|The group of rafters|
The weather was great, a little cloudy but warm and no rain. The rafting on the Rio is definitely a lot more exciting than the rafting we've done on PA or WV. First, since it was only two rafts, we just kept moving through all the rapids without having to wait for the rest of the party to catch up. Second, the Toro is much more narrow than the rivers we've done in the past and there are a lot more rapids with very few areas of calm waters. Last, the views are a lot more beautiful with gorgeous vegetation, birds, butterflies, waterfalls, and we saw some howler monkeys in the trees. The water, while cool, was also much less cold than the waters we've rafted in the U.S. since those are generally winter snow run-off.
Halfway through the trip, we took a break at a calm area of the river and snacked on fresh watermelons and pineapples. Fruit always taste so amazing in the tropical countries, probably because they are picked when they're ripe.
We got to do some fun things during the rafting trip. There was one area where Kathie got to sit on the very front of the raft and"ride the bull" through some rapids. She had a great time with that. Another section, Andrew (the riders switched out halfway through) and Kathie turned around so they were facing backwards while Mike on the right side continued to face forward. Through the rapid all of us were rowing forward (respective of our positions) and therefore spun the raft around and around while going through the rapids. Riding the Toro was a fantastic experience and one we would definitely recommend to others, especially using Desafio expeditions. The whole ride was about 2 hrs long through 10 miles of river.
After the rafting, we were driven to a small cafe and had some delicious costa rican food: rice, chicken, salad, Spanish rice, beans and passion fruit juice. The food was quite delicious, especially after a couple hours of intense rowing.
After driver took us back to the hotel and we crashed in our room for about an 1.5 hrs then drove to Ecotermales, one of the hot springs spa in the area. It had been recommended by multiple guides and tourists from trip advisor. It's much quieter and low-key than some of the other spas and only allow 100 people for each 4 hr slot. Since it's off-season, we didn't see more than a dozen people at the springs. ecotermales has a series of cascading pools filled with volcanic heated water that was around 95 degrees F. The water coming into the highest pool is supplied by a stream. Each cascading pool is a little cooler but even the last pool is still nice and warm. The last pool then emptied back into the stream which continues downriver. It is a bit odd to see a hot stream in nature but in Arenal, there are a fair number of the hot springs you can access, including a public hot spring.
I wish we had thought to bring a camera to the springs; EcoTermales is quite beautiful. If you ever go, definitely bring a camera with you. The spa provides locked lockers so you can put the camera in a safe place while soaking.
The spring water is crystal clear and doesn't smell like chlorine, sulphur or any other chemical. It was so relaxing to just sit in the various pools. We also bought the dinner option so we had some rice, beans, salad, and chicken for mike and tilapia for kathie. The chicken was a little bland, the grouper was a little salty but it had very good flavor. They also have a bar so we each got a drink. Kathie's piña colada was the best she ever had, and Mike's rum and coke had lime juice added for an extra flavor. We stayed at the springs for about 3 hours enjoying the water and relaxing on the loungers. We really liked Ecotermales because it was so quiet and private.
It was definitely a fun-filled beautiful day for us.