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My Costa Rica Guide
Victor was my expert guide on all aspects of Costa Rica, his knowledge and charm added much to my adventure. He went into great detail describing what I was seeing as we walked through the rainforest or drove through the country side; he also gave insight into the history, culture and the people of Costa Rica. A good guide can enrich a travel experience.
I flew 3 hours from Boston to Miami and then connected to a Martinair flight, 2 hours to Costa Rica. It was a good flight, they serve food with wine – memories of how travel use to be! After arriving at the San Jose airport I headed out to the Los Suenos Marriott in Jaco, a beach resort on the pacific side, for my first night in Costa Rica. A beautiful hotel, Spanish style with stone and tile floors; rod iron hanging lanterns and lots of candles- warm and inviting. My room had a view of the Pacific Ocean and offered the very comfortable Revive Bedding by Marriott. The 25,000 square foot pool, with blue tiles making the water seem even bluer, was a wonderful way to relax after a day of sight seeing. They also have a Spa and 18-hole, par 72 championship golf course to enjoy.
First day of sightseeing, I boarded a small boat for a Crocodile Tour on the Tarcoles River, one of the most crocodile populated rivers in the world. At one point the river guide got out of the boat to feed a crocodile…yes got out of the boat! These crocodiles were up to 15 feet long and seemed every bit that big as they came by the boat. The guide stands in the water and holds up a piece of fish for the crocodile to come and eat. The guide kept looking behind him to make sure there were not other crocodiles coming. We are in the middle of the river not in a controlled area. The crocodile came right out of the water and took the fish – an interesting way to make a living, he did get good tips. This was a bird watching as well as crocodile tour, with over 50 different types of birds including the rare scarlet macaw, there was lots to see on my first adventure since arriving.
Later in the day, during the Carara Biological Reserve walking tour, my guide pointed out a bright colored Dart Frog and Leafcutter Ants. Coming down a tree and across the trail was a parade of ants carrying parts of leaves they cut with their scissor like jaws, they can carry up to 50 times their weight. This is also the home of 150 scarlet macaws, great egrets, boat-billed herons and trogons; this 11,600 acre reserve is popular with bird watches. The reserve is located in the northernmost region of the Pacific rainforest and is the beginning of the transition zone between the tropical dry forest of the northwest and the more humid southwest.
Driving through the country side, passing coffee plantations, we arrive in Sarchi where we had a typical Costa Rican lunch of beans, rice, potato and a choice of chicken, beef or fish. After lunch it was time to explore, this area is know as the Cradle of Costa Rican Artisans with wood working and craft shops, a good place to purchase local crafts for that special gift. Also this is where you can find the shop that builds the bright colored oxcarts, a national folkloric symbol of Costa Rica. I visited the Joaquin Chaverri Oxcart Factory, built in 1902, and still making the brightly colored carts.
I went from the ocean to the mountains to see the famous Arenal Volcano (5,328 ft.). My room at the Hotel Arenal Springs had a great view, from my bed, of the active volcano. In the morning I heard what I thought was thunder, then realized it was the volcano right before a puff of smoke came out of the top…a little entertainment during breakfast. After breakfast it was off to La Fortuna Waterfall for a hike…I need to get in better condition! I hiked down to the swimming hole, at the bottom of the water fall, and slowly hiked back up using muscles not often used. Then it was off to the Tabacon Hot Springs, a series of natural thermal springs, lagoons, waterfalls, and trails winding through exotic gardens with a view of the volcano. They have an area to rent a locker with showers, towels and changing rooms. Imagine sitting in a hot spring pool as the sun sets…a lovely end to the day. The temperature in the pools decreased as you move down the line of pools. The hot natural springs felt good after the waterfall hike.
It was an enjoyable trip, the beautiful surroundings, lush and green, from the ocean to the mountains. The people were friendly and helpful and prices reasonable – all and all a good vacation choice. If you love nature, you will love Costa Rica.
Costa Rica’s population is 4,248.508; literacy rate is 95% and is the size of West Virginia. Travel areas are divided into 6 regions – San Jose, The Central Valley, The Northern Plains, North Pacific, Central Pacific, South Pacific and the Caribbean with the Pacific Ocean on one side and the Caribbean Sea on the other. Costa Rica is known as an ecotourism destination, where the environment is protected and preserved. Approximately 25% of the country’s land has been set aside as protected area and the hotel industry keeps improving on ways to be nature friendly.
Entry Requirements: U.S. Citizens need a valid passport for stays up to 90 days.
Departure Tax: $26.00, can be paid in US Dollars, Colones or with a credit card. This is paid at the airport before check-in.
What is the Currency: The Costa Rican currency is called Colon. U.S. dollars and major credit cards are widely accepted.
When to Go: Costa Rica has many microclimates, weather can vary dramatically from one area to another. For example the Central Valley lacks he oppressive seasonal heat and rain and is almost always suitable for travel; where the Northern Plains has a rainy season July – December. It depends on what area you plan to travel as to when is the best time to go.
This is just a few of the things to enjoy in Costa Rica:
Butterflies – 2,000 species
Orchids – 1,200 species
Ferns – 800 species
Bird Watching – 875 species.
Rain Forests – can have 100 species of trees.
Surfing – year round waves and warm water.
Beaches – 799 miles of cost
Volcanoes – 5 active
White Water Rafting – all levels
Kayaking – all levels
Fishing – world class sport fishing
Hiking – rainforests, trails and reserves
Horseback Riding – popular everywhere
Canopy Tours – Zip lining – Rappelling
Mountain biking and scuba diving.
Imagine the Possibilities…