Trip Around Costa Rica

Published: October 16th 2010
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Day One:

Off to Costa Rica! Today was spent traveling so there really isn't much to report. Me and two friends are headed on a ten day trip with Caravan Tours around Costa Rica. We flew out of Newark super early, landed in Georgia then headed on to Costa Rica. Here we were picked up by Caravan and brought to our hotel.

I expect Costa Rica to be super warm but it was actually a bit chilly. We tried to hang out by the pool but it was too cold to stay down there for long. On top of that we all had to get together with the whole Caravan group. Pura Vida! is what we learned which is a local greeting that means Pure Life. We went over a few rules, met our tour guide Chris and headed to dinner.

After dinner we headed to our room and went to bed. Long day of travel and an early day tomorrow made us all go to bed early.

Day Two:

Our first real day in Costa Rica! The first destination was Poas Volcano. On the ride there we went through San Jose and checked out a few local areas. Continuing on you could see the different plantations in the area like the strawberry and coffee plantations. We were told that there wasn't much of a chance to see the volcano due to the weather but we were all thinking positive.

Once there, we realized how it may just be tricky to see anything. The fog had rolled in and although we knew where the volcano was, there wasn't much to see. There was a trail leading up to a lagoon so we decided to head up that way since we couldn't see the volcano at all. The lagoon was really quite impressive. One moment the fog completely covered it and the second it appeared as clear as day. We grabbed a few photos and then headed back down to the volcano. And perfect timing we had, because as we walked down we saw the fog lifting and there it was, the volcano!

After the volcano we headed to lunch and from there the National Museum. It use to be a fort and you could see where bullets actually struck the building. The basement had prison cells and you could see all the graffiti around the place. But the best part of the Museum for me was the little butterfly garden that was attached to it. It was filled with Morphos and Caligo butterflies and it was really lovely.

From there we returned to our hotel and relaxed by the pool. It was an easy, relaxing day that lead to dinner and packing to get ready for tomorrow which would not be so relaxing.

Day Three:

We were up bright and early and grabbed breakfast at 6:30. We packed up our bus and headed toward Tortuguero National Park. The scenery was absolutly beautiful and we made a few stops along the way. The first stop was at the Braulio Carrillio National Park. Our group was divided up and we went with a tour guide on a simple nature walk where he pointed out the different plants. From their we got to ride on an areal tram. The tram was lovely, keeping us in the canopy of the trees and when we returned one of the guides pointed out a lovely little eyelash pit viper to us. We also got to see a sloth with a baby which was so adorable.

Lunch was next where they also had a butterfly garden. This garden was not as nice, but it was still a nice lunch time endeavor.

When we left there we headed on to Tortuguero. Here we left our bus and jumped on a boat that took us through the canals. It was fantastic, there were so many different birds flying around and monkeys jumping around. We didn't stop anywhere on this boat trip because tomorrow we would be taking the boats out again.

Once we made it to our destination, we got our stuff and brought it to our rooms. The rooms were these little rustic cabins and it was really an awesome place. We all went to the bar, grabbed some drinks and dinner and got to chatting with other people in our group. Another early night.

Day Four:

This morning I was worried because it had actually started raining. Luckily the weather cleared up and we all headed off on a boat tour of Tortuguero. It was simply amazing! There were caimens and turtles and iguanas. An otter was the first mammal we got to see and then we got to see all three species of monkeys. The bird species were spectacular. All different types of herons could be spotted along the shore line and so many other different species could be found in the trees. We spent a bit of time out on the water and then headed back in.

We grabbed some snacks and then headed over to the research turtle station. This time of year no turtles were coming to shore but it was still interesting to hear what the project was up to. We walked along the beach and then into town were we picked up a few souvenirs.

Lunch was next followed by another boat tour. The sights were just as good the first time. We got to see all the monkeys even better this time and more birds. Toucans and macaws this time which was fantastic. The canals are really beautiful the way the water reflects the forest. I could spend hours on these boats going in and out of canals and taking photos.

Dinner was next and sleep followed shortly.

Day Five:

It was pouring rain today, so as we packed up our stuff we ran toward the boats to load up our stuff. It turned out it really wasn't raining that hard at all. Breakfast was quick and then we jumped on our boat and headed out. From the boat we headed to the bus and off to Fortuna we went.

We stopped for lunch and then stopped at a banana plantation. It was interesting to see all the work that goes in to getting the banana's into the box and what not. From the plantation we went to Selva Verde Rainforest. At the rain forest we got to walk a 300 yard suspension bridge which was pretty cool. The guide in the area showed me an iguana and asked if I had ever eaten one. I laughed at the thought, but he was serious and told me it taste like chicken, in fact they are called chicken of the trees.

When we had finished with that we finished up our excursion to Fortuna. It was raining hard now, and Arenal Volcano was completely covered by the clouds. We each had our own little bungalows which was really quaint and nice.

Day Six:

New Years Eve! Unfortunately our place wasn't planning anything exciting but Chris promised us something special. We got up early, grabbed breakfast and headed to Rio Frio. It was rainy and overcast but once at Rio Frio the rain at least stopped. We boarded a boat and took a ride through the Cano Negro Wildlife refuge. Our guide was fantastic and actually allowed me to sit at the front of the boat. Although the weather was overcast, the wildlife was abundant. Jesus lizards, cormorants, anahingas, monkeys and most importantly Goldie. Goldie is a genetically mutated howler monkey. Shes only a four month old baby clinging onto her mother which was so exciting to see. We then left her and went up over to the Nicaragua border.

We then went to lunch and then to walk through Fortuna. We grabbed some souvenirs and alcohol for our New Years Eve party. After that we headed to the Arenal Hot Springs. The hot springs were AMAZING! There were so many of them and they were all different temperatures. Some of them were just super hot others were much cooler. It was fantastic because the weather was still overcast and a bit chilly and the springs made it fantastic. There was even a slide into one of the pools which was pretty neat as well.

We went home and grabbed dinner and then at nine o'clock the party started. We had all types of drinks and snacks but most people didn't last very long. Eleven o'clock hit and most of them headed off to bed at that time. A few of us made it to midnight where Chris set off fireworks and popped champagne and by 12:05 everyone was asleep. Tomorrow will be brutal!!!

Day Seven:

Today was a day of driving. We packed up and headed off. You could tell that some people were hurting after the late night, but its good to be young because I felt just fine. It was extremely rainy today so it wasn't a bad thing that we were mostly driving.

We first stopped at this little park that had all these crazy hedge animals. It reminded me of "The Shining" except not evil hedge animals. After that we went to the Children's Eternal Rainforest. It was raining rather hard at this point, but we through on our ponchos and headed out onto the trails. The first thing we encountered was a hummingbird feeder. There were a few different species zipping to and from the feeder which was pretty cool to check out. The trail was short, but really beautiful. The trees were so amazing and the canopy kept us all rather dry.

We drove on until we reach the Pacific and stopped off at our hotel. This hotel was amazing, the rooms were gorgeous the pools spectacular and we were right on the beach. We were all exhausted and after dinner most of us just crashed.

Day Eight:

Manuel Antonio National Park!!! Today we are getting up early and heading to the park and I am so excited! It is one of the places in the book "1,000 Places to See Before You Die" and I am so excited to check it out. The bus ride is long but we did get to see a few creatures. First we got to see crocodiles! Then we got to see scarlet macaws. And finally we made it to the park.

We walked to the beach and that walk was awesome. We got to see howler monkeys and capuchin and sloths along with a few birds. Once at the beach it was a spectacular site! The beach is that beautiful white and the ocean is that gorgeous aqua. In the trees you can find monkeys jumping around and on the ground there were three raccoons running all over the place.

Instead of going to the beach the three of us decided to hike up this crazy trail. It was hard and long but the top was worth it. It was a beautiful site looking over the ocean. Then it was time to head back down the mountain which went much quicker than going up. When we got back it was time to leave. As we walked out of the park we ran into some more monkeys, sloth and some fruit bats.

We drove back and once at our hotel we all just hung out by the pool relaxing. We grabbed some dinner then went to the show which was a bit lame. I wanted to go to the disco but we were all pretty tired and when I went to check it out it was empty. No dancing tonight.

Day Nine:

Today was our last full day in Costa Rica. We got to sleep in a bit, but then we had to pack up and head off. We first checked out the only metal church in Costa Rica. It was a pretty cool church a bit odd but cool non the less. Then we went to a coffee plantation where we went on a tour. It was cute, the people put on a skit and you watch a little movie. It was a nice fun thing to end our trip with.

Once at our hotel we all got dolled up and ready for our last dinner. It was a bit fancy and a really nice meal. We took our group photo and chit chatted with everyone exchanging emails and what not. A few of us went to the bar afterwards and watched the bull fights. From there we headed to bed.

Day Ten:

This morning we said our goodbyes to everyone. Everyone was leaving at different times so a few left before us and others after. We packed up our stuff and headed over to the airport. It was a bummer to be leaving Costa Rica. The trip had been fantastic, it went fast and we had seen so much. I enjoyed working with Caravan because you didn't have to do anything really, it was all well planned and we stayed busy. There was a lot of traveling involved which was crazy but still fun! Can't wait to go back!

"When you travel, remember that a foreign country is not designed to make you comfortable. It is designed to make its own people comfortable." ~Clifton Fadiman

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