Tuesday, 24 February 2009
A Train journey on the El Chepe
This Time Last Year
Woke at 5am, got myself packed and was out the door at 6.15am. I jumped a taxi to the Mirador to take some shots. Amazingly James was already there. He'd jogged (or run!). I missed the sunrise but I still got a few shots of the distant mountains.
James jogged back to the hotel and I took the taxi down to the station to wait for the others to walk down
The El Chepe train was only 15 minutes late and we piled on-board to have breakfast in the restaurant car.
We all relax and enjoy the views. It's a spectacular ride. At Divisadero the train stops for 15 minutes so we can get out and enjoy the view over Copper Canyon.
We arrive at Bahuichivo and our hosts at the Rancho del Oso (or Hotel Paraiso del Oso) are their to meet us. It's about a forty minute ride along the bumpy road to the hotel. We checked in and then later had our welcome Margaritas before dinner.
This Time in 2007
We were all up for breakfast at the cafe for 7am. Four of the group are going horseback riding today and will also ride a zip-line through the canopy later. The rest of us are going for a hike through the Arenal National Park.
Our planned through walk had to be abandoned however as some people who own the access have closed the entrance off. Instead we went to the main entrance and hiked in and back, with a loop in the middle. It was a very hot morning and the birdlife was very quiet. We did a toucan and we did hear a Bell Bird though we couldn't locate it. For a change the weather was clear and we had a great view from the lava flows across the lake to the volcano.
We arrived back at the hotel about 1pm and decided to have a picnic lunch in the hotel gardens. The others arrived shortly after.
When lunch was finished we all piled into the bus to return to the Rio Penas Blanca. We would start todays paddle from where we left off yesterday. It wasn;t long after we;d started that Amy and David were once again in the water! We'd even give them special lessons before we started! In fact they came a cropper at exactly the same place where Harry and Cathy wrapped a boat around a tree-stunp on our last trip! Although the boat did sink this time it didn't get pinned. We let the boat go whilst we dealt with them and finally got them to shore at a small beach.
We then got them to sit in 3's in two other boats whilst Carlos and I went to find the lost boat. It was caught under a branch but we were able to empty it and rescue it.
At this point we decided that it would perhasp be best if we split the pair up! I took Amy and Carlos took David and Florence had to try and get on solo - a first for her!
Again the river was very quiet in terms of bird-life. We did however see a couple of troops of Howler Monkeys and an Iguana.
We pulled up on the beach at the confluence of the Rio Penas Blanca and the Rio San Carlos just to stretch our legs before paddling the last few hundred metres to the take-out. It's always a long way to carry the canoes at this take-out.
On the way back ti the hotel we stopped at the Iguana Bridge for an ice-cream.
Back at the hotel we had a very speedy 5 minute turn-around before driving to the Baldi Hot Spings. We stayed here a couple of hours and enjoyed ourselves immensely in the warm waters. I even discovered so more springs higher up the mountain.
Then we jumped back in the bus and shot back to the hotel for another quick turn-around before walking into Fortuna for dinner at a local cantina.