Costa Rica was definitely a highlight of our Central America trip.
‘Pura Vida’ is emblazoned on signs and souvenir items wherever you go. They have got it right, Costa Rica is ‘Pure Life’.
Imagine looking through a super vivid Instagram filter all the time. That’s Costa Rica. Maybe it’s something to do with the cleaner air with the country producing a majority of their energy from hydropower since 1989.
Cloud Forest of Monteverde – pure oohs, ahhs and OMGs
First stop on the trip is to the Monteverde Cloud Forest Biological Preserve set up by the Quakers when they realised their agricultural practices could have an impact on this finely tuned eco-system.
We took a half-day trip to the reserve and walked along the well-signposted and paved path. This helps when you are as clumsy as me. You can enjoy looking up and taking in the lush greenery trying to spot an elusive quetzal as opposed to finding yourself flat on your face.
Make time to head to the special butterfly sanctuary as part of the reserve. We got distracted by Costa Rican coffee and jewellery with sloth images, but watching the hummingbirds flap faster than a camper drying plates is pretty cool.
What do you do after you have enjoyed a relaxing day, you book yourself for an adrenaline injection.
My recent post on scary activities stemmed a lot from time in Costa Rica. Before you know it you are strapped into a harness at 100% Aventura and about to begin your 12 zip line and 1 mega tarzan swing afternoon of more OMGs than oohs and ahhs.
Now the thinking is with the zip lines is that you work up towards the superman line, which is the longest zip line in Latin America at 1590m.
I don’t need a slow build up. I have a pretty nervous disposition as it is with a healthy amount of self-preservation. So before we even got to anything remotely scary, I was a blubbering mess perched on the side of a tree. The comforting feedback I get from the line guys… “once you go on this zipline, there’s no turning back”. Great! I have 1 minute to decide whether my brain and heart are going to cope. I used neither and made some meek sound and off I went.
There’s so much more you can do in Monteverde like guided night walks, horse riding, coffee and chocolate tours and great eating at places like The Green restaurant and Choco Café Don Juan.
La Fortuna – pure pleasure and pain
After two nights of mountain air we travel 5 hours back to ground level arriving at La Fortuna.
A great sounding name meaning ‘the fortunate (followers) of Saint Carlos. Not sure how fortunate given it’s location next to Arenal Volcano, which is Costa Rica’s youngest and most active volcanoes. Currently the volcano is resting and why the hell not when there are hot springs up the wazoo to enjoy.
But first you take a lovely boat ride across Lake Arenal. In all my excitement to get off the rocky bus ride and onto the boat, my backpack straps attack me leaving a good dent in the head. This semi concussion probably had something to do with the next thing we attempted.
Departing at 8am with bananas and honey biscuits we set off for our 5-hour hike up Cerro Chato. From town you take a 15 minute taxi to the Arenal Observatory Lodge. Without a guide you pay $8US entry fee.
I’m not super fit, I’ve climbed a few things, but now my Monteverde chocolate filled butt is romping up this dormant volcano tripping over tree roots and getting stuck in mud.
Totally worth it for this view.
My recommendation once you get to the top is to have a short snack break and then do the mudslide down to the crater lake. Supposedly there are some minerals present in the water that give its green colour and inadvisable to swim. Not us! No with the brain cells still repairing we jump in.
Taking a different path to La Fortuna Waterfall we continue on for the remainder of the trek passing some curious cows. There is a tap to refill your water bottles, which is a godsend after your sweaty hike.
Yay, after 5 hours we made it to the waterfall! Now what? Well, you know how you are dog tired, eaten only a snack plus had a thigh workout that would challenge Mal Meninga’s legs, you see a set of 500 steps going down. You could go to the look out, but after paying our $8US we power on to the amazing swimming hole below.
Now for the pleasure part of La Fortuna – the hot springs. There are tons of resorts with dinner and spa options. There is even the free hot springs near the yellow barricades by the Tabacon spa, but we were hungry so a group of us went to Baldi hot springs for the buffet and numerous pools to splash around in. There are even water slides if you fancy wearing your bikini bottom as a necklace.
San Jose – pure ice cream and cocktails
After a super active few days, in San Jose we took it down a notch. Don’t get me wrong there is a load to do like the Jade Museum, National Gallery, lunchtime concerts at the Teatro Nacional or day trips to more lakes, volcanoes and white water rafting.
We had great intentions. We also had too many cocktails. The one thing I would definitely recommend is getting to the Central Market to this 1 flavour ice cream shop. A hard flavour to describe, but think cinnamon, honey, fig creamy goodness.
Puerto Viejo – pure philoslothical times
It’s Costa Rica and you are probably wondering where are all the sloth photos. Here’s a video to Rich’s music to keep you going.
Awww. To see these guys and others cuties, hire a bike and cycle to the Foundation Jaguar Rescue Centre.
Continue your bike ride to Play Chiquita and Playa Punta Uva (about a 20km round trip from town). Do check your bikes before the hire, sometimes the brakes don’t work, or the chain is loose.
Pure Life is surely about balance, so level out the physical with the philosophical in the many bars soaking up the rasta vibes.
Pure times listening to D33J.