Day tripping in Guanacaste, Costa Rica: Part 3

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If there is a heaven on earth, it’s probably the Tizate Wellness Gardens Hot Springs and Spa in Costa Rica’s Guanacaste province. Located at the edge of the Tizate River and near Rincon de la Vieja National Park, the facility features natural thermal-water pools and open-air massage rooms where therapists will work you over using natural fruit oils. But even better, you can ride horses, hike through the forest and zip-line over the tree tops.

Margaret, my co-traveler, and I arranged our one-day visit to the Wellness Gardens through Swiss Travel. We were the only two people on the tour and had the entire facility to ourselves. We arrived at the spa, crossed over a swinging bridge (shooting photos all the way) and left our bags of necessities in the women’s locker room near a huge, hot spring pool. Our first activity involved riding horses up a steep hill in slippery mud. Both were tough, ranch horses, except Margaret’s steed breathed hard going uphill. “I’m not that heavy,” she insisted. But the poor guy didn’t sound good. costa rica 285costa rica 279

When we arrived at the first of 10 zip line platforms, my immediate thought was “How can I get out of this?” But our two zip-line instructors (Walter and Enrique) boosted my confidence. They rigged me up, gave me a pair of large work gloves and presented me with a safety helmet that appeared to be made from an old plastic milk bottle. Off I went, braking with my right hand all the way down. That was a killer.

The second run was more fun, and I started to loosen up. But I don’t see how this adventure can be called was a “canopy tour.” You go so fast that you can’t “tour” much of anything. At some points, we had to be at least 10 stories high.

When safe and sound and on the ground again, we enjoyed the solitude of the hot springs pool and revived ourselves with daiquiris. After an hour, we had a lovely multi-course lunch prepared in an outdoor kitchen. Soup, salad, an entrée, a dish of spaghetti (?) and bright purple dragon fruit ice. It was a lovely day. No stress. No rush. Never looked at a clock. Just like every day should be.

If you want adventure, relaxation and pampering, Tizate Wellness Gardens Hot Springs and Spa will fit the bill. Bring your bathing suit, sunscreen lotion, hat, a fresh change of clothes, camera, insect repellent, rain gear, sandals, sun glasses and cash for gratuities and incidentals. Most recently the per-person price to visit the spa was $180 with a four person minimum, $195 with a three person minimum or $200 each for two people. by Pat Pape