After flying to San Jose and staying at the lovely My Beacon Hotel, we headed up north to see the majestic Arenal Volcano. The volcano is the most active volcano in the world erupting 2-3 times a day. You can not only hear but see the eruptions at night. The best place for doing so is Arenal Observatory Lodge. www.arenalobservatorylodge.com
After Arenal we crossed a volcanic lake traveling on up to the cloud forests of Monteverde. The cloud forest is most famous for its birds in particular the Resplendent Quetzal which we were lucky enough to see in all its glory.Nice pic:http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/e/e3/MG_9733.jpg
We enjoyed our guided tour at night in the forest where we saw many nocturnal animals like tarantulas, arboreal porcupines (http://consejo.bz/belize/images/animals/herbivores/porcupine.jp g ), scorpions, poisoned dart frogs (http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/0/0e/Blue-poison.dart.frog.and.Yellow-banded.dart.frog.arp.jpg/291px-Blue-poison.dart.frog.and.Yellow-banded.dart.frog.arp.jpg ) and coatis (http://www.costarica.com/images/stories/Papagayo/Papagayo225/Papagayo-Coati-Three.jpg ).
The temperature in the cloud forest sunk to 12 degrees and after couple of days we felt like it was time for some real heat!
We made our way to the Nicoya Peninsula with a shuttle bus which we can definitely recommend as an alternative to renting your own car as the roads are treacherous and driving in the country is possibly worse than Istanbul
We stayed at the Ocotal Beach Resort which offered fantastic views of Pacific Ocean and was a good base from which to organize dives. However, Costa Rica is not one of the best diving locations, although worth diving there once or twice, we wouldn’t recommend it for serious divers owing to the lack of visibility of Pacific waters. Having said that we did see Manta rays and white tipped sharks.
From Ocotal we flew via the provincial airport Liberia to the world famous beach location Manuel Antonio. We stayed in the hotel paradorhttp://www.hotelparador.com/ which by reputation is supposed to be one of the best hotels. However, although the views and service were good by European standards, the food was rather American
It is a great place to see sloths and monkeys up close and we even saw a capuchin monkey eating an iguana from our balcony (better than Discovery channel)
After Manuel Antonio, we flew back to San Jose staying in our favorite hotel before embarking on the long journey by bus and by boat to the lagoons of Tortuguero on the Caribbean coast.
This area is known for its turtles but is also a great place to see crocodiles, caymans, toucans and many species of water birds. We stayed in and recommend the Evergreen lodge http://evergreentortuguero.com/
After Tortuguero which is on the Nicaraguan border, we flew across the country in a small plane landing on a jungle airstrip in a place called the Osa Peninsula close to the Panamanian border.
This place which comprises Corcovado National Park is referred to by National Geographic as the most diverse place on the planet!
It is one of the few places in central America where pumas and jaguars roam wild and where it’s still possible to encounter all 4 species of monkeys in one day!
We stayed in El Remanso Eco Lodge http://www.elremanso.com/ in a bungalow with very limited electricity, no telephone coverage or any other technology that we’re used to in our artificial world !
The bungalow was one of 5 located in the middle of primary rain forest.
We slept at night with our windows and doors open hearing the sounds of all nocturnal animals and woke up at 05:30 to the sound of howler monkeys !
We can thoroughly recommend staying in El Remanso, even if it was a little bit on the expensive side.
Whilst there, we had encounters with the Tamandua (http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/8/80/DirkvdM_tamandua.jpg/250px-DirkvdM_tamandua.jpg ), paca (http://consejo.bz/belize/images/animals/herbivores/paca.jpg ) and most excitingly a close up encounter with a wild peccary which almost charged us ( http://consejo.bz/belize/images/animals/herbivores/peccary.jpg )
In total we stayed 3,5 weeks in Costa Rica which is just enough to see 3 or 4 different climatic regions of this small and beautiful country. We can thoroughly recommend it to any nature lover! But if what you’re looking for is a luxury beach holiday. then you should go somewhere else
Craig & Pinar