In the same way we do with this other story about our trip to Sri Lanka, created as a summary with a clear visual inspiration, we do so with our tour around another country that deserves an extensive and detailed visit, as is Costa Rica. In some cases, it will be complemented with more detailed posts, on some areas or topics.
From Poas Volcano to Manuel Antonio National Park
After landing in San Jose, we decide to start the journey in Poas Volcano National Park, located in Alajuela, north of the capital. We were lucky with the fog, as it often covers the area and prevents a clear view of the world’s largest geyser type crater, measuring 300 meters deep and 1.32 kilometers in diameter.
Once seen and photographed this wonder of nature, we head to the Pacific, the first stop being the Manuel Antonio National Park, on our peculiar route.
Considered by some as one of the most beautiful in the world, the truth is that Manuel Antonio Park, located about 157 km from the capital, gives grounds for such an assessment. It hosts a splendid and varied biodiversity that can be enjoyed while walking by one of several routes leading into the rainforest.
Some of these routes end up – which is appreciated after the walk – in paradisiacal beaches like Manuel Antonio, one of the most valued of Central America. Once there, you will share space with raccoons and curious capuchin monkeys, so you should be careful with your belongings, especially if you are carrying some kind of food, as these animals tend to steal anything that looks good and tasty.
We recommend caution when looking for parking, as the existing business with that issue makes deception a common practice. In fact, coincidentally, after a couple of arguments and ignoring several offers parking, one of the wheels of our car pricked by a huge nail that had been placed voluntarily, while on the road to Uvita.
Uvita and the Whales
Once solved the issue of the induced puncture, we follow the route to Uvita, where we establish our base for touring this area of the Pacific Coast, known as a transit point for various marine mammals.
This fact explains that one of the essential activities, for those in the are, is the whales and dolphins watching. We enjoyed it with Bahía Aventuras, a company specialised in this tour and in other very desirable experiences, such as snorkeling at Cano Island. In our case, we had a great time and could see a few whales, from a short distance, so we recommend their service.
In addition to the above, that generally departs from Marino Ballena National Park, Uvita and surroundings have excellent beaches, many of them suitable for surfing, and several waterfalls where you can take a dip in the middle of nature.
On the way north, we decide to make a stop at Tárcoles, in order to see the huge crocodiles that inhabit the river and photograph the brave who dare to feed them by hand, without barriers and within a short distance, as pictured below.
Night Fauna in Monteverde
We continue the journey to the North by investing a few days in the Monteverde area. Known for hosting the Cloud Forest Biological Reserve, we also took the opportunity to discover the nocturnal fauna of the country, photographing interesting species, often hidden in the rainforest, with the help of Jorge Marin, who would be of vital importance for our understanding and enjoyment of the zone.
We visit the biological reserve with him, who shows a deep knowledge and explains many details of the fauna and flora, and, above all, helps us locate the species that are hidden or are complex to see at a glance, which happen to be the majority.
Much of the local fauna is best appreciated at night, hence the interesting night walks organised by Ficus Trails, that we recommend without hesitation. In a protected area where species of birds, reptiles, amphibians and mammals are sheltered, we walked slowly in search of individuals that Jorge was revealing us at every step, demonstrating the importance of having a good guide on these kind trips.
Adventure and Nature in Arenal
As we explain in detail in the report Adrenaline in Costa Rica, Arenal is the perfect place to experience canyoning and rappelling from waterfalls. So is, of course, to admire the stunning volcano that gives it its name and presides the area, offering beautiful sunsets we had the pleasure of enjoying from our room in the wonderful The Springs Hotel.
Once in the area, it is advisable to approach the Rio Celeste, whose particular color is the result of an optical effect, produced by the scattering of sunlight due to the high concentration of aluminum silicates in its waters. Of course, you should also try the hot springs, in our case available in the facilities of the hotel.
Turtle Nesting in Tortuguero National Park
After a halt to practice a fun Rafting in Sarapiqui, we march to one of the most interesting and emblematic places in Costa Rica, where we would be lucky enough to photograph a process that is rarely caught on camera, being controlled and protected by law, for obvious reasons.
As we will explain in a detailed feature about our stay, we spend several days in Tortuguero National Park, where, with the invaluable help and knowledge of our guide, Leonardo, who knows all about the place and helps you to get the best possible pictures, we sail the channels and photograph some of the most spectacular species, such as the alligators or the elusive red-eyed tree frog, among many others.
With special permission, as we said, we are able to photograph and record the process of turtle nesting, during a truly memorable night, when the guided tour visits were finished and the beach, watched by some volunteers, is visited by dozens of turtles looking for the ideal place to lay their eggs.
Beaches, Protected Species and Bribri Culture
The end of the long journey is approaching, and it is time to head for the Southern Caribbean area, which also deserves a specific article, due to the interesting things we saw and experienced.
Based on the comfortable Blue Conga Hotel, in Puerto Viejo, we move through the area with great curiosity, enjoying beautiful uncrowded beaches such as Manzanillo, and sharing time with a kind family of the BriBri tribe, with whom we would make a delicious chocolate and learn about their fascinating culture and tradition. All this with the help of the lovely Karina, personal friend of the family and the ideal guide for this experience.
As animal lovers, we do not want to miss the opportunity to visit a couple of recovery and conservation centers, such as Jaguar Rescue Center – dedicated to the recovery and reintroduction of species – and Ara Project – protected area for the conservation of the beautiful Macaws -.
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