Me and the MR have been home from vacation for two weeks, and I always have these great plans. I’ll have a post up and pictures within days, and then there’s snow, and power outages, jet lag, wifi issues, the MR working at home throwing off my schedule, and a visit to the girls, and all my plans go to pot.
So a little late, but better than never, here’s a recap of our trip to Costa Rica. We took an overnight hop from LA to San Jose landing bright and early only to rent a car and begin our adventure. First we were off to volcanoes and cloud forests. Steep and winding mountain roads led us through fog so dense, I couldn’t see the pavement. Good thing it was the MR driving.
We stayed at Nayara Resort Spa and Garden in La Fortuna situated in the shadow of Arenal Volcano. The first day, we were tired and I for one was a little frazzled from the road trip, so we appreciated our welcome drink, ate some lunch and relaxed by the pool.
Our room was quite lovely featuring both an indoor and an outdoor shower, but perhaps the best part was the lush private patio and spa filled with spring water. The MR’s birthday, was just a few days earlier, so we enjoyed a complimentary bottle of champagne in our private oasis one afternoon.
On our first day, we did manage a hike around the property’s forest trail and may or may not have seen a wild pig. I have a photos of a large, black blob running into the forest. Another surprise was the next day when the clouds parted, and we were amazed to find a volcano on our doorstep, sloths in the trees, and amazing food at our bidding.
We talked about visiting the volcano and the lava flow, but after Hawaii, we decided it would probably be similar, so it was hanging bridges and a lovely waterfall instead. I wasn’t that excited thinking it would be hiking and adrenaline rather than nature. Then the naturalist for our group began pointing out animals and plants at every turn. He explained the life cycle of tree frogs, and showed us bats sleeping on a stone and a tarantula tucked away in its den. This was just the first of many guides who shared their passion for their country and its amazing wildlife. The hanging bridges and waterfall were nice, too.
After La Fortuna, we headed to the northern coast–Playa Conchal. It was a day of winding roads driving past the original town of Arenal that was flooded when the dam was built. According to our guide, the spire from the Catholic church can still be seen during sunny summer days. We also drove past endless wind farms–sustainability is very important here–winding up at the beach with iguanas in the morning and monkeys at night.
This was meant to be more or our lazy beach stay, so we spent a few days with our feet in the sand before moving on. While it was a lovely place, this was the least favorite of our three destinations. We’ve been to a lot of beautiful beaches, we were just having too much fun with the animals and nature at the other places.
Our last destination was Arenas Del Mar in Quepos just outside Manuel Antonio National Park. The road to this place is down one of the steepest paved roads I’ve ever seen. It was like that crazy story when people make a left off a cliff because their phone told them, too. When our good sense saved us from doing that, the nice man at the front desk made us do it anyways.
Check-in looked like an open air cabana at one of our national parks. I was so confused when they put our suitcase in an electric golf cart and took us away through steep winding paths in the jungle. What were we getting ourselves into?
When I saw the beautiful infinity pool in the lobby and the sunset from our room, I was put at ease. This is a very natural property built on cliffs next to the beach. On his morning run, the MR would watch the monkeys making their way through the trees, our guide pointed out wildlife as we made our way to a tortilla-making class, and we wandered the woods at night following our guide in search of sloths, birds, and frogs.
Off-site, we scheduled a mangrove tour through red, black, and pineapple mangroves. Along with monkeys and birds, we saw termite nests, crabs, frogs, bats, and even a boa constrictor. It’s amazing how these guides can spot wildlife while clipping along.
Our last day, we visited the national park before heading back to San Jose and our flight home. With thousands of visitors daily, the paths are crowded with tourists. The monkeys have gotten quite used to all the onlookers, but you can see many animals in a natural setting in a rather un-natural atmosphere.
The guides at the park do have large wildlife spotting scopes, so that we with our untrained eyes can see the wildlife they’ve found. The guides also work together offering their spot to their friend who is coming up with the group behind. These scopes work well with Iphones, and the MR got some great pictures up-close and personal of spiders, birds, sloths, and monkeys.
One of those scopes might come in handy when the owls are in the trees come summer.
Looking back, I should have done a little more research. All national parks are closed on Mondays in Costa Rica. We could have swapped our mangrove tour and enjoyed a less rushed visit. People have asked if we felt safe on our trip. The locals we met were all very kind, proud of their country, and very friendly. That being said, the rental car company told us to never leave anything in the car, so we didn’t stop much on those long travel days between destinations.
Next time, I want to go to a butterfly preserve. We saw a few of the beautiful blue ones, but I’d like to see more. And finally, I’m going to start using my Spanish language app again. I learned “Pura Vida” on our trip. It roughly means life is good, everything’s great, we’re cool, but I’d like to be able to speak to the people a little more in their own language.
Me and the MR have put Costa Rica on our repeat list. It was a wonderful trip.
Have you traveled to beautiful Costa Rica? Where’s life taking you?