After chilling out in Tulum Mexico we finally jetted our way to Costa Rica. We have been looking forward to this for a long time. A country filled with jungles full of wild animals surrounded by beautiful beaches. We couldn’t wait!
We flew into the heart of the country, San Jose. We have been told that people don’t come to Costa Rica to see San Jose, to get out into the surrounding areas as quick as you can. So we did exactly that. We hired ourselves a small car with full insurance (you should see how they drive down here!) to start another road trip.
Now this road trip wasn’t going to be as ‘full on’ as our USA road trip, but we wanted to cram a lot into those 8 nights before we had to start our house sits down in Ojochal. And boy did we get some travel done! See below for the route we took.
Today was the day we flew in. By the time we got the car (it took 2 hours to get the car – no one seemed to be in a rush – we would learn that this is just the way it is down here) it was already 3pm. So we didn’t have a lot of time on our hands other than just driving to our first nights stop Vara Blanca (Point B in the above Map), which is near Volcan Paos. The motel is somewhat elevated and on the drive there we found ourselves amongst the clouds. We were lucky to see more than 10 meters in front of the car.
After several wrong turns (thanks iPhone maps!) we got there just after dark. We had a quick bite to eat before settling in for an early night (even as regular travelers we always struggle with our energy levels after a flight). As we were sitting in bed we looked out our floor to ceiling window to see hundreds of fireflies. We have never seen them before and watched them for ages before going off to sleep.
Overnight the fog had lifted and we woke up to beautiful blue skies. We could now see just how green everything was here! Wow! We had a big day planned so we got off to an early start. We drove out to Volcan Paos, which is one of the biggest volcanos in Costa Rica. The volcano itself was pretty interesting, but what we loved the most was the walking tracks around the area.
We tested out our fitness (steep inclines and lower than normal oxygen in the air as it is 2,300m above sea level), but it was definitely worth it. Walking through the thick jungle was incredible. While we didn’t see any of our favorite sloths, we saw heaps of birds and little critters. At the end of the walking trail there was Lake Botos, which is a massive lake in an old inactive crater.
Thankfully we were advised that if we couldn’t breathe we should head back to the visitors center, which is well over a kilometers walk. Now that’s a long way to go when you can’t breathe…
After a few hours walking around the Volcano we decided to head to La Paz Waterfall Gardens. This place was amazing. The main reason of course was that we got to see 2 sloths! No really, the place was fantastic. Not the cheapest tourist attraction costing us around $50 each (which included a buffet lunch), but well worth it. While there are plenty of animals to see (including a beautiful butterfly sanctuary and a hummingbird area), but the main attractions are the 5 waterfalls. You have to walk down a lot of steps to see them (don’t worry there is a bus back up to the top!), but it is worth the hike.
After the two stops, we were spent. We had been walking for several hours and were ready to find a place for the night. So, where were we going to stay? Tamarindo. That’s 4 hours away! Better have a Red Bull or two. So off we set. The drive through the mountain area was beautiful. Hard to keep your eyes on the windy road when there is so much to look at. Obviously God was listening and didn’t like the idea we weren’t paying attention to the road, because as soon as we came down from the mountain the scenery changed dramatically. No more beautiful green lush rain forest, just a dead brown horrible looking landscape all around. We had hit the dry side of the island. Not only was it the dry side, but it was also just after the dry season. A combination that made the landscape look like we were back in the Australian outback. We didn’t see any Kangaroos though, so safe to assume this wasn’t the case.
It was dark by the time we got to Tamarindo (Point C in the above map), so we just checked into the hotel and grabbed a bite to eat down the road. After several hours walking and four more hours in the car, we were ready for bed! And tomorrow we get to see our first Costa Rican beach!
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Have you been to Costa Rica? What was your favorite part?