San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Horses and hot-air balloon rides anyone?

young writers

By Star Larkin | Special to The Tico Times

Horseback riding through the green forests, open fields and sugarcane plantations in San Carlos valley was an amazing experience. At one point, we stopped stopped next to a crystal clear stream, where we ate sugarcane and birds sang. The well-behaved horses listened to almost every command, and they ran so fast I thought I would be blown out of the saddle.

I took this trip through Centaura Farm, a horse ranch and adventure center based near the Arenal Volcano. With some of the most beautiful horses and the only hot-air ballooning tour in Costa Rica, Centaura one of the nicest farms around.

Almost 40 horses get the run of the pastures along with a water buffalo, whose best friend is a little pony about half his size. There are also two fat pigs who sleep all day in the stable, and a little dog named Gitana who loves to bark at the horses. Getting to see such beautiful and well-tended horses was truly awesome.

Star and pig

Star Larkin (unnecessarily) feeds Frijol the pig. Courtesy of Star Larkin

One morning we also got to go hot-air ballooning, and although we did have to get up pretty early, it was most definitely worth it. After driving for about half-hour, we arrived at a field where the balloon was filled half way with cold air, than the rest of the way with hot air to make it rise.

At first, being carried around by a giant cloth ball filled with hot air was kind of scary. Once I saw how cool it was, though, all the fear left me. Our height in the woven basket gave us a breathtaking view of the area around us. On the beautifully clear day, we could see the top of Arenal Volcano.


View of Arenal Volcano from a hot-air balloon. By Star Larkin

Landing the hot-air balloon is rather challenging because you can’t choose where you touch down, you literally go where the wind takes you. Lucikly, the balloon mainly flies over big green fields, so that landing can usually be done almost anywhere. Cars have to follow the balloon around so that when you land, they can come get the balloon and give you a ride back to the farm. The hot-air ballooning was really fun, and I hope to do it again someday.

hot air

Inflating the balloon. By Star Larkin

Although horseback riding and hot-air ballooning are the main attractions at Centaura, there is also ATV riding, a nice swimming pool and many fruit trees that are perfect for sitting under with a good book.

So if you like floating in a basket and riding noble steeds, you know where to go.

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