Adventure is about doing things you would not normally do and pushing the boundaries of your comfort for that rush of excitement that comes along with the unknown.
My wife and I got married 8 years ago and we decided to take a trip to Costa Rica for our honeymoon. While by definition not an Overlanding trip, we spent 10 days seeking adventure in a country very different from the United State. When greeted with the countries saying “Pura Vida” (the pure life) you begin to understand that the principle of Overlanding is the lifestyle lived in this Central American country. Being a very modest country, tourism and exports are the primary source of revenue. You can also find a very diverse set of ecosystems in this country from the Pacific and Caribbean beaches, to the Manzanillo barrier reef, to the active Arenal volcano, to the lush Pacaure Rain Forest.
We planned many activities for our 10-day trip to Costa Rica including a visit to the Arenal Volcano, the Venado Caves, a hike to see Rio Celeste (a blue river), getting stranded in broken down tour van for 4 hours (unplanned 🙂 ), a hike to Cerro Chato which contains a secluded lagoon on the summit of a dormant volcano, a visit to some of the best hot springs in the world, white water rafting, horseback riding, zip lining, rappelling down waterfalls, and a visit to the bustling town of San Jose, but my favorite portion of this trip was the 2 days we spent in the Pacaure Rain Forest. Rated as one of the World’s 24 Top Ecolodges by National Geographic, this lodge can be accessed by a 5-mile white water river raft through Costa Rica’s most mesmerizing rainforest. This lodge has no electricity except for the kitchen where they cook gourmet quality food. They also offer many activities for you to do during your stay, but to even get to the lodge, you first have to raft through the rugged canyons and tropical rain forest on class III and class IV rapids. We spent an afternoon zip lining through the canopy from tree top to tree top and we enjoyed a leisure horseback ride into the local town of Bajo del Tigre, the small town where most of the employees of the lodge are recruited. Here we enjoyed a small home cooked meal and learned more about the modest culture. Even though the lodge included many of the luxuries that you might find in an Ecolodge in the US, travelling into the small local town makes you realize that the people of Costa Rica really do live the Pura Vida lifestyle. While there we also made a few friends including a couple from Canada, a girl that was visiting from South Africa, and Cholo Frias a local who lead most of our activities. Costa Rica is home to, in my opinion, the best coffee in the world, and we started our day off with a cup of Café Britt coffee and a meal with a side of fried plantains every day during our visit.
Our honeymoon cottage was situated at the top of the hill and included a bridge into the canopy. This was an open air cottage with a private pool and open air shower, but because there was no electricity the pool and the shower water were relatively cool. There was however a solar still that collected the water from the mountain and during the day allowed the sun to add a small amount of heat rendering the water a cool room temperature by the late afternoon. After a thorough search for spiders, we fell asleep to the sounds of monkeys howling in the distance. While I thought this lodge was the coolest thing ever, my wife was not the most comfortable she had ever been, but enjoyed the experience and culture of the visit.
After 2 nights in cool shower, minimal light, and fun rainforest festivities, we left this lodge with a better sense of appreciation for the luxuries we have at home. Would I visit again? Absolutely. The journey out was twice as good as the trip in because we had to raft 13 more miles down the river to get back to civilization.
To me overlanding is about adventure and the opportunity to gain a sense of culture and experience through travel. This 10-day trip was and continues to be the most concentrated dose of ethos I have ever experienced. I look forward to my next opportunity to travel abroad, but in the meant time there is a lot of places to visit and things to experience in the United States.