Day One of our Family Immersion Trip to Costa Rica! Part 2
Watch the video below to see what we experienced in the second half of our first day in Costa Rica!
Thursday, June 24, 2021 Part 2
There are hot springs, waterfalls, and mud pots everywhere in this area so we caught a free shuttle from our hotel over to Rio Negro where we were greeted by an attendant who had complimentary towels for us to use. We broke away from the crowd and went across the street to find waterfalls. The path was an easy walk, although some of it was uphill. We saw marching ants carrying leaves to their queen and blue morpho butterflies. These butterflies are the size of birds and the tops of their wings are a brilliant blue. There were at least two butterflies flitting about in the sunshine through the trees. There are four waterfalls along this path. We chose the last waterfall to swim in. It doesn’t look all too big or imposing, but it packs a big punch! The kids struggled against the current to stand in the falling streams of water. They absolutely loved it and had the best time stopping each other from being swept away. The water was quite cold, but after hiking through the woods uphill it felt refreshing.
We crossed the street after our battle with the water and hiked down another path. We weren’t expecting the path to be so long to get to the hot springs, but it was about a 7- 10-minute walk. Ryan and I had been to different hot springs in Costa Rica in January, but these felt more authentic and less man-made.
There were hanging bridges stretched over a small river, Rio Negro. The river was shallow with smooth stones splattered over the bottom with larger rocks jutting out haphazardly creating small rapids in areas. On either side of the river were large pools of steaming water. The thermal waters were captured in pools shaped by stones and cement. Each pool was a different shape and size and had a different temperature in relation to how close it was to the source of the thermal activity. The source is the nearby volcano, Ricon de la Vieja. This volcano is known for its intense thermal energy which is even harnessed by the government to create electricity in the area. We saw the large pipes around the area that transfer the steam. There are ten pools in all, and their temperatures range from 98 to 104 degrees, although we went from one pool that was 104 degrees to another that said the same, we could barely stick our feet in since it was so much hotter than the first one!
What is great about these hot springs is not only can you chose which pool to soak in, you can also get a mud bath. The mud bubbles up directly from the ground due to the thermal energy. An attendant uses a wooden bowl to scoop up the soupy, gray mud full of volcanic minerals. It was warm and soft, and we put it all over our faces, limbs, and anywhere not covered by our suits. (Although somehow mud did get into our suits as well which we discovered once we changed!) Nothing brings a family together like being able to splatter mud all over one another! I think the kids felt like they were doing something naughty by putting a handful of mud on a sibling’s shoulder or forehead. There were a lot of silly designs, surprise mud attacks, and giggles all around. We let the mud dry so that we all looked like mud people and then rinsed it off in an outdoor shower. Some of us who were more resilient to the cold waters of the river went and did a second rinse there.
We boarded our shuttle wet in our suits, but happy, even if we were a bit tired from being up since 3am! Dinner at 6:30 brought a lot of chatter from the children talking about past trips and adventures we have taken. I was pleasantly surprised at how jovial they all were, but maybe they were just so tired they were delirious. Their first impression of Costa Rica was an immensely positive one. I have never had 100% of the children agree that they all loved the activity so much! They all thought swimming in a cold waterfall was preferable to a warm swimming pool and they all loved the mud and hot springs even if they did get a little cold at times and have to walk through a forest to get there. Maybe it was the euphoria of a new adventure, or maybe the healing properties of the thermal waters and mud really do work!