Today, six of us did the famous Montezuma beach horseback ride from town all the way to the “El Chorro” waterfall. This is one of the most magical spots in Costa Rica, where a small river pours off a cliff and splashes into the sea, next to a pristine beach.
I had walked down to the waterfall many years ago not long after I first arrived in Montezuma, and the two hour journey each way was very tiring in the tropical sun, so I was looking forward to let a “caballo” do most of the work for me. Plus, it was going to be the first time riding horses with my girlfriend Yasmin, who grew up riding them since she was three years old, on a remote jungle farm in Colombia.
Our guide was Marvin, who was recommended to Anamaya by friends who live in Montezuma and love horses. They had told us that Marvin treats his horses the best, and so we always call him when our guests want to make this horseback journey to the waterfall, which is nearly every week.
Our guests were all part of Anamaya’s yoga and meditation retreat. Jory and her mom Mary Anne led the pack. Mary Anne has her own horse in Canada and is a very experienced rider. Plus she was once a professional kayaker and all around outdoor adventurer. Brent is a race-car driver, and has recently taken up yoga as a way to help mitigate the shock his body takes from his frequent races and occasional crashes. Also with us was Shelley, who was one of the first people to book two yoga retreats with us in a row.
We headed down the beach, knowing that most likely we were going to get rained on, because there were dark clouds all around, storms out to sea, and this is the heart of the rainy season… late September and October are the wettest months here. But it’s still warm and beautiful. The weather was gentle with us… producing just enough wet to keep us cool without making us uncomfortable.
Along the way we passed the fairly recently established sea turtle protection area, where volunteers are camped out on Playa Grande and protecting the sea turtle eggs from nest robbers. The eggs are deposited in a protected area and the baby turtles will hatch a few months later, and are helped to the sea. This project has been needed for years, so I was very happy to see that it finally is happening, and I made a mental note to contact the project’s managers to see how I or Anamaya might be able to help.
Our trip took us along a great variety of terrain, from long, flat, hard-packed sand beaches like Playa Grande, deep mud that splashed on us, huge fields of driftwood that the horses cold barely navigate through, steep rocky climbs, and meandering jungle trails.
One of the things that struck me on this trip was how remarkably different the character of each beach we passed by seemed. Montezuma was white sand, and Playa Grande is a darker sand. The last beaches were redder sand… very soft, and there were also places where the entire beach seemed to be nothing but seashells. These would make great “shelling” beaches, but taking shells and rocks off the beaches in Costa Rica is illegal. After all, hermit crabs need those beautiful shells more than we do, and without the large shells around these days, they can never grow to their full size.
The waterfall was just as I remembered it… but with more water this time in the rainy season. This waterfall many years ago was even more spectacular than it is today. It used to pour off a large overhanging lip, falling directly into a nearly circular pool that one could swim in. But an earthquake collapsed the cliff edge and now the water hits the rocks before going into the pool. Unfortunately that was before my time, so I was never able to see it.
After a short time at the falls, and a snack of fresh pineapple prepared by Marvin (which Brent and Mary Anne had to defend from the hungry horses!) we headed back to Montezuma. By the time we arrived home, everyone, except perhaps Mary Anne, had very sore backs and rear-ends, and we all starting planning to book our next massages. But the trip was great… just absolutely gorgeous from beginning to end. I took several hundred photos, mostly from a moving horse so 95% of them were blurry, but I picked out the best for this gallery.