We travel by horseback, footpaths, and mini cable car over a river and through the woods to a magnificent waterfall.
Our first official tour (they have all been informal up to now) was with a company that takes you by horse, mini cable trolley and by foot through some beautiful scenery to Nauyaca Falls. http://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g313829-d2283159-Reviews-Nauyaca_Waterfalls_Horseback_Riding_Tours-Dominical_Province_of_Puntarenas.html
Our guide was about 11 years old and was accompanied by his mother – she was the official guide but he was obviously in charge of fun. We could not have been in more capable hands. He seemed to know all the horses personally. If you are wondering why he was not in school then the answer is that we are approaching the end of “summer” vacation in Costa Rica so the boy wasn’t even cutting class.
Our daughter, who speaks excellent Spanish and happened to be visiting CR came with us. We started our drive from Alto San Juan near San Isidro and made a turn at Tinamastes – just on the other side of the mountain. We were given a map that didn’t exactly have everything labeled clearly but we had no trouble going the 4 or 5 km down the single lane dirt and gravel road to the Tres Amigos restaurant. The road was one of the few neighbors to the restaurant so I was guessing it mainly served those headed for the falls. About 8 AM we had an excellent breakfast of fruit slices, pineapple juice, beans and rice, tortillas and eggs. Yum. As we were eating a number of children about ages 3 to 7 gathered around the horses, hopped on and got some free rides in the parking lot.
We mounted and began the hour long ride to the trail head that would take us across the river to the falls. None of us were experienced riders but the horses were experienced carriers of inexperienced riders so other than clandestinely gathering a few mouthfuls of grass along the way, they generally walked sedately along.
It was starting to warm up to a comfortable mid 70’s as our horses picked their way around larger stones on the single lane dirt road. The road climbed up and down over moderately steep farm country. My horse seem to be complaining and breathing more heavily than the others. At one point near a watering hole I speculated out loud if the horse was huffing and puffing because I was the heaviest. The horse nodded his head- the only time he nodded his head- so I’m pretty sure he was talking to me.
We dismounted at a little farmstead and the horses were tied in the shade under some trees near an area they could graze.
With a good supply of drinking water and some walking sticks we set off through a narrow jungle path where the tree roots and a few stakes and boards defined the steps on the trail.
Arriving at the river we crossed via a little mini cable car that would hold two to three people. The car was propelled by simply pulling on the rope that was looped around a pulley on each end. Passengers as well as those waiting to board did the pulling. Suspended about 5 meters above a rushing stream I imagined that, during the rainy season the margin was a lot closer.
The path ended as we decended along a steep bank with cliffs above us and the sound of the falls. A double falls actually. This photo only gives a crude idea of the scale. The lower falls are 45 meters high (150 feet) and the upper falls are 20 meters (65 feet). Plain facts don’t describe the beauty of seeing all this cool, rushing water descend from a jungle canopy and comb down over the rocks into a deep pool below.
The heat of the day was coming on by that point and we were all eager to jump in. Some folks were there already and some young men cautioned me to be careful to step around the slippery rocks at the edge of the pool. (Another example of how Costa Ricans care for each other – and for strangers). They had brought rope to create an easier way to access ledges that overlooked a deep spot at the foot of the largest falls. A spot into which people jumped from a distance of maybe 30 feet to 100 feet.
Our 11 year old guide took one end of the rope and scrambled up to the top of the second ledge. He apparently didn’t need the rope to make it up there but he then used it as a kind of short cut.
The young men gently helped anyone who wished to ascend the falls by stationing themselves along the rope to the top.
You can check out http://wp.me/a741og-3O and see how they did it. This was the lowest level people jumped from. If you check out the first photo above you can see where the thinner falls on the left narrows as it approaches the top. One young man did a beautiful swan dive from a bit further up.
Unfortunately a large guy stepped in front of my camera at the last moment but the entry was a perfect 10.