed its own hunger. Can’t do it, I thought. And the rope was definitely on the wrong side of the path for me. I almost turned back. My trembling legs and turning gut said I was going to turn back. I don’t do heights. I mean, I can go up, but you’ll play hell getting me back down. As kids we loved to climb up on the roof and jump off, around six feet. I loved to climb up but someone inevitably had to help me climb back down. It was my Boy Scout husband who pressured me into continuing on by going ahead first. I’m not sure if to prove it could be done or to help me as I followed behind him, but it made no difference because I was too far away to be physically helped. After about ten minutes of not too gentle coaxing and suggesting I would be very upset with myself for giving up, I was convinced. I took a (last?) deep breath and grabbed the girth of that great tree and clung to it for a second while he told me where and how to place my feet. Now, I’m a great climber, but a scrambler I am not; however, I am proud to say I am now, for I made it without a death spiral, and once safely on the other side, nothing, but nothing was going to stop us.
Not. Even. This. Rickety. Little. Bridge. Hey, honey, have you seen anyone this far up on the trail lately? I mean, how many people did they say tour up here, I mean, like ALL the way? No matter. Like Indiana Jones, I was going for broke. We trudged on not just a little apprehensively. Surely they wouldn’t recommend people come anywhere dangerous.
At last! Our last bridge. What a breeze. This one can hold a whopping three at a time. Look, honey, we’re home free. Honey, what is it? Let’s go! I nearly floated across this one. I have no problem with hanging bridges. I love the swing rides at the fair and those roundy round things that play loud music as they lift you from your seat. At least I had two rails to hold onto and the river was beneath a solid foundation. I made it to the other side. I turned to wait for my husband.
Well, what happened next remains locked in the Pennington vault of secrecy but there was a moment where I thought we had come all this way for naught. Wait. No way. We had to do this. Yep. Let’s just say we make a good cheering squad for one another when the occasion calls for it. He doesn’t like heights, moving bridges or lots of empty space between his legs and the next bit of earth. Did we make it?
Oh..did I mention this is what the river looked like as I desperately clung to that fat tree before I made it to the other side?
As Stuey says, “Victory is mine!” (insert wicked little laugh) This must be worth it-really. At first glance it seemed just another bend in the brushy path and we both swore we couldn’t possibly handle another hairy challenge. (I can’t repeat what was actually said, although both of us nearly wet ourselves as we doubled over with laughter at the vision of it.) One more corner and we were speechless.
My daring husband forged ahead to scope out the landscape before urging me on, but urge me he did for indeed the prize we had worked so hard to find awaited us around the mound on the path.
There really are no words to describe the magnificent beauty of this rustic place. We couldn’t find a way to get closer but just hearing the sound, breathing the air and feeling the ancient rawness of it is an experience now emblazoned upon my soul. It was tricky just to remain standing upon the uneven, rocky ground and for a moment I was disappointed that I couldn’t visit longer or get closer. I took a few treasured shots before we turned around to head back to the lodge.
The look of it was so ancient. In my mind’s eye I could see giant prehistoric birds flying overhead and hear the calls of the indigenous peoples as they scaled the mountainsides. If only photos could impart emotions I would share these with you as well. Guess you’ll just have to visit there yourselves. 🙂
So, we began our journey back with light, satisfied hearts. The treacherous places seemed less so now and we even took time to enjoy more of the sights along the trail on our hike back.
We climbed down to cool our fingers and toes in the river where it created the first waterfall.
This little beauty thought my husband’s head a nice place for a rest.
Then it blessed me as well with its presence before darting off across the river and into the far wooded hillside.
What an amazing place and an amazing hike.
We are constantly in awe of the natural order here. These bromeliad are opportunistic in nature, attaching to any dying tree and living there. They were scattered in the trees as high as the eye could see. What more could we have hoped for?
Wait…what’s this? Near the entrance to the hiking trail, just outside of the trout hatchery, there was a small group gathered beneath a stand of trees, just gazing up and pointing. Could it be? Another prize? Yes, surely it was. Thanks to a lovely young man who was also taking photos I was able to spot the pair of Quetzals that held their fascination. This pair was nesting in the top of a rotten tree there next to the hatchery. So much life in what is so often discounted as useless. Dead trees. Hmmmm….
I was able to get a few nice shots but these were the days with the “old” camera. Still, it was a momentous occasion for us.
And what a beautiful pair they made.
It can be very tricky spotting these lovely birds as they camouflage so well among the tree branches. Usually you can spot the tail of the male, gently wafting on a breeze.
And so we left them to their nesting as we made our way back to the lodge. The walk back seemed to pass much more quickly, as though we were floating. All in all we were gone about five hours.
We passed the stables where the horses for riding tours were hitched next to the road.
Who’s ready for Happy Hour? Me! Happy Hiking. Remember, to check out Savegre Lodge or their tours, simply go to their website at savegremountainlodge.com
Pura Vida All!