Costa Rica

I was lucky enough to be given the opportunity to visit Costa Rica with Distinctive Americas in June 2016. This is the start of the rainy season, however we were very lucky with the weather and only had one afternoon/evening of heavy rain. The majority of the rain at this time tends to fall as afternoon or evening showers.

British Airways have recently introduced a twice weekly direct service from London Gatwick to San Jose. The flight is around 11 hours and Costa Rica is -7hrs GMT.

Our flight landed into San Jose around 15.30, we were met by our Ground agent Travel Excellence and were quickly taken to our first hotel in San Jose for an overnight stay. Our guide Juan Carlos stayed with us for the week and he was excellent.

Our alarm the next morning was set for 5am for a 6am start. The hotel sent us on our way with a breakfast box for our journey to Tortuguero. This journey took us through the Braulio Carrillo National Park, passing through small towns and villages along with banana and pineapple plantations before arriving at Cano Blanco pier. We did also have a stop for another breakfast en-route. The restaurant they use for the breakfast stops are owned by the Tortuguero lodges. The journey to the port was around 3 hours.  We then joined our boat for our transfer through the Tortuguero canals which took around another 2 hours. The guides and boat captains are all experienced at spotting wildlife and this transfer goes very quickly whilst you are looking out for crocodiles, birds, monkeys and a variety of other wildlife. We arrived at our lodge just before lunchtime.
The lodges here are quite rustic and spread out in 34 acres of lush jungle. The rooms only have mesh at the windows so you really are living and sleeping with the sounds of the jungle. Especially the Howler Monkeys that seemed to be right on top of our room at 4am!

The next morning after breakfast we were out again in the boats searching for wildlife. We saw Tucans, Monkeys, Kingfishers, Jesus Christ lizards and Caiman to name a few.
The next morning we departed the hotel for our next stop Bajosdel Toro. We had a very short 10 mins boat transfer to the ‘airport’. As we stepped off the boat we realised that this is not quite what we would expect an airport to be like. You basically drag your bag to the end of the runway and wait for the plane to arrive. The plane emerged from the sky above the jungle and came to a stop just in front of us – wings nearly going over our heads! The co-pilot got off, loaded our bags, read out our names and invited us on board. We were the only ones on this flight and once we were all seated we were off. The views from this flight were amazing and I would highly recommend this if your itinerary allows for it.

We were met on arrival and taken to the Poas Volcano with a welcomed stop en-route at a coffee plantation. We were so lucky with the weather we had a fantastic, clear view of the crater. The walk up is not overly strenuous.
From here we headed off to Bajosdel Toro and our night in the cloud forest. We stayed at the El Silencio Lodge & Spa which is an eco-friendly luxury hotel. We had some free time here so went for a short walk to the ‘Humming Bird Garden’. This garden has been planted with plants that attract the humming birds. Amazing experience just to sit quietly and watch these fascinatingbirds. We then headed back to the hot tub on the balcony for some much needed rest and relaxation.

The next morning we were up bright and early for a morning waterfall hike. This took around an hour and half and was another wow moment! This trip was full of these.

After breakfast we were then off on a 2 hour transfer to Arenal. We were meant to do the hanging bridges canopy tour here but the weather was not on our side so we decided to come back and do this the next morning. The hanging bridges tour did not disappoint you really are in and amongst the trees and wildlife. The guides here are very knowledgeable and can answer all of your questions about the fauna and flora.

After this we had a 5 hour transfer over to the Pacific coastal resort of Manuel Antonio. Here we had a resident Sloth in a tree just outside out room. After being rudely awoken by the Howler Monkeys at around 4am I decided to sit on the balcony were I was joined by a troop of Capuchin monkeys as their pathway to where they were heading was via the tree in front of my room. I am not sure who was more surprised to see the other! What an experience!
The next morning we had our final tour at the Manuel Antonio National Park. It is the smallest most visited park in Costa Rica and you head through the park down to a stunning white sand beach. This is wonderful after the hot sticky walk. The Capuchin monkeys here are fully aware of the tourists and help themselves to any food they find in their bags! Very entertaining.
The next day we headed home.

I can honestly say that Costa Rica is one of the most beautiful countries that I have ever visited. It has such diversity, with dense rainforest, volcanoes, cloud forest and beautiful beaches. Costa Rica is a real tropical paradise that has coastlines on the Caribbean and Pacific. Much of the country has National Park status and the scenery is fantastic. It really does offer the ideal combination of exploration and relaxation.

Wifi was readily available in most hotels in Costa Rica and was also available (when they have a signal) on the transfer buses.  The cost of a similar tour to what I have just done in low season is £2395.00 per person.