Thursday, April 10, 2014

Hiking to the Waterfall Bosque Del Niño’s Grecia Costa Rica

This weekend we were escorted up to the waterfall in Bosque Del Niño’s by our new landlord, Julio and his family, wife Sadie, sons Chris and Kevin and daughter Maria. They are Ticos and more than friendly, we already feel like part of their family. Matt simply asked them how to get to the cascada, or catarata (waterfall) and after a few mixed directions accompanied with directional arm movements and pointing to the huge mountain over our shoulders, he looked at his wife and their 3 teenagers and they all smiled and nodded their heads.
So they arrived at our front door at 7:30 sharp dressed for a trek up the mountain on a beautiful Sunday morning. I carried Sofi, almost 3 months now in a harness and Matt carried Sara, almost 3 uphill while Max led the pack. We were huffing and puffing up the mountain, passing several fincas (farms) along the way. I was amazed at just how different the landscape was in comparison to our mountain in Atenas. Just last week there was another fire in Atenas, leaving Roca Verde more like Roca Negra.
Atenas is a bit hotter and extremely dry with several wildfires this season. The smoke was filling the air, even on moving day, so the difference in color and temperature is substantial between Grecia and Atenas. We are hiking in San Isidro de Grecia so with a higher elevation, we felt cool winds and passed through forests filled with Cypress and Pine trees. The mountainside undulated in variations of deep, dark green to slimy, wet mosses. The fauna was completely different as well offering hydrangeas the size of watermelons. We only saw the occasional bird of paradise which are everywhere in Atenas. With only 30 minutes’ drive, less than 15 miles away, the mountains of Grecia are less tropical than the mountains of Atenas.
As we reached the halfway mark, the kids started asking the inevitable, “Are we there yet?” and our tummies began to rumble. To our delight, there was a resting place and park with ample facilities called Bosque Del Niño’s. The park rangers took our 600 colones per adult ($1.20 US) and reminded us to always carry our papers (we did not since we were hiking from the house). The park was full with camping sites, picnic tables, cooking grills, covered ranchos, a soccer field, bathrooms, sinks with cold, delicious water, and interesting and artful statues. There was also a kids' area with swing sets, seesaws and tire obstacles. Our adopted Tico family layed out blankets and began to open their bags of goodies. We all had mangos and various fruits, but they were smart enough to bring bags of chips loaded with much needed carbs for our hike. We brought some jerky and everyone feasted. We still had about ½ hour hike to the falls.
Sadie opted to stay behind with baby Sofia. We journeyed further up the mountain with Max in the lead and got plenty dirty on the way. This was a medium density hike with an excellent trail and cool, chilly air. No monkeys or toucans on this adventure, too cold up here. The park ranger gave us a map to help, but the waterfall was exactly 30 minutes from the park. Max and Sara were super excited to hear the water rushing down the rock wall and when we arrived, they jumped in. Kids do not care about it being cold, nor do they think about the consequence of walking back down the trail soaking wet. Julio and his kids drank from the falls. We were not so quick to drink the water, but I was kind of jealous. I was thirsty and, while the water in Costa Rica is safe to drink, I just wasn't brave enough to drink from a waterfall.
We highly recommend the hike to young families. It was a challenge, but not too hard for the kids. The park is such a treat as well. Note: we had to take our dog home immediately, so do not bring man’s best friend to this park. We saw one poor fellow carrying his big, fat bulldog to the car because the park ranger asked him to leave and he did not have a leash. This is the first place I have visited in Costa Rica that does not allow dogs. I kind of understand, since the place was immaculately clean – no landmines if you know what I mean:) Pura Vida!

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