Our horseback adventure

Santa Elena Travel Blog

 › entry 16 of 20 › view all entries
Rusty getting familiar with his horse, Umilda
So after 5 and a half hours of playing cards and eating in the San Jose bus staion, and another 5 long sedentary hours on the bus to Monteverde (which was incredibly cheap - only about 2 or 3 pounds), we arrived in a dark Santa Elena at around 7pm. We eventually gave into one of the hostel touts as it was the owner of one of the places that we had spotted in our trusty guide book, which we seem to be relying on more and more.  We are staying in ´Cabinas el Pueblo, a small hostel/hotel just down a dirt track off the main street in Santa Elena. Yet again we found ourselves giving into another nice room (the only other choice we were given was a rather cramped room with bunkbeds) and we have ended up once again with cable tv!

Yesterday we had a very lazy morning as we were shattered after all of our travelling and very early morning wake-ups.
On our horses ready to set off
The hostel  includes a very substantial free breakfast of help-yourself cereal, toast, jam, coffee, tea, juice and eggs, so we´ve done pretty well with breakfast here so far! We decided that we didn´t want to waste the whole day being lazy so we booked ourselves onto a ´sunset´horseriding tour to a local farm. By the time we got around to booking it, it turend  out we only had 10 minutes until the minibus would be coming to collect us, so we had a quick dash to the supermarket at the top of the road for some late lunch.

We arrived at the farm, and saw that there were 6 horses waiting for us (as a Dutch family of 4 were joining us for the tour). After a few minutes  which we spent signing our lives away in the form of waivers about the dangers of horseriding, and then all of a sudden we were being helped onto our horses.
Midway through the ascent
This was another of the Central American tours which would not have passed the UK´s stringent  health and safety laws. In the pictures on the flyer we had seen the riders wearing what seemed to be bicycle helmets instead of proper riding helmets, but it didn´t seem that we were going to get any helmets at all. 

The ´riding instructions´were also rather basic - ´if you want to go left pull left, if you want to go right pull right, to stop pull back´. Suddenly I was very thankful of those Easter holidays I spent at the Ridgway Stables, however basic and forgotten my knowledge may have been. Rusty seemed rather less comfortable, as his horse kept going off for something to eat (like horse, like rider it seemed).

Before too long, however,  we were off.
Sophie and Coqueta (with a view of Santa Elena in the background)
With what seemed to be the (approximately 14-year-old) daughter taking the lead, and the father and son bringing oup the rear, our rather motley crew of horses and riders set off into the farm´s land. Our first task was getting down a rather steep hill, and although the horses seemed to know what they were doing perfectly, we were all struggling slightly more. Soon we consigned ourselves to the fact that we should just sit back and relax (as much as possible), and try to ignore how far away the ground seemed to be.

The route was really beautiful and took us up the hills, and across fields with cows and goats in. We went through a couple a rivers, which was pretty cool and up some rather steep paths, but by now I had began to trust my horse, Coqueta. The family didn´t seem to speak to much English, so I missed out on some of what they were saying about the wildlife, but Rusty managed to translate most of it for me.
There´s hope for Rusty in Sheffield Wednesday yet...


After about an hour of riding, we reached the top and dismounted. It seemed wierd that the family didn´t tie the horses up, but just left them standing where they were. They were very obedient, as most of them remained in the same places an hour later when we got back on. The other two, which had been making a break for  freedom, it seemed, were soon rounded up and brought back to their riders.

In the time at the top of the hill, which was waiting for the sunset, a game of football was started. This was obviously well planned, as there were goals already set up in the trees, and soon a rather competetive game had started. I even joined in, showing off the best of my (rather unexistant skills), but managed to get in a few tackles (I think I may have got the ball through pity rather than any skill however).
The sort-of sunset view from the top
Unfortunately for us, the weather didn´t seem that it was going to lend us a beautiful sunset, however the descending clouds were stunning none the less. There was also a great view of Santa Elena, the village in which we´re staying.

As with the volcano, the descent was actually rather worse than the ascent, as it felt often like we were going to fall off the front of the horse. The clouds began to close in as we went down, and soon it was getting dark. This was actually quite fun, as when we went back through the trees there were fireflies everywhere, which were fascinating to watch. We had been told that this tour would take 2 hours, and, having started at 3pm, we were still out riding at about 6.00pm.

Once we got back to the family´s house, the mother had prepared some drinks and cakes for us, which was very generous and much appreciated.
Starting our descent
We all took turns to sign the guest book after she showed it to us, and we imagined that our minibus would be arriving soon to take us back to Santa Elena (as it was now about 6.30pm. However, the family seemed to have other activities in store for us. We were ushered outside by another family member yielding a toorch, and had soon embarked on a tour of their garden. We  saw  some  of the beautiful flowers that they  grew, including  bright yellow orchids (the flower which the region is famous for). We were also shown their pet tortoises, which were adorable! We were next shown the process of sugarcane squashing, which we all got to have a go at, and drink a glass of the result.

Once we got back from this tour, the bus was apparently going to be another 20 minutes, so we didn´t end up getting home until 10 to 8! It was a great afternoon though, much enjoyed by both of us.
Being shown how the sugar cane juice is made
Newcastle Riding club had better watch out, Rusty likes to think of himself as a natural (which, actually, to give him credit, he was)!

We were so tired by the time we got back that we decided to put the kitchen to good use, and went on another trip to the supermarket to get some pasta and tomato sauce to satisfy our student  stomachs!
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Rusty getting familiar with his ho…
Rusty getting familiar with his h…
On our horses ready to set off
On our horses ready to set off
Midway through the ascent
Midway through the ascent
Sophie and Coqueta (with a view of…
Sophie and Coqueta (with a view o…
There´s hope for Rusty in Sheffie…
There´s hope for Rusty in Sheffi…
The sort-of sunset view from the t…
The sort-of sunset view from the …
Starting our descent
Starting our descent
Being shown how the sugar cane jui…
Being shown how the sugar cane ju…
Santa Elena
photo by: Biedjee