20.09.2008 26 °C
I met up with Sarah and Gemma in Allajuela as its near the airport and they didn´t arrive until quite late. We have spent the last 2 weeks travelling around northern Costa Rica and have managed to see a lot of the country in a short amount of time. As Costa Rica is quite small it has been a great place to see a lot of different things, but I think the main highlight for us has been the wildlife.
On our first day we visited one of the many active volcanoes in the country, Volcano Poas and enjoyed quite a relaxing day doing a little bit of walking near here while we adjusted to the heat and humidity.
Our first stop was La Fortuna. The evening we arrived we were lucky with the weather. After a storm early in the afternoon the weather cleared, so we went on a guided walk in the forest where we learnt a lot about the plants and wildlife. Once it was dark we went to see Volcano Arenal, which is apparently the second most active volcano in the world. At night it is possible to see glowing rocks and lava flowing down the side of the volcano, we were really lucky to get an amazing view of this. Then we spent the rest of the evening enjoying more geo-thermal activity in the hot spring.
The next day we travelled to Tortugera on the Caribbean coast, an area known as a mini Amazon. Its on a peninsula inaccessible by road so it was a long journey by bus and then boat. I enjoyed seeing the Caribbean way of life here, very different from anywhere else I have been so far. This evening was very different from the last as we went to watch turtles nesting on the beach. It was a very strange thing to see, and be able to get so close to. It did feel like we were disturbing the turtles, getting so close to them when they are actually laying their eggs, but we were assured that once they have actually built the nests it is fine to watch them. We watched 2 turtles laying there eggs, covering them then walking back to the sea. For me the most impressive thing was the size of the turtles, they were huge. And almost as impressive as the turtles was the huge thunderstorm we watched out to sea.
After a late night turtle watching we had an early start to go on a canoe trip to see more wildlife. I really enjoyed this as it was a very relaxing way to see a lot more wildlife including caymen, iguanas, several species of monkeys, river turtles and many types of birds. In the afternoon we headed back to La Fortuna and in the boat on the way back I think we saw even more wildlife than we had seen on the tour in the morning.
Our next stop was Monteverde, a small town in the hills that was originally founded by Quakersin the 1950s. The afternoon we arrived we went on a tour of the cheese factory that the original Quakers set up and is still running now. It was actually interesting to see and I enjoyed it because it was my first chance to try some real cheese in a very long time, they even had a reasonably good Chedder.
The following day we went on 2 tours, the first a guided wildlife walk through the forest on a series of hanging bridges. The second part was a canopy tour where we went on a load of zip wires through the tree tops, very good fun. We also had to do a tarzan swing, which in a way was like a bungee jump as the 1st few seconds you were just free falling before you actually started to swing.
Our next stop was Liberia in the north west of the country. Here we visited Rincon de Vieja national park to see some more geothermal activity, hot springs and boiling mud. It was a nice walk through the park and we also saw some more wildlife, huge butterflies, iguanas and monkeys. Liberia itself was a bit of a disappointment though. the guide book describes it as a colonial town and one of the must see things in Costa Rica. It had one street where there were a few old houses, but that was about it, definitely not one of the highlights of the country.
We decided to spend our last few days at the beach, so we went to PLaya Hermosa. This was a very quiet little village, with virtually no one else there. We spent a nice relaxing day there, enjoying the beach and swimming before heading further south, to the resort town of Montezumma. Here was a lot more developed than Playa Hermosa and the closest beach was about half an hours walk along the coast. But we stayed in a nice hostel with hammocks in the garden by the sea. We spent a day here walking to a waterfall in the morning. This was a good walk along the river and had a good pool for swimming under the waterfall. In the afternoon we walked further along the coast to the beach, where we tried to swim, but it wasn't really possible. The following day we spent travelling back to Allajuella. Then our last day we spent at Xandari spa resort just outside the town on a coffee plantation. For me this was a bit of luxury, a very big change from staying in hostel dorms. We spent the morning walking around the site which has 5 waterfalls. on the way we came across a huge snake on the path, at least 1.5m long. LAter we tried to find out what it was and the closest picture we could find is of a snake that is apparently has a deadly venom. After lunch the weather wasn't so good so we passed the time doing a jigsaw, before having a very nice dinner.
Unfortunately the following morning Sarah had to leave very early for her flight home and I wanted to get back to San Jose to try and get a bus to Nicaragua. So I only had a short time enjoying a bit of luxury.