Sam visit’s Costa Rica12.09.16 | Sam Cooper
My journey to Costa Rica began at Gatwick airport where British Airways operate a direct flight on Wednesday’s and Saturday’s. 11 hours later I arrived in the city of San Jose.
The first words spoken to me on arrival by our trusty guide was PURA VIDA! Which you hear Costa Rican’s say all the time and means “I’m great, life is good, no worries!” After a good night sleep we took a road transfer through the Braulio Carrillo National Park to Cano Blanco Pier where we then took a boat to our lodge.
While on this transfer we saw various wildlife including toucans, crocodile’s, lizards and even a spider monkey! Whichever way you turn your head in Costs Rica you will notice stunning scenery and various green colours from the types of trees in the natural landscape!
Located on the North east Caribbean coast, Tortuguero is a small town where the only way to get around is by bike, quad bike or just walk! If you want to see Turtles lay eggs and potently see them hatch, the best time to visit would be July August or September. The Tortuguero coastline runs for 20 miles however don’t attempt to swim in these waters otherwise you might end up in Cuba due to the rough seas!
Other wildlife we had the pleasure of encountering was howler monkeys at 4:30am and blue jeans frogs. You can probably guess by the name of both animals why they call these names.
After a fun two days in Tortuguero, we took a short boat ride to the airport. This is the most fun you will ever have at an airport at 6:30am. We walked off the boat and walked onto the runway with no one around apart from nine travellers and a deserted building so we went to the beach, threw a few coconuts into the ocean, dipped our feet in the sea then the small plane landed and we boarded. Within 40 minutes we landed in San Jose and waiting for our next transfer to carry on the journey. I highly recommend taking a plane back to San Jose because you get to see Costa Rica in a different way. From above you can clearly see the banana, pineapple and coffee plantations. You can also see rich green scenery you find on travel magazines and you can see all this with your own eyes!
On our next leg of our journey, we left San Jose and travelled into the Cloud Mountains which on average takes 1 hour 30 minutes. On route we stopped at a coffee house to sample the country’s famous coffee which I was more than happy to try. It certainly didn’t disappoint! It tastes much sharper than the coffee in England even though you can buy the same bean here however the beans are freshly picked from the fields and volcanic spring water is used to give it a full rich taste.
We stopped off at the Poas Volcano on route and went to the crater. You can only stay here for 20 minutes due to the sulphuric acid in the air however it’s a must see. Many years ago the top of this Volcano blown the top off and what remains is that now you can see straight inside!
Continuing our journey we travelled past the Bajos Del Toro Waterfall to our hotel in the Cloud Mountains. When I was informed we were getting up at 6:30am for a trek to see a waterfall, I was a little confused as I don’t function without a good breakfast and certainly not at 6:30am however with my body clock thinking its 1:30pm and eating so much food the past few days I was prepared to try something new and I’m glad I didn’t give in. The sounds of the birds whistling away, the smell of the rain fresh on the green leaves, the sound of the waterfall crashing down on the rocks – this is what it’s all about and as we got closer to the main waterfall I realised how amazing this experience is. 2 hours and 30 minutes later we got back to our lodge where breakfast never tasted so good.
Our next part of the journey took us to Arenal located North West of San Jose. This area has a host of hotels majority located round the base of the Volcano with great views. Don’t worry… the Volcano shouldn’t erupt for many years to come. Arenal town is quirky with shops, restaurants and has a vibe known for backpackers but don’t be put off by this statement it felt very safe.
While in Arenal a must do is the hanging bridges tour. You can choose from various time slots however the night viewings can be interesting with the wildlife coming out to play. To explore the whole site you’ll need around 2.hrs however you can take as long or as little time as you wish. Remember to watch out for leaf cutter ants…did you know there weight ratio to what they can lift and carry mean they are the strongest living thing on earth! You will see hundreds of them walking in lines carrying leaves not bothering you while they are hard at work.
After all this walking you might be wondering where do you relax for the afternoon? Arenal is known for its hot volcanic springs naturally heated. Hotels close to the Volcano offer this and it’s a must do.
Our final spot of this journey took us to Manuel Antonio which is located south of San Jose on the pacific coast of Costa Rica. The must do in this area is the Manuel Antonio National Park which is home to over 100 species of Mammals, over 180 types of birds and because of its location on the Pacific Coast you can also search for whales and dolphins. Beaches in Costa Rica are dark grey/black due to the volcanic landscape however the beaches located in and around the national park are what you would expect from a post card… clear golden sand however if you leave your bags unattended on the beach they will be searched….by Capuchin Monkeys known locally as the Mafia! They walk around in little gangs disturbing the peace.
On our walk throughout the National park we came across a beautiful sloth slowly moving in the tree and its better than any picture I’ve ever seem! For any animal lover they will certainly play with your heart strings and you will want to bring one home. We was very lucky in our hotel we had a resident three toed sloth who moves from one of two trees.
Overall I’m delighted I had this opportunity to visit Costa Rica and if anyone hasn’t put it on their bucket list then its time you made time to see this stunning country. Ideal for photographers, animal lovers and anyone who loves coffee.
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