Hola friends. Adventure time, woo hoo! Thank you for coming along with us on this journey.
Horseback riding to the Nauyaca waterfalls was my favorite adventure in Costa Rica thus far. Actually, we all loved it. Although whitewater rafting was a close second and still a favorite for some in our group. Good times!
Don Lulo’s horseback riding tour is a family run operation. The tour takes place through farm land that borders two impressive waterfalls along the Barucito River near Dominical. The waterfalls are in a canyon that is approximately 260 feet wide. The pool at the bottom is 3200 feet wide and 20 feet deep. Impressive, right?
The tour began at 8:00 am and ended around 2:00 pm. It included horseback riding, a guide, a snack, lunch and a substantial dose of adventure. Anyone over the age of three got their own horse. I know a little boy who was ecstatic that he could play cowboy all on his own. They do not provide helmets, if this makes you uncomfortable you might want to bring your own. We follow the “when in Rome” philosophy and did not worry about it at it. Hey, we spent a summer in Paris where kids were zooming down the streets on scooters without helmets, shoes, etc, but you must do what works best for your nerves. I will caution you that helmets have not been provided on any of our tours in Costa Rica thus far.
- Organization: This was a well oiled machine. It ran seamlessly. We had absolutely no complaints.
- The Guides: I had a lovely chat with one of the guides on the ride up. He told me how his family ended up owning this tour company, how it was a tough transition for him to move to a rural area at age 10 and what he loves about his job. I truly enjoy interacting with the locals whenever we travel. People are people no matter where you travel and everyone has an interesting story to tell.
- The Horses: We found it entertaining how the horses had very distinct personalities, just like us. For example, my horse was last in the line, apparently it was his designated spot. He did not like being in that position. As a result, he hugged the backside of the horse in front of me constantly. It did get a bit annoying after a while because he would try to pass the horse in front and the other horse would slowly run us off the road. I did not like banging the trees, branches and stumps with my knees because my horse was trying to move up the ladder. It was not uncommon to see the horses kick one another if they felt their personal space was being compromised by another horse. Don’t worry, it was not a threatening situation, just an observation that they too have distinct personalities.
- The Animals, Birds and What Not: I loved that this tour was more than horses and a waterfall. It was an opportunity to spot many of the other creatures of Costa Rica. When we stopped for our snack (about half way) we were greeted by playful monkeys, a parrot, several peacocks, chickens, spiders and much more. We live near the city in Costa Rica so we don’t have a huge opportunity to see the above, it was a nice treat. I like to think of it as one stop shopping.
- Snacks: Wow, now that was a snack. Local fruit, delicious banana bread, hot coffee and fresh squeezed juice. They claim this is a light snack, but it was a full meal for our family. You should have seen the size of this banana bread.
- The Trail: This was not a lazy day stroll with sleepy horses. It was the perfect combination of relax, a little drama (remember the horse kicks) and the occasional canter. There were muddy spots where the horses had to show their strength, river crossings where our feet were submerged and even a couple of picture perfect stream drinking moments. If only I could have taken a picture and held on at the same time. Ha
- The Beauty of the Falls: Amazing. I loved how one waterfall flowed into the next, the warm mist that sprayed my face as I approached it and all the gorgeous rocks that lined its perimeter. I even found a cluster of rocks that doubled as my lounge chair for several minutes. If you do visit the falls I caution you to be careful as you enter the water, it is lined with phantom rocks and they are slippery. I forgot my tripod, hence the crappy waterfall pics. I tried a handheld shot with a slow shutter, but it seems a little blurry and blown out. I will return when I have better lighting and my tripod.
- Facilities: There were adequate restroom options, although this was not an issue for me, I pee in the water. Ok, I said it, you know we all do it. Don’t worry, I don’t do it in pools so you can still invite me over for a swim.
- The Jump: The tour guides lined the side of the rocks with a rope and offered a helping hand for anyone who wanted to climb the rocks and jump from the top. Will did it and he said it was amazing (check out the video). I rarely say “next time,” but I did in this case and I already regret it. I wanted to jump off the waterfall, but after I did some shooting, swam to the rock with Avalon, chatted with Largo and hung with my parents I was cold and not as interested. Luckily we will be living in Costa Rica for a year so I am sure we will return and I will be the first person jumping off that waterfall. Who wants to visit and jump with me?
- The Lunch: I am a foodie and I always look forward to a traditional lunch wherever we travel. It was yummy, yummy for my tummy, although I was still pretty full from our breakfast. It was fresh, hot and ready for us when we arrived back at the lunch spot. After a leisurely lunch we mounted our horses and finished the remainder of our ride.
Overall we had a fantastic time, we were fed well, we got exercise and we experienced another one of the natural wonders of Costa Rica. I highly, highly recommend this tour. I would add in a white water rafting (post coming soon) experience as well.
We stayed the night at Hacienda Baru. It was incredibly affordable, cute and out in the middle of nature. I would tack an additional day on to your trip and include a whole day hanging out on the property. Unfortunately, we had to leave early so we did not get to experience the highly regarded tours, pool or the beach. Our Christmas gift to AvaLar is to spend a night in the wilderness through Hacienda Baru, therefore we will be returning in the next couple of months. I promise to give a full report on the blog when we do it.
We paid $70 per person, unfortunately there was not a discount for kids. I know it is a bit expensive, but we all felt the six hours of fun and two meals were well worth it. They do prefer cash and dollars which makes it convenient for anyone traveling from the US. If you don’t want to pay the $70, but you still want to see the waterfall (minus the breakfast and lunch) you can always walk it. I have to caution you that this is a tough walk with lots of mud and it can take up to three hours each way depending on how fast you walk. If you think this might be an option for you then you can check out this post my Travel Mother. She was brave and hiked it with her two young children. Good job lady!
My favorite part of this day was listening to AvaLar talk about putting all of their hard earned money together in order to purchase a horse. Or was it watching them decided how the rocks at the base of the waterfall formed the many rooms in their house. It was a fantastic day all around.
p.s. For more information you can contact the tour company at cataratasnauyaca.com. This is not a sponsored post.