After a few cheap weeks in Nicaragua, Costa Rica was a bit of a shock. It definitely wasn’t my favourite place in Central America… but the twin villages of Santa Elena and Monteverde are a great first destination. It’s the place to be if you want to soar through cloud forests and rainbows on ziplines with nothing but a worn out glove to stop you.
To get here on public transport from Nicaragua was a bit of a pain because we didn’t time it well, but it’s doable. Once you arrive at the Penas Blancas border crossing and pay your $3 exit fee you need to catch a $6.50 bus to Sardinal that takes 3 and a half hours.
We did this and got kicked us off early in La Irma and had to wait for 3 hours for the next bus, it only comes at 10am or 3pm, so time your arrival to coincide. The bus to Santa Elena costs 1000 Colon (£2) and took 1 and a half hours, it was a beautiful drive through the mountains, forests and rainbows, and the town itself is just as scenic.
There is a good selection of surprisingly cheap accommodation, and you will have a lot of people meeting you off the bus to grab you first. The most popular place is Pensión Santa Elena, even if you don’t stay there the staff are super helpful and friendly.
We ended up going with the overly friendly owner of Monkey Hostel and it was a terrible mistake. Do not stay here. He stole money from us while we were ziplining, he kicked a girl out for booking with another tour company, and he brought his friends over who got so drunk they spent the night fighting until the police showed up.
Time to go ziplining!
Bad hostel aside, we had a great day. There are several companies to choose from, and they all offer very similar experiences. Just check with each one what the offer and decide what it is you want to do, whether it’s just ziplining, or bungee jumping as well!
We booked with Monteverde Extremo Park. You can pay $145 for the Canopy Tour, Bungee and Super Swing, but we paid separately for the Canopy Tour ($50) and Bungee Jump ($60).
After working as a zipline guide for two summers for The Adventure Group in Whistler, this entire experience was a total disappointment; the staff made it very clear that they hated their jobs and us, and I found the ziplining terrifying because of the complete lack of safety. The swing and the repel were fun, but for me it was not worth $50. Sorry…
The highlight of the day was the bungee jump. You fall gracefully from a cable car suspended 143 meters above the valley floor, if the weather is just right you’ll be jumping into a rainbow. I was absolutely terrified, but as it was my 8th jump I soon got over it, and it was an incredible feeling! Definitely recommend this!!! Especially for the price.
Getting out of Santa Elena is easy enough, the main coach station offers daily services to San Jose. The four hour journey costs around 2810C ($5).
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