Written by the World Challenge team from Northwood College:
A month’s long expedition seems an age at the beginning but, by the end of the first week, the time just flies by! We flew from Heathrow on Friday 14 July to Managua and then drove to Leon. Just over 24 hours later we were on a minibus to Doris Fisher School for our project phase. We spent a fantastic five days painting classrooms, helping in English classes, playing with the children, meeting the parents and eating our evening meals at one of the teacher’s houses.
Next activity – volcano boarding! Cerro Negro is 246 metres high and we endured a hard, windswept and very wet climb before donning our protective clothing and getting on our Heath Robinson style boards to board down the side of the volcano! The next day found us trekking in Mombacho Reserve where we saw a vine snake, a sloth and numerous butterflies; followed by two days in Leon, where we enjoyed haggling at the market before moving on to Granada.
Over the border to Canas in Costa Rica for one night and then on to Monteverde Cloud Forest where we stayed in a hostel in Santa Elena and saw the most spectacular electric storms in the distance towards the Pacific coast. Trekking in the cloud forest was amazing – we saw a young Pit Viper snake (VERY venomous), sloths, butterflies and numerous Humming birds. At Rincon National Park we stayed in a campsite, which was lovely until our campsite flooded during one torrential downpour! Fortunately, we were ‘rescued’ by the campsite managers and had a luxury night in two of the cabins they rent to visitors. We spent a blissful 30 minutes in the two natural thermal pools in the National Park which we felt that we had earned, as the river crossings we had to tackle to get there were not easy!
We moved on to Santa Rosa National Park, spending one day in the dry forest before trekking with full rucksacks to the campsite by the beach. Trekking uphill all the way back after four restful days was not so pleasurable, but we made it and after one more night camping, we set off for Manuel Antonio. We went into Quepos twice: souvenir hunting and trying local food but the highlight was zip wiring in a rain forest!
We finished our expedition in San Jose where we walked to the city centre (via a souvenir market resulting in more haggling and dollars changing hands) and discovered lovely restaurants for our evening meals. Finally, we had to say goodbye to Costa Rica and head for San Jose airport to fly home (via Houston but thankfully, before Hurricane Harvey arrived).
We arrived at school at lunchtime on Sunday 13 August to noisy family reunions; after a month of no mobile phones and no contact, there were hundreds of photos and numerous stories to relate…