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See Lake Arenal by Horseback

Posted by Vanessa Keen on August 23, 2015
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Adventure comes in many shapes and sizes here Costa Rica, and if you’re looking for an authentic horseback riding adventure on Lake Arenal, you’re going to love what you read next. While many of the other horseback tours in the country are geared toward novice riders (which is great), experienced riders have the opportunity have the ride of a lifetime, mingle with friendly locals and maybe even wrangle some cattle. No matter if you’re vacationing around Lake Arenal or a permanent fixture, you’ll find this all day horseback adventure is certainly one of a kind.

Fortunately, the cool, breezy climate around the lake allows you to strike out midmorning, instead of having to wake up at the crack of dawn. You’ll saddle up at the barn at the base of the mountain, then leisurely make your way up the hill on a switchback trail. You’ll probably notice the large, colorful mosaicked planters leading the way up the road, marking the side of the mountain. The vines are slowing reclaiming the area as their own. As you and your horse ascend to the top of the grassy pasture, the panoramic view. It’s like something you’d see on a postcard. On the clearest days, you’ll be able to see the majestic Arenal volcano just past the lake.

Your journey now has you disappearing into small wooded area that then emerging into an expansive green pasture. After traveling the length of the farm, you’ll be on scenic back roads for several kilometers through the rolling hillside and making your way along winding, less traveled dirt roads passing other small farms, pastures and turbines. Curious cattle and horses venture up to the fence lines to get a closer look at you. When the roads are clear and conditions are ideal, the guides allow you to canter and gallop along this stretch.

Just as you’re nearing the halfway point and feel like you’ve had your fill of Costa Rica’s breathtaking scenery, you realize you’re quite the opposite of full. Your stomach is starting to growl, and not a minute to soon. Your guides then lead you off the country road to a sheltered picnic area and cattle corral (and yes, there are bathrooms too). Here you’ll find some of our favorite locals preparing a fresh lunch for everyone. Take a load off and chill out with a frosty Pilsen while being served fresh pork tacos, salad and chicharrones. Make sure your horse gets plenty of water and a little bit of rest before making the journey back.

This time, you’ll take a different route back to the barn, taking your time and traveling once again past the turbines, then through the cloud forest and down a spectacular winding road until you come to a small local town. Even though the midday sun is still high in the sky, the temperature nowhere near hot. As you trek down the road, the area starts looking vaguely familiar, and you’re guided back onto the large farm from where you first started. Many times, the other horses are waiting to escort your group the rest of the way home. You slowly make your way through the pasture and into the same patch of forest. The last stretch takes you down the switchback trail, passing the beautiful, mosaicked planters and back to the barn. So ends of the best horseback rides you’ve experienced in Costa Rica.