We split the 8 days we were in Costa Rica into 2 halves – the first half in the mountains and second half by the beach. We were glad we did, as we saw and did a lot more than we planned to, in terms of activities, foods, and just experiencing the country!
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El Silencio Lodge and Spa
The first resort we stayed at was the El Silencio Lodge and Spa. The pictures we saw during the booking did not do justice to what we experienced.
Tucked in the middle of the mountainous Bajos del Toro region of Alajuela province, this resort was literally in the middle of hills, forest, fog and mist. With nature all around us, we woke up everyday to quiet and tranquility, with the only sounds coming from the morning birds and the gurgling stream running through the property.
August to October is the rainy season, so we experienced a lot of cloudy days and mid-day rains. These cleared out within a few minutes, making the days beautiful with cool breeze and cloudy skies. Humidity is to be expected, and we had planned our clothing accordingly. This also happens to be the off season, so we had a lot of space for the activities with very few people in the premises.
With only delicious breakfast and coffee pressuring us to get moving, we had the entire day for us to laze around. The cloudy cool weather only encouraged out unproductive days! But we persisted and indulged in some amazing memorable activities.
Activities in the Mountains
We signed up for activities that made sense in that resort and in that terrain. We also .stayed within our resorts’ offerings for activities. El Silencio, offered archery, zip lining, waterfall rappelling, and hiking to 3 on-premises waterfalls. We also did a small charming Mystic Hike with a small group.
The first activity we did was the Mystic Hike. The hike was a mostly relaxing leisurely walk through the woods that made us experience 4 phases – rejuvenation, purification, transformation, and continuation. Before the walk we each had to hold a small piece of paper while thinking of a goal we wish to attain. At the end during the continuation phase, we burnt the piece of paper into pile of rocks shaped as a small mound, to pass that goal to nature so that the elements can help us attain the goal.
This was such a a cozy and spiritual experience which, when combined with the cool breeze and cloudy weather made it even more mystical and mysterious!
The next day, we took part in archery. We were in a group of about 12 people. We took turns, in pairs, shooting 3 arrows each into one of the 2 targets in the open area. The group also included kids, including my son.
A lot of us got it within the target. One person got the bulls eye a couple of times. We were trying to do our impression of Assassins Creed video game when we had he bow and arrow in our hands. My son and I had a fun little competition trying to see who would get the most hits on the target, and came close to beating me.
A very fun and memorable experience.
There are 3 waterfalls on the property. The streams running around the resort are fed by these. Getting to there required hiking up to an elevation of 300 feet above the resort. The rocky trails made the hike a challenge. My son and I took 2 mountain bikes to the waterfalls so that we can ride back down the trails.
Given the remote location and the uniqueness of the adventure, this would also stay with me for a long time.
Rappelling and Zip-Lining
The third day we signed up for the waterfall rappelling and zip lining. At an elevation of about 600 feet above the resort’s already impressive 5000 feet elevation, was the waterfall. Reaching it required walking on the narrow steps and trails cut into the side of the hills, with mud, rocks and roots strewn about in the rain. This was an adventure by itself.
Before the hike we had to put on out harnesses for the rappelling and zip lining. After the fitment began the hike. The effort spent climbing would be worth while rappelling and zip-lining down.
I had done rock climbing before but had never rappelled down, especially next to a waterfall. This is not a Niagara falls level falls, but enough water to make the rocks slippery. With excellent guiding us along the way we took turns bouncing off the hill-side. An overall amazing and memorable experience.
After rappelling down 100 feet, we started the first of 4 zip lines. This crisscrossed across the property bringing us down to about 600 feet – about where we started.
The first zip-line was about 300 meters, the second about 400m, the third and fourth about 1000 m each (1 km). The last 2 completed the distance in about 10 seconds. These are one of the fastest and longest in Costa Rica, or so we were told.
About the Cycles on the Resort
The resort offered complementary mountain bikes for the guests to use around the resort. Staff also encouraged us to ride the bikes to visit the small town near the resort.
Expecting to see some cheap, rusty, old local brand bikes, to my surprise these were hard tail 29″ bikes made by Scott Sports. Scott is a well regarded manufacturer and I was looking forward to using these. They mostly had the models 905 and 908 in medium and large sizes. They had kids bikes made as as well.
For a small up-fee, they also had electric bikes made by Cube. Tried using one these and found them to be heavy. We would be using the regular bikes.
Food and Drinks
Food was another thing that blew us away. Being vegetarian, they had a separate vegetarian menu just for us in the dining room. The menu even had had our room number for the staff to know it was for us – that’s how much attention they pay to their guests. My son became good friends with a few of the staff and got his fill of complementary cookies and hot-chocolate every afternoon!
Breakfast was part of the package, and what we ate (and drank) lasted us till late afternoon. Coffee was of course the best one could ask for, and we drank so much of it to last us a lifetime. An amazing new dish I had not had anywhere else as the quinotto, a take on risotto with quinoa.
I tried to cover all the activities we did at El Silencio. What I didn’t cover were some relaxing hike to a hummingbird garden and cycling around with my son. Looking back we ended up doing a lot in the few days we were there. Our journey would continue onto the beach resort overlooking the Pacific Ocean in Guanacaste province, about which you can read up here.