We recently caught up with Chris, who had just gotten back from his trip to Costa Rica where he was part of an HE Travel excursion. HE Travel is the result of a merger of the venerable gay adventure and tour operations of Hanns Ebensten Travel and Alyson Adventures.
When Chris first contacted us at Out Destinations last summer, he was looking for an active gay adventure. He didn’t want a cruise or to visit some historic city. He wanted to get out of the city and away from the daily conveniences we all enjoy everyday. He wanted to experience nature, sweat, get dirty, and see the world from a different vantage point.
After exploring at a variety of options, he selected the Costa Rica trip. The journey started in San Jose with a charter flight to Tortuguero. “The charter plane was out of this world cool,” he said. Plus it saved them the four hours it would have taken to travel on land and by boat.
The group numbered eighteen guys and early on he met a group from Columbus who were celebrating the 40th birthday of one of its members. Chris said he “became immediate friends with them” and that the entire group had a great time together.
In the Tortuguero Preserve the group experienced a rare event when they watched baby turtles break out of their shells and then walk towards the beach. It was a sight he said he’ll never forget.Their guide, Roberto, had an immense knowledge of Costa Rica which helped give context to a lot of what they saw. Brett was the group leader and was incredible organized. “He was very good at what he does,” said Chris. Everything was non-stop. The only down time they had was at night. Each morning they were awaken around 5 am by the Howler Monkeys whose howls can be heard for up to three miles – no alarm clocks were needed. Mike, one of his fellow travelers, summed it up in a post, “Awoke this morning with the sense that we were in the middle of Jurassic Park with howler monkeys doing their thing. Felt like the Wicked Witch was coming to get us!”
They left the Preserve via a high speed water taxi. Their next stop was Sarapiqui and the Banana Plantations where they visited an old banana plantation and learned how bananas are processed. Afterwards they had lunch in a butterfly farm.
There the group stayed at an eco-lodge which Chris reported was great. It had everything they needed, and he appreciated how the lodge strove to minimize its impact on the rain forest.
The next day was all adventure. First a zip line Canopy Tour on 12 cables and 17 platforms up to a height of 175, followed by whitewater rafting. The next two days were hiking through and exploring the Arenal Volcano. The group had the choice of exploring a cave or walking “The Hanging Bridges” which are a series of 15 bridges which are 5 to 100 meter long. Chris chose this bridges option, but afterwards wished he had taken the “Venado Caves” trip. The caves are 15 – 20 million years old and were underwater for most of this time. Tectonic movements raised them above sea level and now their history and beauty can be seen as you work your way through the caves, traverse its underground rivers, climb its walls, and walk through its waterfalls during this 90 minute exploration.
The adventure was all he had hoped for, plus he had a new group of friends. What was Chris’ final comment? That “it sucked coming home.” It was a vacation that could have lasted for weeks.