When you think of the Guanacaste region of Costa Rica, you think about the numerous beaches and the dry climate. Who would had thought that this area of the world had an amazing waterfall? We just happened to stumbled upon it by chance!
My travel buddy Mike and I were lounging around at the Andaz Peninsula Papagayo Resort on our first full day in Costa Rica, when I looked up what to do in the Liberia area in my Lonely Planet travel guide. There was a little box about this waterfall that was highlighted and stood out to me. After some research, it was an easy drive to the waterfall!
Llanos de Cortez waterfall is about a 30 minute drive south from Liberia. In our case, from the resort was about a 75 minute drive. It is along the Pan American highway about a few miles west of Bagaces. Once you pull off the highway and drive a short distance, you come up to some locals working the entrance. This is not an entry fee! It is a donation to the local school in the area. I gave them $10 USD as a donation, but I heard that the minimum recommended is $2 USD per person. The road from here on out to the parking lot for the falls and all dirt. If it had rained recently in the area like it did when I was there, it is very muddy and very rough. I highly recommend renting a four wheel drive vehicle when in Costa Rica!
From the parking lot, the hike is a moderate decline for about 5 minutes. Once you reach the falls, it is so awe inspiring. The water is fairly warm and it is very shallow until you reach the last 30 feet to the falls, then it drops significantly. There is a rocky area right behind the falls you can hide out/hang out in. You could even be risky like Mike and I and do a shallow dive off into the water! This is definitely a must see location in Costa Rica!
I usually never have any issues from any of my travels aboard. I am always trying to play it safe and protect myself from any negative experiences. This trip to Belize was a very different story though.
I went to Belize with my good friend Mike and myself to be on the first flight on Southwest Airlines to Belize. We had no plans and no ideas on where to go and end up at. After some debate at the airport, we bought tickets and hopped on a turboprop to Caye Caulker. This was in October during Belize’s rainy season, and did it rain…. We got into Belize on October 15th. When we finally decided to leave early on the 18th, Belize City had flooded due to a tropical depression that park right over Belize dumping over 10 inches of rain in a 36 hour period. We decided to leave Belize early because every tour we tried to get on was cancelled. Snorkeling? Cancelled. Cave tubing? Cancelled. Maya ruins? Nope, cancelled too!
Trying to leave Caye Caulker on Sunday the 18th was a mess…. First we tried to get a speedboat back to Belize City to get to the international airport. All the speedboats were cancelled until the last one of the day. This would had not worked out to fly out of Belize that day, so we heading to the small airport in Caye Caulker to buy another ticket to fly out. The flooding in Belize City was so bad that Belize City Municipal Airport was shut down for the day too! We finally got seats on a flight to Belize City International Airport, but it was a long waiting game since we had a flight that overflew the airport since Caye Caulker Airport does not have any runway lights at all. After waiting another hour for the next plane, that flight was able to land and pick us up! We made it back home just fine after we left Belize.
After I got home though, my body was starting to act strange. I had an appetite and was able to eat, but everything was coming out runny and very sulfuric smelling. I had just assumed that I had food poisoning and that it would run its course. I was very stubborn about going to the doctor, but after a week of this issue, I went to see a medical professional after my wife insisted that I go. I was lucky enough to get a nurse practitioner who was a nurse for Doctors Without Borders for a couple of year in Africa that was very familiar with all the different travelers ailments and diseases. After some questions about my recent travel and medical history, plus a quick feel of my abdomen that had pain in the area around the lower intestine, she diagnosed me with Giardia!
I had heard about Giardia in my past travels when I was avid into camping and hiking, but I never knew what the symptoms were or what to do about it. The nurse practitioner knew exactly what antibiotics I needed to take to combat this parasite since she herself had been infected in Africa years before. I was feeling much better and normal after a couple days of being on the antibiotics.
The moral of my story is definitely go see a medical professional if you had just got back from a foreign country. You never know what you could bring home with you! Don’t be stubborn like me and get checked out!
One of my favorite parts about Iceland is driving around on the Golden Circle tour. One can go with a tour company for 10.500 Icelandic Krona, about $82 USD per person, or rent a car and go at your own pace. I personally rented a car for the long drive around Southern Iceland.
I recommend starting out early to beat the tour buses, and if it winter it can get dark very early! The first stop for most people on the Golden Circle is þingvellir National Park, the founding site for the Icelandic Parliament. þingvellir is also in a rift valley, where the North American and Eurasian plates are slowing pulling apart from each other a few centimeters a year! I took a few pictures from a distance, as it was rainy and very cold out. The average driving time from Reykjavik to þingvellir is about thirty-five minutes.
The next stop on the Golden Circle tour is to Geysir. Geysir has a couple of active geysers around the area. The Great Geysir rarely erupts much anymore, maybe about three times a day with no predictability. A little farther up the road there is another geyser named Strokkur. Strokkur is a much smaller geyser, but it erupts very predicatively every eight to ten minutes with heights between fifteen to twenty meters on average. The average driving time between þingvellir to Geysir is about fifty minutes.
A little father up the road is a huge waterfall called Gulfoss. Gullfoss is a huge waterfall with a three-step “staircase” down. Gullfoss almost disappeared from existence because some foreign investors wanted to dam up the falls for a hydroelectric plant. The story goes that Sigríður Tómasdóttir saved the falls by threatening to throw herself into the falls. The average drive from Geysir to Gullfoss is about ten minutes.
Some people like to continue their drive around Southern Iceland by heading south to Selfoss and driving back to Reykjavik on the ring road. I personally drove back the same route I came, since it was a shorter drive back to Reykjavik. I highly recommend the Golden Circle drive while visiting Iceland!