Villas Mastatal is located at the foot of La Cangreja National Park, a beautiful national park that centers around one huge mountain. When I first arrived at the farm, a group of girls asked if I wanted to go on a hike with them the next morning. Of course, I said yes, but I did not know what I had committed to and I don't think they did either.
The next morning we met Randall at the farm before the sun had even rose ( I think it was 5am ) and embarked on our journey. We walked for several miles in the dark before we reached the entrance of the park. We got there just in time for sun rise and this was our view:
This photo was taken on my iPhone!!! And it doesn't even capture the beauty of this view, still the most beautiful view I have ever seen. If you look closely, you can see the cost and Playa Manuel Antonio in the back left, a popular beach in Costa Rica which I ended up visiting later on.
Here are some more photos that I took on my camera:
If you know anything about the tropics, the weather can change in a second and as we passed through a corn field the sky turned grey and cloudy.
The sun eventually came back out and we entered onto the trail that went through the jungle. I was already getting tired as we had already walked about 6 miles of complete up hill, but this was only the beginning. The rest of the "trail" was completely overgrown with vegetation and Randall had to lead with his machete, clearing the way as we went. It was also a steep incline and we had to use our hands and climb up areas at some points. It was also completely muddy and slippery and everyone fell at least one time.
I would consider myself to be in fairly good shape and especially at the time, I was still consistently running up to 30 miles a week. At this point in the trip though, I genuinely thought I was going to have to stop and turn around.
I have done plenty of hikes, run a half marathon, and many cross country races, but this was by far the most physically challenging thing I have ever done. I made the huge mistake of wearing new hiking boots that I hadn't broken in so my feet were stinging with blisters. Our clothes were wet and sticking to us because of the humidity and our own sweat and my knees felt like they were going to give out.
Each time we would reach a flat area a huge incline would be ahead. We were essentially rock climbing at certain points. We took a break to stop for water and rest and we were all feeling so exhausted and dead just to hear that we still had 4 more miles to go. By now, it was mostly a mental game and I forced myself to continue.
A little further along we ran into this guy...
A few girls had actually walked right over this snake and not noticed it before Javi saw it.
We were told that this snake was incredibly poisonous. I asked how long you would have after it bit you to get to medical help before you would die. Javi answered, "no tiempo".
Later on we stumbled upon an angry hornet's nest and a special kind of huge black hornets whose sting was incredibly dangerous. One guy actually got stuck behind the next and had to stay behind because they were so abundant and angry.
There are 2 main points at the top with incredibly views. When we got to the first one I'm not sure if I've ever been more relieved. We were truly above the clouds. We sat and rested for awhile and ate lunch that we had packed.
Just a little further was the final point on the hike.
I'm so glad that I made it to the top and it was so incredibly satisfying. You could see the farm using binoculars in the distance and it looked so small. Knowing that we had walked all the way from that point to where we were was so cool.
I ended up doing this hike 2 more times in my time at Villas. Each time, I dreaded doing it now that I knew what it entailed but the final product was always worth it.
For more views, check out my YouTube video with moments from Costa Rica!