WHERE WE RIDE
We ride across private farms and plantations, away from mainstream tourism places, where horses are still more common on public roads than cars. So, please, permit us to decide the best places for your horse experience, depending on your priorities and the likely weather at the time you will be with us. Here are some choices:
CENTAURA FARM and NEIGHBORING AREA
Our farm gives the most diverse type of riding (and the most economical). Nestled under Platanar Volcano, we have all terrain types except ocean - over 10,000 hectares of rolling pastures, mountain trails, huge plantation, cattle farms, small villages -- all open for you for riding.
Plenty of places to open up and run. Cross deep rivers and literally swim on horseback. Ride a few hours, then ride to a country cantina for lunch or dinner. Traverse real jungle, or ascend to hot springs on mountain trails. On the lands near Centaura Farm you can ride alone if you wish -- your horse knows the way back if you get lost.
Centaura is pleased that over 40% of our guests return to ride with us, some coming several times a year. On subsequent visits our guests often prefer riding only in the areas near Centaura Farm because there's so much variety (and no driving headaches to get to other locations). The best of Cabalgatas and Rodeos and Topé action happens within a few miles of the farm, and our guests develop a real connection with the farm, our pets, our people..
Our preference is the Central Pacific, which give us beach and jungle exploration. We have a great choice of hotels, from good quality moderate to downright elegant, and a wide selection of interesting restaurants.
We do not have places to ride our horses in the northern Pacific (Guanacaste), near the major American-style resorts. The beaches are restricted against horses here. The surrounding countryside is either very dry in dry season or very wet in the rainy season, and the terrain interior from the beaches is flat land agriculture -- rice, shrimp farming, melon production. The hotels in this region include all of the Five Stars of Costa Rica, mega-resorts. The famous north Pacific beaches include Tamarindo, Conchal, Flamingo, Coco, Hermosa and the whole Gulf of Papagayo (being developed as a mega-resort area, spearheaded by Four Seasons). The mixture of fine horses and big resorts doesn't work very well.
We love to ride at the base of Arenal volcano (the really active one, spewing lava which is visible at night -- or throwing rocks, visible during rides). While we don’t ride the (active) slopes of Arenal, we do have a most remarkable horseback experience on a giant cattle farm beneath the cone. After dark we can enjoy the volcano from a hot springs, watching the lava, or, if the clouds prevent viewing, we can listen to the house-size rocks rolling down the slope.
We have access to trails and footpaths descending from cloud forest to the Arenal area. The views from the back of a horse are so different than from foot. Your eyes are drawn always upward, where the bird sounds and the flora create a cathedral above. It is often misting in the cloud forest. The temperatures are chilly to comfortable, ideal for long meandering trail riding.
Centaura has the privilege of access to a few of the remaining primary forests of Costa Rica, on private land. The primary forest -- the classic Tarzan jungle -- is dominated by giant old trees, vines as thick as a man’s leg dropping from branches so high you can’t see their origins, a cavernous opening below the jungles enclosing canopy. Traversing the rain forest on horse is a serious reminder of how difficult penetrating the tropical jungle had to be for the earliest explorers and horses.
Mountain riding involves some difficult trails and the need for very sure-footed horses. The Peruvian stepping horse, which is a part of the breeding heritage of Centaura's horses, are famous for their ability to negotiate rough terrain.
We have numerous options on mountain trails, and leave it to us to decide, based on your other priorities, to decide which place makes the most sense for the weather and for your experience and for your desires. Want to climb to indigenous villages? Want to climb then descend to play in the ocean? Want to go up, up, up -- and then strip down to your underwear to dive into a crystalline pool filled by a waterfall? or a hot springs?
RIDING COAST TO COAST
The great challenge of setting out cross-country to reach inaccessible places is part of the pioneer heritage of man and horse.
Costa Rica is small (our coast-to-coast route is 240 miles, if you are a crow, but with all the "ups" and "downs" the riding route is closer to 500 miles), and we can cross the whole country on horseback in about 14 days. If we stay off the pavement, we need 18 days -- with camping gear and clothing for the jungle and clothing for the mountains, and bedrolls and tents, a working knowledge of building fires and eating from the bounty of the jungle, cooking with an iron tripod, sleeping in hammocks, and of course using machetes. There's lots of places to get clean water, and even a few places to stop for beer. And you'd better have a good sense of humor.
The logistics for this coast to coast adventure are huge -- we need 3 guides, and 4 horses per rider. We need to pre-run the route the week before, to reconfirm old permissions we arranged in the past to cross large sections of private land. The equipment for people and animals requires a support truck each day, otherwise we have to add 10 pack horses. Some rivers and many trails are impassible in rainy seasons, so delays for rain may occur. This is not a trip we run casually or often, and it is expensive to operate - in excess of $2500 a day.
But riding to a goal will leave you with more than a good memory -- it makes for real self-sufficiency, and brings your pioneer to life.