If you want to see the amazing geography of the Costa Ballena, from the coast up to the rainforest covered mountain ridge 4000 feet up, there is no better experience than a ATV ride with Jungle ATV. They have top of the line off road vehicles that fit one, two, or even four or five passengers. Their guides are friendly, courteous, experienced, and professional. And the experience leaves you appreciating the culture of Costa Rica.
When we were driving back through town, the kids in the neighborhood and even some of the adults waved to us. This left the impression that this type of tour is appreciated in the community. It shows off the natural beauty of their country. The business provides jobs for over a dozen employees who all live close by. And they know that if we have a good experience then we will want to return to do more tours and stay longer.
Our guides were Josue and Luis, both who had grown up close by. I knew Josue from when he was one of the Ballena Lifeguards, so I felt confident in his ability to handle emergencies or injuries. Both guides had first aid and CPR certification and they maintained communication with each other and the main office through hand held radios. They taught us how to drive the ATVs, made sure we knew the hand signals to turn, slow, and stop, and checked up on us frequently along the way to make sure there were no issues.
We did a short test drive around the back roads in the tiny town, and crossed under the coastal highway using a rocky trail adjacent to the river. I spotted over a dozen different birds along the way plus some giant iguanas. Then we cruised down the main road until we arrived on an unpaved inclined that winded up through the jungle. In only a few minutes we were up hundreds of feet and could look back to see the defined Whale’s Tail beach and all the way out to Isla del Cano.
With an hour of riding behind us we made our first stop – a small coffee plantation run by Don Emilio and his family. We were up about 3500 feet, and it felt great to get off the ATV and rest a bit. Emilio offered us some of his freshly brewed coffee, and the guides explained in English how the beans were collected, threshed, and roasted using only the equipment in the small rancho behind his house and a tiny goods store. The coffee was simply delicious, and his wife gave us some of her homemade cake to snack on, too. She has a business as well, called UpTica, and they take old linens and re-sew them in to handbags that can be unzipped and opened in to grocery bags. Her designs were colorful and very functional, priced only $8-12.
After about 30 minutes there and a purchase of some roasted coffee beans for my personal enjoyment, we started to make our decent down into the valley between the coastal ranges. We had perfect weather the whole time. It had rained the day before but the roads were not rutted and there was little dust. The ATVs were powerful so no one had any trouble going through the side trails. There we could drive over football-sized rocks, through mud and some small streams. Half way down we stopped to enjoy the breeze under the canopy of a mango tree and enjoy the views of the coastline below. The sun peaked out behind the clouds at times, but mostly it was overcast which kept things cool, and we had a sprinkle of rain right before the tour ended, by then we were already wet from the waterfalls.
These falls you are not going to find on a tourist map. There are no signs, no real parking spots for it, just a part of the road wider than the rest. You can hear the rapids when you park, and it is a 50 yard hike down to the expanse of tree and boulder lined river where you can swim in two sets of waterfalls. Each are about 15-20 high and there is a small platform next to the lower one where the more adventurous can jump off in to a deep pool. Once everyone was done cooling off and taking photos, the guides had set up a tropical feast of fruits and cookies for us to snack on.
The ride back was short, about 15 minutes, back through the town where the kids we passed were waving to us and smiling. Our group was a motley one, with a family from Europe with kids 6 and 9 riding in the four person buggy, and another Canadian couple in their 60’s. Also riding were some guys in their 50’s, old buddies from New York, and then a young group of friends from south Florida.
This tour would be great for almost any age, and does not require a lot of physical exertion, unless you want to go jumping off a waterfall. But it does provide a chance to cover a lot of terrain in a short time and see all the beauty Uvita and the Costa Ballena have to offer. The ATV tour for individual riders is only $120, two seaters are $230, four seaters are $380, and five seaters are $440. Contact us to book this incredible adventure today.