Day 2: The Ultimate Superman Cable at Turu Ba Ri
Jill led Rayna and me through a series of Hatha yoga poses that emphasized breathing and stretching, and we worked up a little sweat transitioning from one posture to the next. The sun was brilliant and, as we sat in half-lotus, I admired the serene mountain views.
An appetizing breakfast of homemade wheat bread, fresh fruits and hearty oatmeal with walnuts and goji berries (a super-food rich in antioxidants) was served on the deck. Rayna and I fueled up on healthy goodness for a full day of adventure at Turu Ba Ri Tropical Park.
Set on 600 acres of rainforest and landscaped trails, Turu Ba Ri is a must for both nature lovers and adventure enthusiasts. Its expansive grounds include an aerial tram, zip-line canopy tour (with Tarzan Swing), an insanely-steep rappelling wall, botanical gardens, barnyard area and horse ranch. The park straddles Carara National Park and the Tarcoles River, home to large numbers of giant American crocodiles.
One of Turu Ba Ri's biggest draws is its one-kilometer "sensational cable" where visitors fly Superman-style some 300 feet above the ground. I have to admit that I wasn't thrilled with the idea at first. There was something slightly unsettling about being wrapped up like a burrito, a sort of human torpedo hurtling through the sky above a river full of crocodiles. I was relieved when Rayna agreed to try it, after a little persuading by our enthusiastic host, Marco.
First we boarded the aerial tram for a scenic ride over the Tarcoles River. From there, we were whisked away by golf cart on a personalized tour of the park's major attractions. Our first stop was the iguana farm, where love was in the air. A giant male iguana bobbed his head wildly in an effort to woo the ladies, which apparently did the trick. We left the love den and made our way to bromeliad and orchid gardens, where hundreds of tropical plants thrived under shade tents.
Marco led us through a warren of nature trails flanked by giant ceiba, monkey tail and ironwood trees. We walked through palm and bamboo collections and tried our luck in an extremely confusing labyrinth. As we toured the butterfly garden that housed over 25 species, I noted that even on busy days, the park is so immense that you rarely encounter other tour groups along the way.
Our next stop was the trapiche, or sugar cane press, where giant oxen powered the mill just as they have for hundreds of years. We sampled the cloyingly sweet sugar cane juice while visiting the farm area where goats, pheasants, turkeys, chickens and peacocks roamed about.
After a hearty lunch at the park's "tipico" restaurant, we made our way to the zip-line canopy tour. The adventure was about to begin! The canopy tour was definitely one of the best I've experienced in Costa Rica.
The cables were incredibly long and well above the canopy layer, allowing stunning views of the valley and surrounding mountains. We clipped in and zoomed from one platform to the next, our guides stopping us at the last minute with an external braking system.
They even had a double zip-line, where Rayna and I raced parallel to each other some 200 feet above the ground. As much he tried, Marco couldn't coax Rayna or me into trying the Tarzan Swing, a bungee-type jump from a 60-foot platform.
The phrase "free fall" sealed the deal for us both, but we watched Marco and another guest scream in excitement (terror?) as they leapt into the air, first free-falling and then swinging at speeds of 30 mph.
Now that the adrenaline had kicked in, the Superman cable didn't seem such a bad idea. We climbed a small tower to the launching pad where three guides awaited us with knowing smiles. We laughed as we climbed into giant full-body harnesses that were reminiscent of x-ray smocks. Rayna was the first to go, and she let out a scream as they pushed her into the wide abyss.
Heart thumping, I crawled onto the launching pad, where I was clipped and basically hog-tied to the cable. I was soon flying 300 feet above the Tarcoles River, reaching speeds of 40 mph. The initial 20 seconds were nothing short of shocking, but as my fear was replaced with an adrenaline-fueled glee, I thrust my arms forward like Supergirl and smiled for the camera.
Rayna and I returned to Ama Tierra Hotel and Retreat in time for a Jacuzzi soak and a glass of wine before dinner. We dined on delicious spinach and cheese enchiladas along with steamed vegetables and devoured frozen choco-coconut fruit kebabs for dessert. We chatted with Jill about our day's adventures before retiring for some much needed rest.