Hiking to the Christ of the Mercy Statue in San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua

One of the first things I noticed when exploring San Juan del Sur, was the colossal statue of Jesus that sits high on the hills overlooking the beach.

There it is!

There it is!

From the beach it looks like it is miles away, so when Colleen mentioned she wanted to try to climb up to it, I thought she was loco. But, Colleen and I are FAMOUS for our attempts at adventure (insert story of how we once randomly ended up on the set of the X-Men move). Given our history of adventure success, I figured we would give it a go.


There were lots of jokes about our tans that week!

We decided to try and beat the heat, and got up bright and early to start our trek. We knew there was some sort of path as Colleen’s Mom had taken an ATV to the statue in the past. So we wandered in the general direction of the statue, glancing up occasionally to ensure we were still on the right path.

ya, it got a little steep

ya, it got a little steep

As our adventure progressed, the road started getting steeper, and steeper. I guess that is the thing with going to see a statue that rests high up on a gigantic mountain, you’re going to end up with some hills to climb. As the heat and the hills continued to climb, our little stroll turned into a  full on sweaty workout. As you can imagine, some of us (me) were more excited about that then others (Shaun and Colleen). I ran up a couple of the big hills, and it took 3 days for my calves to fully recover. Woops!



We made it!

We made it!

After an endless winding road of hills, and lots of sweat, we turned a corner and saw the backside of the statue looming before us. We found a sign the explained it was a 2 dollar entrance fee to go in. We sort of hummed and hawed as to whether we were going to pay to go in, but after doing such a big hike, we sort of felt like we had to.

In the end we were so glad we did. The view was absolutely breathtaking.

The statue looks out over the beach and entire town of San Juan del Sur. It was the perfect vantage point to see the town that we would spend the next four days exploring. Colleen and her Mom are just putting the finishing touches on their house in San Juan. We were able to spot it from way up on the hill.

Checkin out the view

Checkin out the view

The money from the entrance fee is used to maintain the area surrounding the statue as well as the small church/museum underneath the statue. It was really great to be able to learn a little bit about the statue, and the whole process that they went through to build it.

The statue was built in 2009, and has quickly become one of the most notable statues of Jesus in the world. It’s about 25m high, making it one of the largest in the world.
P1020927It is without a doubt, one of the more impressive touristy attractions I’ve seen during this trip. When you stand at its base it simply towers over you.

We spent about 30 minutes wandering around, exploring and enjoying the gusty wind that was rushing by. It was a perfect way to cool off our sweaty selves before the walk back.

I would say it was about a 2km walk from the heart of San Juan del Sur to the base of the statue. Leave early in the morning so it is not to hot, and wear good walking shoes. The road is paved, so it is an easy hike, but the hills make it a doozy. Make sure you bring lots of water too!

P1020944All in all, I would say this is a very worthwhile little adventure. If walking is a problem, lots of companies in town offer ATV tours that will take you up to see the statue. Regardless of how you get there, I would say that walking up to the Christ of Mercy statue in San Juan del Sur is well worth it.


Have you ever seen a statue that is really impressive? Where?

Pura Vida!


Follow me on Twitter:@caketress

La Fortuna Waterfall, Costa Rica

If waterfalls had personalities, La Fortuna would be an attention seeking drama queen.

It is easily accessible, and insanely dramatic.

For most visitors to La Fortuna, a trip to see the waterfall is a no brainer. It’s much closer to town then many of the other attractions, and with only a $10 entrance fee, it is one of the more affordable activities you can do in the town.

Heading to the falls

Heading to the falls

Shaun and I decided to venture out to the waterfall early in the morning. The waterfall can attract over 400 people a day, so we wanted to beat the rush.

Although the falls were only 5km away from our hostel, we decided to take the $7 cab ride. We were sure glad we did, as the entire ride to the falls was uphill. Not exactly a leisurely stroll for first thing in the morning.

Shaun the climber

Shaun the climber

We got to the park, paid our entrance fee, and started down the steep slope to the falls. You may have read, that I kind of really love waterfalls, so my excitement level was growing by the minute. We stopped for a couple of quick photo ops along the way, including one for my Brother, the rock climber. See Sean, Shaun rock climbs too!

Yes they have the same name… I like to keep things simple.

So powerful

So powerful

We finally made it to the falls, and it was everything I had hoped it would be.  I sometimes find that when I’m faced with these powerful wonders of nature I get a little wobbly. My knees felt weak as I was faced with the intensity of the water falling right in front of me. It’s a feeling I’ve never experienced before visiting this country.

We poked around for a bit, climbing rocks, and watching a few very brave souls jump in the water for a swim. No one that I saw got even close to the waterfall as the current would just push them away. Regardless, I was not remotely tempted to take a dip.

I told Shaun about a picture I’d seen of Beyonce at these falls. We decided that my own photoshoot was in order. So I climbed onto a rock, and Shaun started snapping away. Here are a couple of my fave shots.

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I feel so vain, but hey, it is not often you have your own personal paparazzi present.

After about an hour we started the climb up the stairs. Although we tend to think that we are pretty fit, we had to take a break at the half way point.I didn’t mind, it gave me one last chance to see the falls before leaving.

Once we got to the top, we decided to save our $7 dollars worth of cab money, and walk the 5km back to the hostel. Much easier going downhill then up!P1020384

If you are heading to the La Fortuna Waterfall here are a couple tips:

  • Go early, this place can get really busy!
  • Wear good shoes, there are lots of rocks to climb over near the bottom
  • Bring your suit if you feel brave, unlike many of the waterfalls we’ve visited, swimming is allowed here.
  • Embrace your inner tourist, and get those corny waterfall photos… we did!



Another tour down, many more to go!

Have you ever seen something in nature that has had a big impact on you? Lets hear about it?

Pura Vida!


Follow me on Twitter: @caketress

5 Tips for Booking Tours in Costa Rica

Over the past week or so Shaun and I have been travelling in La Fortuna, and Monteverde, some of the busiest tourist towns in all of Costa Rica.

These areas have lots of sights to see, but all of the attractions are pretty spread out. When you add up transportation costs, park entrance fees, and guides, the cheapest way to see everything you want to see is by booking a tour.

We put on our tourist hats and dove into the world of tours, and tour companies. Throughout our week we went on some amazing tours, and went on some real stinkers.

Here are a couple tips we’ve picked up along the way to help make your tour experiences a level 10.


5 Tips for Booking Tours in Costa Rica.

1- Shop Around: The amount of tour companies in tourist towns such as Monteverde, and La Fortuna can be very overwhelming. There are people calling out to you on every street corner trying to sell you a tour. Your own hotel will likely be trying to do the same thing.

In some towns we visit, we find that everyone offers the same tours, at the same prices, yet here in La Fortuna, we noticed big differences in many of the tours costs.  So before you commit, just take a look around. If you are on a budget, shop around to the various tour company’s, talk to them, and don’t be afraid to barter. Some companies are jacking up their prices, hoping that tourists will just commit without doing their research.

2-Don’t Sacrifice Safety For Price: Although finding a good deal is important, safety should always come first. It may be tempting to save some money by booking the cheap white-water rafting tour with the guy on the side of the road whose “buddy” has a boat, but don’t sacrifice your safety for a bargain. Adventures are called adventures for a reason, they often involve some risk. Make sure that your guides have the proper training, and insurance to keep you safe, and protected.

3-Do Your Homework: As much as we’d like to do all the tours, the costs can really add up. So, take the time to figure out what your priorities are. Read the guidebooks, check Trip Advisor, and ask around to find out what things you really want to see, and what you can pass on. I recently graciously passed on the opportunity to take a tour to some snake and bat exhibits. Such a sacrifice I know.

4-Make Sure The Tour is Right For You: Have you had both knees replaced? An intense four hour hike might not be for you. Have a crippling fear of water? White-water rafting might not be your bag. We all have limitations, and as much as we want to experience everything, sometimes we can’t. A reputable tour company will be honest about what a tour entails, and it is in your best interest to listen. I’m speaking from experience on this one, I recently took La Fortuna’s second most difficult hike with a four year old in the group. *sigh*

5- Invest in a Quality Experience: Imagine waiting your entire life to tour the Arenal Volcano, just to have your guide pick you up in an old dented van, and have him only speak a couple words of English. Or finally getting to see the Cloud Forst of Monteverde, only to have your guide read from a guidebook the whole time.

The best tours we’ve had have been from reputable, long tenured companies. You may not get the screaming deal you’ll find from the guy on the side of the road, but you are going to end up with a higher degree of safety, and quality and ultimately end up with a more memorable experience.

So there you have it, a couple tips on booking tours while in Costa Rica. I have so many great recaps coming your way about all the adventures we’ve had over the last week or so. Stay Tuned!

Do you have any tips for booking tours?

Pura Vida!


Manuel Antonio National Park Part 2

I know you are just waiting on the edge of your seat after yesterday’s post, so here ya go!

When we left off, Shaun and I had decided to hike the Punta Cathedral Trail. This outcrop of land was once an island, but over time silt has built up, and connected it to the land. It’s created a perfect little loop for a trail that boasts amazing views of both of the major beaches in the park.

As we left for the hike, the park had started to fill up, but people were mostly milling around the beach. The hiking trail was the perfect way to get away from the crowds. Now to say this was a rustic hiking trail is a little bit of a stretch. It was an amazingly maintained gravel walkway with stairs, and bridges. Very unusual for Costa Rica, but I wasn’t complaining. We wandered deeper into the trail, being as quiet as possible. Every time we heard something we would stop, and peer into the jungle, hoping to sneak a peak at some sort of fantastic creature.

Shaun hiking up the very well maintained trail

Shaun hiking up the very well maintained trail

We didn’t have to go far before we saw our first little animal, but we had no idea what they were called. They were small little rodents, with hind legs like a rabbit. We looked at the map we had been given at the entrance, and noticed a picture of one, but the caption just said Costa Rica. So, we just called them Costa Rica’s from there on out. We ended up seeing them all over during our hike. (I literally just spent 10 minutes trying to figure out what they are called, turns out, they are Agouti’s! Knowledge is Power!)

Our "Costa Rica" or Agouti.

Our “Costa Rica” or Agouti.

About 25 minutes in, we noticed a couple stopped ahead of us looking into the trees. It didn’t take long to realize what they were looking at, a family of about six monkeys were playing around in the trees right about them. We crept towards them, and started snapping photos.

I swear I probably stood there in awe for over 15 minutes. These monkeys just went about their business, completely unperturbed by our presence. They wandered around like we weren’t even there. It was totally one of those surreal moments that I’ll never forget. I later told Shaun, that no longer how long we are in this country, I will always turn into the biggest “tourista” whenever I see monkeys. I can’t not take a zillion photos of them. They are so fascinating! As a result of this affliction, you will now be subjected to the best monkey photo’s we took. I probably have 60 more on my camera, I have no shame.

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After tearing myself away from my Monkey friends, we carried along the trail, stopping at the viewpoints along the way to look out over the cliffs. The views were insane. Huge ocean, huge beach, so much tropical beauty

As we continued along, I snapped photo’s of some of the crazy trees that I saw. I was mesmerized by how they twist, and grow around each other. Everywhere I turned there were feats of nature that I didn’t know where possible. As a result, you will not be subjected to numerous photos of foliage of trees. At least I know my Mom will appreciate these!

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Shaun also laughed as I stopped, and desperately tried to take a good photo of a raccoon. Obviously, I could just go outside at home, and find those everywhere, but this one had red in its tail, and they probably speak Spanish. Totally different!

See the tail! Different then at home!

See the tail! Different then at home!

Although the terrain was easy, there were lots of stairs, and we had both worked up a good jungle sweat by the end. Once we got to the end of the trail, it was deemed that a dip in the ocean was extremely necessary. We set up our stuff, and took turns jumping in. Although the beach is relatively safe to leave your stuff on, we had lots of camera stuff with us, and didn’t want to risk it. Plus, you have to be really careful with the bold wildlife. By the time the hike was over, the monkeys and raccoons were out in full force. They will blatently walk right up to your bag, open the zipper, and take out your food. Shaun just wasn’t willing to risk having his PB&J’s swiped, so we played it safe.

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After a couple swimming sessions, and some lounging in the sun, we decided to call it a day. It was lunchtime, and I was also itching for a coffee. We left the park, making a quick pit stop just outside the gates for a Pipa.

It was a great day, and I certainly felt like we got our money’s worth. If you are visiting the park, make sure to bring lots of water, and food as there is nowhere to buy anything once you are inside. The park does have bathrooms and showers though, so you could easily spend the entire day there if you wanted.

All in all, a raging success, and a must visit for anyone visiting Costa Rica!

Have you ever seen a Monkey?

Pura Vida!


Follow me on Twitter: @caketress