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Riverside border sign between Costa Rica and Nicaragua

Costa Rica Rio Frio River Cruise and Hot Springs

Today, traveling with Caravan Tours, we get to enjoy a guided Rio Frio river cruise up near the Nicaraguan border. Unfortunately, however, when we got up today, the Arenal volcano was still covered in the cloud, with no view of the volcano possible. This area of Costa Rica is still beautiful none-the-less.

White-faced monkey in Costa Rica

After breakfast, we boarded the tour bus to head north towards the Nicaragua border to enjoy a guided wildlife Rio Frio river cruise. Our tour guide Gary, and his riverboat driver were both exceptionally good at spotting hidden wildlife and birds that we would have otherwise missed. We saw a wide variety of birds on the Rio Frio cruise including cormorants, toucans, a perfectly camouflaged stick hawk, and the piano hawk, but we also saw howler monkeys and white-faced monkeys up close (pictured here). We even got to see a white-faced monkey with a baby clinging to her back. The weather was good (just a little rain) but unfortunately the river was quite high, too high for us to see any caimans or water walking lizards that rely on dry riverbanks for sunbathing.

Nicaragua River Border Sign

What was most unique about this Rio Frio river cruise was that we actually got to cross into Nicaragua … at least for a moment. For several hundred feet on either side of the river border, the waters are considered “neutral” territory, so our boat was able to actually glide by the Nicaraguan border sign.

Enjoying Rio Frio River Cruise Costa Rica

Following the Rio Frio river cruise, we headed back to La Fortuna to enjoy some leisure time at the Baldi Hot Springs Resort, which is also at the foot of Arenal volcano and boasts the “Largest Thermal Waters of the World.” Baldi hot springs has 25 thermal pools, many with crystalline waterfalls to create an oasis of healing. The thermal pools are located right in the heart of the tropical rainforest of La Fortuna Costa Rica. Some of the thermal pools even feature swim-up bars. The water temperatures between the thermal pools varied a lot so no matter how hot or cool you like your hot springs, there was something for everyone. This is the ideal way to unwind and relax after enjoying our Rio Frio cruise.

Finally, we headed back to the Magic Mountain hotel for dinner and to bring in the New Year! The Magic bar had a DJ and dancing, and just before midnight, they opened the terrace so we could all go outside and watch the hotel staff set off their amazing display of fireworks.

So far this has been an incredible Costa Rica tour! What a way to bring in 2017! Happy New Year everyone!

~Lee K.