Into the Wilds of Costa Rica
Costa Rica is considered by many to be the Switzerland of Central America. With the explosion of tourism, both positive and negative elements are surfacing in this wondrous country. There are many places however where the wild Costa Rican jungles still reigns supreme. These environs can still provide an experience you will not likely forget. And, as you cut yourself off from the technology that suffocates our daily lives you will start to appreciate the reality in which you find yourself. For a once in a lifetime getaway, try an adventure tour to one of Costa Rica's wild jungles and be ready to leave your everyday world behind.
The La Danta Jungle Lodge is a rustic compound offering the more adventurous a chance to experience the beauty of the rain forest close up and very personal. While there are no amenities, the jungle landscape will certainly take your breath away. Here you will see the many varieties of native floral and fauna in its most pristine condition. Waterfalls abound but watch out, you are in the wild and danger can lurk around every corner.
To get to La Danta, you will need to take a bus from San Jose to Flores. From there it is a 45 minute ride by 4x4 to get to the drop off point to begin your hike to the lodge. Here you will break down your gear to the bare essentials. Considering there is little reason to bath for the next few days, leaving your main pack behind is not that hard. This is especially true since you will need to hike 3-hours through the jungle to get to the lodge.
During the Summer months, it rains everyday in the early afternoon. You will just have to accept it. Don't try and stay dry, well do, but don't get psychotic about it. During your hike be prepared to cross several rivers some of which will be raging and up to your waist. Don't worry though, the local guides provide you a small, sharp cable to hold on to as you navigate rocks of all sizes lining the river's bottom. In the wild, nothing is easy.
I just wrote not to get psychotic about staying dry. Let me rephrase that. Don't worry about staying dry on the outside, but do whatever it takes to keep your gear dry. Remember, when it rains; it pours. Everything gets soaked and it will get very uncomfortable if you don't protect yours supplies especially your socks. Here is a hint, buy some garbage bags, you know the ones, the really big ones you use for lawn clippings. Put your back inside the bag, cut holes in it on each side so you can pull the shoulder straps and waist straps through and cinch it up the best you can. Obviously you can buy a specifically made rain cover for your pack but that takes the sense of adventure out of it. It is more like survivor if you use a garbage bag.
As you slog through the mud and water, take a moment to survey the countryside. You should notice the terrain changing dramatically. First there will be large open green spaces with large trees dotting the landscape. You will also see local farms and homes where local ticos live a subsistence lifestyle raising what food they need to live on. These homes are modest to say the least. The ticos are however, very friendly and will be very inquisitive as you walk past.
Continuing on, the landscape is becoming more dense. The humidity will start to rise as well and water will appear to be coming out of everything. As you get closer to rivers, the raging sound will begin to heighten your anxieties. Be prepared, if it rains while you are hiking, which it will, you might have to wait until the rivers slows slightly enough for you to cross more easily. Don't be surprised if you are asked to transport one of the local's dogs as you weave your way across.
Later you will cross another river but here the water will continue to rage. Here you will need to board a small cart which you will hand pull across the river. Depending on your weight, you might have to stop half way across when you get near a very large rock, you will hit this rock and will be forced to put one foot out of the cart to push off and over to continue you way across.
For the next couple of hours, you will start to ascend up the sloops of the central volcanic mountain range. Although the incline will not appear to be that steep it continually goes up and down and there are multiple switchback and combined with the humidity and rain, there will be a lot of effort involved. Please be careful, the trail will be wet, very wet. This makes it slippery and harder to climb.
Finally, you will climb the last and steepest hill. As you pop out into a small clearing, you will 'see' the rustic la Danta jungle lodge.
Costa Rica is a rich and diverse country. Its true richness doesn't come from its economic wealth, although Costa Rica is richer than its neighbors; but in a way Darwin would understand. During the development of North and South America, Central America was the land bridge that allowed various plant and animal species to migrate between the two large land masses. This has led to a very diverse and awe-inspiring environment in Costa Rica and there is no better place to experience this ecology than in the jungle.
The very distinct areas that exist in this country are as different as the various parts of the U.S. but in a fraction of the space. While the country has only about 0.1% of the world's landmass, it contains 5% of the world's biodiversity. Over 25% of Costa Rica is composed of protected forests and reserves. This is in a country that is smaller than the Texas panhandle.
There will be plenty of opportunities to use the compound as a base and hike out into the jungle. There is even the option of doing a night hike. All of which will present you with some of the most beautiful and natural areas you could hope to encounter.
If you are an adventurous type, then this trip is for you. It will be hard but yet very rewarding and I encourage anyone looking for a true native experience to give it a try. You will not regret it.