Costa Rica September 2019
On a recent trip I had the pleasure of visiting one of the most ecologically diverse places on Earth and a nature-lover’s paradise. Costa Rica has landscapes that range from active volcanos, cloud forests, pristine beaches, and rainforests. Wildlife rich national parks and reserves. It is one of the most popular destinations in Central America. Costa Rica is a rugged, rain forested Central American country with coastlines on the Caribbean and Pacific. Though its capital, San Jose, is home to cultural institutions like the Pre-Columbian Gold Museum, Costa Rica is known for its beaches, volcanoes, and biodiversity. Roughly a quarter of its area is made up of protected jungle, teeming with wildlife including spider monkeys and quetzal birds, Costa Rica has something for all ages,the most popular activities are Zip lining and White water rafting.
In a weeks stay we visited both coasts Caribbean and the Pacific with a few stops in between this is how the trip went.
Our first night we spent at the Park Inn in San Jose with stunning views over the vibrant city.
We travelled to Tortuguero national park on the Caribbean coast staying at Pachira Lodge, we had to travel the last part of the journey by boat to the hotel. Here we experienced a diverse range of flora and fauna, we enjoyed a canal trip looking for monkeys, iguanas, sloths, crocodile, macaw wild orchids plus so much more. We were rudely awakened by the howler monkeys, and were lucky enough to add on a visit to the beach at night to look for nesting turtles this is strictly governed and limited number but definitely worth it, as we saw a green sea turtle making a nest and laying her eggs, and baby turtles hatching then making a mad dash to the sea truly remarkable experience. No picture or photos allowed restricted as this would disorientate the sea turtles.
Then we transferred to our third hotel the Buena Vista Hotel Alajuela overlooking the mountains of Poas, Barba and Irazi volcanoes on route over to the Pacific coast, a lovely property nestled on the hillside set in the mist of a coffee plantation.
The following day we spent the morning at La Paz Waterfall Gardens. The no.1 most visited privately owned ecological attraction in Costa Rica. It is not a zoo, which are forbidden here, but an animal sanctuary and rescue centre for wild animals, with over 100 species, and an environmental education program.
We travelled onto Arenal staying at The Springs resort and spa Hotel a beautiful resort with hot springs pools, rich in minerals and irons. Where we had a room with a volcano view, on our way towards the Pacific coast we went to Arenal 1968 trail a private reserve we’re lava flow remains that has been there since 1968, besides the possibility to see wildlife, you have beautiful Los Patos Lake and the best view of Arenal Volcano.
We then travelled onward to Monteverde to the El Establo mountain Hotel for what was another amazing day. This hotel’s story is one of a family who changed their cattle farm business to tourism. We Visited an organic coffee farm on the way, and I did my first ever zip wire over the jungle canopy (O.M.G!!), then the next day another amazing day visiting the cloud forest and walking on hanging bridges.
Our last few nights we stayed at Punta Leona hotel is in a fantastic location, right on the beach. The wildlife is abundant and we’ve seen Macaw Parrots, parakeets, monkeys and raccoons. Another fantastic day spent visiting the Manuel Antonio national park. First stop was the San Bada Hotel, which sits neatly on the edge of the jungle and a beautiful beach.
Overall I fell in Love with Costa Rica, we were truly spoilt by our Tour Guide Jorge, driven safely by our driver Carlos & looked after by Mercury Rep Fer, Mercury Holidays and British Airways for having a wonderful direct service from London Gatwick.
If you are planning a Costa Rica holiday, one term you should be familiar with is “Pura Vida” (pronounces poo-rah vee-dah). Simply translated, it means “simple life” or “pure life”, but in Costa Rica, it is more than just a saying—it is a way of life. #PURAVIDA
Costa Rica facts at a glance
Flight time: 11 hours
Time difference: -7 hours
Currency: Costa Rican colon
Direct flights from London Gatwick
What to Pack
Sunscreen, insect repellent and hat
• Waterproof lightweight jacket
• Comfortable walking shoes
• Lightweight clothing (jeans are not recommended)
• Sweater • Swimwear
• Camera and charger
• Small day pack for hikes/treks
• Lightweight/travel towel
• A plug adaptor – the electricity supply is 120 volts and 2 or 3 flat pin plugs
• Personal first aid kit containing travel pills, re-hydration powder, plasters,
stomach settlers, antiseptic creams, aspirin etc
Best time to go
The best time to visit Costa Rica tends to be when it’s driest and brightest; between December and April on its Pacific coast, and between March and September on the Caribbean side. If Costa Rica’s abundant wildlife is a must-see during your trip; avoid the heavier rainfall in September and October. Always best to carry bug spray and suntan lotion.
Food and drink
Costa Rica’s food embraces a world of flavours; the unique dishes are simple but nonetheless delicious. The Casado is the most traditional meal; it includes white rice, beans, plantains, picadillo, salad, and some type of meat. The gallo pinto is a favourite breakfast dish and comprises rice and beans prepared with onion, celery and other spices, sometimes accompanied with scrambled eggs.
Health and entry requirements
It is your responsibility to ensure you have the correct travel insurance and vaccinations and / or special medication for your destination. Please consult your GP for advice at least one month ahead of travel. It is essential that you meet the visa and passport requirements for your chosen destination. Visit the Foreign & Commonwealth Office (http://www.fco.gov.uk) website for up to date entry requirements listed by country.