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Clients can enjoy local flora and fauna during an easy trek in Guanacaste. // © Lisette Mejia 2009
Although I don’t like to admit it, I’m not much of an adventure lover. I’d much rather spend my vacation listlessly, lounging under the sun — which is why I couldn’t have been happier during a recent stay at Flamingo Beach Resort & Spa in Guanacaste, Costa Rica.
The resort made it so I would never have to leave hotel grounds, having just about everything on site, from its three pools to its full-service casino. And, of course, beautiful Flamingo Beach was just footsteps away.
But my plan to take it easy was disrupted, however, when my family suggested we take a tour offered through the hotel. Just listening to the excursion’s name — the Combination Arenal Volcano & Hot Springs & Rainforest tour — made me a bit hesitant but, against my better judgment, I gave in.
Before I could change my mind, I was picked up at the hotel and found myself on a three-hour drive to a private rainforest. Once at the concealed destination, our group of about 15 was the only group in sight, and we hiked our way through the greenery, square cement blocks paving the way for a comfortable climb. En route, our guide, supplied by the tour provider, Tam Travel Corporation, described the local flora and fauna in detail, stopping to let us hold, sniff and admire some of the area’s most notable inhabitants.
A highlight of the trek was our rare opportunity of meeting with members of the Maleku tribe, a shrinking population of indigenous people. We entered one of their huts and sat around in a circle, listening to the men speak about Maleku language, history and culture. Afterward, they posed for photo opportunities and sold handmade goods (a source of income for the tribe).
As we left the area — I with my new treasure, a small drum made out of iguana skin — we paused at a pleasant restaurant where we selected from delicious chicken, meat or seafood dishes. Our trek then continued on to the Tabacon Grand Spa Thermal Resort, where we were greeted by expansive pools and thermo-mineral hot spring rivers. The pools are set among exotic gardens and even features a slide. The atmosphere was both relaxing and exiting, somewhat like a subdued theme park, with giggles and splashes heard throughout. We were also free to use the hotel’s spa, bar and other amenities at an extra charge.
Perhaps the best part of the trip, at least for me, was the closing dinner. Not only because the traditional Costa Rican chicken and rice dish was scrumptious, but because we were seated on an outdoor patio, with a clear (yet rare), unobstructed view of the Arenal Volcano. Red sparks of volcanic activity danced in the background, providing a natural firework display and the perfect cap to my day of adventure.
Flamingo Beach Resort and Spa www.resortflamingobeach.com
The beachside Flamingo Beach Resort & Spa is a four-star resort in Guanacaste, Costa Rica, with a full range of amenities. Guests have access to a mini market, restaurants and a rooftop bar, a game area with pool tables, an outdoor tennis court, a fitness center and spa and a full-service casino. Rates for a standard room start at approximately $100 per night, including daily breakfast. An all-inclusive plan is also offered.
Commission: 10 percent
Tam Travel Corporationwww.tamtravel.com
The Combination Arenal Volcano & Hot Springs & Rain Forest tour is offered by the resort and organized by the Tam Travel Corporation. It costs approximately $105 per person. While the hotel does not offer commission on the tour, Tam Travel offers a similar tour commissionable at 10 percent.