Costa Rica II: Ziplines, Tiny Planes, and Visiting Poás Volcano National Park

Katie and Weston taking in the view
on the first platform at Canopy Bosque Mar.
Last week, we took a look at how I ended up in Costa Rica with Columbia Sportswear and our first three days exploring the country via land and sea. This week, it's all about flying high through the rainforest, over the rainforest, and exploring one of Costa Rica's coolest national parks.

Canopy Bosque Mar Zipline Tour

Whether a result of my body relaxing in Central America or germs floating around on the various planes I'd taken to get there, I woke up the fourth morning of our Costa Rican adventure, June 18th, with a bad cold. The majority of the group had surfing or other activities planned, but for Katie, Weston and me, a zipline canopy tour through the rainforest was on the menu post-breakfast.

I couldn't bring myself to miss it and jumped in a small Toyota truck with the rest of the crew and our guides for the day to head out. Our destination was Canopy Bosque Mar, about a half hour from the Crocodile Bay Resort. The company began zipline tours in an effort to both protect a stunning tract of rainforest land, and to generate income for the folks who live there. Despite my eternal fear of heights, I couldn't wait to explore the rainforest from a new perspective. It was abundantly clear that our guides were experienced, and both had extensive knowledge of rainforest flora and fauna.

A panorama from the first platform. Rainforest as far as the eye could see!
I was pleasantly surprised to find that all eight of the lines we zipped down were relatively mellow. The highest platform we stood on was 40 meters from the ground and the longest zipline was 400 meters, but rather than hanging on for dear life, I let go of the fear. I gave myself a chance to look around while standing on the platforms high above the forest floor and while zipping through the trees. We spotted howler monkeys from a good distance, learned about the differences between primary and secondary forests, and saw some incredible plant life.

Columbia creative director Dan Richards demonstrating
proper zipping form. Legs straight and crossed
in front of you, brake hand securely on the cable.
After the morning zipline tour, we had the chance to relax for the afternoon at Crocodile Bay. I opted for a nap to try and kick my cold while others went stand up paddleboarding and explored the beaches nearby. We feasted on the catches of the day for dinner, including more tuna sashimi.

The evening also brought a severe thunderstorm, complete with what seemed like feet of rain. It's what I expected to experience in Costa Rica - deafening downpours and humidity making it impossible to dry out any of your gear or clothes, but somehow, completely fine and normal. For me, a big part of of the joy of trips to unfamiliar places is the chance to test my go-with-the-flow abilities; being out of my comfortable surroundings at home and accepting what was fine and normal in Costa Rica was wonderful.

Despite power going out. I had an incredible last night at the resort. I sat at dinner chatting with Nancy Bouchard and Dylan about our passions, what made coming to Costa Rica special, and how we got where we are with work and the sports we're passionate about. After dinner, I remember navigating my way around the resort with my borrowed iPhone's flashlight kicking myself for leaving my headlamp at home, but loving how profoundly dark it was and how the darkness magnified the sounds of the rainforest.

Puddle Jumpers from Puerto Jimenez to San Jose

Weston, Dylan, Katie and I with Dennis, one of our guides from
Crocodile Bay. The Departure Point Dress is one of my absolute favorites
of the Spring '16 pieces I wore.
The morning of June 19th, the group woke early to head to the tiny Puerto Jimenez airport to catch flights back to San Jose. It was bittersweet; I'd gotten a preview of the activities to come from our liaison with the Costa Rican tourism board, but was still sad to leave the friendly staff at Crocodile Bay.

Living in Philadelphia, I'm accustomed to a ton of traffic at the airport, long security lines, a long check-in process, and hundreds of people fighting to board the plane at the same time. To get to the Puerto Jimenez airport, we drove five minutes along dirt roads around the town's single runway, walked into a building that didn't seem much larger than my Philadelphia apartment, got laminated boarding passes we'd return for future use before we left, and boarded a 10-14 seat Sansa Airlines Cessna Caravan plane without overhead bins or flight attendants.

I was terrified to be on such a small aircraft, but the flight was smooth and uneventful. We flew around the Osa Peninsula to pick up passengers in Golfito, flew over stunning blue waters and rainforested land, and got front seat views the entire way. It was incredible being two rows behind the pilots and being able to see directly out of the front windows of the plane; I don't anticipate getting to have that experience often!

One of the trails we used for the photo shoots. Wet, muddy, and beautiful!

A Quick Visit to Poás Volcano National Park

After landing in San Jose, we boarded a bus and were on our way for our afternoon activities. Our first stop en route to Poás Volcano National Park was Restaurante Freddo Fresas for strawberry milkshakes. They're infamous, and with good reason. Strawberry fields surround the restaurant, and the fruit is as fresh as fresh gets.

After our snack, we climbed up into the mountains for what seemed like hours, finally arriving at the Poás Volcano visitors center mid-afternoon. I couldn't wait to explore the area, given it was our first opportunity to hike through the rainforest at that point in the trip.

Dylan and I messing around with handstands in Columbia's
active apparel between shots. Love the Zero Rules skort!
The Poás Volcano is one of over a dozen volcanoes in Costa Rica. I was surprised to learn that as a result of the convergence of five tectonic plates, the country experiences regular earthquakes and volcanic eruptions. The park covers 65 square kilometers, and that area is home to three major craters. Clouds frequently obscure the view of the main crater, as they did for us, but I had a blast exploring paved trails near the visitor center and working with Columbia's media team for photos and videos. It quickly became obvious we were at elevation, 8,900 feet above sea level, to be exact; a few steps of running up one of the trails had me out of breath. But despite the challenges associated with quick ascents to elevation, I could've spent the entire day there.

Next, we'll cover learning the origin of one of my favorite things in the entire world - coffee! And then, it's on to the final stage of our trip, including horseback riding into a jungle lodge, torrential rain, and more. Have you been ziplining before? What about to the crater rim of an active volcano? We'd love to hear from you!

Editor's Note: Travel, lodging, food, and related expenses were covered by Columbia Sportswear as part of this trip, but as always, the opinions and views expressed here are my own.


Nina Martin said…
Awesome description of your trip Katie! Can't wait to read the next part!
Heidi Henry said…
High five Katie! So proud of you for stepping out of your comfort zone....on a multitude of levels!
I am totally loving these posts. I was following along with you and Katie via Instagram and it looked like such an incredible trip.
Katie L said…
Thanks so much for reading, Amanda! So glad you're enjoying the posts. I appreciate your sticking with's a TON to read, but I don't want to forget anything!
Katie L said…
Thanks Heidi :)