14 days on the road in a 4×4 jeep
In April 2017 our customer Gundi Bohn is going on the Pura Vida rental car tour in Costa Rica. Come across the first poison dart frog by chance on the first day? Yes, that is possible in a country that is so crammed with countless animal species that it is literally bursting at the seams. But Costa Rica is so much more, read for yourself…
14 days in Costa Rica lie ahead of us – we have been looking forward to it for a long time. So with a lot of anticipation in our luggage, we start in the morning from Stuttgart Airport. Delta Airlines takes you via Atlanta to San José, the capital of Costa Rica. After all immigration formalities have been completed, we meet with our driver, who drives us to the Hotel Villa Colón in nearby Ciudad Colón. The night is getting short and we don’t have time to explore the villa. After a few hours of sleep, a transfer shuttle picks us up at 6 a.m. and takes us to our lodge in Tortuguero National Park. Due to the jet lag, we can cope with the short night surprisingly well. During the approx. 2 ½ hour drive to the boat transfer past huge banana plantations, there is a stopover with a delicious breakfast. In the garden of the restaurant, in the midst of lush vegetation, I find the first small poison dart frog – wow! The last part is taken by boat for 1 ½ hours. Just getting there is an adventure and there is a lot to see if it weren’t for this damp. Yes, it is drizzling. Oh dear, the planned boat trips, the weather forecast doesn’t bode well. Rain and heat are the order of the day.
Lush greenery, all kinds of animals and this rain…
The Pachira Lodge is our domicile for two days. Immediately after check-in we have lunch (buffet) and we explore the huge tropical garden. Incredible vegetation, lush greenery, flowering plants, crabs, monkeys, birds, hummingbirds, and all of that in front of the door. The boat trip to Tortuguero National Park is scheduled to take place at 2 p.m. It’s raining really hard now and we don’t really know what to expect. Alfonso, our guide for the next few days, sees it all quite relaxed and laughs. This is not rain for him. Okay, let’s go. Protected by the lodge’s own large rain cape, it’s off to the boat. A very special experience in the pouring rain. From the late afternoon you can relax in this beautiful lodge, despite the rain. The evening buffet is delicious and the pool bar is open.
The next day is leisurely. We take a boat trip to the nearby village of Tortuguero, look out over the stormy Atlantic Ocean and enjoy the afternoon by the beautiful turtle-shaped pool. The fourth day begins and we leave Tortuguero with a heavy heart. We reach our transfer point for the booked rental car with a slight delay. The spacious 4-wheel drive will rock our small, four-person troop safely through the country for the next ten days. Today’s destination is the La Tigra Rainforest Lodge near La Fortuna. The journey is stressful, the traffic is heavy and we are almost 11 hours on the road, but it’s worth it. This lodge is very special. Despite arriving late, we are provided with a delicious dinner and watched by curious frogs.
In the middle of nowhere – pure jungle
Late in the evening it goes into the night in the “wilderness”. The little huts in which we spend the night are in the middle of the newly created bush. You almost sleep in a tent on a wooden plateau with your own balcony. The beds are only separated from the outside by a light curtain and you can see the jungle from the bed. The mosquito net over the bed protects against mosquitoes (practically nonexistent in April) and other animals that crawl and flee en masse in Costa Rica, as we will find out later. The integrated bathroom with toilet is pure luxury in the midst of this nature. We sleep like marmots.
Wonderful to be woken up in the early morning by the sun and the sounds of the jungle. The weather shows from the sunny side. Unfortunately we only have one night, but we have enough time to explore the lodge until lunch in the afternoon. We visit the herb, vegetable and orchard, make a circular hike on the paths through the lush jungle. We are stopped by an approx. 2 m long black snake that has made itself comfortable in the middle of the path and does not want to give way. The fearful trapper (four in number) retreats after a brief consultation, and we run all the way back. The lodge’s clever book later shows us that it wasn’t a venomous snake after all. We still have respect, however. After the delicious Campesino breakfast and the best Costa Rican coffee, we visit the nearby school and are allowed to sniff the class for a few minutes before the journey continues. The school is supported by La Tigra Lodge.
The hidden giant and the sky-blue waterfall
After a short drive, we reach our next station, Casa Luna in La Fortuna, in the early afternoon. A wonderful hotel complex at the foot of the Arenal, which we unfortunately cannot see because it hides its tip in the clouds. An oasis of well-being. Here you can relax by the beautiful pool, the lush garden and the wonderfully warm thermal pool. In the evening, after a stroll through La Fortuna, we enjoy a delicious dinner in the hotel restaurant. The next day is dedicated to the hanging bridges in Mistico Park / Arenal. Our fantastic guide Max leads us over countless suspension bridges and explains the flora and fauna to us. A 3-hour biology lesson – just great. We see countless animals including monkeys, venomous snakes, birds, ants and raccoons.
The next day we continue to the northeast to Bijagua. We want to go to Tenorio National Park and look at the sky-blue Rio Celeste. A two-hour sweaty hike awaits us. The views are terrific. The park is still an insider tip, but it is still quite busy. Various lunch options and a cold beer await at the park entrance. Today’s overnight stay was in a finca, which is not that easy to find, but which turned out to be an absolute highlight. Finca Mei Tai is run by a Belgian family. The two guest houses (a third is under construction) are just amazing. You immediately feel comfortable and welcome by the owners Eric and Cecile. We spontaneously decide to buy a picnic in the nearby town and enjoy it as today’s dinner on the terraces. Oh, and don’t forget, you can also use the family’s own pool – wonderful. Breakfast the next morning is, in a word, great! Here, too, we regret that we only have one night. Our path continues today, “down” to the Pacific coast.
Indulge in idleness and enjoy the sun
In Samara we will indulge in sweet idleness for three days, bathing in the warm waters, strolling around and eating delicious food. Pura Vida! Yes, there is actually not much more to report here, because we enjoyed the days to just let our souls dangle and get in the mood for the days to come.
After three relaxing days, our round trip continues south, always along the coast. We spend an overnight stay in the wonderful Cerro Lodge near Tarcoles. This is the main bird watching area of our trip. It’s unbelievable what is buzzing through the garden. A group of four parrots can also be found on a nearby tree in a camera-friendly manner. It’s Easter week, so many Costa Ricans travel that way too. A funny mix of languages and voices dominates the small pool in the afternoon. It is very special and very beautiful and fun at the pool edge.
Close to the sounds of the rainforest in tents
The next day the journey takes us further south to Uvita. The thermometer shows, like since the beginning of our Pacific Coast time, 38 degrees. It’s incredibly hot. Our reliable 4-wheel drive is an oasis of cool. So the trips don’t bother us at all. The next three days we live in stylish tents in Manoas, a small facility built by Americans in the middle of the jungle. Here you can relax, a small but very nice pool invites you to swim. You only hear the sounds of the jungle and the nearby river rustling. On the following two days we make short trips to the beaches in the area, to a small waterfall, and not to forget to go shopping in one of the two large supermarkets. Here we buy a picnic for dinner every day, because the way to the jungle lodge is not exactly easy at night and we can always spend the evening comfortably in front of our tents. In the morning, you can enjoy breakfast in the lodge’s newly built café, after which you can enjoy the unique atmosphere from the yoga pavilion.
The end is near…
After 3 days we leave the Pacific coast at the end of our 14-day tour and return to Ciudad Colón to the Villa Colón. The temperatures are going down. “Only” about 30 degrees – pure relaxation after the heat of the last few days. The villa itself is beautifully quiet, has a wonderful garden and beautiful rooms. In the evening we are served a 3-course menu. Delicious. The next day we are picked up early in the morning and taken to the airport in San José.
A nice Costa Rica trip comes to an end. We experienced an infinite amount, saw an infinite number of animals, admired the lush jungle of Costa Rica in all regions and weathered torrential rain at 33 degrees on the Atlantic coast. In addition, we marveled at the grandiose volcanoes (in parts) inland with the flora and fauna, sweated and still wonderfully relaxed on the Pacific coast with an average of 36 degrees a day. We’ll definitely be back!